Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Salvation Army Celebrates its 150th Anniversary

This year marks The Salvation Army's 150th Anniversary, celebrating the second largest charity in the United States. Originating in 1865 in London, England, the organization championed the most needy and continues its services today, adapting to the needs of the communities in order to 'Do The Most Good'.

"This is a truly blessed achievement and a reflection of how essential The Salvation Army continues to be in today’s world," Donald E. Berry, Major, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army New Jersey Division. Last year, over 30 million people were served by The Salvation Army nationally, with almost 200,000 individuals served in New Jersey alone. "We serve the community without discrimination for a higher purpose, and invite community members to support us as we continue into the future."

In New Jersey, The Salvation Army has supported communities across the state for over 135 years. The New Jersey Division has 28 Corps Worship & Community Centers, which are the most basic service components of The Salvation Army, providing a variety of social and spiritual services. The New Jersey Division also has The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Newark Ironbound and Senior Center, one residential camp, three shelters and 101 active service units (comprised of approximately 700 volunteers who administer Salvation Army services where there is no Army facility).

The New Jersey Division encourages the community to participate in various 150th Anniversary festivities statewide (more details will be released in the coming months). To learn more about The Salvation Army New Jersey, to volunteer with the organization or to donate, visit SalvationArmyNJ.org. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Click the photo below to sponsor or purchase admission to our 150th Anniversary celebration on June 3rd at The Newark Club!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Bloggers Wanted!

Love to write? Are you a Salvationist in New Jersey? We're seeking new contributors to our blog. Email nj@use.salvationarmy.org for more info!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Will Spring Ever Come?

According to the calendar, spring is just three days away. The Vernal Equinox, in the northeast United States will occur at 6:45 pm on Friday, March 20, 2015. It marks the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator-the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's equator. This moment is called the "equinox," because night and day are nearly exactly the same length - 12 hours - all over the world. This descriptive term, from the Latin, means "equal night."

I don't know about you, but I am very ready for winter to end. Nearly any way you look at it, this winter seems to be the one of unending snow. Records have been broken, not only in the Northeast, but all over the country with  low temperatures and snow. Boston has experienced a record-setting stretch of snow. The beginning of February ended the snowiest 10-day period for that city since they began keeping records in 1891. According to the City of Boston, road crews have plowed nearly 150,000 miles, and have gone through over 52,000 tons of salt. I'm glad I live in New Jersey this winter. We have been spared the worst of it.

The old proverb says "March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb."  March roared in with all it could deliver in one day - snow, sleet and freezing rain. It makes the idea of spring in three days so very welcome.

Spring always brings the promise of hope with it. Days get longer, temperatures rise,
and the welcoming sounds of the robin tell us that the hard days of winter are over. Did you know that the male robin sings a most beautiful tune? Only the male robin sings the "true robin song." He sings it to declare his personal nesting territory. It sounds like he's singing "Cheer-up, cheer-up!" Should you be out of doors early in the morning, perhaps to pick up the local newspaper from your driveway, you will hear the robin welcome you to a new day - "Cheer up, cheer up!" he sings.

The Bible tells us, in Psalm 113, "From sunrise to sunset, let the Lord's name be praised!" (Psalm 113:3 - CEV) The Psalm continues with reasons to praise the Lord..."He is exalted among the heavens; He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of their people."

This is our God, who invites everyone, everywhere into relationship with him. As we seek him out, he meets us on the way. Through the sacrificial death of his son, Jesus Christ, he offers us pardon and new life. By his spirit, he fills us with joy and peace as we entrust our lives to him; and gives hope to overflowing.

I wonder if the robin already knows that, and so sings with such joy: "Cheer up, cheer up." If we learn to trust in God, we too, will be filled with peace and joy, and can share the good news with others: "Cheer up, cheer up, God loves you!"

Written by Gloria Hohn
Asbury Park Corps

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

He Will Flee!

In the Battle at Marathon, the Persian horde had sent their best warriors to confront the Athenian resistance. After a fierce battle, the Athenian warriors lost 192 men in the fight. The Persian army had 6,000 of their men fall! After facing defeat, they retreated. As they retreated, their rear flank was cut down, and many of their ships were captured. This retreat was pivotal in the turning of the tide and the breaking of the army.


I imagine what it would have taken to make the bravest soldiers in a mega army run away from battle. This was perhaps the first time these elite fighters ever had to. It wasn't in their nature.

Neither should it be in ours!

I was reading over two passages. The first being:

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." - James 4:7

The second:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." - Ephesians 6:10-17

It was after re-reading the first that the second had added meaning. I can remember attending a women’s self defense class (I was the punching bag), and the instructor told the women that best defense is not getting into a dangerous situation in the first place. However, if you do find yourself there, take no shame in running away from the situation if it preserves your safety. Flee from the danger. In this instance, the scripture reminds us that our best defense is submitting to one whose power can truly defend us, and it will be the ENEMY WHO HAS TO FLEE! In this case running isn't a great exercise to practice.

Now we can reread the Ephesians passage with a bolder eye. Equipment check: Belt (check), breastplate (check), foot wear (check), shield (check), weapon (check), helmet (check), and back protector…ehhh. Strangely, Paul, this Roman citizen who would have seen full officer attire, left out the back piece. The main source of torso protection was the breastplate and a second connecting piece to protect the back. Oddly enough, this complete version of the armor was mostly worn by officers - those not in the battle or on the front lines.

There is protection for us in the battle but none to cover our retreat. Perhaps we aren't a people called to retreat. Perhaps we are to resist the devil so vigorously that he flees the battle like those mighty Athenians who stood firm against the largest fighting force they had ever seen. Proverbs 28:1 says this, "The wicked run away...but the godly are as bold as lions."

Brothers and sisters, let's be as bold as lions. Stand your ground. Defend your faith. Never retreat. The battle is already won!

Written by Lt. Darell Houseton
Newark Ironbound Corps

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Can We All Get Along?

These famous words were spoken by Rodney King following his public beating by police officers and a week of rioting in Los Angeles. Many times, I ask it myself in relation to our society and the church. It appears that the early church also asked itself this question. In James 3:13-18 (MSG), the writer of this books states it this way:

"Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."

Three things jump out at me and challenge me in this scripture. "It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts." The old adage of actions speak louder than words echoes in this verse. I often think more highly of myself in my head than how I live. The reminder here is to guard against that type of thinking. What does a holy life look like? It is "characterized by getting along with others." It can be difficult at times because other people can be difficult, and so can I. Finally, we are reminded that healthy community is a result occurs "...only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other..."

We need to treat others with respect and common decency. It is hard work, but it is how we are told we should act. Let's reflect God’s wisdom and not our own, and I think we can answer the Mr. King's question with, "It is possible."

Written by Chip Kelly
Territorial Lay Leader
Development Bureau Director

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Groundhog Day

Well, did he see his shadow? I’m talking about Punxsutawney Phil, who had thousands of people gathered yesterday morning to observe what he would do. According to folklore, if February 2nd is a cloudy day, spring will come early. If it is sunny on this day, when Phil emerges from his burrow and sees his shadow, he returns to his snug nest, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks. If you live in Staten Island, New York, you will wait for Staten Island Chuck, and if you reside in Cumberland, Maryland, Maryland Murray will determine the next six weeks of weather.

According to Groundhog Day organizers, the rodents' forecasts are accurate 75-90% of the time. However, a Canadian study for 13 cities in the past 30 to 40 years found that the weather patterns predicted on Groundhog Day were only 37% accurate over that time period. According to StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, Punxsutawney Phil’s weather predictions have been correct 39% of the time. Based on the law of averages, you and I can do better than that. In reality, the groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years.

Did you know that February 2nd is also known as Candlemas Day? Candlemas is a Christian holiday, known as the "Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple". It is believed that Jesus’ mother, Mary, presented her son to God at the temple in Jerusalem after observing the traditional 40-day period of purification of mothers, following his birth. Scriptures record that a righteous and devout man named Simeon had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit moved Simeon to go to the temple courts, and when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, Simeon took the baby in his arms and declared:

"God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone
to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your
people Israel"
(Luke 2:29-32 MSG).

More than 30 years later, Jesus said of himself: "I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12 NIV)

This two-fold promise is for everyone who will trust in Christ and accept the salvation He brings. By trusting Him, we need never walk in darkness because His Spirit lives within us, and He is Light. We also have the privilege of reflecting this Light of the World in all the circumstances of our daily lives.

This reflection will bring hope and encouragement to all who see it.

Did the groundhog see his shadow?  It doesn't matter. If we choose to follow Christ, we will walk in the light of God which leads to the everlasting springtime of eternal life.

Written by Gloria Hohn
Asbury Park Corps

Friday, January 30, 2015

Put Down Your Stones

Believe it or not (and you should believe it), I struggle. I used to struggle with a great variety of issues - some spiritual and some social. Then, I realized just how linked they were. One of the most difficult issues I encountered was judging people. My problem with judging others wasn't that I did it too often, rather that I didn't understand what it was.

John 8:3-7 says:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

This is where I was tripped up!

You see, the way I understood judging meant that since I wasn't perfect, I had no right to bring up ANYTHING wrong with anyone else. My imperfections should not only limit but stifle my attempts to speak out about the behavior of others. I really missed the mark on this one! I was right in the sense that judgment was a task that I was not qualified for. Like the Pharisees in this passage, when we cast a net of judgment, we often become ensnared by it ourselves.

I was wrong because like them, my heart sat on a throne of hypocrisy as I cast down my judgments. Worse even still, I was dreadfully confused. In my lack of understanding, I had swapped a divine role with my earthly responsibility. Judging was not my job, but correction in the appropriate manner was!

James 5:19-20 says this:

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

My place is not to judge, but I do have a responsibility to correct. How can I say I love my brother if I leave him in his sin (2 Tim. 3:16-17)?  How can I say to my daughter that I love her, yet neglect to correct her (Proverbs 13:24)? I couldn't. It wouldn't be possible. As I continue to understand these truths, I would ask that you journey with me. While you do, remember that the key to this equation isn't the correction. The key to this equation is the love.

Written by Lt. Darell Houseton
Newark Ironbound Corps

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Salvation Army Responds to Apartment Fire in Edgewater, NJ

The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services Team Responds to Devastating Fire

The Salvation Army New Jersey Division Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) team is responding to yesterday’s fire in Edgewater, NJ that has left hundreds of residents homeless.

The Salvation Army EDS team will be on hand with a canteen to provide lunch and dinner for first responders. The canteen is able to provide 1500 meals per day and will be set up near the apartment complex on Undercliff Avenue and Winterburn Place.

 “During this time, we want people to know that we are here for the community and will continue relief efforts for as long as we are needed,” says Michael Clayton, Director of Emergency Disaster Services.

In addition to the feeding, Salvation Army Officers and volunteers will be available to offer emotional and spiritual support for those who need someone to listen.

For additional information on The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services work or ways to help, please visit SalvationArmyNJ.org/eds. Donations can be made by clicking here.
Donations can be made by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Be a Better Servant

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but I've made one this year, and it's to be a better servant. Not just of the Lord but also of those around me - at work, at home, anywhere I go. In preparation, I asked myself, "What does it look like to be a good servant?"

To answer this question, it's natural that we look to Jesus himself, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45 NIV)

We know the greatness of Jesus' character and how He extends Himself to us through the Holy Spirit. And I hope we know how deep His love is for us, so deep that He took it to the cross. But do we know some practical ways that Jesus served others? We can't die on a cross to save souls, but what are some tangible examples that we can apply to our own lives today?

1. When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14 NIV)

We, too, can serve strangers when it's inconvenient, when we don't want to or didn't plan to. Jesus sought some well-deserved alone time and was interrupted by scores of people. Not only did He heal the sick, but He also hung around to help feed five thousand! When interruptions happen in our lives, rather than huffing and puffing (which I admit I do), we can be open to servanthood opportunities.

2. Jesus served women by respecting them and not being condescending when others were - like the story in John 8 of the woman caught in adultery. We, too, can serve both women and men by treating all honorably, regardless of what they've done.

3. Jesus washed His disciples feet in John 13, a filthy task that no one wanted to do. Can you think of a task at work or at home that no one wants to do? Do it!

I think, next holiday season, instead of organizing Secret Santas, we should plot to be Secret Servants. Think of how much fun that would be! Like a game of "Who can do the most good?" A game that can bring victory in our relationship with the Lord.

When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. (Matthew 6:4 MSG)

When we serve, we not only grow closer to God, we grow to be more like Him!

Servanthood is leadership. When someone serves me, they give me an example of how I can serve others. That example, if I'm turned into it, can lead me to serve.

And what can come of that?

Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 MSG)

The cycle of servanthood to leadership to servanthood changes minds, changes hearts and can change the world.

You might have a new year's resolution of your own, and you don't have to adopt mine, but I would encourage you to consider - How do the people in your life serve you? How can you serve them? How can you serve people whom you've never met?

Written by Elyse Jankowski
Community Relations Associate

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

WWJD in 2015

It’s time for New Year's resolutions. I have made many over the years. Some have been broken within the first week of the new year; some have lasted a little longer. Almost none have lasted beyond January. They have been varied, such as my annual resolution to lose weight, or my hope to do a better job of keeping in touch with friends. I am sure you can add your own resolutions, made with good intentions each year, and then soon forgotten.

I have a new resolution this year. Some years ago, I received a key chain from my son. It is simply a ring to hold keys and attached to a leather lace that has four pewter beads. These beads are embossed with the letters W W J D - "What would Jesus do?"  

I have carried that key chain for almost twenty years. The leather lace has been replaced, and the keys have been changed as I moved to different locations. But the message has always been the same and is appropriate in every situation - "What would Jesus do?"

This year, I am not going to make resolutions that I know will not last very long, no matter how good my intentions are. I am simply going to ask myself that very important question whenever I face a moment of indecision. It reminds me of the story of a church in Strasbourg, France.

During World War II, a church in Strasbourg was destroyed. Nothing remained except a heap of rubble and broken glass, or so the people thought, until they began clearing away the masonry. Then, they found a statue of Christ still standing erect. In spite of all the bombing, it was unharmed except that both hands were missing. Eventually, rebuilding of the church began.

One day, a sculptor saw the figure of Christ, and offered to carve new hands. The church officials met to consider the sculptor's friendly gesture - and decided not to accept the offer. The message of the broken sculpture remains even today. Christ has no hands to minister to the needy or feed the hungry or enrich the poor - except our hands. He inspires. We perform.

While serving with The Salvation Army in Germany, I visited an elderly woman, living alone in a small, sparsely furnished apartment in Stuttgart. I spent some time with her, giving her an opportunity to share what was on her mind. Before I left, I asked her if I might pray with her. She agreed readily, and I took her hands in mine and bowed my head and prayed, asking God to bring a special awareness of His presence with her in her loneliness. When my prayer was finished, she thanked me and said, "You are the first person who has touched me all week!" That little gesture of kindness assured her she was not forgotten. It was what Jesus would have done.

That's what I want to do in 2015; I want to ask myself that question each and every day. I know Jesus will guide me to do what He wants. How about you?

Written by Gloria Hohn
Asbury Park Corps