Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Strong of Spirit and Faith

Sunday was Mother's Day. I've been a mother for almost 47 years, Yet, when Mother's Day comes around, I always think first of my mother.  My mother was a quiet woman, small of stature, but strong of spirit and faith. Widowed at 37 years of age, with five daughters to feed and care for, she trusted God to strengthen her for the overwhelming responsibilities which were then hers. She was born in Norway, and her whole immediate family was thousands of miles away, never available to lend a helping hand. All my childhood memories are happy ones. My mother died when I was just eleven years old.

My mother made the best waffles I ever tasted. She let us jump on the beds; requiring only that we take our shoes off and be careful not to get hurt. Though things must have been difficult financially, she always invited folks home for dinner after church on Sunday.  And my friends always wanted to come to my house to play; not a "house" but rather a railroad flat in the middle of New York City.

My mother emigrated from a very small island off the southwest coast of Norway when she was just nineteen. She came to Brooklyn and found work as a domestic maid. The island and farm that she left behind had neither cars nor any public transportation. She learned to maneuver the public transportation system of New York to attend night school to learn English. Though she excelled, she never lost her Norwegian accent. She became a proud American citizen, but could never deny her heritage. Anyone who spoke with her recognized she was not native born. Her country was now the United States of America, but her accent and spirit was Norway!

From my mother, I learned to trust in the provision of God for his children, and even though I was a child, I realized the sufficiency of Divine Grace which carried my mother through uncertain times. When my father died, I was only one year old. World War II was just beginning. My mother was separated from her family not only by distance, but by the boundaries of war, because Norway was occupied by the Nazi regime. There was no one to help her. Yet, God's grace was available to her, and she demonstrated that in marvelous ways. I thank God always for her and for the lessons she taught me. She was an American, her accent was Norwegian, and her Spirit was "Galilee." She walked in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom she loved and served.

My resolution for 2015 was that in every uncertain moment I would ask myself the question, "WWJD?" – or "What Would Jesus Do?" I think that is also part of my mother's gift to me – a sensitivity and desire to be like Jesus.

I often think, "Am I really like Jesus?" or "Did I respond as Christ would have responded in that situation?". The truth is that the answer to that question is sometimes "No!" But Christ loves us as we are and sees us as we can become. As we learn from our mistakes and seek His forgiveness, He offers it freely to us.  And I can almost hear Him whisper, "Do better next time, Gloria."

The great reformer Martin Luther put it far better than I can. He penned the words to the famous hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." The second stanza hits the nail on the head:

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.
    

The term "Lord Sabaoth" is a title familiar to Luther, a Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholar. The Hebrew term means "armies" and denotes the sovereignty of Christ over everything, both spiritual and earthly.  He has the power to enable us to live like him. He wants to transform us from the inside out.

2015 is one-third over. I wonder how I am doing in my resolution to become more like Jesus, to walk in obedience like my mother did. How about you?

Written by Gloria Hohn
Asbury Park Corps

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My Brother’s Keeper

Am I my brother's keeper?

Well, that depends. In reality, just because I say I am, that doesn't mean I'm effective in the role. First, let us take a moment to consider what exactly a keeper is. My good friend Google defines a keeper as: a person who looks after something or someone. Synonyms include: guardian, steward and caretaker. So let's ask ourselves again this way:

Am I my brother's guardian?

Am I my brother's steward?

Am I my brother's caretaker?

We read in Genesis 4:8-10, "Now Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let's go out to the field.' While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I don’t know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother’s keeper?' The Lord said, 'What have you done?' …"


The arrogance of man leads us to ask God ignorant questions, practically mocking Him. Understanding God knows all, Cain retorts to God's inquiry of his brother's whereabouts with, "Am I my brother’s keeper?" No Cain, you weren't.


In Batman Begins, Batman was on a doomed train with his adversary and says, "I don't have to kill you, but I don't have to save you either." Often times, this fits our lives. We may not have killed our brothers like Cain, but have we saved them?

God asks, "What have you done?"


Again, knowing full well the actions Cain had taken, God asks him that question. Being a keeper is more than being there - it's being present. It's more than talking to someone - it's speaking into them. It's more than instructing - also correcting them. You are their phone call in the middle of the week that encourages them. You are their coach, teammate and referee. You are their keeper ,and being their keeper is doing!

What have you done?

Are you killing your brother? Are you not saving him?

With so much turmoil in the world, here in the US, in our communities and even in our homes, the world is in desperate need of keepers!

(That goes for you too sisters ;-) God bless)

Prayer
Father, my prayer is simply this, help me to be a keeper. 


Written by Lt. Darell Houseton
Newark Ironbound Corps

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

National Volunteer Week

We are celebrating this week!

This year commemorates 150 years of service by The Salvation Army.  From its origins in London, England in 1865, The Salvation Army has been committed to Doing the Most Good to serve those in need.  The Salvation Army New Jersey Division continues this long tradition by seeking to assist residents throughout the state with a wide variety of programs and services.


This week is National Volunteer Week, and we are celebrating service given by our volunteers.  The Salvation Army is using this special week to publicly acknowledge and thank our many volunteers throughout the state.  At The Salvation Army in New Jersey, we not only thank our volunteers during National Volunteer Week but also throughout the year as we recognize the vital role that our volunteers play to help assist almost 200,000 New Jersey residents each year.  The kindness, dedication and commitment of our volunteers to serve needy individuals and families throughout New Jersey is very much appreciated by The Salvation Army as well as the people that are served.  If you are a Salvation Army volunteer, we genuinely thank you for all that you do, as we would not be able to fulfill our mission without your help.


Volunteers of all ages are welcome to volunteer with us! We have a wide range of volunteer opportunities available to suit all ages and skills.  We even have volunteer opportunities to suit corporate, church or school groups.  All we require of our volunteers is a desire to make a difference and a heart to serve those in need.  If you are interested in volunteering with The Salvation Army New Jersey Division, please visit www.salvationarmynj.org/volunteer to view our volunteer opportunities and apply online.



Written by Judth Anderson
Volunteer Resources Manager

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!

https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/newjersey/150-YearOfService

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.

Retreat!

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