Good News

As we prepare for the upcoming Christmas season, here’s a look back at the 2019 Christmas Message from General Brian Peddle, The Salvation Army’s International Leader

By Brian Peddle, General

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child (Luke 2:17).

When you experience something good, you just can’t help talking about it. That may be a memorable meal, a good book, an enjoyable film, stirring music, dramatic theater or beautiful countryside. Whatever the experience, it leaves such an impression on us that we want to share it with others. We have to share it! Good news needs to be shared.

These days, when people discover they are expecting a baby, many find creative ways to share the news; some hold parties to reveal the gender of the unborn baby; some have parties and—when the child is finally born—they announce it loud and clear.

Jesus’ birth was announced through a new, bright star that appeared in the sky. An angelic choir burst into song to communicate the great news.

Unsuspecting shepherds were looking after their sheep, like any other night, when the sky lit up and they heard the most astonishing news in a most spectacular way. An angel appeared to personally deliver a message to the shepherds (Luke 2:9-12). This was a detailed message—the angel clearly described who Jesus was (2:11) and how they would find him (2:12). So the shepherds journeyed to the manger and found Jesus “just as they had been told” (2:20).

Such was the impact of their experience on the hillside and in the stable, they just had to tell other people about it. The news was so joyous and tremendous that they couldn’t keep it to themselves. The news about Jesus brought light into the darkness of a shattered world. Like the shepherds, we need to realize that this good news is not just ours—it needs to be shared.

In my message to Salvationists and friends, employees and supporters this Christmas, I’m calling us to have a renewed confidence in the gospel. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance and prepared the way for Jesus. God sent his one and only son into this world to save it. Jesus then sent out his disciples to preach the good news, perform miracles and make disciples. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to share the gospel in a myriad of languages and empowered the early church to spread the story of the Savior to new lands and new people.

The apostle Paul declared: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). We are a Salvation Army—the gospel is the saving message we preach in words and express in actions.

The good news of Jesus brings hope to those who are lost, light to those in darkness, joy to those in despair. It offers real transformation to the person who is caught in addiction, disillusioned by materialism or seeking purpose and direction. We share the gospel because we have experienced its truth and power for ourselves, and we know, personally, the “author and perfecter,” so we have confidence in the gospel’s transformative power on others.

This Christmastime and beyond, let us follow the example set by the angels and shepherds. Let us use every opportunity and every means possible to spread the word about who Jesus is while showing people where they can find him so that they too can have a saving, personal relationship with the living Christ. It’s not just good news—it’s the best news. Let’s share it!

The post Good news needs to be shared appeared first on New Frontier Chronicle.

This past Thanksgiving was our family’s fifth without my mother-in-law, ninth without two sisters and a brother, and sixteenth without my grandmother. We felt the ache, mourned the loss, and wished with all our hearts they were still with us.

The holidays are coming and with it a slew of family gatherings. Unless you’ve been unusually fortunate, you’ll have an empty chair or two at your dining room table. It’s unrealistic to think you won’t miss your loved ones, but holidays are for celebrating, not for grieving. As you prepare for the holidays without your precious loved ones, here are a few ways you can honor them.

1. Do something your loved one would approve of.

My grandmother loved to dig in the dirt and make things grow. Wherever she lived, she always planted dianthus. I remember visiting her shortly after she moved to an independent living facility. She no longer had a place to garden, but as I walked into her new building, I saw evidence of her green thumb. She’d tucked a tiny patch of dianthus into a square of dirt near her doorway. To honor her, I planted dianthus in my flowerbed. Every time it bloomed, it reminded me of her.

One friend and his family are faced their first Christmas without their father/grandfather. Knowing that his dad loved Italy, my friend took his family on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rome in his honor.

Your memorial activity will probably be less extravagant, but it can be equally memorable. One friend honors her daughter’s memory every season by watching her favorite Christmas movie, the Patrick Stewart version of “A Christmas Carol.” Another friend and her family meet at Waffle House at midnight on Christmas Eve to continue a long-standing tradition their late father began.

2. Include your loved one’s favorite food in your holiday meal.

My mother-in-law and I shared a love for lemon crème pie. She’d often tell the story of how she and a friend of hers liked it so much that they’d buy a pie, draw a line down the middle, and eat every bit of it. My mother-in-law liked her pies extra tart, and if I made the recipe just right, she’d nod her approval. “Mmm,” she’d say, “that’ll lock yer jaws.”

Lemon crème pie was one of the last foods I fed her before she passed away. Confined to a hospital bed and pumped full of medicine, she hadn’t eaten much in days. We wracked our brains trying to think of foods that might stimulate her appetite. My brother-in-law brought her a hot dog from her favorite greasy spoon. I brought a bowl of juicy watermelon. The day I brought her a slice of lemon crème pie, however, was a day to remember.

“Good?” I asked as I spooned bites into her eager mouth.

“Mmm,” she said, nodding her approval. “That’ll lock yer jaws.”

I ate a piece of lemon crème pie at Thanksgiving in her honor. It wasn’t quite tart enough, but I think she’d still approve.

Like eating my mother-in-law’s lemon pie, “sharing” our loved one’s favorite foods helps us feel connected with them. This Christmas we’ll eat sweet potato casserole to honor my sister Cindy and deep-fried turkey in my brother-in-law Luther’s name. And with every bite of lemon pie, I’ll feel my mother-in-law’s smile.

3. Talk about your loved one, shed a few tears, but don’t let grief steal the joy from your family celebration.

Remember that the greatest way we can honor a loved one who has passed away is to live every day in thanksgiving and joy. Reflect on the happy memories. Talk about the fun times and shared experiences. Thank God for the time you had rather than mourning the time you’ve lost.

4. Donate to an organization, charity, or cause your loved one felt passionate about.

If your mother had a soft spot for children, sponsor a child in her name. If your father loved baseball, donate a scholarship to a local league to help a child in need play ball next spring. If your aunt had a soft spot for animals, give to a nearby no-kill shelter.

Remember, too, that donations of time are infinitely valuable and honoring to a departed loved one. One friend helps serve Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter in memory of her father. Another fills a two-hour slot as a Salvation Army bell-ringer.

See also: 10 Reasons you should Volunteer to Ring a Bell this Christmas

Holidays can be hard, but with God’s grace and a little intentionality, we can celebrate in ways that honor and include our loved ones, even when they are no longer with us. If you’re facing the holidays without someone special, ask the Lord to wrap you in his love and help you feel the joy of his presence. Take comfort in the promise of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

by Lori Hatcher, originally appeared in the War Cry.

thankful

When my son was 14 years old, he exhibited many outstanding qualities, except a yearning for hard work. That changed when he took a two-week mission trip to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. He spent much of his time digging trenches, laying cinder blocks, and installing barbed wire fences.

When he returned, I asked what stood out most during his time there. He thought for a moment, then replied, “Americans complain too much.” He went on to describe a visit to a nearby barrio where he met a woman with four children.

“Their whole house could probably fit in my bedroom closet. They had one bed, a two-burner stove, a few pots and pans— and that was it. And they were happy to have us visit.”

The day after he returned from the DR a huge storm passed through our neighborhood, uprooting trees and knocking out power for days. In our temporary discomfort, our son kept things in perspective. “If this is the worst we have to live with, we are still incredibly blessed,” he said. “I don’t know why God favored me over the kids at the orphanage, but I’m thankful for what he’s given me.” The experience opened his eyes—and mine—and has given us a new sense of thankfulness.

That attitude of thankfulness is something we all need to cultivate daily. By practicing it regularly, we are less likely to ignore our blessings or take them for granted. The Bible says, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:17). God provides all the benefits you and I enjoy. Have you thanked him? He is the one who makes life satisfying, full, and complete, and he wants to increase those joys. That happens when you dedicate your life to Christ. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).

Have you let him begin his work in you? It starts when you ask Christ to take the primary role in your life. Say to him, “God in heaven, I need you very much. Please save me today. I gratefully acknowledge you as my Lord and Savior.”

by Jim Kraus, originally appeared in Have a Good Day

Did you know The Salvation Army is a church? You’re welcome to join us for worship services across Florida every Sunday! Click here to find your nearest location.

Spanish Flu

In 1918, The Salvation Army was at the height of its international popularity. Its war work during the Great War (WWI) was exemplary and recognized by governments across the globe. United States National Commander Evangeline Booth received the Distinguished Service medal from General John J. Pershing for all of the work that The Salvation Army did in France. The combat was soon to shift to an unseen enemy. The Great War had prepared The Salvation Army for a new challenge.

The Spanish flu was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it is considered one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.

In New York, Lillian Wald, a pioneer nurse, called for help and The Salvation Army answered. Wald mobilized a multitude of nurses, organizations, church groups, municipal bureaucracies, civic entities, and social agencies into a Nurses’ Emergency Council. The group assembled volunteer nurses and enlisted women who could support them by answering phones, accompanying nurses and doctors on home visits, and arranging for and driving automobiles to carry linens, pneumonia jackets, and quarts of soup.

Homeless shelters became makeshift hospitals and new cleanliness protocols were enforced. The Salvation Army had always believed that “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” but a new emphasis was placed on disinfecting the crowded city shelters.

The Salvation Army also began food distribution to the poorest of families in the major centers of operation, like New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. The “war work” continued as thousands of AEF soldiers began returning home from France. Many were crowded into temporary camps and the flu swept through the ranks. Salvation Army personnel wrote letters home, served coffee and doughnuts, helped nurse sick men, cleaned hospitals, and provided encouragement to the soldiers. Naturally, Salvationists (Salvation Army church members) offered to pray and read the Bible to those in the hospital.

Like most flu strains, the Spanish flu quickly mutated, and illness levels dropped dramatically in 1919 and 1920. The “roaring twenties” had begun and people soon forgot about the flu epidemic. It wasn’t until the 1990s when new flu strains began to affect the world population that interest in the Spanish flu was revived.

Through it all, The Salvation Army served and continues to serve suffering humanity throughout the world.

The post The 1918-1920 Spanish Flu appeared first on War Cry.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Mental illness concerns are on the rise in the United States due to environmental and genetic factors. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • One in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness.
  • 44,965 Americans die by suicide every year.
  • In 2016, an estimated 10.4 million adults (4.2%) in the U.S. had a serious mental illness (SMI).
  • In 2016, an estimated 16.2 million adults (6.7%) in the United States had at least one major depressive episode.
  • Each year, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the U.S. aged 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population.
  • An estimated 31.1% of adults in the U.S. experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

Although these statistics are alarming, there are things we can do to foster good mental health. One of those things is to bring our stress under control. Yes, we live in a fast-paced world where stress is part of life. Stress can be a motivator, and it helps us fine-tune our survival mechanisms that are critical to responding to danger. However, long-time exposure to stress can undermine our mental and physical health and become harmful. It is also true that profound physical and emotional erosion takes place when we do not take time to refuel. When we fail to do refuel, we can experience:

  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Loss of meaning
  • Hopelessness
  • Isolation
  • Loss of empathy
  • Poor self-care

SELF CARE

Don’t just be good to others, be good to yourself! Self-care doesn’t just happen, and it is not a passive process. It requires intentional actions to care for your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Here are six ways to maintain positive mental health.

1. Eat Well

Don’t treat your body like a trash can. A healthy diet is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health.

2. Go Outside

Stop and smell the roses – literally. Take a break, get some fresh air, and feel the sun on your face.

3. Sleep

Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health and physical problems. Make sure you get enough sleep every day.

4. Be Active

Exercising your body can help in many ways. Get your blood flowing and stretch your muscles.

5. Talk About Your Feelings

It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to talk about your feelings. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. Do not be afraid to.

6. Seek Professional Help

We are not superman or superwoman! We all get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. For example:

  • Join a support group like Weight Watchers or Alcoholics Anonymous to help you make changes to your life.
  • Find a counselor to help you deal with your feelings or make a fresh start.
  • Tell your primary physician and ask him/her to refer you to a counselor.
  • Talk to your pastor/rabbi/imam.

Today make it your mission to prioritize your mental health. No matter who you are, we all need a daily dose of TLC to thrive!

The Salvation Army is here for you. You are not alone! If you need someone to talk to, contact The Salvation Army Emotional and Spiritual Care Hotline. Call: 844-458-HOPE (4673)

The post 6 Ways to Maintain Positive Mental Health appeared first on War Cry.

a little time

a little timeLooking up from my early morning chores I was surprised to see a man plodding toward me through the small pasture between our home and a busy highway. I could see a pickup on the shoulder of the road. Something was obviously wrong—it looked like a strong wind could tip it over. The man drew close and advised he had just blown the right rear tire and wanted to know if I had a heavy duty jack. His jack would not lift the pickup with its heavy load of hogs.

I was already running behind with my chores and normal morning routine prior to going to my office job, but I located my jack and drove him down to his pickup. My jack would lift the pickup, but we found another problem. After the man laboriously reached his spare by climbing the sideboard and squeezing down between tightly packed hogs, he saw that the spare was flat.

 

Internal Struggle

At this point I honestly was wishing I had given him some lame excuse and let him solve his own problems. I had several pressing issues at the office that day and I hadn’t even showered yet. However, time was important for this man too, as it was starting to get hot and the tightly packed hogs would likely die if he didn’t get them moved quickly.

The man’s clothes and the shape of his truck gave the impression that he was well acquainted with hard times. However, he did not panic and asked if I could get him to a phone. Before we headed back to my house I noted the make and age of his vehicle. I remembered I had a set of mounted snow tires from an older car I had sold. Since both vehicles were a product of the same company, I thought the wheel holes might match.

We took a wheel down to his pickup and fortunately the holes matched up and we were able to change the tire–mounted wheel and get him on his way. Still thinking of my own agenda for the day, I didn’t get his name, address or even his license number. He had assured me he would return the tire and wheel, but at the moment I was just happy to get him going again.

 

Giving Thanks

Later in the day, when demands on my time had slowed and I thought of the morning’s activity, I realized I was remiss in not getting at least the man’s name and had no way of checking to see if he made it to his destination safely. I was feeling rather good about having helped the man and not letting my momentary personal struggles of time get in the way.

The Bible tells us: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV). I am just thankful for God’s grace that prodded me to lay aside my personal focus to help the man.

James teaches that if we see someone in need but only wish him or her well without doing something about the physical need, the value of our words is diminished (2:16).

Two days later, when I backed out of my garage, I found my wheel positioned between the two garage doors. With it was a note thanking me and advising that the stranger had made it to his destination without further problems. He had also clipped some money to the note for the wear on the tire.

This experience is a reminder for me that the need to reach out to help others in times of trouble rarely comes at our convenience. If we are praying to be used of God and asking for His direction, we will more likely respond to the needs around us, regardless of the agenda we have set for ourselves.

Walter N. Maris in a writer from Savannah, Missouri. Lisk Feng is an illustrator from China, now based in New York, New York.

This story originally appeared in The Salvation Army publication War Cry. You may also like: Overcomer

The Salvation Army in Ocala, Florida, held a drive-through distribution designed to fill much more than physical needs.

To help ease the burden of grocery expenses, each car received a box of food with non-perishable items, fresh produce, baked goods, and frozen meat, but it didn’t stop there. They also received a hot takeaway meal for everyone in their household.

The Salvation Army recognizes that needs during a crisis go far beyond financial, so each person was also offered an activity bag for children in their family, a Bible (English or Spanish), and personal prayer from an emotional and spiritual care team member.

In total, more than 350 meals were provided to 175 cars that came through the distribution line.

Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19 in Florida.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

Prayer-100

During this difficult period, it may be more necessary than ever to practice a little self-care.

Find a quiet place to pause and reflect:

  • What rhythms of rest and work have you found to sustain yourself?
  • What practices, rhythms, or patterns have you adopted to root yourself into the foundation of Christ’s love?
  • Are their friends and colleagues who have expressed subtle or overt fears, anxieties, or cries of lament and doubt? How can you respond?
  • Have you found resources for expressing your own pain, doubt, or limitations?
  • What habits do you have ready-to-hand that can help draw you out of these dark places?
  • Now ask yourself, am I practicing these?

These are not simply questions; they are lifelines.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Original Article

A message from General Brian Peddle, International Leader of The Salvation Army

Surely he took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(Isaiah 53:4-6 Berean Study Bible)

The Easter message is the most profound, true, life-changing, life-giving message we can ever hear, respond to and participate in. In short, the Easter story is the culmination of God’s plan of salvation for the redemption and restoration of humanity. Such unconditional sacrificial love unleashes the mercy, grace and forgiveness of God. We should be experiencing boundless joy, caught up in awe and wonder, celebrating our new-found freedom and living in a new dynamic relationship with the Almighty.

We see in these verses from Isaiah just what God has done for us in Jesus. In going to the Cross, Jesus does something extremely positive, yet it involves him being subjected to pain, ridicule, brokenness and separation from the Father with whom he has shared a deep intimacy for all eternity. Jesus takes on everything that is negative, destructive and painful. This display of genuine, unconditional and sacrificial love is unparalleled in human history.

Even as we read and consider what Jesus takes on himself, we sense a release, an unburdening and a freedom. Jesus takes on our infirmities and carries our sorrows. Yes, there is a glimpse of the humanity of Jesus here as the Word that became flesh (John 1:14) – fully human while fully divine – understands the frailty, weakness and imperfection on a personal level. Having said that, we need to recognize that there is much more going on.

Jesus is doing more than identifying with us. He is taking on our weaknesses, infirmities and sorrows so that we don’t have to carry them. Link that opening statement to Philippians 4:6-7 (Do not be anxious about anything …) and 1 Peter 5:7 (Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you) to better understand what is offered to us in Jesus. Look again at what happens to Jesus – he is pierced, crushed, punished and wounded. Why would Jesus accept all of that? Why would God allow his only Son to endure all of that?

Another read of the verses from Isaiah illuminates what we receive through
this sacrifice – peace and healing for ourselves. The punishment inflicted upon Jesus brings us peace. We experience healing because Jesus was wounded. It is almost beyond our understanding, but a horribly painful moment brings us healing and a horrifically violent act brings us everlasting peace.

There is something of an unfair transaction going on that demonstrates the extravagance of God and his unmerited favor that we call grace. There is also something profoundly theological, sacrificial and covenantal taking place.

The sacrificial code and practices we find in the Old Testament are there to atone for our sins and imperfections. Here on the Cross, the spotless Lamb of God pays the ultimate sacrifice once and for all, ushering us into a new dispensation of grace and deliverance.

We have peace with God because of all that was accomplished by Jesus, and this peace is experienced by having faith in Jesus (see Romans 5:1: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ). Yes, it’s that straightforward – we don’t have to complicate it!

The Easter story doesn’t end with Calvary. Easter Sunday is about resurrection and new life. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are reminded that, If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! The old reality of being held captive by sin, of death being our final enemy, is gone! On Easter Sunday, we rise to new life in Christ – that new life is eternal life, it encapsulates victory over sin and death, it includes our healing and wholeness, it is a life of deep peace.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

This Easter, you can experience healing and wholeness in Christ. It’s why Jesus came to earth. It’s what God desires most for you.

We hope you will be blessed by ‘And Can It Be’ from The Salvation Army’s Southern Territorial Songsters (Choir): https://youtu.be/Yy5G0j5T7_Y

91402590_10163332654935333_1102329134912110592_n sanfordIn these days of social distancing, The Salvation Army in Seminole County (Sanford, Florida) is still committed to connecting with their community.

Over the course of several days, Salvation Army pastors and employees dropped off care packages on the doorsteps of church members and program participants, and even took boxes to a local assisted living facility for seniors that may be feeling the effects of isolation more acutely than others.

The care packages included food bags, water, snacks, activity books, cards, and other personal items.

“We have loved our people from afar,” says Major Julia Tarnue, Administrator for The Salvation Army serving Seminole County. “Smiles, hand waves and “hugs” through windows are not the norm, but I feel we are more connected than ever!”

Click here to learn about The Salvation Army’s national response to coronavirus COVID-19.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.