Archive for the ‘Salvation Army’ Category

Then many of the Jewish leaders who heard him say these things began believing him to be the Messiah. Jesus said to them, “You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you to, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32 TLB

This was the bible verses listed as ‘Verse of the day’ on BibleGateway.com on Monday of this week. So why am I telling you this? On Sunday at our corps (church) it was our Vision and Commitment Sunday. During which we were asked to make a new commitment to be God’s disciple, and Monday’s verse of the day fitted perfectly with the discipleship promise we made on Sunday:

N.B. Although the photo above shows I’ve not signed my commitment, I have signed a copy of this commitment.

I made a public commitment to serve God all life a number of years ago, when I was commissioned as a senior soldier at Rutherglen Salvation Army. During that service, the singing company (junior choir) sang a song which I choose as it was special to me, Lord, Thou Art Questioning.

I’ve committed to be God’s disciple every day and in all I do, have you?

Here’s a beautiful band arrangement of that song. I’ve listed the words of the song below also so you can follow them.

Lord, thou art questioning: Lovest thou me?

Yea, Lord, thou knowest, my answer must be;

But since love’s value is proved by love’s test,

Jesus, I’ll give thee the dearest and best.

Chorus

All in my heart, Lord, thou canst read;

Master, thou knowest I love thee indeed.

Ask what thou wilt my devotion to test,

I will surrender the dearest and best.

How couldst thou smile on me if, in my heart,

I were unwilling from treasures to part?

Since my redemption cost thee such a price,

Utmost surrender alone will suffice.

Down at thy feet all my fears I let go,

Back on thy strength all my weakness I throw;

Lord, in my life thou shalt have thine own way,

Speak but the word, and thy child will obey.

Sitting in an empty room. Silence, apart from the ticking of the clock on the wall. It’s getting dark outside, but you don’t have the energy to stand up and put the light on. you’re actually enjoying the silence and the fact that no-one knows you’re there – No-one knows you’re sitting in the corner of a darkening room, enjoying the silence and the darkness.

Emptiness. Silence. They seem to go so well together. You don’t want the emptiness and the silence to end.

But then you realise just how dark the room has become, and the clock has moved on an hour since you were last aware of the time. You realise you’ve a million and one things you should be doing instead of just sitting in the darkness.

Question: Is there anything wrong with spending some time by yourself, sitting in the darkness, emptying your mind of all your worries and stresses?

Answer: I would have to say it sounds like a great thing to do – As it would free us from distractions around us, while giving us time to relax and refocus on what’s important to us. I’d also suggest it would be a good time to spend some quality time with God.

We can so often these days be so busy focusing on all the things on the periphery of our life, rather than concentrating on the important stuff. So if you find yourself on your own, in a darkening room, enjoy the emptiness and the quietness.

Last Sunday in our morning worship our songsters (choir) sang a Christmas song which I hadn’t heard before. Both the music and the words really touched me as together they combined the beauty of the nativity, the promised arrival of the Son of God, and the awesome feeling we get when we experience Christ in our lives.

Please listen to this beautiful song and experience the awesomeness of Christmas once again. I hope you are blessed by the words and music.

Christmas Sanctus

See the weary pair,
nestled in a stable bare,
gazing at their baby boy,
filled with love and praise.

Earth and heaven sing,
worshipping the new born King,
who has come to change the world.
Join in songs of praise:

Holy, holy, holy is the blessed one.
Heav’n and earth are filled with your glory.
Holy, holy, holy is the promised Son.
Glory be to God in the highest!

See the shepherds run,
searching for God’s precious Son;
kneeling at his manger bed,
filled with love and praise.

Ev’ry knee will bow.
Ev’ry tongue confessing now,
Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
Join in songs of praise:

Holy, holy, holy is the blessed one,
Heav’n and earth are filled with your glory.
Holy, holy, holy is the promised Son.
Glory be to God in the highest!

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord

If I were to ask you if in your family you have any Christmas traditions you uphold each year, what would your answers be?

  • Spending a day Christmas shopping with your friends or family
  • Putting up the Christmas tree
  • Decorating the house
  • Giving gifts to family and friends
  • Spending quality time with family on Christmas Day
  • Eating turkey and generally  over-eating!
  • Attending a carol service

In our house, we have a tradition of starting our Christmas season by sitting down and watching one of our favourite Christmas films. For the last few years it’s been the same film watched, as it has become my husband’s favourite, and that is the film Elf!

I’m sure if we went round the room we’d find we all consider a lot of different films to be our favourites and that shouldn’t surprise us as there are hundreds to choose from with new films being release each year. Never mind all the classic Christmas films which I’m sure we’ve all watched a few times.

When I was considering about what I’d share with you tonight, I got thinking about what Christmas would have been like if that very first Christmas never happened. And this turned my thoughts to my Mum’s favourite Christmas film, the classic, It’s A Wonderful Life.

James Stewart plays George Bailey who along with his uncle, has inherited the Bailey Brothers’ Building and Loan, saving it from takeover by the banker. He builds affordable housing for local residents, again annoying his local business rival. Then a few years later on Christmas Eve, George’s uncle misplaces the $8000 that was due to be paid to the bank for the building and loan, meaning George knows he will probably go to jail. So on that snowy night he heads out in desperation, uncertain what to do, and gets drunk and into a fight. Wishing he had never been born, he  comes to a bridge and considers committing suicide.

But then, instead of committing suicide he finds himself ‘rescuing’ Clarence Oddbody from the water. We discover Clarence is an angel, and so when George tells him he wishes he’d never been born, Clarence grants his wish to see what the world would have looked like if he never been born.

Through the rest of the film we discover that George’s life has had a significant impact on his family, friends and community, and had he never been born, other people’s lives would have been worse.

So what would life be like if Jesus had never been born? What if the first Christmas never happened? No baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger; No shepherds being told by an angel that Christ had been born; No wise men following a star to a stable to give their gifts to baby Jesus.

I found this quote from Frederick Buechner which describes the impact the birth of Jesus has had on this world:

It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.

Have you considered the impact Jesus has had on your life? Would your life have been different is Jesus had not been born?

John 1:1-2 (Living Bible)

Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.

At this time of year it can be so easy to get caught up in our Christmas traditions, and forget why we actually celebrate Christmas. But we need to remember who Christmas is about:

Who is he in yonder stall at whose feet the shepherds fall?

I pray that this year as you celebrate Christmas, you not only continue your Christmas traditions, but you remember the impact Jesus has had on your life, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus:

‘Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!

‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory;

at his feet, we humbly fall,

crown him, crown him Lord of all!

I’ve done a few Word Associations with you over the last while, but as you’ll see from the title this is another Christmas word association today. It may be a Christmas edition word association, but it’s the same format, so I’m going to throw some words at you  and I want you to note down the first word that comes into your mind when you read each word.

So here goes…

  1. wordsElf
  2. Christmas card
  3. Winter
  4. Bauble
  5. Carolling
  6. Present
  7. Sack
  8. Sweets
  9. Candle
  10. Love

 

So how did you get on with those words? Did you find it easy? Did your answers surprise you or were they just as you expected?

Well here’s my responses to my questions:

  1. Mischief
  2. Stamps
  3. Ice and snow
  4. Memories
  5. Salvation Army band
  6. Decisions
  7. Santa
  8. Overeating
  9. Peace
  10. Jesus

Were any of your answers the same as mine? Did any of my answers confuse you? Did any of your own answers confuse you?

I’ve said in previous word association posts that I find I get a bit stressed when I’m doing them as I put a lot of pressure on myself not to over think my answers! Are you relaxed when you do them or do you find it stressful too?

I still believe that when we respond with the first words that come into our minds, our answers tell us a lot about our emotional state, and what’s important to us at that particular point in time.

Bearing all this in mind, review your answers, does my theory hold true?

By the way, if you want me to explain any of my answers, just ask!

I’ve heard the question ‘What makes Christmas for you?’ several times in the last few weeks.

Everyone loves to hear a Salvation Army band at Christmas. And because of that, we have a unique opportunity, to not just share music with the listeners, but also to share God’s message of hope and love with them as well.

I read a story recently of a mother who overheard her two teenage sons taking to one another about Christmas – here’s what she heard:

The older son said to his younger brother – Oh my goodness, why do you have to bring God into everything?

The younger replied: Show me one thing where God isn’t present and I will quit bringing Him into everything! 

What a challenge! As Salvation Army bands all over the world prepare Christmas music to remind the people of Christmas, I pray that through their music they will all be able to entertain their audience but also remind them of the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. …Hope sweetens the memory of experiences well loved. It tempers our troubles to our growth and our strength. It befriends us in the dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination. ~ Samuel Smiles

Hope is such a powerful word isn’t it – Without we can feel we can’t carry on, that there’s nothing to live for. However with it, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and even the darkest of days can seem less daunting.

Put your trust in God and He will give you hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Are you a ‘real’ Christian or are you just going through the motions?

If you hold back any part of your life from God, you haven’t given Him your all. So give God your all, your hurts, your heartaches, your memories and dreams, your plans and your desires, but most of all, give Him your heart.

Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood. ~ William Penn

The project I’m responsible for at work just now, involves designing and developing a new website to provide our customers with a simple, and easy to understand way of communicating with us. This includes ensuring that the information/text the customer will be presented with is written in Plain English. i.e. It is written with the reader in mind, using non-technical terms that are clear and concise in meaning.

To give us the best chance of ensuring that what we are developing is written in way our customers will understand, we’ve held several customer forums, and have completed some online training provided by the Plain English Campaign (www.plainenglish.co.uk). For those who have not heard of the Plain English Campaign, here’s an extract from their website explaining their purpose:

Since 1979, we have been campaigning against gobbledygook, jargon and misleading public information. We have helped many government departments and other official organisations with their documents, reports and publications. We believe that everyone should have access to clear and concise information.

From the customer forums we held, we quickly realised that some of the words/terms we frequently use when we communicate with our customers, are either unclear or meaningless to our customer. This got me thinking about how we as Christians, and Salvationists, communicate God’s message to the people we come into contact with.

Do we use words that others won’t understand?

Do we use abbreviations or jargon that those unfamiliar with the Salvation Army will not know or understand?

I think most of us, if we’re honest, would answer ‘Yes’ to both those questions. But we’re not alone, even Jesus found at times he had to simplify his language so that the disciples understood what he was trying to tell them!

In John 16:25-29, we read:

“I’ve used figures of speech in telling you these things. Soon I’ll drop the figures and tell you about the Father in plain language. Then you can make your requests directly to him in relation to this life I’ve revealed to you. I won’t continue making requests of the Father on your behalf. I won’t need to. Because you’ve gone out on a limb, committed yourselves to love and trust in me, believing I came directly from the Father, the Father loves you directly. First, I left the Father and arrived in the world; now I leave the world and travel to the Father.”

His disciples said, “Finally! You’re giving it to us straight, in plain talk—no more figures of speech. Now we know that you know everything—it all comes together in you. You won’t have to put up with our questions anymore. We’re convinced you came from God.”

There are many people all around us: in our church; in our communities; our school; places of employment etc, who all need Christ. So just as Jesus had to speak plainly so the disciples understood and believed He was the Son of God, maybe we too need to review how we communicate God’s message to others, so they will believe in God.

There are people living in the world out there…
They need you, they need me, they need Christ;
There are children crying and no one to care…
They need you, they need me, they need Christ.
And they’ll go on hurting in the world out there,
And they’ll go on dying, drowning in despair,
And they’ll go on crying, that’s unless we care:
They need you, they need me, they need Christ.

Words are not one of my strong points (you may have noticed this!) – I struggle to find the right words sometimes to express how I feel or how to comfort or encourage others or even myself! However I have found that even when I can’t find any words, music can often comfort and encourage me, so I’m sure finding the right music can help anyone in whatever situation or circumstances they find themselves.

Here’s one of my ‘go to’ songs when I need some encouragement: