She Leads… With Humility

By Captain Deborah Breazeale
Albuquerque, NM Corps – Southwest Division

In Matthew 20: 25-27 Christ admonished his followers, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.”

This is hard for natural born leaders. We know how we want things done and sometimes it is just easier to do it ourselves or micro-manage those who work with us. This comes with unrealistic expectations of perfection, which no one can obtain. The result, feelings of frustration, failure and often a breakdown of relationships.

This is not leading with humility; this is not even good leadership. My interpretation of effective leadership is leading by example; to get right down there with your people, get your hands dirty, work alongside them, ask for their ideas, (they might just be better than your own!), and finish as a team.

Effective parents are those who understand the value of teamwork. Parents often assign their children chores to teach them responsibility. Cleaning their rooms, taking out the trash, feeding the dog. This can lead to anger, frustration, and tears when the children fail to follow through. However, if the parents come along side and say, “Lets get this done together!” and offer to pitch by helping to pick up books, toys, or to bag the trash and go with them to the dumpster, the kids join in the work and it becomes an opportunity to have a good time together. Showing the children that work can be fun.

The same goes for people we work with at the Corps. When we willingly pitch in to help, show that we are not asking them to do anything we ourselves are not willing to do, the project or work gets done quickly and we have a great time together.

The Albuquerque Corps has a Prayer Breakfast once a month and I used to fix the meal myself early on a Saturday morning, sometimes not with a happy heart. A couple of people started coming early asking if they could help and I would try to find things for them to do, (LOL!). One of the ladies asked if she could provide part of the breakfast one month. I hesitated, after all, that was my job! But I said okay.

Over the months she has picked up more and more of the task, providing and preparing the food and she has blossomed! She loves helping and doing and I have a new friend. Now, she askes me to scramble the eggs! I love it! We have such a great time together, serving the people of our Corps.

Here are three tips for cultivating humility:

  1. Embrace your humanness-accept your limitations; it’s okay to not be perfect all the time.
  2. Practice mindfulness and compassion.
  3. Express gratitude-gratitude can make us less self-focused and more focused on those around us-a hallmark of humble people.

“The key to humility might just be seeing life as a journey towards cultivating those qualities that bring out the best in others and we and make this world a better place.” Vicki Zakrzewski

Mick Ukleja, PhD, founder and president of LeadershipTraQ gives six attributes of healthy humility: (https://www.success.com/6-attributes-of-healthy-humility/)

  • They acknowledge they don’t have it al together.
  • They know the difference between self-confidence and pride.
  • They seek to add value to others.
  • They take responsibility for their actions.
  • They understand the shadow side of success.
  • They are filled with gratitude for what they have.

One additional attribute is LOVE -spend time listening to others.

A scripture I will leave you with is one I really love to read when I’m feeling indispensable, (not humble): Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. (Romans 12:3)

She Leads… by Seeing & Seizing the Day

By Commissioner Debi Bell
Southwest Division

See and Seize the Day!
(We need leaders, who seek, see, and lead using valuable insights gained in the search.)

We can discover countless gems buried in the myriad lists found 1 Chronicles. This gem is one of my favorites because it gave a tip of the hat to leaders who had vision.

“From Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command.” 1 Chronicles 12:32 (NIV)

General John Gowans addressed a group of leaders and asked us to rethink the word “seer” to try to erase the negative connotations that equate it with the dark arts of sorcery. Then apply a more true understanding that seers are people who have a clear vision for the future. Seers and prophets are similar types of people. We also tend to mystify the terms prophet and prophesy. In the Bible, many prophets and seers spoke of future events that seemed obscure and clouded in mystery. Even today we look at prophesy and realize the same vision has many applications.

Prophesy is listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit. It is defined as both foretelling and telling forth God’s message. A prophet, seer, will also have the gifts of discernment, wisdom, and knowledge. Prophets and seers who use their gifts for personal power, gain, or amusement are in grave danger. People who misuse their prophetic gift are false prophets, who mislead people, and will answer to God for this misuse of their gifts.

Seize The Day!
(Looking for women of passion and potential)

Are you a woman who has a passion for The Lord and for extending His Kingdom? Then you are most likely a seer… a person who clearly sees what is most valuable in life and you pursue it. This verse from Proverbs will speak to your gifting.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

As a true seer, you will see the importance of keeping your purpose and priorities in line with God’s priorities as found here in the words of Jesus.

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

See the Day!
Women of Purpose

“And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14c NIV

Leaders, who see, understand that they have a purpose, but life is not “all about them.” Esther was a leader for her day because she did not dwell on the things that happened to her but understood those things had equipped her for the role and purpose God gave her. Imagine if Esther had used any of the negative circumstances of her life define her. Esther could have been the orphan, sad and forgotten. Esther could have been the prisoner of war exiled in a foreign country living as an alien. She could have been the sex trafficked victim living in the prison of the king’s harem. Esther could have chosen to be defined as a religiously persecuted woman with no rights or power to change things. Yes, all those things happened to her, but she discovered her purpose was to trust God and use her role as queen to intercede for the Jewish people and preserve the line of David so that in the fullness of time Jesus, the Messiah, would be born. Esther means star, whether or not she could foresee the day when a star would appear to herald the birth of the Messiah, she could see her purpose in God’s plan.

The things good and bad that happened to you do not define you, but they equip you for God’s purpose if you choose to trust and see beyond them.

Hi C the Day!
Women Who Program

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

The book, Strengths Finder by Tom Rath, is a good tool to use in your quest to become a better leader. There are other similar resources to explore. With the “Strengths Finder” tools, you learn what your strengths are and how to better use them for God’s purpose for your life. I learned that I am an “Ideaist;” creativity is my superpower. Sometimes I forget that coming up with ideas for programs is not easy for everyone else. When I look at the phrase, “seize the day,” my mind automatically begins to mine it for ideas and words that sound like words in the phrase. Images that go along with the word play in my head. I jot down these ideas because I see them. Are you like that? Then you may be a seer.

However, your strength could be as an Achiever or Activator because you can see how to make it work. Then you may be a seer. On the other hand, your strength could be as a Developer who can help others see the idea and how it can work for them. Then you may be a seer. To program and make a program work takes all kinds of seers. Effective seers are people who see and do what God shows them. Like Esther, your purpose creates waves and ripples in the sea of time that makes a difference long after you have come and gone. See the day and seize it.

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests. Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; He answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Psalm 20:4-7 (NIV)

Seas the Day!
Women Who Pool Resources

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.” Psalm 105:1-5 (NIV)

Leaders know that they cannot do it all by themselves. Esther called upon her friends and family to pray for her before she began to execute her plan. She did not just blurt out everything at her first meeting with the king. She waited for God’s guidance and trusted Him.

What are the challenges of your appointment? What are the challenges in your family or personal life? Get others to pray with you and for you. Ask God to show you His plan. Pool your resources. It is important to build good healthy relationships that build your resources rather than tear them down. This is very difficult to do in ministry, however work at building life-long friends.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

Seize the Possibilities
Women Who See Possibilities

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

One of our biggest challenges in life is change. Change happens whether or not you are ready for it to happen. There are events in history called sea changes. Sea changes are likened to the waves of the ocean. The tide goes in and out dictated by the cycle of the moon and other atmospheric influences. People who surf learn that waves come in patterns. The best surfers learn to see the pattern so they can catch the best waves when they come. The best surfers are like leaders who see-seers. You understand the times and know what to do. You are not bogged down in circumstances, but you seize the possibilities. You lead change.

See and Seize the Day!
Women with Purpose (Lighthouse Keepers)

“For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV)

Lighthouse keepers and surfers have a lot in common. They both read the waves. However, a lighthouse keeper has a better perspective and more information. The duty of lighthouse keepers is to prepare for storms that arise. They light the light that guides people around the dangerous rocks. They sound the alarm. They help rescue the ones who have wrecked. Sometimes it is hard to be a lighthouse keeper. It is hard to be a prophet/seer when people do not want to listen to your message and warning.

“But I said, ‘I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.’ Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God…This is what the LORD says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ “They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.” Isaiah 49:4, 8-10 (NIV)

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

“The light of the righteous shines brightly…” Proverbs 13:9 (NIV)

Lighthouse Keepers, enlist your praying friends and family – pool your resources. Draw strength from those who understand you. Seek them out and build the friendships. Most of all trust in The Lord because you see the purpose He has for you will eventually bear fruit. Let your light shine.

We need leaders who see and seek the Lord with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. God bless you. Seize the day and lead the way.

November 2021 Bible Study: 10 Reasons to Praise the Lord

By Major Beth Desplancke
Territorial Women’s Ministries Program Secretary

Bible Study on 1 Chronicles 16:8-36

INTRODUCTION
It is November, and here in America we focus on the celebration of Thanksgiving, a time when we gather with family and friends and eat too much food and share what we are thankful for. The Bible tells us to be thankful, but it also tells us to praise God. What is the difference?

Author Mark Alan Williams explains the difference between thanksgiving and praise (https://www.markalanwilliams.net/post/2018/11/19/the-subtle-but-significant-difference-between-thanksgiving-and-praise/). He explains that “thanksgiving focuses on benefits bestowed to us… Whatever we are thankful for, we are grateful because of the blessing brought to US. The focus is on US… Praise focuses on the character of God and our love for Him. While thanksgiving focuses on blessings bestowed on us, praise focuses on God. We praise Him for His character, His attributes and His abilities.” The command to praise God appears approximately 250 times in the Bible. Praise should be a significant part of the believer’s life.

“10,000 Reasons” is a song by Matt Redman, about blessing the Lord through praise. The premise of the song is that we have so many things to praise the Lord for we couldn’t even begin to count them. Begin your time of Bible study by singing this son or watching the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM

In 1 Chronicles 16, God’s people are celebrating because they had just safely brought the ark of God, which represents God’s presence with His people, back to its rightful place. In this chapter, let’s discover not 10,000 reasons but 10 reasons to praise God today and every day. (Note attributes are based on the New Living Translation of 1 Chronicles 16)

  1. Praise God because He is Great, v. 8, 25.
    Great meant you did something well, or fantastic. God is great because He does everything well. Everything He does is fantastic! Remember that: everything He does is great, including what He does and is doing in your life right now. It may not feel great now, but eventually God will make it great.

    Another way to think about great is in size. When we say God is great, we can say He is big, enormous. He is great over everything He created. When you think of the billions of people in this world it is a great big number, but God is bigger than that number. When you think about the size of the universe, God is greater than that. What that means is God is bigger than anything or anyone we face. Any problem we have, any struggle we go through, any addiction we have, God is greater.
  2. Praise God because He does wonderful things, v. 9, 24.
    What God does is glorious and amazing. God doesn’t do anything half-heartedly or mediocre. All that He does is wonderful. Just take a look at creation – all the beauty He made. Did He have to create so many varieties of flowers in so many colors? No! did He have to create the sunset or sunrise to be so beautiful? Of course not.
    Everything He does is wonderful, glorious and amazing. The same is true in how He works in our lives. He is doing something wonderful, glorious, and amazing to make you the man He wants you to be. By bringing you here He is doing something amazing and wonderful in your life – you’ve just got to allow Him to work because at times it doesn’t always feel or even appear amazing or wonderful.
  3. Praise God because He is holy, v. 10, 19, 35.
    God is holy means He is without sin. He is perfect and everything He does is perfect. Think of it – He isn’t going to make a mistake in how He works in our lives. For example, because He is without sin means He isn’t going to blow His top and lose His temper because of something we do. He isn’t going to hold a grudge because of something we did. He is holy and perfect, and therefore, not a subject to the whims of misjudgments that would be made in sin. That means everything He does is perfect – the way He is working in your life is perfect. He isn’t punishing you because you got drunk too many times. He isn’t paying you back for your life of sin. He is holy and perfect and works perfectly in our lives to make us like Him – holy.
  4. Praise God He is Strong, v. 11, 27-28.
    Remember the song, “He’s got the whole world in His hands?” God is organizing, governing, and watching over the entire world. V. 30 says the world stands firm and cannot be shaken. This is due to God’s strength. He holds the universe in His hand. God is strong and powerful; He is stronger than anything in this world.

    We are weak but God is strong. In any problem or difficulty we face, God is strong enough to handle it. We think we can handle some on our own, but God is much stronger than we ever can be, so what is a challenge to us is nothing to a great big God, who is strong enough to bring order to the universe.
  5. Praise God because He is faithful, v. 15-22, 34.
    God is a promise keeping God. He is going to be faithful to all His promises. What promises does He make to us? The Bible is full of them. Here are just a few promises God has made, and He will be faithful to keep: He promises salvation (Romans 10:9), He promises forgiveness (1 John 1:9), He promises His presence (Hebrews13:5) and He promises us that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39)
  6. Praise God He is our Savior, v. 23, 35.
    He saves us. This is good news. This is great news! God is holy and without sin and because of His holiness He can’t be around sin. We are sinners – all of us. We could never be in the presence of God because of our sin. God decided to solve our problem of sin for us. He sent His perfect Son – Jesus Christ – to die in our place for our sins.
  7. Praise God He reigns, v. 31.
    To say God reigns is to acknowledge that God is King and He is the Ruler. God is ruler over all the earth. He is in control. Nothing will knock Him off His throne. We can trust God to reign according to His nature, which we’ve already mentioned.

    In The Salvation Army Songbook (21016 edition) song #16 says, God is still on the throne, and He will remember His own; though trials may press us and burdens distress us, He will never leave us alone. God is still on the throne, and He remembers His own. His promise is true, He will not forget you; God is still on the throne.
  8. Praise God He is our coming judge, v. 33.
    This is a two-fold praise. We can praise God that His Son is returning someday to take His children up with Him to heaven. This is exciting because this world isn’t all there is. God hasn’t forgotten about us. He will come again, someday, we just don’t know when. We have something better to look forward to.

    But why is He coming? He is coming to judge. He is coming to judge the righteous and the wicked. But if we have received Christ as our personal Savior, we need not fear our judgment. Romans 8:1 tells us now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. If we belong to Christ, we won’t be condemned!
    For those who haven’t received Christ as their personal Savior, the should fear judgment. If your name isn’t written in the Lambs Book of Life, you will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15) – which is hell.

    All of the things we have thought unfair when the wicked seemed to get away with doing wrong, will finally get what they deserved. Read Psalm 37;1-2, 37-38 to see what happens to the wicked.
  9. Praise God He is good, v. 34.
    God is good – all the time. All the time – God is good! Everything God does is out of His goodness. It may not seem good at the time, but if we remember that God’s very nature is good, and He has our best good in mind, when those unpleasant things come our way, we will remember it is all good! It doesn’t mean it always feels good, but we can trust that God is working good in your life in even the most unpleasant of circumstances.
  10. Praise God He is eternal, v. 36.
    God is everlasting. He’s the same today as He was yesterday and He’ll be the same tomorrow. God forever will be how He is described in this passage of Scripture. I’m not going to wake up one day and discover God is no longer there – because He is eternal. He has always been and always will be. I’m not going to wake up one day and discover God is different, for He is everlasting and forever He will be who He is. Things come and go, leaders change, rules change, circumstances change, but God is eternal and remains the same every day.

    CONCLUSION
    In the devotional book, Be Still and Know (© 2016 by Broadstreet Publishing), the reading for August 17 is entitled, “Continual Praise” and it says this:

    What would it look like to be people who praise God from the time we awaken each morning until the time we fall asleep each night? Not only would it be pleasing God as we worship him constantly, but we would also effect an incredible change in our personal outlook.

    Intentional, continual praise can only naturally result in intentional, continual joy. When we choose to look at each moment as a moment in which to be thankful and worshipful, then we will find in each moment, beauty, joy and satisfaction.

What a challenge, to be women of continual praise. Can you come up with a top-ten list of what to praise God for? Close your Bible study time with the song “Great Are You Lord,” by All Sons & Daughters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHJuzehKt8s.

Download the printable version of this Bible study.

Note: Check out this month’s devotional, The PERFECT Thanksgiving, and this month’s craft, Edible Thanksgiving Turkeys that coordinate with this Bible study.

November 2021 Craft: Edible Thanksgiving Turkeys

Submitted by the Southwest Division

Ingredients
1 cup of chocolate chips or premade chocolate frosting
30 candy corn candies
6 chocolate sandwich cookies
6 mini peanut butter cups
6 malt balls
1 cup of red frosting
6 chocolate sandwich cookies with top cookies removed
Red frosting in a piping bag

Directions:

  1. Place the chocolate chips in a medium stainless steel or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Or to make your life easier, simply use premade chocolate frosting.
  2. For each turkey, push 5 candy corn candies, tip side down, into the cream filling of a chocolate sandwich cookie to make the feathers for the turkey. Lay the cookie on a work surface.
  3. Dip the flat, larger end of a peanut butter cup in the melted chocolate allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place malt ball above the peanut butter cup to make a head of the turkey.
  4. Dip the flat end of the white candy corn tip into the chocolate. Place on a malt ball, to make the turkey beak. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set, about 10 minutes.
  5. Place the red frosting in a piping bag. Using scissors, cut a small opening in the end of the popping bag. Pipe a small piece of frosting under the malt ball to make the turkey beard.
  6. Place a cookie (with top half removed) on a platter. Stand the turkey upright into the cream filling. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Note: Check out this month’s Bible Study, 10 Reasons to Praise the Lord, and this month’s devotional, The PERFECT Thanksgiving, which coordinate with this craft.

November 2021 Devotional: The PERFECT Thanksgiving

Southwest Division

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a joyous time of celebration. It is a time when we gather around a table that is overflowing with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pies, and all sorts of delicious foods. It is a time for football, parades, and all-around mirth. As Christians, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks to God for abounding love and faithfulness to us.

For many, however, Thanksgiving brings about vastly different emotions. It is a time of stress, anxiety, and depression. It reminds them of their failure and imperfections. Thanksgiving is not a thankful holiday for these people. Why is that? What is it about this holiday or this time of year that causes these emotions?

I often think about these questions as I mentally prepare myself for the stress of Thanksgiving, and the main answer I come back to is societal expectations. When I consider the holidays and what society has told me they look like, it is overwhelming. The perfectly set tables brimming with food. The lavish decorations, and perfectly cleaned house. The children with perfect manners, and the husband who is watching the perfect game in his perfect recliner. The expectations are crushing.

These expectations are not anything new either. I often look back at the story of Mary and Martha. Read Luke 10:38-42.

Two sisters seeking to enjoy being in the presence of Jesus. Enter the expectations. Mary casts aside the expectations of a host and simply sits at Jesus feet. Martha, however, seeks to be a good host while also wanting to be a part of the festivities. In most teaching and sermons, Martha is portrayed as a busybody and complainer. However, I believe that what she is experiencing is very real. She wants to live up to what society has said is a good host. She wants that PERFECT Thanksgiving.

I think that when Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen what is better, he is inviting her to forget the expectations and simply be with him. HE isn’t telling her that she is wrong or that she is worse than Mary. He is telling her that it is okay if the dishes wait, it is okay if the turkey is dry.

Thanksgiving is a time to simply be reminded that Jesus loves us. We give thanks to God, not because of the food, decorations, or visiting guests, but simply because he loves us.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What are some of the stresses that you experience during Thanksgiving?
  • How do you deal with your stress during the holidays?

Challenge:

Starting on Thanksgiving Day, try to keep a gratitude journal. Each day write anywhere between a sentence and a paragraph of the things that you are thankful for that day. Don’t overthink it, you are the only one looking in this journal.

Note: Check out this month’s Bible Study, 10 Reasons to Praise the Lord, and this month’s craft, Edible Thanksgiving Turkeys, that coordinates with this devotional.

She Leads…With Courage

By Major Tracie Hartt
Santa Rosa, CA Corps – Del Oro Division

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

When I think of powerful women leaders in the Bible, I cannot help but think of Esther. Esther was used by God to save a nation. In a time when women were not leaders and when her ethnicity was frowned upon, she stepped up. She was an orphan that became Queen of Persia and then in obedient courage she was used to save her people. I can imagine how scary this situation must have been for her but despite that she did not waver.

In my own life I have seen courageous leadership in my mom, Vicki Roberts. My parents are retired Majors for The Salvation Army. My mom has suffered from kidney cancer, heart issues and she had a stroke. She has had years of being in and out of the hospitals and has faced some extremely tough times physically. This is enough to turn anyone anxious and fearful. She has amazed me with her strength and spirit to do all she can until the Lord takes her home. Even in the hospital when things were uncertain, she was witnessing for the Lord and praying for the nurses. As she was house bound for the past few years, she has made it a point to not stop her ministry. She joins as many Salvation Army Livestream Worship Services possible from home. She began a Zoom Bible Study and daily uses her cell phone to lift others up and point them to Christ. Her leadership never stopped! Her ministry didn’t retire! Her zeal for the Lord has only increased! What an incredible example.

This past year and a half have been difficult for many of us. In the face of the unknown with the pandemic I personally faced a time of anxiety. This surprised me as I have generally been confident and strong. I had times of struggle. I honestly wanted to stay home and felt like shutting down. I knew this was not possible nor was it Gods will. I needed to lead and there were so many that needed help. I knew that in my ministry, and in my life, that I had the only, true, hope that could transcend the fear and anxiety that I (and millions of others around the world) was feeling. Like Esther, I had to walk into a situation, daily, that was full of unknowns (which was, and is, totally against my nature). I had to trust God and push through the anxiety because our employees, our congregation, and our community needed the hope that only Christ can bring. It took me being intentional in my personal walk with the Lord and I really learned to walk by faith in God and not by sight.

Through the years I witnessed that the courage that comes from the Lord is powerful. When I have had to walk through a door in the hospital to pray with someone who was dying, when I have taken the step to stand in the gap for the person who could not stand for themselves, when I have had to love someone that is angry and broken, when I had to walk through the doors of our corps despite the fear…God’s presence was evident and His strength sustaining. As I embrace a new appointment and walk into unknown areas, I have a choice to make as a leader. Being a leader can be hard but the beauty of relying on the Lords strength in the storms is empowering and beautiful.

I am so encouraged every time I think of Esther. She was a young Hebrew girl who was taken captive (along with her people) and trust into a situation where she had to abandon herself, entirely, into the hands of God…not knowing what would happen to her. All she knew about God was the testimonies of His work in the lives of those men and women of Israel who came before her time, and their declarations of His faithfulness to them.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

We are on this amazing journey as leaders and how incredible is it that we get to do this! He will sustain us and fill us with power and strength as we minister for Him and lead in courage.

October 2021 Inspire Newsletter

It is a new program year in The Salvation Army and this year’s theme is “Hope for the World.” How fitting of a theme for such a time as this.

Each issue of the Inspire Newsletter is going to focus on one symbol of hope. Did you know that red, orange and yellow are considered hopeful colors? This edition is all about the beautiful fall leaves that a lot of places get to enjoy. Included are some fall leaf craft ideas and a new feature of our newsletter, Bible trivia, and this month it is all about leaves.

The focus verse for this month is Romans 15:13 which says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Need previous issues of the INSPIRE Newsletter?  They can be found at the following links: September 2021August 2021July 2021June 2021May 2021, April 2021March 2021February 2021, January 2021 December 2020November 2020October 2020September 2020August 2020July 2020June 2020May 2020April 2020March 2020February 2020January 2020December 2019November 2019October 2019October 2018-September 2019

October 2021 Devotional: I See You. God Sees You. You Matter

By Lt. Mony Oregel
Stockton, CA Corps – Del Oro Division

One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. Acts 16:14 (NIV)

Ten years ago, my life was a hot mess.

I attempted to numb my childhood hurt, pain, and rejection with anything and everything —alcohol, drugs, food, men. You name it, I tried it. But nothing worked.

My wounds screamed you are nothing: I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough. Life was dark. Soon the police were involved, threatening to take my kids away. My life was a disaster, and chaotic and I didn’t know what to do.

During my mess and crazy life, I called a friend (I call her my angel), a friend who walked the same road I did. I didn’t know her well, but there was something different about her. She wore this polyester blue uniform every day and, on her name, tag it said, “Welcoming Sargent.” She would invite me to church every week. I said to myself. What kind of church is that? I don’t want any part of it. I laughed and brushed it off over and over. I would tell her “next time!” Something in her eyes and her smile said: I see you. God sees you.  You matter. You are not alone.

That evening, my angel listened to my story and then spoke four simple words: “Mony, you need Jesus.”

Since I’d tried everything the world had to offer and still felt empty inside, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. In 2013 I walked in to the Oakland Garden street Salvation Army. Those officers and soldiers welcomed me with open arms. I felt safe and at home. I invited Jesus Christ into my heart and to take control of my life.

Everything changed for me at that moment, starting with my angel. She noticed this lost girl and introduced me to the One who opens His arms wide — no matter the size of the mess I was in.

Today, my life gives hope to others and a testament to the fact that no one is too far gone from God’s amazing grace.

This former drug addict now leads a beautiful Corps in Stockton and an amazing community is focused on telling men, women, boys, and girls about God’s amazing love.

But what if my angel had been too busy or distracted? What if she’d looked away?

The Apostle Paul also knew the power of seeing others — not just as who they were, but who they could be. Paul understood the transforming power of Jesus, which made him the perfect ambassador to share God’s love and light everywhere he went.

In Acts 16, as Paul passed through Macedonia, he took time to see Lydia and her friends sitting by the river. Lydia was a successful business owner. But selling purple cloth didn’t fill the void as she searched for spiritual purpose and potential. All the money and connections couldn’t satisfy her deepest need for love and belonging. That day on the riverbank, though, everything changed.

Three ambassadors of God sought His lost children. I bet that day Paul, Luke and Silas were gentle in their demeanor. I bet they smiled and made eye contact that said: I see you. God sees you. You matter. You are not alone.

The Bible tells us the three men did not ignore the women sharing the riverbank with them. (Acts 16:13) Paul stopped. Sat. Shared. Unintimidated by the fact that not one single person for miles around believed in Jesus Christ. Not one. Then there was a miracle on the fishy-smelling, shore. One of God’s lost girls was found! …The Lord opened (Lydia’s) heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14). She listened, and her heart was opened to God’s love his promises and the Good News of Jesus. Because Paul and his friends looked up from their lives and really saw Lydia, she was saved.

What about you, friend? How often do you look up and really notice people God places in your life? How might you break out of your comfort zone and engage with someone?

Let’s remember: We might be the difference between someone being lost and being found. We might be the light in someone’s dark chaotic world. Let’s be that light – the light God calls us to be.

Dear God, I acknowledge You as the God who sees me. You know me and understand me when no one else does. Forgive me for the times I’ve missed the Men, women, boys and girls here, near and far who need Jesus. Give me Your eyes and heart to seek the lost and be that light and show them Jesus and His love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Check out this month’s Bible Study, Seeds of Potential and this month’s craft, Sand Jar Craft, which coordinates with this devotional.

October 2021 Craft: Sand Jar Craft

By Lt. Mony Oregel
Stockton, CA Corps – Del Oro Division

Supplies Needed: (You can find everything from your local dollar store)

  • A container – glass or plastic with a wide mouth
  • 3-4 different colored sands (1 should be a neutral, natural color of sand)
  • A spoon
  • A funnel
  • An artificial succulent or any flower of your choice
  • Seashells and/or craft rocks

Check out the following videos for detailed instructions on how to make this craft.

Sand Craft part 1:

Sand Craft part 2:

Note: Check out this month’s Bible study, Seeds of Potential, and this month’s devotional, I See You. God Sees You. You Matter, that coordinates with this craft.

October 2021 Bible Study: Seeds of Potential

By Major Shannon Murphy
Yuba/Sutter, CA Corps – Del Oro Division

Scripture References: John 15:16, Matthew 13:3-8, John 15:1-4

My oldest son is currently working his second season at a local pumpkin farm, Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm. This pumpkin farm began operations 49 years ago and is well known throughout the region. It is amazing to see the rows and rows of pumpkins, all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm is famous for its oversized pumpkins. Earlier this summer I learned the amount of care and attention put into such a crop. For instance, to produce 100-to-200-pound show pumpkins, each plant needs 80 square feet of space to grow. Smaller variety pumpkins do not near this much space. Since a few seeds will fail to germinate and a few plants will die of various causes (rabbits and squirrels), farmers plant a seed every 3.5 ft in 12 ft rows. At a certain point, farmers must thin out the excess plants so larger pumpkins have enough room to grow reaching their full potential.

This process of producing a bumper pumpkin crop reminded me of how God works in the lives of His people.

God Designed Us With A Purpose

Read John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Similarly, to the farmer selecting which pumpkins to prepare for full maturity, God chose each one of us before we even were aware of it. He is taking the time to care and nurture us to grow according to His purpose for us. Our purpose is to produce fruit, lasting fruit. However, many times we might not want to let Him be in control of our lives. We struggle to allow the adequate amount water (the Holy Spirit), or fertilizer (His Word) penetrate us for growth.

  • Have you fully accepted that God has chosen you?
  • Are you fully trusting in God’s plan for your life? If not, what is causing you not to fully trust in God’s plan for you?

God Positions Us to Reach Our Full Potential

Read Matthew 13:3-8
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
In this scripture we are told of how the farmer scattered the seeds. We know the seeds were probably scattered by hand; however, they were not scattered carelessly. The seeds were probably expensive so the farmer would disburse with care and to the best of his ability.

In the first scene, we see the farmer scattered seed along a walking path or road. Some Bible translations say, “some seeds fell by the wayside.” We are not sure why he would sow seeds here. It could be this soil seemed to be just as good the rest of the field. It could have been soil that was good at one point but turned hard overtime.

In the second scene, we see the farmer scattered seed on the rocky place. This does not mean that it fell on rock, but into the ground where the rock was close to the surface. This would not have been seen by the farmer. When seed falls on this kind of soil there is miraculous growth of the seed. But because there is no depth of the soil so the roots cannot go down and all the strength goes into the stalk.

In the third scene, we see the farmer scattered seed and some fell was among the thorns. This soil was good; however, it was infested by weeds. This was also not visible to the farmer as the roots of the weeds and thorns filled the soil but had yet to emerge above ground. The seeds compete for soil as the thorns grow faster than the seeds and the new sprouts soon get choked by the thorns.

In the fourth scene, we see the farmer scattered seed on good soil. This soil is enriched with the proper hydration and nutrients for a healthy crop. However, the seed still must deal with all the hardships and storms before the crop becomes mature.

There are seasons in your life where you may feel out of place or in the wrong position. You may wonder if God got it wrong or if God was careless in His placement of you. But hold on to these truths: you are valued, and God is meticulous where He wants to you positioned. You may deal with seasons of drought or famine, but God positioned where you are for growth and maturing to your full potential.

  • Looking at your life today, what type of soil are you positioned in?
  • What steps do you need to take to be in the good soil?

God Prunes Us To Produce Fruit

Read John 15:1-4
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

The pumpkin farmer plant seeds near one another, every 3.5 feet in 12-foot rows. As the crops matures the fields quickly become crowded. Some plants are green and leafy but never produce fruit while others sprout pumpkins that are lackluster. So, to produce the best crop of beautiful, full-sized pumpkins, the farmer must conduct some pruning. He must thin out the excessive under producing plants.

There are seasons when life becomes overcrowded by useless and worthless things. If gone unchecked these things can easily stunt our growth and cut off our connection to the Father. God wants to prune and burn away the unnecessary and fruitless things in our lives. This pruning may include the difficult decision of cutting unhealthy relationships or removing negative influences in our lives. When we allow God to complete this process then we can produce the fruit intended for us.

  • What things or people do you need to remove from your life and why?

Note: Check out this month’s devotional, I See You. God Sees You. You Matter, and this month’s craft, Sand Jar Craft, which coordinates with this Bible study.