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 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 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 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.

Take It to the Lord in Prayer

By Major Beth Desplancke

This morning on the news I heard story after story about one crisis or another: the continuing COVID pandemic, the situation in Afghanistan, political fireworks regarding masks and vaccines… the list goes on. It sometimes feels dark and hopeless. But what do I do with the information? Yes, I am upset, but does it stir me to action? Does it lead me to my knees? To be honest, I might discuss it with others briefly, but after the initial shock of the news story, I go on, unaffected and untouched.

Nehemiah responded differently to a crisis in his time. He served as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. On a visit from his brother, Nehemiah asked about his fellows Jews who had survived the exile and about the condition of Jerusalem. Nehemiah got news he probably wasn’t expecting. I am sure when he asked, he was hoping to receive a great report, but in Nehemiah 1:3, he is told some sad news, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the providence are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

Nehemiah didn’t just say, “Oh, that’s too bad. I am so sorry to hear that,” and then quickly change the subject. No! It stopped him in his tracks! Verse 4 tells us that he sat down and wept and for some days, he mourned and fasted and prayed. The news he had heard touched his heart enough to take it to the Lord in prayer.

Notice, in a crisis moment Nehemiah didn’t panic. He didn’t talk to a lot of people about the situation. I had a Sunday school teacher that always said, “Before you go to the phone, go to the throne.” Instead of grabbing the phone and calling one of your friends to discuss your problem or situation, you should first go to the throne of heaven and talk to God about it.

Instead of talking about the problem, plotting and planning a way of action, fretting and stewing over it, or stress eating and shopping to deal with the feelings, he prayed about it. He turned to the One who could do something about the situation. He doesn’t focus on the problem in front of him; he chose to focus on the One who is big enough to handle this big problem. He begins his prayer with these words, “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (v. 5).

Nehemiah didn’t just pray once and move on, but it says he prayed for days. In verses 1 of chapter 1 the Bible tells us that it was the Jewish month of Kislev, which occurs in November-December on our calendars. In chapter 2, verses 1 we read that is now the month of Nisan, which is March-April. That is about 4 months that Nehemiah prayed over the situation and what was to be the God designed solution. Nehemiah didn’t simply pray one panicked prayer but had a pattern of prayer. He prayed continuously and consistently over the situation. I know I am guilty of praying a prayer once, and then moving on as if the situation no longer matters.

Nehemiah is often described as a great leader. He approached the king with a plan, and the king allowed him to go to Jerusalem and provided him with resources, and Nehemiah lead the people to rebuild the wall in 52 days. But Nehemiah’s leadership, plans and skills are secondary. The major thing needed was a deep commitment to prayer. Nehemiah viewed himself as a humble servant, and he was dependent on God for his direction and instruction.
Joseph Scriven penned these familiar words:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
  All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
  Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
  O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
  Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
  Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
  Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
  Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
  Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
  Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
  Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
  Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
  Thou wilt find a solace there.

What problems are you facing whether personally or corporately that has stirred your heart lately? How have your responded? May we be women who learn from Nehemiah’s example, and when problems arise, may we be women who pray instead of panic, who focus on the Problem-Solver rather than the problem, and who persistently bring the situation to the Lord until He provides an answer. Whatever burden or care that is on your heart today, take it to the Lord in prayer.

September Craft: Rolled Paper Roses

By Major Ronda Gilger
Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center, ID – Northwest Division

Pure inspiration!

Learn a simple technique with so many applications.

We’ve added everything you need to make sure that your group has a wonderful experience as they work together around the tables. Truly, some of the best ministry moments are experienced as women share their stories as they create these simple paper roses. And you will be so inspired as you look through the presentation and see how many applications there are for this lovely paper rose.

Will you create a masterpiece for your walls, or scatter them around a table? Perhaps just a few set inside and around the saucer of your teacup.  Imagine events with these inspired decorations, wreaths, or something as practical as cards, tags or package décor. 

This is a craft that can be taught across genders and generations, with relatively low cost which makes this internationally attractive as well.  Share-far and wide!

What you’ll need:

  1. paper (scrapbook paper is good, cardstock has a nice weight-or use a page from a novel, a songbook or ??? so many options!),
  2. scissors,
  3. and a hot glue gun.

In the Video Tutorial you will hear a variety of ideas for Women’s Ministries, as well as tips for leading this craft. 

For any of your women who may be home bound- this might also be a perfect way to share a link with them which they can follow along doing the same craft project as your other women.

Download the 2 page (2 sided) Tutorial handbook which can be printed for each woman in your group.

September Devotional: Prayer Flag Project

By Major Ronda Gilger
Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center, ID – Northwest Division

Note: This is a devotional that incorporates a time of prayer and a craft.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit speaks on our behalf with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your prayer requests before God. Philippians 4:6

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

I want men (and women) everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. I Timothy 2:8

Believing that the world can be changed with prayer, and understanding that our prayers carry the full intent of our hearts and minds to the throne of God… we choose to pray. We choose to move in close – to our Father….to sit in his presence and practice the spiritual discipline of prayer through an “activity” that will unite and focus us.

There are two options for the Prayer Flag Project:
1) The prayer flag banner can be made individually as a “take home” which may become a part of each person’s ongoing prayer life.

2) The prayer flag banner can be made to hang as a larger banner- in your chapel or entryway, a worship center or group room.   As each person comes in they are invited to take part and the project is ongoing for a month or several weeks until the banner is filled with “prayers. You may have a journal there where people can write their prayer requests if they want others to join them.

The simplest directions are included on the handout which can be printed to give to all those participating.

Setting the Scene: Play worship music to create an atmosphere conducive to prayer.

Set up a “materials” table. Twine can be precut and placed at each participant’s seat. Strips of fabric can be precut or torn and placed in a few baskets where the women can choose the fabric they choose to add to their Prayer Flag.

Read each verse about prayer. Ask your women to share a time in their lives when God answered prayer. They may share as a group or as a united group. Encourage your women to keep a Prayer Journal- so they can see the ways in which God is working in their lives. “How He is answering their prayers!” You might even give each woman a small journal or moleskin and ask her to write down some of the prayers that she had as she created her Prayer Flag.

Close your time together in prayer for one another.

Directions:

1. Measure & mark 1-1.5” inch sections along edge of fabric using ruler.
Snip the edge at the marking” cutting 1/2” in from edge.
2. Tear fabric strips to get a rough, straight edge.
Cut strips to 15 “ (1”x 15”) or (1.5 x 15”)
3. Tie your fabric strip around the twine and Knot with a simple half knot in the center of the strip.  *Use a fairly Sturdy Hemp twine measuring 36-40”( or longer if a group project)
4. Tie a small slip knot at each end so that it can be hung. 


5. With each “knotted fabric strip” a “prayer has been added.

September 2021 Inspire Newsletter

It is easy to look around at the world and all that is happening, and become discouraged and hopeless. But as believers we have hope not in circumstances, but in God. “Just Be…Hopeful” is the theme for this month’s Inspire Newsletter. Included is a devotional about hope, a Bible reading plan, as well as some sunrise craft ideas to remind you of the hope we have in the Lord.

Because of the Lords’ great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23

Need previous issues of the INSPIRE Newsletter?  They can be found at the following links:  August 2021, July 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

September Bible Study: The Art of Neighboring

By Major Ronda Gilger
Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center, ID – Northwest Division

“The Art of Neighboring” is a 4 part Bible Study series on how to love our neighbors. Rethink the ways that you actually engage with those around you. Let’s learn how to practically live out Jesus’ command to us! How poignant at this time in history to ask the question, “What if we took the words of Jesus seriously when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” What? We might be secretly thinking, “You don’t know my neighbor!” ‘I just can’t…I’m not brave enough…” But you can!  I’m cheering you on!

Set a time! *Watch with friends- in your small group, online or independently or maybe you’d rather host a watch party.  Lots of options.

Major Ronda Gilger shares this material in a way that is conversational and invites viewers to engage with the possibility of carrying out the Great Commission beginning in the spot where your feet are planted.

Resources:
Be sure to get the FREE student workbook and FREE Neighbor Toolkit. These are downloads that have been added for you!

Watch Videos 1-4 with your women or create an online format or watch party.  

Session 1: Rediscovering the Art of Neighboring – Little Things Make a Big Difference 


Session 2: The Time Barrier


Session 3: Overcoming Fear


Session 4: The Art of Receiving-Strategies

Before you meet, print the resources for your participants and invite them to go through some of the additional materials during the week. The foundational material has been shared with us by RightNow Media free of charge, and the COVID19 Neighboring toolkit gives additional ideas for safely interacting.

“The Art of Neighboring” complete-Book is available for purchase on Amazon.com
Authors Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.  Jay and Dave have video shorts for teaching available through RightNow Media if you have a subscription.