June 2022 Craft: Sea Glass Ideas

By Major Nancy Helms
Spiritual Care Director – College for Officer Training

Any of the ideas below can easily be made from sea glass/pottery.  If you can’t get to the beach to find your own, you can purchase it in bulk at a good price online.  It might be faux, but that’s okay. Make sure to look for smooth pieces that aren’t too big.  If you want to be exact with the technical pieces like the cross or hummingbird, you can tape a template to the other side of the glass and then remove it once pieces are glued in place.  Really, you can make anything you want with a good template.  For the song and notes, I just glued pieces onto a scrap block of wood I previously sanded down.  My manger scene is made with sea pottery, but you can use glass, too.

For pictures you will need:

  • Small frame (purchase at Joanne Fabrics or Michaels)
  • Sea glass
  • E 6000 glue
  • Or a block of scrap wood
  • Windex and small cotton device to remove excess glue

I also enjoy creating temporary sea glass stackers. I find it to be good spiritual therapy. I pray for myself and others as I place each piece in the stack. It reminds me of the body of Christ, and how we all fit together to form God’s Church.

If you aren’t crafty, but like coastal décor, it’s fun just to collect glass and place it in jars, vases, bowls, etc., to place around the house.

Sometimes, I will take a piece like this, that has a little groove and rub it between my fingers while I ponder God’s amazing grace and deep ocean of love for me.

Note: Check out this month’s Bible study, Transformed Treasures, and this month’s devotional, Sea Glass and Souls, that coordinates with this craft.

Facing Change

By Major Beth Desplancke

June is finally here! As a child June was probably my favorite month. It meant the end of school, and the beginning of summer vacation! I loved school, don’t get me wrong, but I loved the change that summer would bring: a change in pace, a change of schedule, and a change of habits (summer meant not waking up so early to get to school, lots of sunshine and for me lots of swimming).

Sometimes June doesn’t feel like a good change. The June I finished 6th grade (the end of elementary school where I lived), there was already anxiety about what 7th grade was like. How would I ever get used to going to 6 different classes with 6 different teachers each day?

In The Salvation Army, June is also a month of transition for a lot of the corps (local churches). I remember many Junes as a kid, where I was having to say goodbye to a corps officer that I knew and loved, and either at the end of June or the first week in July, we would be welcoming someone new into our church and into our hearts.

No matter what kind of change takes place – change is scary. And to be honest, we have all endured a lot of change the past two years, since the words “COVID” and “global pandemic” became buzz words in our daily vocabulary.

I don’t know about you, but the amount of change that was taking place at such a fast pace was becoming exhausting. At one point, I felt completely overwhelmed, anxious and fearful about what the future held. The rules seemed to change daily, so I turned to what was familiar to me – the Bible.
As the world began to shut down in March of 2020, I decided to camp in the book of Psalms. Over the past two years, I have lost count of how many times I have read the 150 chapters of Psalms. I simply started reading at chapter 1, and would go through until the end, and then begin again. Some days I read several chapters, and others maybe a few verses. Early on in the pandemic I had trouble sleeping and, too many nights to count I actually read all 150 psalms.

One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 46, v. 1-3 says this: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. And in verse 10, which most of us probably know well, says, He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Change is inevitable. Even though change is hard, there is one thing I can do – I can obey what verse 10 says and be still and know that God is God. I do this by focusing on who He is. First, God is constant! No matter what changes life brings, God does not change. He is constant in a world of never-ending changes. Hebrews 13:8 says He is the same yesterday, today and forever. everything else changes, He does not. He is my constant source of help, refuge and strength.

When life changes, I can also be still and know that God is in control! God was and is and always will be in control. He is never taken by surprise or caught off guard. When changes seem sudden to us, He is unfazed. God was and is and will always be on the throne. COVID did not usurp His authority as Creator, King and Ruler of all!

John C. Maxwell writes, “Change is inevitable, but growth is optional.” Changes come in our lives whether we like it or not, but how we respond to change is up to us. Any change feels uncomfortable and even chaotic. Whatever changes we will face this month, we can be still and know that God is a God who is constant and in control!

June 2022 Bible Study: Transformed Treasures

By Major Nancy Helms
Spiritual Care Director – College for Officer Training

Transformation in the life of the believer is an ongoing process, which takes intentionality and willingness to submit one’s life to the will of the Father. In the New Testament, the Greek word for transformation is metamorphosis. It means “a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.” Spiritual formation is the process of Christ being formed in us or transforming us – for God’s glory, for our benefit and for the sake of others. The gospel message drives this truth home. As children of God, we are redeemed and made new by the power of the cross, through the death and resurrection of Christ. “The old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As Christians, we have a role in the ongoing process of transformation.

A beautiful story of transformation in the Bible took place in the life of Saul, who was once a radical persecutor of Christians. Read about his transformation in Acts 9: 1-19. Christ got ahold of Saul, and he became a new and transformed creature. The man who was once a passionate and radical persecutor of Christians, became a passionate and radical defender of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This same transformation is possible in the life of anyone who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior to humankind. For Paul, who was once Saul, this transformation was immediate; yet, it took the rest of his life to wrestle with and work out his salvation.

Our lives are not that different than Paul’s. We are initially saved through the grace and love of God, through His Son, Jesus, and we continue to work out our salvation as He works in us. Like sea glass being tossed in the ocean, we are constantly being refined and restored. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Restoration requires action. I have a cabinet in my garage I intend to restore; however, if I never touch it, it will never change. If we don’t nurture our spiritual well-being, we will never change. In fact, we will eventually return to the old self. Consider three biblical reminders from Paul, which help us become the transformed treasures God created us to be.

Transformed through Prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7).

Richard Foster, in his book, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, says, “Prayer catapults us onto the frontier of the spiritual life. Of all the Spiritual Disciplines prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father…Real prayer is life creating and life changing” (transforming). So often, prayer is put on the back burner of our lives and replaced with meaningless pursuits. Transformation is not possible without persistent and consistent prayer. Paul speaks often on the importance of a life devoted to prayer. Reflect on the following questions as you consider your personal prayer journey.

  • Do I have a specific and regular time set aside to meet with and commune with God?
  • Do my prayers offer sincere praise and thanksgiving?
  • Do my prayers include a time confession, creating a space for cleansing and purity?
  • Do my prayers include petitions and intercession for myself and others?
  • Do I stop to listen to God when I pray?
  • Do my prayers draw me closer to God?
  • How can I create more space in my life for communing with God?
  • What does Paul mean when he says, “Pray in every situation”?

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado
“Pray without ceasing.” ~ Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Transformed through Scripture

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”
(2 Timothy 3:16,17).

The word of God equips us for the mission of God. His word is a powerful source of transformation, as individuals and as a body of believers growing together. It’s one thing to know the Scripture cerebrally. It’s a completely different thing to live in the Scriptures and ponder it in our hearts. We can memorize the Bible from front to back without being transformed. Reading for information is much different than ingesting and digesting for transformation. Scripture is a place where, when approached with the right heart-set and mindset, can become a source for sacred encounters with our holy God, where transformation can be deep and rich.

Ruth Haley Barton, in her book, Sacred Rhythms, Arranging Our lives for Spiritual Transformation, wrote, “Many of us approach the Scriptures more like a textbook than a love letter. In Western culture in particular, we are predisposed to a certain kind of reading. We have been schooled in an information reading process that establishes the reader as the master of the text…The information-gathering mindset is very appropriate and helpful for a student in an academic or a learning environment. But when applied to Scripture, this approach does not serve the deeper longing of our heart – the longing to hear a word from God that is personal and intimate and takes us deeper into the love that our soul craves. The study of Scripture is important, but if we stop there, we will eventually hit a wall spiritually.” When we read Scripture for transformation, we engage our minds as well as our hearts. Examine the following Scripture and ruminate on the questions below:

The author of Hebrews says that “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

  • When has the word of God felt most alive to you?
  • Do you have moments in each day where you ponder God’s word in your heart and consider how it is speaking to you personally?
  • Can you describe a time where God’s word has changed you from the inside out?
  • Consider reading a passage of Scripture and placing yourself in the narrative. Choose your own passage or try Luke 2: 1-21. Imagine yourself in this story as one of the characters. How did God meet your in this narrative? Can you relate to the shepherds, angels, Mary or Joseph?

Transformed through Fellowship

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 1:26).

Christian community is isn’t just gathering on a Sunday morning for worship. It’s a continual fellowship, in which the love of Christ binds us together in unity. The early Church met together daily, opening the Scriptures, praying, serving and living their lives in common. Acts 4: 32 says, “All the believers were one in heart and mind.” This meant they loved with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. They carried each other’s burdens. What a beautiful picture of fellowship. In our hurried world, this type of fellowship is rare in the 21st century. Too often, we barely have time to meet our own critical needs, let alone the needs of our neighbor.

Adele Calhoun, in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, writes, “We belong together, not apart. God is not a bachelor who lives alone. The Almighty One is a holy community of three. And we express this divine nature best when we are in a community committed to growing and being transformed into Christlikeness.” When we belong to Christian community, we become stronger together and part of a living organism. We need one another to be complete and to experience transformation to the fullest. Think about the following questions as you reflect on your life in community with the body of Christ.

  • When has the body of Christ encouraged your walk with God?
  • How have you been an encourager within the body of Christ?
  • What gifts do you use to edify the body of Christ?
  • Are you a part of a small group, that meets together on a regular basis for fellowship, breaking open the word of God and prayer?
  • What thoughts do you have when you think about the following words? 1) dependent 2) independent 3) interdependent
  • What kind of connection do you think God wants you to have with other believers that might be lacking now?

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).

Download a printable version of this Bible study:

Note: Check out this month’s craft, Sea Glass Ideas, and this month’s devotional, Sea Glass and Souls, that coordinates with this Bible study.

June 2022 Devotional: Sea Glass and Souls

By Major Nancy Helms
Spiritual Care Director – College for Officer Training

I LOVE SEA GLASS. Some might even say I’m obsessed. That is a claim I absolutely will NOT deny. The process by which sea glass becomes a smooth and beautiful gem over time never ceases to amaze me. At a point in time, a piece of garbage is tossed on the shore or over the side of a cliff or sea vessel. That piece of garbage breaks into pieces that becomes shards of glass. After years of being tumbled and tossed about in water, sand and rocks, what was once a dangerous object that could harm, becomes refined and smooth. Doesn’t that just excite you? I know it does.

I can literally spend hours upon hours combing the beach in search of someone’s old, lost marble, a piece of broken bottle, or a beautiful chunk of pottery. My curious mind will make up stories about who has played with the marble, taken a drink out of the bottle or eaten off the china. Get my sister out there with me, and we are like two crazy middle-aged women on a critical mission, with hope in our eyes and renewed breath in our lungs. It’s like a huge treasure hunt, only without the map.

A couple of years ago, my sister and I were able to make a dream come true when we traveled to the North Sea, in England, finding glass, marbles and pottery dating back to the 19th century. We would leave our place at the crack of dawn and stay until we could no longer see the sea. Our backs had this beautiful ache from bending over to get the best view of what was in front of us. At one point, I found myself climbing a large wall covered in seaweed, only to get to the top where I lost my footing and slid all the way down. I was bruised, cut, smelled like fish and covered in seaweed, but not deterred. Praying nobody saw me, I hurriedly collected my loot that had spilled and moved on.

I’m not sure I have ever found a “perfect” piece of sea glass. Even the best pieces usually have some sort of flaw. It may take a microscope to see them, but they exist. There are some colors and shapes more coveted than others. To me, each piece has value, as well as a story to tell.

I think what I love most about sea glass is the way it reminds me of my own broken and restored life. Because of dumb choices I have made, falls from metaphorical ladders I had no business climbing, selfish desires and unpredictable storms, I have been tossed and turned in God’s immense ocean of love, where he has refined me, and continues the refining process. He has made beauty from the broken pieces of my life. Some of the refining has taken years, while some of it is still taking place. Some flaws are still visible, and others God has to show me. I don’t dare leave this ocean of love, because He who began a good work is still faithfully restoring my soul to His perfect image. What was once an individual that was broken has been healed and made new and beautiful through God’s deep ocean of love. If nothing else excites you, I hope the idea of a transformed life from the inside out does.

O ocean of mercy, oft longing I’ve stood
On the brink of Thy wonderful, life giving flood!
Once more I have reached this soul cleansing sea,
I will not go back till it rolls over me.
William Booth

Note: Check out this month’s craft, Sea Glass Ideas, and this month’s Bibles study, Transformed Treasures, that coordinates with this devotional.