October 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Welcome to the second year of the Flourish Newsletter. Last program year, we focused on flourishing in and through different seasons that we all go through. This year we want to flourish by being “Deeply Rooted in the Spiritual Disciplines.” Each month we will focus on one spiritual practice that will help us to establish deep roots, grow and flourish in our walk with Jesus.

For October we are focusing on the practice of Sabbath Rest. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, defines Sabbath as “God’s gift of repetitive and regular rest. It is given for our delight and communion with God. Time for being in the midst of a life of doing particularly characterizes the sabbath.” The desire of observing sabbath is “to set apart one day a week for rest and worship of God.”

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Genesis 2:2

Inside you find a devotional, conversation starters, a prayer idea, a monthly Bible reading plan, and some other resources to help you incorporate a weekly Sabbath into our spiritual walk with Jesus.

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October 2023 Bible Study: God’s Given Gift of Rest

By Major Karen Schmig
St. George, UT Outpost – Intermountain Division


I’m not sure if you have trouble observing Sabbath in you daily lives? According to research based on Lifeway Research, seven in 10 churchgoers take their Sabbath on Sunday. Few take it on Saturday (5 percent), Friday (1 percent) or Monday (1 percent). For 23 percent, they don’t take a day of rest. I can testify that I am one of the 23% that typically do not take the time to have a sabbath day of rest. If I do take a day off from the business of the Corps, I will find something else that needs to be done. Anything from housework to shopping. I am good at finding something to do to keep me busy. In this Bible study we are going to explore what “Sabbath” really means and by reading scripture we will find out why God says it is so important to practice it in our daily weekly routine.

Read Hebrews 4:1, 9-11.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

According to Britannica.com the Sabbath is defined as:
“The Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath (from Hebrew shavat, “to rest”) is observed throughout the year on the seventh day of the week—Saturday. According to biblical tradition, it commemorates the original seventh day on which God rested after completing the creation.”

Sabbath was introduced to us from the very beginning when God created the Earth. We read in the book of Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth in six periods of time, which He called days: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:2–3).

The factor, or the thing that the Sabbath was pointing to, is Jesus Christ. He is our rest. It doesn’t matter whether you go to corporate worship on Saturday or on Sunday, or your choice of a day during the week, because that’s not what really matters. What really matters is that you find your rest in Christ!

We take sabbath to acknowledge that we need God, we need time dedicated to him. A time to rest. This doesn’t mean that all we are to do on a sabbath are pray and sleep, though prayer and rest are central and needed. It can also be time with family or hobbies. So many times, we’re burning the candle at both ends. So busy with work that we don’t stop to really appreciate God’s presence in our lives.

Let’s Read Luke 10:28-42 NIV

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In these we read that account of Mary and Martha. Martha just going and going on her own trying to make things just right to the point frustration. For most of that have a servant heart that is very easy to get caught up in. Keeping ourselves bust serving others and making sure everything is done in all our power to help and please others. Jesus reminds Martha that Mary had chosen what was right, to rest at Jesus’ feet, to bask in his presence and his love.

Sabbath is an act of humility before the Lord.

Matthew 5:3 (NIV) says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Being poor in spirit”, we are like paupers, relying on God and only God to fill us. It is a sin to think we can just keep going and going without acknowledging God and our need for his help. It’s silly for us to think that we are too busy for God, the one who gives us all of our provisions in the first place. Sabbath goes beyond just one day as well. We need dedicated time daily to rest in Him.

Even Jesus needed time with his father, who are we to act as though we don’t. Make a plan today, put it on your calendar, in your day timer. Schedule time for God, be intentional about it. Start learning also to say no to others if that is your crutch to not taking time to rest in God. This is of central importance to our spiritual health. Make a date with God, pray to Him, take in his word and grow in him daily. May God bless you as we all go through this great adventure, we call life with a great Savior who never fails us.

Questions to Reflect On:

  1. Are you taking a weekly Sabbath?
  2. Are you taking time daily for the Lord?
  3. What can you do differently in your daily/weekly schedule that will allow you to take a Sabbath?
  4. What does God have for me in my day of Sabbath, through this day of rest?
  5. What do I have for Him in my Sabbath day, through this day of rest?
  6. How will this be lived out with others in gratitude, joy and celebration?

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October 2023 Craft: Sabbath Smash Book

By Captain Amber Ohl
Bozeman, MT Corps – Intermountain Division

For me Smash Books are just a more beautiful journal. I think of it as a doodle pad, journal, maybe even a scrapbook; but it doesn’t have a set plan. It can be messy, it could be overstuffed, and most of all, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

When it comes to Sabbath, we might be stuck in the idea that it is a rigid day of rest with all these rules and such. But Sabbath is a day to focus on who God is and to be able to be refreshed. That is my hope for this smash book, that we are able to compile all these different amazing ways to be able to focus on God, but also to refresh ourselves. One of my favorite examples is found under the “T” section and that is take a nap, listen. Sometimes we just need a nap.

1. Gather some supplies. I recommend that the journals would be an 8 1/2 by 11 size. Michaels is a great place to get them as they are either on sale or you can find a coupon through their rewards app. Other supplies include the printable pages attached, scissors, mod podge, brushes, scrapbooking paper, stickers colorful pens, wasabi tape, and anything else that your women might light. This might be a good time to clean out some drawers or leftover art supplies.

2.With this activity, they can work at their own pace. It’s easy as explaining what to do and let them have at it. They can cut out the letters to the word “SABBATH,” some of the ladies just did a rough cut, while others cut on the lines; both works. I would encourage that the letters are placed about 10 to 15 pages apart. This will allow for when they do engage in their Sabbath activity provides that extra space.

S – Sing/Songs. Write lyrics that help you connect you to God

A – Attributes. What are the attributes of God? OR A – Actively Rest. How can you actively rest?

B – Bible – Book by Book

B – Be in Nature

A – Art. Doodle in these pages while spending time with God, search online for Bible art that can be pasted in these pages to color, or pick up a craft that you have not done in a while.

T – Take a nap. Talk with a friend.

H – Hobby. Whether it is a hobby that you have not done in a while or it’s something you wan to try.

3.One thing we did was add an envelopes so that we could use that to tuck away some small notes or cards.

4. I added extra pages that are some examples of a word to associate to each letter of “SABBATH.” I would encourage your ladies to add in their own that would help them on their Sabbath.

5. Also, Pinterest is a great resource if you ladies would like some extra pages. Maybe they want to add in some coloring pages or look up verses to color.

6. Remember it does not have to be perfect; that is what’s fun about smash books!

Prayer for you: For this moment of Sabbath may God help you engage in true Sabbath rest. May you unattach from the daily burdens and the concerns that are yours. May you pause long enough to pray, be present enough to enjoy, and slow down enough to rest. But most of all, I pray that you may worship the One who gives us Sabbath.

Download a printable version of these directions. It has also has extra printable pages and quotes to include in your Sabbath Smash Book.

October 2023 Devotional: Take a Sabbath Rest

By Captain Ryan Boyd
Denver Red Shield Corps, CO – Intermountain Division

I once had a friend who asked me what I did on my day off. When I started listing the unending responsibilities I had at home, she cut me off and said it didn’t sound much like a day off to her. “Well, if I don’t get them done on that day, when will it get done?” was my exasperated reply.

Busyness is often worn as a badge of honor in our society. We book back to back meetings and activities and wonder why we are always exhausted. We were not made to go all day every day. Like our electronics, we need a time to recharge our batteries.

Exodus 20:8-11 says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

It seems to me that we have taken the ten commandments and made them nine commandments and a suggestion. We treat this instruction from God as an optional activity instead of the mandate it is. As the Israelites are heading to the Promise Land, God gives Moses instructions for them so that they will live in a way that pleases God. We know that the first four relate to our relationship with God and the last six relate to our relationships with others.

God knew it was important for us to rest. Not sleep in, not have a lazy Saturday, but to rest. To trust in Him to provide for our needs. Now, most of my Sabbaths involve sleeping in because that is what my body needs to refresh. Even if it is just thirty extra minutes, I feel it when I wake up. But Sabbath rest goes much deeper. It is resting from my work knowing that I am not the one who makes the world go around – God is. I am not the one in control – God is. And when I spend my time dwelling in that knowledge, I can enter the rest that God provides.

But Sabbath rest goes much deeper. It is resting from my working knowing that I am not the one who makes the world go around – God is. I am not the one in control – God is.

Captain Ryan Boyd

In Mark 2:27-28, Jesus tells the Pharisees that man was not made for the Sabbath, rather the Sabbath was made for man. Taking a Sabbath is not something we do because we want to check off something from our “Good Christian” to-do list. It is not meant to be a burden at all. Instead, it was made for us to refresh and delight in what the Lord has provided for us. We are supposed to be joyful during our Sabbath. Originally, it was intended to give reprieve to the Israelites who had the mindset of an enslaved person – their brains told them they needed to work all day every day. God said no – my plan for you is better. Enter into the rest I provide.

The Pharisees morphed the Sabbath into something it was not intended to be – rigid rule following. They burdened the Israelites with their preferences instead of sticking to God’s intentions. And the people suffered for it by missing out on the freedoms that Sabbath provides. Ray Stedman wrote, “So there are two aspects of the Sabbath—creation and redemption. There is a rest of cessation; a ceasing from our own works. But then there is the rest of rejoicing in the mighty delivering power of God.”

So there are two aspects of the Sabbath – creation and redemption. There is a rest of cessation; a ceasing from our own works. But then there is the rest of rejoicing in the mighty delivering power of God.

Ray Stedman

If you are anything like me, rest feels weird. I always feel as if there is something I am supposed to be doing. Only in recent years have I been able to start fully resting on a Sabbath day. I would love to have the same day every week, but scheduling makes that impossible. So I take it where I can. I take Fridays off so that I can get all my errands and schoolwork done so that Saturdays are clear for rest and delighting in the blessings God has given me. If I can’t make Saturday work, I find a different day.

We prioritize what is important to us. Making adjustments to create space for Sabbath is hard, but so worth it. Resting in the knowledge that God is in control brings a peace that cannot be described.

Take a Sabbath. Rest. Obviously it is important for us to do, because God made it a commandment.

September 2023 Devotional: Putting on the Belt of Truth

By Major Beth Desplancke

I am a Wonder Woman fan and have been since I was a little girl. And although I am thrilled that Wonder Woman has finally been brought to the big screen, portrayed beautifully by Gal Gadot, I am partial to the TV show that aired in the late 70’s and early 80’s (when reruns were a thing) with Lynda Carter portraying her.

In the pilot episode of the TV show, we are introduced to who will become Wonder Woman. It is during WWII and the Nazi regime is set on conquering the world. An American solider, Steve Trevor, lands on Paradise Island, an island of only amazon women. These Amazons learn of the evil that is destabilizing the outside world. The queen realizes that the Americans need their help, so a contest is held to see which woman will go back to America. Princess Diana disguises herself to compete in the competition and wins.
The Queen gives Diana a golden belt and tells her, “As long as you wear it, you will maintain your cunning and strength from Paradise Island.” Diana is also given a golden lasso, “which will compel people to tell the truth.” Throughout the TV show, we see Wonder Woman using the lasso on the bad guys, forcing them to tell the truth.

I thought it was interesting that the creator of Wonder Woman, was William Moulton Marston, who was a lawyer, a psychologist, and the inventor of an early version of the lie detector machine. Perhaps that is where his idea for the lasso of truth stemmed from.

As believers, we are in a spiritual battle. We have an enemy of our souls, the devil, who is cunning and deceptive. He tells lies; in fact, his native language is lies (John 8:44). Our world is full of lies, and the lie the enemy has been using since the beginning is that truth is relative; we can make our own truth. Gustave Flaubert, a French writer in the 1800s wrote, “There is no truth. There is only perception.”

When there is no basis for truth, there is no basis for moral right and wrong. That’s why our society is saying we can define our own truth – because then there is no right, no wrong, and no consequences. But sadly, denying the truth doesn’t remove the consequences. Truth is still truth, even if no one believes it.
How do we combat lies? With the truth. In Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul writes about a spiritual armor that God provides for us believers so we can stand strong in face of the enemy. Verses 13 and 14 say, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist with the breastplate of righteousness in place. We don’t have a lasso of truth like Wonder Woman, but we have something even better; we have the belt of truth!

How do we put on this belt of truth to combat the lies of the enemies? First, we need to know who the truth is. Jesus said in John 14:6a, “I am the way, and the truth and the life…” Jesus is the Truth. God’s Word is truth. In John 17:17 Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” The only truth is found in Jesus and His Word.

Second, we need to be in the truth of His Word. The more we know God’s Word, the better we can stand up against the lies the devil spews. We need to read and study the Word. We need to memorize His Word, and allow it to fill our minds. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11). When the enemy comes at us with his lies, we need to know the truth of God’s Word so we can speak the truth to the devil.

Finally, we need to not just know the Word, but we need to obey and live the Word. Just having head knowledge and being able to quote verses is not enough. We need to live the Truth, and not compromise the Truth. James 1:22 says, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

The only way to recognize a lie is to know the truth. Evangelist D.L. Moody once said, “The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.” God’s Word is our straight stick, the Truth, to combat all the lies of this world.

In closing, pray this prayer, speaking the truth of God’s Word (all verses are taken from Psalm 119 NIV). As you pray these words, visualize His TRUTH encircling you.

Trustworthy and true is Your Word, O Lord.
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal (160). The statutes that you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy (138). Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws (43).

Righteous, O Lord you are, and Your words are right.
You are righteous Lord, and your laws are right (137). Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true (142). Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live (144). I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws (106). And because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path (128).

Understanding is what I need.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds (27). Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart (34). I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes (125). May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word (169).

Teach me Your truth.
You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees (68). Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law (29). Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end (33). Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands (66). Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws (108).

Help me to live and obey Your truth.
I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word (101). I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me (102). My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end (112). Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me (133). May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts (173). Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees (v. 5). I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands (10).

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September 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Every Christian faces times of spiritual battle and struggle. We have an enemy of our souls, the devil, who wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). However, we have victory through Christ, and we don’t have to let the enemy win in our lives. That’s what this month’s newsletter is all about – flourishing in and through the times of battle.

This month’s verse promises us triumph – because of the shed blood of Jesus and by speaking our testimony of what the Lord has done for us!

They triumphed over him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. Revelation 12:11a

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September 2023 Craft: Lamp Shade

By Major Gaylene Yardley
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Southwest Division

This month’s craft is a little different. No written directions, but Major Gaylene has created a video of how you can make a lamp shade from old slides.

This month as we focus on flourishing in the battle season, we need to never forget that the light defeats the darkness.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5









September 2023 Bible Study: The Battlefield of our Mind

By Major Beth Desplancke

A Bible Study on the Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)


  1. We have lots of funny sayings related to our head. What do these common head sayings mean?

⦁ I always keep my head (Meaning: I never lose control of my emotions)
⦁ It never entered my head (Meaning: I never even thought about it)
⦁ I brought matters to a head. (Meaning: I made sure something had to be decided)
⦁ My head is in the clouds (Meaning: I’m not a practically minded person).
⦁ I can’t make head nor tails of this (Meaning: I don’t understand it at all).
⦁ I’m in way over my head (Meaning: I’m involved so far that it’s out of my control)
⦁ I could do it standing on my head (Meaning: I find it really easy).
⦁ The fame has completely gone to my head (Meaning: I’ve let my feelings get out of control).
⦁ She likes to keep her head down (Meaning: She avoids attracting attention)
⦁ They’re still scratching their heads (Meaning: They’re finding it hard to understand the results).
⦁ That joke just went over my head (Meaning: I didn’t understand the joke).

  1. What other head sayings or idioms can you think of? (examples: airhead, head start, to bang one’s head against the wall, head over heels, keep a cool head, like a chicken with its head cut off).

Although they are funny sayings, we know that protecting the head is very important to our health and well-being. A head injury can be dangerous and life threatening. That is why there are certain sports and activities where wearing a helmet is vitally important, such as playing football or riding a bicycle.

Getting into the Word:

In Ephesians 6, Paul writes about the fact we are in a spiritual battle, …not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). He then goes on to list a spiritual armor that Christians should be figuratively wearing so that we can stand up against the devil’s schemes (v. 11).

Read Ephesians 6:10-20.

Although Paul doesn’t start with the helmet first, we are going to start there, because we think a lot of thoughts all day long. According to a study from psychologists at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, the average human has 6,200 thoughts per day (https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/how-many-thoughts-per-day/). For Christians, the biggest battlefield is our minds. When the enemy attacks, he usually attacks our minds because he knows if he can influence the way we think, he will influence the way we act.

A Roman soldier’s helmet, called a galea, was basically a skullcap made of iron, typically covered with bronze. Its primary function was to protect the solder’s skull and brain from the swing of the “broadsword”- a 3-to 4-foot-long sword with a massive handle that needed to be cradled by two hands to hit its target. One strategically aimed blow could completely crush the soldier’s skull, incapacitating him in a split second.

Over time, the soldier’s helmet was redesigned to be even more comprehensive in its coverage. Pieces were added, including a flared neck guard and hinged cheek guards. It protected not only the head but also the neck and shoulders. When the helmet was strapped in place, it exposed little besides the eyes, nose and mouth.

  1. How does Paul describe the helmet? Read also Isaiah 59:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
  2. Why do you think he used that word connected to the helmet?
  3. What does salvation mean?

According to Easton’s Bible Diction, salvation is the word used for “the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:13), and of deliverance generally from evil or danger. In the New Testament it is specially used with reference to the great deliverance from the guilt and the pollution of sin wrought out by Jesus Christ, “the great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).”

The salvation experience is often reduced to something that only affects a person’s eternal destiny – heaven or hell. For some, salvation is just a “get out of hell free card.” And to be clear, the fact that it does affect the outcome of eternity gives us incredible hope. In fact, part of what it means to wear the helmet of salvation is to live every day in light of eternity, and the promised future that we have. Doing so will, without a doubt, change the way we live in the present.

While the future implications of our salvation are critical and give us astounding hope, this is not the totality of what it offers. If salvation was only meant to give us a ticket to eternity, what good would it do us now while we’re still on earth? Do we just sit around waiting, living out our days until some future moment when the Lord returns or when we go to heaven, whichever comes first?

No, salvation – yours and mine – was meant to come with more than future benefits. It was also supposed to exert a startlingly clear impact on our present, daily life. But this impact will only be experienced to the extent that we apply the benefits of salvation to our everyday lives.

Receiving salvation is not the same as applying salvation. The first redeems us; the second restores, protects and shields us daily from the attacks of the enemy.

  1. Read Romans 5:9-10. What does justification mean?

Justification is a legal term signifying acquittal. It means we’re released from having to pay the debt we owe for our sin. But our salvation doesn’t stop at the foot of the cross. If you’re amazed at what His death accomplished, imagine how much more is accomplished through “His life.” The fact that He lives means our salvation flows into the everyday experiences where we live.

“I’m saved” isn’t just past tense; it also has past and future implications. As we live underneath its blessing, we enjoy a vibrant, living, daily reality in the present (sanctification). And this is not just a one-time occurrence. Sanctification is a process by which we are continually delivered from the wrath of God on earth, fortified against the enemy’s attacks, and molded into the image of Christ as our minds are renewed. And Salvation includes glorification – 0ne day we will be saved from the presence of sin – that’s our eternity in heaven.

  1. The enemy is a liar (John 8:44) and he wants us to doubt our salvation. What is the best way to combat the lies of the enemy (see Romans 12:2)?

Getting Practical:

Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that we are to put on or take up the helmet of salvation. How do we do this practically? How do we live out this passage, since it isn’t a literal helmet that we are putting on?

Using the word “hat” as an acrostic, we can remember how to take up the helmet of salvation.

H – Halt errant thoughts.

  1. Read 2 Corinthians 10:5 What do you think taking our thoughts captive means?

When the enemy sends his lies to our mind, we need to immediately stop thinking about those lies. Just because the enemy puts a thought in our head, doesn’t mean we have to think about it. We need to halt the errant thought, take every thought captive, and make it obedient to Christ. Remember, it is the helmet of salvation; the enemy is going to attack our position in Christ. He will get us to question whether we are saved or not, or doubt that the last sin we committed is the one that God won’t forgive, or he will try to get us to think that we are too bad for God to love or forgive us, or that we have failed God one too many times. Whenever those thoughts come to our mind, we need to halt thinking about them.

As the saying goes, “You can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can sure keep them from building a nest in your hair!” Taking thoughts captive means controlling them instead of allowing them to control you. It means actively replacing the enemy’s thinking with God’s thinking at every opportunity.

A – Adjust your thoughts and accept your identity in Christ.

This means, instead of thinking about the garbagy thoughts the enemy puts in your mind, think about who Christ says you are in Him. Focus on your identity in Christ.

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 2:16. What does having the mind of Christ mean?

Since we have the mind of Christ, we need to think Christ-like thoughts.

Besides offering protection, soldiers wore helmets as a means of identification. Often the name of the soldier who wore the helmet was inscribed inside of it. Our salvation identifies us with Christ. The enemy loves to get us to doubt our salvation, as well as our identity. He tries to get us to focus on the things we do (or don’t do) rather than who we are.

  1. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:1-10. What do these verses say about our identity in Christ? (We are chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, included, marked in Him and sealed by His Spirit, we have been made alive in Christ, and we are His handiwork). What identity speaks most to you today?

T – Think the right thoughts.

  1. Read Philippians 4:8. What kind of thoughts are we to be thinking? What do all those words mean?

If a thought doesn’t fit into one of these categories, we need to stop thinking it immediately. The lies of the enemy and the garbage he spews at you has no place in your life. Choose what fills your mind – if it fits with Paul’s grid then it is worth thinking about. Fill your mind with God’s Word and you will have no room for Satan’s lies.

Having a helmet is a confidence builder. It provides the security of protection amid the battle. The good news for us is that we never have a reason to be without it. The price for our helmet has been paid in full by our Savior. Re-read Ephesians 2:8-9.

What a shame if we ever go into battle again without taking full advantage of it – and the full benefit package that comes with it. Your identity is your weaponry. Taking up and putting on the helmet of your salvation is akin to knowing who you are in Christ, fortifying your thinking with it, and living in a way that is congruent with it. When you do this, you break the enemy’s stronghold and tap into the power to deflect future attacks.

Personal Reflection to H.A.T.: (these questions are for personal thought and meditation)

  • What recurring thoughts do I need to take captive?
  • What lie about my identity does the enemy like to whisper in my head?
  • What verse can I use to combat the specific lie of the enemy?

Closing Prayer:

In closing, read this prayer together as your commitment to put on the helmet of salvation.

Lord of my life, I dedicate myself to You this day.
Today I will read the Word of God.
Today I will pursue godly thinking.

Thinking godly thoughts protects me from sin.
Thinking godly thoughts build strength of character in me.
Thinking godly thoughts grows my integrity.
Thinking godly thoughts increases my love for others.

I realize that…
Thinking godly thoughts, reading the Word of God, putting on Your Armor,
And choosing godly actions and attitudes will make me a strong, victorious Christian.

I dedicate my mind to you today.
I will meditate on godly things.
And reject ungodly thoughts this day. Amen.

By Beth McLendon of Inspirational-Prayers.com

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Flourishing Story: Flourishing through the Battle

By Lisa Garcia
Director of Loss Control and Compliance
Risk Management Department – Territorial Headquarters

When I think of an example of flourishing, my first thought is something that is showing evidence of success. Maybe a plant that is growing tall and healthy with beautiful blooms or someone who has it all together and never seems to be struggling. By that definition, I was always resentful of those who were flourishing. Those who had it all together, did everything expected of them with minimal effort or was just thriving. I was never thriving – I was always in crisis or surrounded by drama and most of that was my own making. I was living by the seat of my pants and attempting to manipulate everything to be on my terms. So many times, that translated into not caring what happened to anyone, especially myself. I fumbled on that way until May of 2005, when I begrudgingly walked into The Salvation Army, Adult Rehabilitation Center in Pasadena and decided to try something different. I was going to, the first time in my life, try and not be an alcoholic and drug addict in active addiction.

Once I had some sobriety under my belt, I realized that I am a very proud alcoholic and drug addict.  You may be thinking that proud is a very strange way to describe an addict or addiction, but to understand why I am so proud, you would have to know where I came from and more importantly, where God has led me since then. 

I was raised mainly by my grandparents because of my parent’s addiction problems.  I always swore that I would never end up like my parents and I ended up worse. I started drinking socially in high school and loved how it made me feel. I was smarter, prettier, more personable. I went on to start college at USC and that’s where my drinking and using career really took off and I eventually had to drop out without one credit. My life with drugs and alcohol were not without brief periods of employment, stability and some happiness that came with the birth of my children, but they were always followed by lower lows.  I had brief periods of being clean from one substance or alcohol but was never completely abstinent from everything. Not exactly sure when it happened, but things progressed in a way that I could not get ahead of my addiction and started to spiral.  My spiral lasted several years and during that time, my life consisted of getting and losing jobs; being arrested and eventually, serving jail time; having utilities disconnected and being evicted; and the worst was my kids being removed from my care, more than once, due to my drug use.  I would do what I needed to do to get them back and then use again.  It was such a vicious cycle that I couldn’t see my demise or the damage that I was doing to those around me.  I never thought about making a change to improve my life, I just kept living a lie and telling myself that I was ok and everyone else was wrong.    I could go on and on about how low I had sunk but that is less important to what I choose to focus on today.

Thanks to my friend Jill who called a family friend who was a judge, and he recommended The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Pasadena. Jill arranged to pick me up at 7 am and all I had to do was stay sober. At 6 am, before she picked me up, I drank 2 beers. For the first time in a very long time, I was honest when they asked me when the last time that I drank was and sure enough, they turned me away. They turned me away but promised that if I stayed sober for the next two days, they would hold my bed. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but God did. Under Jill’s watchful eye of Jill, I did manage to stay sober, entered the program and have stayed sober since 5/25/2005.

While in the ARC, I was presented with a crash course in God, but I was ready to learn how to live again, or even more importantly, to find out how to live like God would want me to. I didn’t know about the faith-based aspect of The Salvation Army when I agreed to go and it is probably a good thing because I may have chosen not to go because I had no connection with God other than to pray to get me out of my messes that I got myself into…like being arrested, DCFS hearings, failing drug tests and so on. Based on my past, a relationship with God scared me, like maybe I wasn’t worthy of his goodness, because after all, I had done some horrible things while in my addiction and God’s grace wasn’t for people like me. Boy, was I wrong – I am exactly who God’s grace is for. When I kneeled for the first time to pray and accept Jesus into my life, I knew, from that moment, that my life would be infinitely better from now on, I didn’t know how, I just knew that it would be. I felt a love in my heart that I had only heard about and been skeptical of.

My relationship with God is something that I never take for granted. I am far from perfect, as my family and co-workers will attest to, but with God on my side, I was able to begin to forgive myself for the things that I had done and when I was able to begin to forgive myself, I was able to love myself and that is what has truly helped to heal me and allowed me to love others and accept their love for me. I share often about the feelings of love that my ARC Administrators Majors Dave & Gaylene Yardley instilled in me. The love that they showed me was the first real love, with no strings attached, that I had accepted in so long. Sometimes that was tough love, but they made sure that I knew the difference. To be told that I am a trophy of grace and God loves me, no matter what, was powerful. God opened my heart and allowed me to believe them. In turn, I gave myself a little chance and started to love myself. I learned that my calling is to love on those until they can love themselves. I don’t have to love their actions, but to love that they are a child of God and deserve a second chance is what I do to give back. My most important life lesson thus far has been that God loves me and there is nothing I can do about it.

Majors Gaylene & David Yardley (Southwest DHQ), Leslie Zimmerman (Veterans Family Center, Cascade Division) and Lisa

Is the person who has struggles but keeps on going thought of as flourishing? Do we think of the ugly weed growing up in the sidewalk as flourishing? Maybe not by some standards, but the Bible tells me differently. Job 8:7 “Your beginning will seem so small, since your future will flourish,” is my constant reminder to keep on thriving and encouraging others to do the same.

I was able to return to the school that I failed out of nearly 30 years ago, University of Southern California and get my Master of Public Administration with a Nonprofit focus in 2019 and did that while getting treatment for breast cancer. I mention that to say that even while life is showing up on life’s terms, I will remain faithful and flourish during every season. I am thankful to God for all that he has done for me, but more importantly, that I can share with others about how great my God is.

November 2023 Bible Study: Gratitude

By Major Kim Williams
Administrator for Program
Phoenix, AZ Adult Rehabilitation Center

Read Daniel 3:1-30 NIV

Question: How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego show their faith and belief in the God they served?

How many times have you heard, “Have an attitude of gratitude?” Is that before or after morning coffee? Is it even possible to have gratitude in all situations? I have a friend that is now with the Lord, and she would give praise to God for the “Good, Bad, and Indifferent.”

It is so easy to praise the Lord when all is going your way. The coffee is perfect, the bills are paid, little Johnny got all A’s on his report card, and you just lost another 10 pounds on your diet. I don’t know whose life this might be, but it sure isn’t mine.

Mine is more like I set the coffee pot before going to bed but forgot to turn it on, little Johnny has detention and I gained 10 lbs. on the diet.

We can find it in our relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit to have a heart of gratitude when the good seasons seem to be in the distance and the bad is like a dreary cloud hanging over us for a season.
You get bad news from the doctor, children are having difficulties, grandkids are being too exposed to worldly decay, the car breaks down, or you’re having personal relationship problems.

Is this the time we reflect and give thanks in all circumstances? Are we rejoicing always? What is our prayer life like at this time? (see 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Here is the thing – life is going to happen, the good, the bad, and the indifferent!

The Good News

No, the great news is that we have this amazing gift as followers of Christ, that in spite of the chaos, hurts, and thunderstorms of life, we can still be filled with gratitude and joy because of the abundant love God has for each one of us.

It is His mercy that God shows our broken selves and the grace that He pours into us is reason enough to dig deep in those valleys of life and be able to live with a heart of gratitude. When we take time to be mindful and see the amazing works of God, we can be prompted by the Holy Spirit to overflow with gratitude, joy, grace, and mercy.

Question: What can you do to begin the daily process of recognizing the goodness of God so you can life with a grateful heart during the good, the bad, and the indifferent?

Start a Gratitude Journal. Here are some ideas of what you can include:

  • Write your prayers of thanksgiving.
  • Contemplate the chorus, “Count your blessings, name them one by one and you will see what the Lord has done.”
  • Look up scripture about rejoicing, gratitude, mercy, joy, etc.
  • Read Galatians 5:22-23. What fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life? What fruit of the Spirit do you need more of right now?

Learning to live with sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading and embracing a life of gratitude in the good, the bad and the indifferent is not looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. This is a gift and treasure from God that comes through His Son, Jesus, when we seek to follow Him and His word found in the Scripture.

We may not receive all the answers we want, the way we want them answered, but we can still be filled with a grateful heart through anything, if we have the same attitude as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had along with the confidence they had in God Almighty.

Daniel 3:14-18
And Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Question: Are we so firm in our relationship with Christ, that when the indifferent comes, we are able to enter the blazing furnace with gratitude, joy and confidence in who we are in Him?

We can have that attitude of gratitude because of our relationship with Christ.

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