July 2024 Flourish Newsletter

This month we are focusing on being deeply rooted in the spiritual discipline of hospitality. In her book, Spiritual Disciplines: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes, “Hospitality creates a safe, open space where a friend or stranger can enter and experience the welcoming of Christ in another.”

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:8-9

Inside you will find a devotional, conversation starters, a prayer idea, a Bible reading plan and other helpful tips all centered around the spiritual discipline of showing hospitality.

Download this month’s newsletter:

July 2024 Devotional: Hospitality

By Major Tina Bottjen
Mat-Su Valley, AK Corps – Alaska Division

Growing up, I had always viewed hospitality as throwing elegant parties with the best foods that took all day to prepare. Hospitality, in my understanding, took valuable time, money, and effort. It was a gift for those that were extroverts that had lots of time and money on their hands. However, in the summer of 2005, my understanding of hospitality would be forever changed in a wonderful and powerful way.

Any officer in The Salvation Army can tell you, we move…. sometimes a lot, and almost always in the summer. In our officership here in the USA Western Territory, many of our moves have always happened around my youngest daughter’s birthday (Mid July). The timing of these moves often made it, so her birthdays were often a “family only” affair with no friends or even children her age there to celebrate with her.

We had just experienced such a move, one that took us from New Mexico to Alaska (thousands of miles away). Soon after moving, I was working alongside a volunteer, sorting items for the little thrift store attached to the back of the corps building. I shared how bad I felt for my daughter that so often her birthday was a small, family only event. She promptly told me, “Get me some invitations, I’ll give them out to some of the families I know with children her age. I can’t promise that anyone will show up, but I can promise to give out the invitations.” I went home and put the invitations together and gave them to her. I honestly didn’t expect anything to come from it though, who would want to come to a birthday party for someone they didn’t even know?

The day of my daughter’s birthday arrived, and we told her it was going to be a family birthday party (again, not much hope that anyone would show up.) We decorated for her party, as we always did. Just in case people did show up, I had hidden games, prizes, and goodie bags in my room. We took it slow that morning, wasting time with poor excuses for delaying the opening of gifts and eating goodies until the time I had put on the invitations arrived. It would be an understatement to say she was a little frustrated thinking we were just being ornery by making her wait.

As the time drew near, a car pulled up our driveway and out jumped a couple of girls her age, then another car pulled up, more kids, and then another! That day, 12 young girls came to celebrate the birthday of a young girl they had never met. As I took out the hidden games (including a piñata!), gift bags, and prizes, there were happy tears, laughter, and joy. They played games, ate too much food, and they gave her birthday gifts! We met several parents that day, people we would soon call friends. This gift of hospitality was so amazing, and soon we would call this place our hometown.

Scripture makes it very clear that hospitality is not only a gift and an expectation, but it is a requirement for believers. Romans 12:10-13 (NIV) tells us, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines hospitality as, “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests or hospitable treatment.” Hospitality is a way of living, a way of interacting with and sharing our life and time with those around us, all the time. Hospitality is letting people know they belong, not only in our homes, but also in our lives, and our community.

That day, my whole family felt welcomed and included in a community that we all still call home. Our lives were changed, because one woman shared her gift of hospitality by passing out birthday invitations, bringing twelve young girls and their families into our lives to celebrate our child and to welcome a new family to town.

July 2024 Craft: Wreath of Hospitality

By Major Tina Bottjen
Mat-Su Valley, AK Corps – Alaska Division

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Romans 15:7 (NRSV)

Materials needed.

  1. One medium vine wreath.
  2. Hot glue gun
  3. Scissors
  4. Wire cutters to cut flowers.
  5. Flowers
  6. Small wooden “welcome” Sign
  7. Ribbon
  8. Glue
  9. Glitter

Instructions:

  1. Cut ribbon to size and glue to the middle of the wreathe.
  2. Take a wooden “welcome” sign, put glue on the front and then cover with glitter. Let it sit to dry while you work on the rest of the wreath.
  3. Glue flowers, one by one, use different colors and sizes.
  4. When wooden sign is dry, glue to the middle of the ribbon that you glued.
  5. Hang your wreath on the front door, welcoming people to your home.

July 2024 Bible Study: Hospitality

By Linda Garcia
Fairbanks, AK Corps – Alaska Division

I wanted to accurately define hospitality: Hospitality is action and affection, receiving and loving a stranger.

I grew up seeing this displayed in my family. My paternal grandmother always had a pot of beans on the stove, a large Tupperware bowl full of homemade flour tortillas on top of the refrigerator or continually making them fresh this was all day every day ready for anyone or everyone that stepped into her home whether it be family, friend or stranger.

The Bible points out numerous forms of hospitality which is very important-

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

  • How would you describe your willingness to help others in need. Would you describe yourself as being eager?
  • If someone is eager to practice hospitality, how is that demonstrated in their life? Do you know someone who could be described as eager to practice hospitality?

I remember as a very young girl spending a lot of time with my maternal grandparents, it was really my second home. This one particular summer I was probably 5 years old I would go outside to play in the front yard and there would be one or two men passed out by the bushes I run into the house to tell Gramma and she would calmly send Grampa out with a cup of coffee and water to let them know it was time to move on. There was a cantina/bar across the street to the left of their house. They never mistreated anyone, but it was an opportunity for Grampa to share a cup of coffee and sometimes pray for them.

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9

  • How does grumbling impact our hospitality? How does grumbling affect our Christian witness? What are we communicating to others by grumbling?

The practice of hospitality is Christ-like. It is an offering of our time and company to others.”] The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 reaches out her hand to the needy. She cared about others!

  • Read Proverbs 31:10-31. Note how this woman showed hospitality. What did she do? How did she respond? What do you learn about hospitality from this woman?

Ladies whether you have a woman’s Group in your home or at church hospitality is how God wants us to share his love with everyone. Be intentional as you prepare a meal, snacks, and God’s Word that you will share with those who enter your home. Pray for each woman that comes to your group meeting, make sure to lift them up in prayer daily as you journey with them.

I have to be honest, being hospitable didn’t come naturally for me even though I saw it growing up. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I have learned to open my home to those I may not of opened up my home to in the past.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

  • How can you be more intentional in showing hospitality this week?
  • Who can you show hospitality to?

Download a printable version of this Bible Study:

June 2024 Flourish Newsletter

This month we are focusing on being deeply rooted in the spiritual discipline of forgiveness. In her book, Spiritual Disciplines: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes, “To forgive is to condemn a wrong, spare the wrongdoer hatred, revenge and self-righteous indignation by joining them to Jesus’ own forgiving heart.”

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Inside you will find a devotional, conversation starters, a prayer idea, a Bible reading plan, and other helpful tips all centered around the spiritual discipline of forgiving others.

Download this month’s Newsletter:

June 2024 Devotional: Forgiveness

By Major Gaylene Yardley
Divisional Women’s Ministries SecretarySouthwest Division

Note: This devotional coordinates with this month’s craft, Soap Carving, and this month’s Bible Study.

Can you say that you have not sinned today? Listen to this prayer.

Dear Lord,
So far I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped,
haven’t lost my temper,
haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent.
I’m really glad about that.

But in a few minutes, God,
I’m going to get out of bed.
And from then on,
I’m going to need a lot more help.

I feel this way many times. I’m doing great God and then…My dinner burns, I drop the milk on the floor, someone almost hit me at the left turn, my boss told me I am getting extra work for my plate, my kids played hide and seek in the clean laundry, and on and on.

When things like this happen, I get mad, I say things in my head that I can’t say out loud, I resent people for their actions that I have no power over. Life happens and we must realize that we do sin daily in our actions or in our thoughts.

1 John 1:8 tells us, “If we say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The passage goes on to say (v. 9), “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The soap we will use in our craft is a great reminder of this verse. We can be cleansed from our sins only through Jesus Christ, but we have to confess those sins to Him. Sometimes it is hard to admit our wrongs, our mistakes, our actions that we have done. I don’t like to admit when I am wrong. I want it just to all go away, but it doesn’t until I confess it to the Lord. Then it is all gone. What a great promise to us that he is faithful in forgiveness. I pray that you are grateful that Jesus loves you enough to wash your sins away and to do it anytime and anyplace you come to Him with your sins. It can be while you are working, vacuuming, eating dinner, going to bed, Jesus meets you where you are.

Maybe someone has been unkind to you. Maybe you have been hurt by someone close to you. Maybe you feel you can’t forgive them. C. S. Lewis said this, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.” It’s a great concept until it’s you who must forgive someone you do not feel deserves it. In Matthew 18:21 and 22 we read some very difficult information. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times”? Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” NIV

So, do you deserve forgiveness? Perhaps you might think a bit differently after reading this verse. None of us deserve the forgiveness we have in Christ Jesus, but it is a gift from Him for the sins of the world that He took upon Himself. Jesus extended this forgiveness to you, so why don’t you extend it to another person who has wronged you? Remember Ephesians 4:32 NLT says, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God through Christ Jesus has forgiven you. “

The plan for our lives as followers of Jesus is to ask for forgiveness and to extend that to others as well.

May our prayer be:

Thank you Lord for helping me through the day and forgiving me for my sins and for helping me to forgive those who wronged or hurt me today. I am glad to receive your forgiveness and to extend it to others. Amen

June 2024 Bible Study: Forgiveness

By Major Gaylene Yardley
Divisional Women’s Ministries SecretarySouthwest Division

Needed Supplies (needed by each person):

  • paper
  • pencils
  • large eraser
  • Bible

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32

Have you ever done something that you wish you could take back? Maybe something that you said that makes you cringe when you think about it? It happens to all of us at one time or another. As a kid I remember when I did something I knew to be wrong, I had that terrible sinking feeling in my gut that caused me turmoil in my heart and in my soul.

Today we are going to talk about sin and forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we can ask for or give, in my opinion. We often say we forgive but do we really forget? Let’s work together to do a little illustration for each of us.

Have participants draw a large heart on their paper. If you’d prefer, you can print out large hearts instead.

Is the heart pure? Since it is clean, the answer is yes. Sometimes even when you are trying to do a good job, we mess up anyway. What is a way that we may mess up?

Read Colossians 3:5. This verse tells about some specific sins, Sin clouds up your heart. Write the sin on the heart (big!).

What might happen after that? For example, if the first sin they offer is stealing, then tell them you might lie to cover it up because you don’t want them to know.

Then write the next sin on your heart and have them do the same. Repeat these steps until the heart is full of sins things.

Do you think that Jesus still loves you even with this? But do you think He can live in your heart with all this garbage?

We need Jesus’ forgiveness at all times. Can someone tell me what forgiveness means to you? How do we receive and give forgiveness? We must forgive as well. If we harbor bitterness and animosity in our lives, we must forgive as well. Colossians 3: 13 tells us this, “bear with each other and forgive one another if any one of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

So what do we need to do to be forgiven? Why do you think that you need to say it out loud? We have to admit it so that we are being honest with God and ourselves.

What else do you think would be a good thing to do? Guide them until they answer that you should talk to the people that you wronged.

Go through each of the sins on the heart and “make it right”. That means praying for the person you wronged, making it right, and asking for Jesus’ forgiveness. Each time, erase the sin from the heart. Have them do this as well.

Do you think it will stay like that forever? It’s probably not going to stay pure forever. Even if you try hard, you will probably mess up every once and a while. The important thing is that we try to do our best to be like Christ, and that we ask for forgiveness when we mess up—and quickly! We don’t want to end up filling our heart with sins.

Give them a few minutes (play a quick worship song) and ask them to think about something they may need to ask forgiveness for, and to pray for it. At the end, pray a general prayer over them that they will learn from this lesson and try to keep their hearts pure.

Quotes on Forgiveness

  • “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Louis B. Smedes
  • “To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” – Robert Muller
  • Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” – Jonathan Huie
  • “Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself.” – Harriet Nelson
  • “If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.” – Mother Teresa
  • When you forgive, you immerse yourself in healing water.s” – Stephen Richards
  • To forgive is to refuse to contaminate the future with the errors of the past.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough
  • “When we forgive, the slave we free is ourselves.” – Edward M. Hallowell
  • “Forgiving others is having power over the stars, forgiving yourself is having power over the moon.” – Alan Maiccon

Download a printable version of this Bible Study:

Be sure to check out this month’s craft, Soap Carving, and devotional, Forgiveness, that coordinates with this Bible Study.

June 2024 Craft: Soap Carving

By Major Gaylene Yardley
Divisional Women’s Ministries SecretarySouthwest Division

Note: This craft coordinates with this month’s devotional and Bible Study.

Supplies Needed:

  • Bar of soap for each participant
  • A nail (to carve the soap with)

Everyone will carve a cross, heart, Bible verse or anything that will serve as a reminder that forgiveness is an important part our our spiritual lives.

Here are easy instructions on how to do soap carving: https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Soap-Carving

September 2024 Craft: Haku Lei Making

By Lt. Helen Reyes
Women’s Ministries Executive Assistant – Del Oro Division

Haku Lei Making – A Hawaiian Crown of Flowers

A haku lei, or lei po’o is a lei made for the head (haku literally means “to braid”). The tradition of making and giving lei stems from ancient Hawaii, where lei were used for ceremonial purposes, as adornment, and to signify rank).

Nowadays, wearing a haku lei is a symbol of Aloha – it can be worn on special occasions such as graduations, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, honoring, or welcoming a friend.

The Haku lei reminds me of God’s agape love. The beautiful crown of flowers represents people living in a community bonded with unselfish love by being a good example to others.

Supplies List:
⦁ Flowers, you can use any flowers listed here: Mums, bougainvillea, mini roses, carnation,
⦁ Greeneries: ferns, eucalyptus, baby breaths
⦁ Raffia
⦁ Bowl
⦁ Scissors
⦁ Water

Instructions:

Step 1: Grab a bowl and fill with water (half full)

Step 2: Grab a few strands of raffia and soak in bowl filled with water. Set bowl aside.

Step 3: Grab more strands of raffia and tie at end (see photo), separate the strands into three sections and start braiding the raffia. Halfway through braiding measure the crown of your head. Once finished with the braiding, tie a knot at the end. Leave about 2 inches on each end of the raffia – the excess raffia can be used to tie the haku.

Step 4: Separate your greens and flowers.

Step 5: Start separating the greens and leave a stem (1 ½ inch) for each green.

Step 6: Separate the flowers and leave a stem (1 ½ inch) to be used when wrapping into the raffia.

Step 7: Grab a string of wet raffia and tie into the braided raffia 5 inches away from the end. Take a leaf or two and wrap around the raffia using the wet raffia tightly. Take a flower and do the same process. Alternate wrapping the greenery, flower, and baby’s breath around the braided raffia. When you come across at the end of the wet raffia, grab another one and tie it to the end and continue wrapping the flowers.

Step 8: When you are done wrapping the flowers tie the two ends together and you are finished. Enjoy your Haku Lei!

Download printable instructions for this craft:

September 2024 Bible Study: Prayer Stations

By Captain Irene Castro
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Del Oro Division

Note: Since the spiritual discipline we are focusing on this month is “Listening Prayer” this month’s Bible Study is in the form of prayer stations, that will incorporate Scripture into each specific prayer station.

Supply List for Station:

  1. Blocks or Bricks with different words that can cause us to stumble like gossip, love for money, lust and more.
  2. Long mirror with dry erase markers.
  3. A standing cross with pieces of paper. Also pens, hammer and nails.
  4. Put a circle of chairs for people to pray and have the officer lead this one while praying for others.
  5. Nails, tools, and wire (see picture in the prayer station description below)
  6. Have a fake tree, printed prayers or promises from the Bible for people to grab, paper clips to hang their papers on the tree. Also have blank papers and pens in case people want to write their own.
  7. Scrabble Board game
  8. On a board hang up lines with hearts for them to grab and then hang back up, pens
  9. You can do this one in a lot of different ways. Have the word written out so they can read it themselves, have it on the CD and have it playing over and over, or have someone read it out loud.

Prayer Station 1: Stumbling Blocks
Supplies: Blocks or Bricks with different words that can cause us to stumble like gossip, love for money, lust and more.

Isaiah 57:14 And it will be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.”

As we know there are a lot of things in our life that the devil can use for us to stumble. We see some on the table. What are some things in your life that you need to remove so that you can stand firm and not fall. Take a moment and reflect on your life and see what those things are and pray that God helps you to remove that from your life or helps you to be strong to face it.

Prayer Station 2: Image of God
Supplies: Long mirror with dry erase markers

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come the old as gone the new is here.

When you see yourself in this mirror what do you see? Are you happy with what you see? Is God happy with what he sees? There are things sometime that we still hold on to from our past and have not allowed God to change us complete. Pray that God make you a new creation from the inside and out. Pray when people see you, they see God and not the old you. Take a moment to talk with the Lord but also write on the mirror one thing you don’t want to see anymore.

Prayer Station 3: Forgiveness
Supplies: A standing cross with pieces of paper. Also pens, hammer and nails.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. Remember God went on the cross to forgive your sins and take all that pain and suffering away from you. Write something you need to ask God to forgive you for or write down someone’s name that you still need to forgive. Take a moment to pray. Put paper on the cross as a symbol of allowing God to start the healing process.

Station 4: Sickness
Supplies: Put a circle of chairs for people to pray and have the officer lead this one while praying for others.

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  

We all have a loved one that is sick, or we are self or going through some sickness. Pray and believe that God will heal and restore that body back to what it once was.

Station 5: Christ Dying on the Cross
Supplies: Nails, tools, and wire

 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.

As you see the nails on the table remember the sacrifice that God did for you. Remember he loves you and died on the cross for your sins and pain. Make a cross with the nails as you see the example on the table but while you are building your cross meditate on him and his goodness.

Station 6: The Tree of Prayer
Supplies: Have a fake tree, printed prayers or promises from the Bible for people to grab, paper clips to hang their papers on the tree. Also have blank papers and pens in case people want to write their own.

1 John 5:14  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 

As you pick a paper think of a prayer that you want God to hear and hang it on the tree as a symbol of you believing to God. Know and believe that he answers or hears your prayer. Then take a minute to pray and talk with him or share your prayer with your officer or friend and ask them to pray for you.

Station 7: Encouraging Words
Supplies: Scrabble Board game

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

In this day of age, we have lots of people that can be mean or rude. We see people being bulled and people taking their life when we need to start encouraging people and saying nice things to people. As you see there is a board game in the middle, the word LOVED is there add or put another encouraging word with the letters you see so you can practice doing this.

Station 8: Marriages and Families
Supplies: On a board hang up lines with hearts for them to grab and then hang back up, pens

2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

These words are among Paul’s final words of exhortation to the Christians in Corinth at the end of his second letter to them. He is encouraging them to work things out with one another and think more highly about others rather than of themselves. Paul wants them to live in peace and harmony, because then they will experience more fully God’s love and peace. By seeking restoration with their brothers and sisters in Christ, they would reap what they sowed restoration with God as well. Take a moment, take a heart and write down on this heart what you want God to start doing in your marriage, family and you. By writing this down you are believing and declaring that this will happen. God is able to restore that love and peace again in those relationships.

Station 9: Read and Pray
Supplies: You can do this one in a lot of different ways. Have the word written out so they can read it themselves, have it on the CD and have it playing over and over, or have someone read it out loud.

Read: Psalm 37: 1-8

We read in this Psalm that those that are doing evil things seem to be prospering. But we are not to get angry or upset about that because God will have the last word and He will judge. We are told here to trust in the Lord.

No matter what is happening around us, God desires us to trust in Him. Things can look really bad for a while – but God will come through. As we commit our way to the Lord and delight in Him, He will bring it to pass. He will give us the desires of our hearts. We need to be still and rest in the Lord, to wait on Him and to keep on trusting Him. God will never let you down. He is fully trustworthy. So often people can let us down – but God never will.

If there are things in your life today that are tearing you up inside, give it over to God completely and place your hope and trust in Him. Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. (Proverbs 3: 5)

Lord, I give you my concerns, I lay them at your feet. Help me, Lord, to trust in you. For my daily needs.

Download printable instructions for the Prayer Stations: