In His Presence Alone

In the stillness, Lord,

I need you.

No longer able to shoulder

The weight of these burdens alone,

Like the sun-scorched earth—

Barren, cracked, yearning for the evening rain,

Empty and dry,

I’ve run out of myself.

 

In the stillness, Lord,

I seek you.

With extended hands I reach for you

As the sunflower turns toward sun’s morning rays,

Searching, struggling, stretching, striving,

I lay my heart at your feet—

Anxious thoughts, unanswered questions, hopes and dreams,

I give you all.

 

In the stillness, Lord,

I find you.

In upturned leaf, in whispering wind, in melodious meadowlark,

I see your handiwork.

Heralds of your faithfulness,

Gentle keepsakes of your abiding love.

 

In the stillness, Lord,

I hear you.

Your presence calms the noises

Threatening me at every turn.

Speaking peaceful reassurances,

Quiet whispers of wisdom.

Silently you lead me to the secret place—

The one prepared for me.

 

In the stillness, Lord,

I find hope

As you lift me up,

My hand tightly clasped in your own.

How I long for the perfection

Found in your ways.

Glimpses of glory on the horizon,

As all of creation yearns for that better day.

Written by Cheryl Elton

Celebrating the Retirement of Lt. Colonels Allen and Esther Satterlee

Today we had the privilege of celebrating the retirement of Lt. Colonels Allen and Esther Satterlee. Thank you for your service and leadership!

WWII Veteran and Salvation Army Commissioner Skydives into Normandy for D-Day

At 95 years old, WWII veteran and Salvation Army Commissioner Harry Read, who first parachuted into Normandy 75 years ago for D-Day, jumped over the historic site in memory of his fallen comrades. Through the jump, Harry is raising money for The Salvation Army’s work to fight trafficking and modern slavery.

Read the full story / Photo Source: The Salvation Army

Be A New Testament Parent

Jesus came to Earth to reveal God and His nature more clearly than the Old Testament could do. In identifying God as “Our Father,” Jesus allowed us to understand God’s role in the universe. He made it clear that part of His goal in coming to Earth was to help us understand the Father heart of God—a supernatural heart that beats for each of His children. God reveals Himself to us as “The Model Parent.”

There is a clear difference between God’s Old Testament parenting with an emphasis on behavior and His New Testament emphasis on “our need.” We note in the Old Testament God’s focus on bad behavior, stubbornness, selfishness and rule breaking. God’s New Testament focus is on our need for Him. As human parents, we must consider whether we should attend to meeting our children’s needs or the endless struggle to “fix” their behavior. In considering God as an example of the perfect parent, we will realize that we must meet our children’s needs with love. Love never fails.

A second facet of God’s New Testament parenting skills involves His decision to see His children not as they are, but as the people they will become. In short, He sees what sacrifice will do for a child and how that child will be transformed. As parents, we should borrow this idea of dreaming about our children’s potential. All good parents must make note of the times when their children get things wrong; however, the GREAT parent catches them being good.

The New Testament reveals God as a Father who gives His children a second chance. My own experience with second chances involved the worst behaving four-year-old in all of creation. He was on time-out so often that we had to reinforce the chair. One day, I asked if he would rather have another time-out or mercy, and he asked, “What is mercy?” “That is where you promise not to do that again, and I don’t give you a time-out,” I told him. He said, “I will have mercy please,” and it worked. At age four, he learned repentance and self-control, because he had received mercy. As parents, should we not give our children a second chance—even a third or fourth? Is there any other way to help them learn self-control?

The New Testament is rich with images of God as a model father, but these images actually appear in the Old Testament. It is in the four verses immediately following the Great Commandment: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, that God’s parent heart is revealed.”

The four parenting verses that follow the Great Commandment (Deut. 6:6-9):

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands, and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses…”

These verses that follow the Great Commandment give even New Testament parents the one thing we all need most—a reminder. As New Testament parents, we must focus on our children’s needs more than their behavior. We must hold to and share our dreams of what we wish them to be, even when it is difficult. We must offer them mercy and a chance to repent as a step to self-control. We must share Bible verses as God commands in the Old and New Testaments. But the greatest commitment of all is, in the words of Theodore Spurgeon: “If we would see our children saved, we must let God save us, utterly and completely.”

Three Ways to Make Daily Prayer a Habit in Your Home

1. Get them acquainted with the Lord’s Prayer. Post a copy of the Lord’s Prayer in each child’s room.

2. Use a calendar. Get a small flip Scripture calendar to place beside each child’s bed. Start and end each day with a prayer that God will help you both to understand the verses.

3. Start a prayer cup. On one side of the Styrofoam cup, write, “From me to Jesus.” On the other side, write, “From Jesus to me.” Each night, have your child write a one-sentence prayer and place it in a cup.  Pray that prayer daily, until your child feels that he or she has heard from God. If necessary, involve other family members or the entire church. A single answered prayer is the one thing most likely to connect a child to God.

Parents succeed or fail by their habits. As parents, our biggest enemy is preoccupation—getting distracted from our children. Reading a daily blessing forces us to focus on each child for at least one minute each day. The words we speak can make it something a child can see and share.

Blessing #1—Romans 15:13

“May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you believe, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Blessing #2—1 Thessalonians 5:23

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Blessing #3—2 Corinthians 13:14

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you…”

Blessing #4—Ephesians 3:16

“May God strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.”

Blessing #5—2 Peter 1:2

“May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.”

J. Charles White is a retired preschool teacher from Topeka, Kansas, who has been previously published in War Cry. He leads a small group of Christian day-care providers that has partnered with The Salvation Army and Prison Fellowship to give away over 300,000 copies of their Lord’s Prayer coloring book, “Teach Us to Pray.”

The Prodigal Son Returns: A Testimony of Redemption

As a child I would often hear my grandmother say, “all things work together for those who believe and have faith.” I must admit that when I reached my teenage years it was a phrase that I would often brush off with little regard; and although I was brought up under biblical teaching and influence from a young age, it would still be more than two decades before I truly came to experience the glorious reality of what my grandmother was saying.

I was 14 years old when I started drinking and smoking marijuana. At the time it seemed like fun; sneaking out at night, causing trouble with the kids from around the neighborhood and punishing my liver with the ‘liquid courage’ needed to spice it all up. The consequences were harmless at the time and being grounded for a week was a petty fine to pay for all the “fun” that I was having on my nightly excursions. Little did I know then that this so called “fun” would carry with it much stricter consequences as time drew on (Heb. 11:25b; Gal. 6:7-8).

Towards the closing chapter of my 15th year I was delivered an unexpected surprise, literally. My girlfriend of six months was pregnant and I was going to be a father. This was a tremendous responsibility and, being that my father had been absent for my entire childhood, I made a personal vow that I would never put my child through the kind of pain and abandonment that I had experienced growing up.

Although my intentions were good, I was still an immature child myself and had a hard time holding up to my personal convictions; however noble they may have been.

In the beginning I thought I had it all figured out. I was a sophomore at the time and decided that I should start working to support my new family. So I left my high school and transferred into a charter school where I was only required to attend class for three hours a day. Everything seemed great. I would go to school, then to work and spend the evenings with my family, but it was soon proven that I wasn’t finished with my rebellious old ways–and wouldn’t be for quite some time.

I came to find out that many, if not all of the students at my new school were much like me. They liked to smoke, drink, curse and cause a ruckus. It came to a point where I would get high before school every day. Most days this would lead to skipping school altogether.

Toward the end of my junior year I was introduced to a new “friend.” That friend was methadone. Methadone is a synthetic opioid used to treat heroin addicts and causes a very similar high to the drug itself.

I was hooked.

I realized that I didn’t need alcohol or marijuana to get by. I could and euphoria in a different kind of bottle. A pill bottle. So I sought out whatever kind of pills I could to create a better and more fulfilling high, even to the point of mixing pills that shouldn’t be mixed to fabricate my own endorphin filled “paradise.” My drug use was out of control.

At one point, after my first underage drinking citation, my mother thought it might be beneficial to go stay with my grandmother in Florida. The plan seemed fool-proof. I would go there, get a job and be far away from the mess I was in at home.

The only problem was that no matter how far away I ran, I could not escape from myself; and after three months, two overdoses, and almost getting my grandmother evicted from her home, I was booted out of Florida and sent back to Minnesota in worse shape than when I left.

I was nineteen years old. I had a two-year-old son, a heartbroken family, and a raging drug addiction that I didn’t understand. By this point I was living in such shame that all I could do was continue to drown out my guilt with pills, alcohol and marijuana. I believed in God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but at that point God seemed more distant than my own estranged father.

During this time I held various jobs, all of which were unmanageable due to my addiction. My mind and body were a mess (not to mention the state of my soul) and I was watching every relationship around me crumble. I thought I had reached rock bottom; but, as I have come to learn, rock bottom is simply where you stop digging. I still had a shovel in my hands.

I started to seek a stronger high to fill the emptiness inside. That was how I first became introduced to black tar heroin. It became an immediate addiction. Before I knew it I had plunged into the depths of a world of darkness that I never knew existed. Everything else faded away. My son’s mother left me and over the next eight months I burrowed deeper into this twisted rabbit hole until I lost everything.

In March of 2012 I had nowhere to go. My mother suggested that I enter into The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Program (ARC). Although I fought it for a time, eventually I entered the program.

For those who are not familiar with this program, the “ARC” is a six-month-long, Christ-centered recovery program that focuses on restructuring old patterns of living and reforming the mind through biblical instruction and discipleship.

I came to realize that drugs and alcohol were not my true problem; they were my solution. Once the solution was taken away I was forced to come face-to-face with the real problem. Myself. I was rebellious, stubborn, full of pride and arrogance, selfishly living for only myself without any concern for those around me. For so long I thought I hated myself for the way I was living, but in reality, I loved myself far too much. That was why I sought out my own pleasure, regardless of how it affected my loved ones.

The ARC is very focused on establishing structure in the lives of those who have been so long without it, and this did not sit well with my rebellious nature. There were many rules to follow. Most of them seemed far too tedious for my liking, and I didn’t want to submit. This resulted in many write-ups and disciplinary actions. I remember getting terribly frustrated with the resident managers every time they wrote me up. At one point I almost left the program altogether.

About three months in, something changed. One evening I was reading my Bible and came across a verse in James that took me by surprise. It said, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy’” (1:2).

I remember complaining out loud to the Lord about this, saying, “You want me to count all of this joy? There is no joy to be found! Don’t you see the mess I’m in?’” Even though I received no audible response, the answer still came. I couldn’t get that verse out of my head. I would recite it word-for-word, over-and-over throughout the day until it started to become a reality.

I even remember one time after being written up actually thanking the resident manager for holding me accountable, and I wasn’t being sarcastic!

During this time at The Salvation Army I learned much about myself and much about God. I had found new knowledge that was waiting to be applied and a desire to put into practice the principles I had learned over my six months as a resident. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen immediately. I graduated from the ARC in September of 2012 and didn’t end up getting completely sober until June of 2014.

I was living in my truck and sleeping in the parking lot of the church I grew up in. It was there that the Lord took a hold of me and drew me closer to Himself than I had ever been! I started to examine the Scriptures daily and a deep longing for what was written in their pages. I recognized that these were the words of truth that I had been so desperate for. Prayer started to become a great joy, and I began to experience the presence of God each day.

I was homeless, sober and filled with more joy than I had ever known!

Since then, the Lord has truly restored the years that the locusts had eaten away. I am now 26 years old and happy to say that, by the grace of God, I am the husband to a wonderful wife, and father to six (soon to be seven) beautiful children. We are growing as a family each day in the love and joy of our precious Savior Jesus Christ and look forward to what He has in store for the future.

I have come to a point where I can finally say with my grandmother and saints all around the world, that all things truly do work together for those who believe and have faith.

Joshua Garrison is an alumni of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center. He lives with his wife and children in Forest Lake, MN.

Salvation Simply Stated

The question came to Paul from the Philippian jailer and continues to be asked today — “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) We should understand and clearly explain what “salvation” or “being saved” means. In attempting to articulate what we mean, we (the Church) have clouded the simple truth with a variety of terms such as justification, conversion, faith, regeneration, atonement, born again, grace, righteousness and my favorite—propitiation. Saving is simply the action of rescuing someone from trouble—such as a lifeguard saving someone from drowning or a fireman carrying someone out of a burning building.

WHY? We Need Saving—Ruined Relationship (Doctrine 5, Disobedience)

Any discussion about salvation begins with our ruined relationship with God. Although we were created in God’s image and designed for fellowship with God, sin has separated us from our loving Creator. The result of this separation is death (Romans 6:10). All of us are guilty of selfishness and disobedience (Romans 3:23) which has caused this ruined relationship.

As sinners drowning in sin, we are not capable of saving ourselves. Death is inevitable, unless we are saved by a lifesaver. The first step of the salvation process is the work of the Holy Spirit revealing to us our sinfulness and need to be saved. Saving is completely God’s work. We can’t and don’t save ourselves. We are helpless and hopeless in our sin without God coming to our rescue (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is called “grace”—favor God gives even though we don’t deserve and can’t earn it.

This convicting work of the Holy Spirit is the insight that how we are living and what we are doing is not right nor pleasing to God. Our eyes are opened to our disobedience and to a better way to live. The free will that God gave all of us when we were created in His image allows us to respond to this conviction—positively or negatively. If we continue to ignore this work of God in our lives, we can grow hardened, and even though we might think we have silenced this “tap on our shoulder,” God’s grace never gives up on us.

WHO? Jesus Saves—Rescued/Redeemed (Doctrine 6, Atonement)

Since we are not able to restore our ruined relationship with God, He sent His Son Jesus to save us from our sins and make possible a restored relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NKJV). In dying on the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sin and redeemed us by sacrificing His life in our place.

We call Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross “making atonement”—using the terminology of the Old Testament sacrificial system for the forgiveness of sin. Under this system, sin was “paid for” by sacrificing an animal on an altar according to God’s instruction. Since sin separates us from God, a sacrifice atones for or heals the ruined relationship allowing us to be restored to a right relationship with our loving Creator. Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we would be whole. He was whipped so we could be whole” (1 Peter 2:24).

What Jesus did in willingly going to the cross to pay the price for our sin was for the whole world. All have sinned, and God has provided His saving grace for all of us. Everyone. Jesus said, “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). His love is not limited to a certain group or a specific number that once reached means no more love is available. God created all of us with a free will allowing us to accept or reject His love—“whosoever will may be saved.”

HOW? Getting Saved—Response (Doctrine 7, Faith)

Acknowledging that salvation is completely God’s work, we must exercise our free will in order to accept what God has achieved on the cross. The first step in response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit is to repent of our sins. Repentance means to change direction, to stop going our own way and to begin following God’s plan for our lives. This begins with being sorry (contrition) for our disobedience (sin), moving to confession of our sin that includes turning away from our sin and turning toward God—again through the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 7:10, Acts 17:30, Luke 13:3).

Along with repentance toward God, we must have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 11:6 says, “…it is impossible to please God without faith,” which is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as “…the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.” Faith, which is a gift of God, includes knowledge (head) of who Jesus is and what He did, a belief (heart) that what Jesus did on the cross actually saves us, and results in a change in our actions (hands) or lifestyles. In Romans 4, the faith of Abraham was being “…fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises” (v. 21). Saving faith is understanding that God has made provision for repairing our ruined relationship, trusting that what God has done will save us from our sin and change our actions accordingly.

We also need the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in order to be saved. This means that once we respond to God in repentance and faith, we are changed, converted, a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be “born again,” referring to the work of God in John 1:12, “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” Being saved is more than recognizing that we have been living wrong and now do our best to live better as God wants. Scripture is clear that “our best” is similar to filthy rags and that we need new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26). Billy Graham said that we are not reformed but transformed.

BEING SAVED—Result (Doctrine 8, Justification)

The result of repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, is what the Bible calls “justification.” This simply means that God has declared us righteous or in a right relationship with Him. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, God has forgiven sin and provided pardon. William Booth said, “When a man is saved, not only does he receive pardon of sin but deliverance from its bondage. The yoke is broken, the fetters are snapped, the prison doors are opened: he is free!”

God provides this justification or deliverance through grace, His unearned gift. Grace is freely given by God. It is not given in response to our work, talents or family. God loves everyone and has provided redemption—purchased our forgiveness for sin. We need to accept His gift and put into practice faith that He has given to all who ask. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

God’s Word also says that we can know we are saved when we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We don’t have to guess or wonder if we are saved once we accept the gift of grace. The witness to the saving work of God in our lives comes from Scripture— “All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar, because they don’t believe what God has testified about His Son” (1 John 5:10). The action of a “new creation” converted from their old way of living and being obedient to God’s plan also testifies to this regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

STAYING SAVED – Remain (Doctrine 9, Obedience)

While our good works can’t save us, good works come as a response of love to God who has saved us. Jesus says clearly in John 14 that obedience comes from love: “Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching” (v. 23). “The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine” (2010) says, “Obedience as a free will choice is a consequence of faith, and without it, faith dies” (p. 181). Jesus told His disciples to “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you… Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers” (John 15:4, 6).

Backsliding or losing our salvation is possible and warned against in Scripture. To “stay saved,” we must continue to exercise “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” which produces continued obedience. The salvation God provides starts us on a journey or process in which we continue to grow closer and closer to Him as we daily “take up our cross and follow Him.” This journey requires daily submission to the Holy Spirit who enables us to be the person and do the things God wants.

Unfortunately, most discussions on backsliding ask—”When do I stop being saved?” The question is really, “How much sin is allowable for me to still get into Heaven?” The question misses the point that salvation, although it comes with the promise of eternal life, is about a restored relationship and not entrance into Heaven. We still need to be reminded of Paul’s declaration in Romans 6:1-2: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Our response to God’s freely given love is to live obedient as His loving children.

Summary

Billy Graham has said, “Jesus made everything so simple, and we have made it so complicated.” While salvation may be simple, it is not easy. The radical redirection required by a ruined relationship begins with recognizing God’s love and His call on our lives, repenting of our sins, receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord, and results in being regenerated. It is responding to conviction by confession that leads to commitment of our lives and a change in behavior called conversion. Salvation begins in the head (knowledge), moves to the heart (trust/belief) and continues in our hands (actions). “For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is he day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Salvation Army Doctrines 5-9

We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocency, but by their disobedience they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.

We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, are necessary to salvation.

We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.

We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.

Lt. Colonel Dean Hinson is the Army’s national secretary for program.