Let Them Ring the Bells

Let Them Ring the Bells
by June Noble
December 13, 2014

When it is the holiday season
And the spirit is glowing brightly
It is also a time of great dire
For the poor and hungry

Their only salvation
And the guiding light
Are the red kettles and shields
And the chiming of the bells

It takes a special army
Of people young or old
Stationed at stores everywhere
Ringing the bell to signal everyone

As the change falls in the kettles
It is like a river
Of love and kindness
To the people that needs it the most

Let them ring the bells
It brings hope to the hungry
Let them ring the bells
It brings light to the poor

It takes kindness
To donate into the red kettles
It takes courage
To stand in the cold of winter

It takes commitment
To stand up proudly
It takes spirit
To make a difference in the world

Let them ring the bells

This was written by a 2014 bell ringer and presented to me.

Thoughts from Oklahoma: The Complete List

It has been an amazing experience in Oklahoma!

Here is a complete list of my posts from that experience!

May 28: Day 1-Seat at the Table
May 29: Day 2-Partners in Service
May 30: Day 3-Two Generations of Service
May 31: Day 4-Praise You in the Storm
June 1: Day 5-New Recruits Joining the Army of Hope
June 2: Day 6-The MARC of a Good Partnership
June 3: Day 7-Serving with Old Friends
June 4: Day 8-Big Storms, Small Towns
June 5: Day 9-Meeting Needs at the Point of Need
June 6: Day 10-Spiritual Care Ground Forces
June 7: Day 11-Army of the One
June 8: Day 12-Saying Goodbye but Not Forgetting

Thanks for walking this part of the journey with me!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 12-Saying Goodbye but Not Forgetting

This last post from Oklahoma is dedicated to the all of the officers, soldiers, employees and volunteers. I would also like to include all of the people I had the honor of working with from all of our partner agencies.

The weird thing about leaving now is that there has been so much good done, but there is more to be done! God has called up other faithful soldiers to carry the burden a little further! And, for that I pray for Holy strength for the local personnel who will carry it even further into the future! So, I am saying goodbye, but not forgetting!

There were long days and confusing ways! There was good teams and greater dreams! There was care and prayer! There was walking and talking! There was no “us and them.” It was always “we and Him!” So, I am saying goodbye, but not forgetting!

This experience has changed me. It has changed my perspective. It has changed how I view people. It has changed how I view myself. It has renewed old friendships and made new ones! It has brought out new partnerships and strengthened others! It has shown me a different kind of world, without borders and rules! So, I am saying goodbye, but not forgetting!

I pray God’s peace and protection over this land. For the love and care of the Father, I place these people in Your capable hands. Knowing that in all things, my God is bigger than the skies!

“For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies” (Psalm 108:4 NIV).

So, I am saying goodbye, but not forgetting!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 10-Spiritual Care Ground Forces

The Salvation Army is constantly evolving and changing the way it responds to disasters! Due to the impact that this tornado had on the people in this area, The Salvation Army wanted to make the Emotional and Spiritual Care support to be a priority in our initial service delivery. While Emotional and Spiritual Care has always been an understood in our disaster delivery service, the Army is now deploying officers (ministers) and carefully chosen, trained volunteers as Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialists. These ESC personnel are tasked with the care of not only affected people, but also other disaster responders. The Salvation Army sent one of the largest continents of ESC personnel to this disaster response in my memory.

Because of the increased response in this trained personnel, we were able to deploy ESC teams with trucks and other vehicles to affected areas as “spiritual care ground forces.” These ground force teams were able to get into some areas that our mobile feeding units could not get into and offer assistance. Some of the areas were so damaged and difficult to traverse that the ESC teams were forced to walk along roads dragging coolers of cold drinks and snacks. Far from just offering physical comfort, these teams were bringing the love of God to places that had seen such sorrow!

I had a chance to work with these teams for my first two days here in Oklahoma. These dedicated officers and volunteers took to their work like trained soldiers. Every morning, they would go to the distribution warehouse and load up with supplies. From drinks to snacks to candy to small toys, they were loading up “ammunition of love” to be shared with everyone they came in contact with! They prayed as they walked! They prayed as they talked! They spoke hope to people who did not have any hope! The days were long! Some of the teams had to seek shelter during inclement weather. There were sunburns and tired feet, exhaustion and emotional wear. But, these faithful soldiers trudged on and brought hope, peace, and love to the people of this land.

Pray for the people of Oklahoma! Pray for those who are helping! Pray for those who will be staying and helping in the future!

God Bless the people of Oklahoma!
God Bless the work of the responders!
And, God Bless The Salvation Army!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 6-The MARC of a Good Partnership

Today I served for the third day in the MARC in Shawnee, OK. The term MARC stands for Multi-Agency Resource Center. Sponsored and hosted by the American Red Cross, the MARC is a wonderful opportunity and place for many agencies to come together. Because of the stream-lined intake process, all of the agencies who participate can get clients through the process of casework more efficiently. The MARC here in Shawnee assists clients through this experience and helps them to begin to rebuild their lives. serving in Oklahoma.

The process here starts with the American Red Cross Red Line. The Red Line is staffed by highly trained Red Cross workers who help clients to record who they are and what happened to them. After the clients are evaluated and assisted by the Red Line, they are escorted by an ambassador through a quick medical check. Following the medical check, the client is escorted into the Resource Room where all of the partner agencies are present at various tables.

Here is a list of the agencies who have a presence at the Shawnee MARC:

  • The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services
  • Department of Human Services
  • Catholic Charities
  • Red Cross Mental Health Assessment Team
  • Social Security Administration
  • Disabled American Veterans
  • Americorps
  • Christian Aid Ministries
  • Goodwill
  • Church of the Latter-Day Saints Disaster Services
  • The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Relief
  • Oklahoma Insurance
  • Legal Aid Services
  • Oklahoma Health Care Authority
  • Chickasaw Nation Health System
  • Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief

All of these agencies are offering a variety of services to help the residents begin the long process of recovery.

The MARC is a great example of agencies coming together for a common cause and making a difference in the lives of people. These people find themselves at one of the toughest moments of their lives. They have had most everything taken from them and their homes and lives bared for a national audience. These agencies come together to give them some relief and help to restore that dignity in a safe and secure environment.

“From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16 NIV).

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 4-Praise You in the Storm

One of the unfortunate things about disaster services is that there are times that while serving in a disaster another one can follow right behind it. And, although they are still assessing the situation from today's storms, we had one challenging night weather-wise here in Oklahoma!

Picture from Oklahoma skies on May 31, 2013

 

And I'll praise You in this storm

And I will lift my hands

For You are who You are

No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried

You hold in Your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

Casting Crowns shares this song with us. Even while we go through some of the most difficult time of our lives, we can still praise God for His faithfulness.

2 Samuel 22:3 NIV says, “my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me.”

We truly have a God who wants to protect us from all of the “storms” of life! And, even when a storm comes along, He is still there with us!

#PrayForOklahoma

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 3-Two Generations of Service

I have served on, including this one, eleven deployments for disaster services. I have served in various capacities from operating canteens to working in the warehouse to being the Incident Commander. On all of those deployments, I never did something that I have now done. In Oklahoma, I have had the opportunity to serve with my mother, Major Susan McClure (Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Divisional Headquarters). My mother and I have both been assigned to this deployment as a Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialists. My mother has a long history of disaster experience stretching back over thirty years. Some of the skills and abilities that I have now came from somewhere!

Photo credit: Major Connie Long
Mom and Me at Plaza Towers Elementary
Photo credit: Major Connie Long

On Tuesday, we were both assigned to the same team that drove through the neighborhoods surrounding Plaza Towers Elementary ministering to the families and relief workers. I watched my mother pray with people and serve people and love people. Proverbs 22:6 KJV says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I grew up watching my mother serve OTHERS! She taught me the values of service to others. She taught me the importance of meeting people right where they are.

In our mad scramble to constantly improve ourselves, it’s quite possible that we are not taking time to learn from those around us who have been there and done it all before! I know where some of who I am came from! It came from my mother!

I am proud of who my mother is and what she does, but more importantly, I am proud of who my mother lives and serves for!

Soli Deo Gloria!

tripping over me

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name
but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
–Casting Crowns, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”

Question: Are we standing in the way of others getting closer to Jesus? Are we standing in the way of other coming to know Christ?

Our story today talks about two people in a relationship or friendship. The Word tells us they are brothers, maybe not in the “flesh and blood” sense, but in the body of Christ sense. These were people who knew each other. They werenot casual acquaintances.

hands

We are encouraged not to find fault with a brother until we deal with what we are dealing with. Jesus is trying to make a point by referring to the problem in “our own eye” as a plank while our brother has only a speck, or a flake. Is it possible that our own problem is larger because it is closer to us? Is it possible that our own problem is larger because it is also compounded, or added to, by the issue of us judging someone else? Or, is it larger because it is just larger? Who knows?

Are we standing in the way of others coming to know Christ?

There are two kinds of “judgment” referred to in the Bible. This reference means not to take God place as judge. People take this idea too far and say that we should not tell the difference between right and wrong. That is not the point here. In fact, vv. 15-23 of the same chapter talk about judging about the truth and the teaching of false disciples. We are not to put ourselves in a place of judging a person’s life. This is not my job. This is not your job. That one belongs to God. Only God can live up to a standard that only He could judge by!

Secondly, the passages referring to “judging” or “discerning” others are almost exclusively internally. How can we judge someone who does not know God by a standard that they do not know? It is like testing someone on material that you have not taught them or they do not know.

Have we forgotten where we came from?

We used to be in the same place…apart from God. If that is you this morning, then you are in good company because that is whom this church is for.

This is a real problem area for those who are on the “inside.” If we are not careful we can become more enthused, in love with, and passionate about our churches than we are about Jesus.-Doug Rea.

This explains how Jesus could eat with sinners and tax collectors and outsiders and Pharisees and disciples and… and… He was here to show them the Way, not to point out where they were always going wrong. In fact, the time when Jesus is recorded as becoming the most upset about the actions of others was inside a church!

I am personally glad that Jesus did not spend all of His time with just those who agreed with Him. If He never reached out of His inner circle, where would we be today? If Paul had never carried the word to the Gentiles, a word that in most contexts almost means outsider, where would we be today?

Sometimes it is not what we say, but how we say it.

The song we listened to today (“Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns) mentioned that there is a “world at the end of our pointing fingers.” There are families… There are people… There are situations that we don’t know anything about… There are God’s creations… at the end of our pointing fingers. Why make a situation worse by how we respond to it?

Don’t misunderstand me about this… You don’t have to act like someone else to love someone else. You don’t have to agree with someone else to love someone else. You don’t have to be like someone else to love someone else.

Caring for Others Along the Road (Easter Saturday)

Title: Caring for Others Along the Road
Series: Walking the Road of Easter (Misc. Devotional)
Scripture: Luke 23:50-56
Theme(s): Repentance, Compassion, Caring, Stepping Out

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
After the darkest moment in human history, we find a short telling of a man who was faced with an opportunity to act. Joseph of Arimathea is described by scripture as a secret follower of Jesus (John 19:38) and a member of the Jewish high council (most likely the Sanhedrin). These two descriptors of Joseph would definitely have caused him some tension, especially as they related to the treatment and death of Christ. We are also told in Luke 23:50 that Joseph was a good and righteous man, but John 19:38 tells us that he feared the Jewish leaders. We see a division in the person of Joseph. He knew what to do and how to do it, but something was holding him back. His fear of the Jewish leaders was holding back his full commitment to the cause of Jesus. And maybe we can let him slide for fearing the Jewish leaders. Even though the Jewish leaders did not have the authority to put Jesus to death (John 18:31), they still managed to manipulate Pilate and Herod into doing it. If they could do that to Jesus, imagine what they could do to Joseph. At the very least, he would become a social outcast and lose his status in the community. These sorts of fears were holding him back from becoming the person that God intended him to be.

We have all seen it. There is a homeless man or woman on the street making their request for money or food. How many times have we walked around or driven past them? Have many times have we not stopped and talked with them? Let’s make it even more personal. How many times have we known that someone is going through something but we just don’t want to get involved? We rationalize it. “It’s none of my business.” “I have my own problems.” “They got themselves in this mess, they can get themselves out of it.” “What would people say if they saw me sitting with that person at lunch?” From physical to social issues, we are surrounded by people who just need a touch, a comforting reminder—some care along the road.

The power of God and the witness of Jesus Christ changed the heart and mind of Joseph of Arimathea. It is one thing to say that you are a follower of Christ. It is yet another to actually be a follower of Christ. Joseph risked everything he had and everything that he would ever be when he stepped up to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. You can almost imagine the stares of the other leaders, Roman and Jewish, as one of their own steps forward. He steps out of secrecy and into reality. He is stepping out of the shallow end of the pool into where it is deep. He is stepping out of being an acquaintance and into a relationship with Jesus.

Caring for others along the way will mean that you have to take risks. Like Joseph, you may have to risk your social standing, your popularity, some friendships, a new position, or possibly even your job. It will cost you something. Joseph of Arimathea put Jesus in his own tomb—a tomb meant for himself or one of his family members. This was a personal expense to him with no chance of reimbursement. Jesus taught us in Luke 9:24 that “if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” We must be like Joseph of Arimathea. We need to throw caution to the wind and show compassion to other travelers along the way, especially the ones that no one else will help. When faced with a crisis of faith, we must continue “doing the most good” for everyone around us.

Mile Marker: The Tip of the Iceberg

Deuteronomy 29:5 NLT – “For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out.”

If you are anything like me, reading through Deuteronomy can take the wind out of your sails!  If you have not read Deuteronomy 28:57 yet, I would not start my morning devotions with it.  There are a lot of rules and a lot of laws covered in those chapters.  But, when you essentially read between the lines of some of the passages, great truths leap out at you.  Such a truth is Deuteronomy 29:5!

Moses is reminding the people about the time that they wandered forty years in the wilderness.  He had led them through the hardest time in any of their recent memories.  All of those people of Israel who has escaped captivity from Egypt were dead, except for the two faithful spies and Moses.  The Wilderness was the latest and most memorable test the current people had experienced.  It was their Waterloo, their Pearl Harbor, or to take a page from recent history, their 9/11 or Katrina.  They did not look back fondly at that time.  Nobody was running around screaming to go back to wandering in the wilderness.  They had done that, and had the t-shirt!  While Moses has now run down all of the requirements that God has set for the people and reminded them of the punishment that they would endure if they did not listen, he prepares them to cross over into the reward that was promised to their ancestors.  Frustrated beyond belief, he looks at the people and in verse 4 screams at them that they still did not understand everything God had done for them, will do for them, and is currently doing for them.  He goes on in verse 5 to say even when you were being punished by wandering the wilderness for forty years your clothes did not wear out, your shoes did not wear out.  Even then, God was taking care of them.

God is teaching the Israelites then and teaching us now that caring for others is a big job.  When we just meet someone’s current needs, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.  Truly caring for others and wanting to help them requires helping realize how they got to this place.  It means showing them that even when times were hardest, God was still looking out for them.  It means showing them that it might take just as long to get out of a situation as it did to get into the situation.  That is how much God cares for us!  That is how much God loves us!  Not just the tip, but all the way to the bottom!

Soli Deo Gloria!