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 7-Serving with Old Friends

The Salvation Army; Shawnee, OK

Although I am sorry about the circumstances, this disaster helped reunite me with some old friends that I have not seen in a while. Lieutenants Philip and Elaine Canning are the corps officer (ministers) for The Salvation Army in Shawnee, OK. I have known Philip and Elaine before they were Philip and Elaine. We worked on camp staff together when we were kids.

They are a vibrant, young couple who truly loves their communities. Philip and Elaine are responsible for Pottawatomie, Seminole, and Lincoln counties in Oklahoma. Parts of their counties were affected by the tornadoes on May 19, 2013. The Cannings have been working around the clock since the tornadoes to serve OTHERS in their community. I was honored to have the opportunity to give them some relief for a few days.

Please remember all of the people affected by these natural disasters!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 5-New Recruits Joining the Army of Hope

In every fight or conflict, troops get weary and tired. Fatigue sets in and makes continuing more and more difficult. After someone has been serving for a time, it is time to bring in some new vitality and spirit. You need a fresh infusion of service and love.

Let me introduce you to Pam Wedel. Pam served today at the MARC (Multi-Agency Resource Center) in Shawnee, OK. Pam is relatively new in her volunteering with The Salvation Army. She was looking for an opportunity to help out! She says that this is a good time in her life to extend her circle of people that she serves and helps. A woman of faith, Pam has interviewed and prayed with many inidividuals and families at the Shawnee MARC. She is always there with a winning smile and a williing spirit! She makes everyone feel welcome as they come to the table to talk to The Salvation Army.

And, you may wonder what her reward is…let’s ask Pam herself…

 

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!

Serving through Education

Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God. (1 Timothy 1:4 NLT)

I am a third generation Salvation Army officer (minister). For three generations, my family has been sharing and showing the love of God in the places where they lived and were sent. Of those three generations, I am the only one who completed my education beyond high school. My grandfather encouraged my parents to go further and they both took many classes beyond high school. My parents encouraged me too further and I completed my college education and in the future, plan to complete my Masters.

While I believe there is value in furthering your education and value in family tradition, if it does not lead people to faith, then it is meaningless. My grandparents and my parents are effective ministers in the places where God sent them, even without the education that I have received. I am effective in the places where God has sent me with the education that I have received. My education and “spiritual pedigree” exists to serve God and His people. If anything, I believe that increased education and understanding only increases our responsibility to go where God sends us and to serve where God places us.

My gifts and abilities, and your gifts and abilities, exist for God and God alone.

Soli Deo Gloria!

A Surprise Along the Way (2012 Easter SONrise Service)

Title: A Surprise Along the Way
Series: Walking the Road of Easter (SONrise Service)
Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
Theme(s): Surprise, God’s provision, Purpose, Importance

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
Let’s catch up in our story! Jesus, our Lord and leader of our group, has just been killed and buried. According to tradition some of the women have prepared the requisite spices and ointments to anoint His body. They cannot anoint His body right away because of the Sabbath. There can be no work on the Sabbath! So far, everything was continuing on as usual.

At first light, the women gather up all of their materials and make their way to the tomb. There is something very striking here about the women’s behavior. Normally the body would have been anointed right away to complete the burial process, but this time it was interrupted by the Sabbath. These women knew the responsibility and its purpose. But, they did not know how they were going to move the covering from the tomb. They did not know how they were going to complete their task, but they knew their duty. They knew how much Jesus had meant to them and this was one way for them to show Him and others that they loved Him. They could have sat at home and wished that they could have completed it. They could have waited a few days and called a committee of the elders together to work on the problem. They could have petitioned to the Romans to have the stone moved away. They could have hired the Jerusalem Rock and Digging Company, Inc. But, they didn’t. They started out. They only knew that it had to be done.

Sometimes, life feels this way. We have a difficult problem or choice before us. We can choose to move or stay. Like the women, we can choose to move in commitment and devotion, knowing that what we are doing is important. Or, we can sit at home and blame people. We can sit around and wait for someone else to take care of it. What is amazing about this story is that if the women had not walked out in faith, then they would have never witness the “surprise along the way.”

Our lives belong to God. He has made us and given us purpose. He has also given us the ability to choose whether we will move out in that purpose or not. How can we know the full measure of God’s care for us if we stay at home? I think this shows us that God delights in surprising His people. He said it was going to happen. He gave them examples along the way that it would happen. He told them over and over. Why wasn’t everyone waiting out in front of the tomb for Jesus to appear? They had seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead. They had seen Him walk on water. He had healed the blind and cured the sick. Why didn’t they believe that Jesus might have one more “trick” up His sleeve?

We feel like that in life. We know all of the great things that Jesus has done for us. He continually tells us of His love and plans for us in His word. Yet, we are not waiting at His feet. Jesus uses these “surprises along the way” to remind us that He is still walking beside us. Whether it was a promotion at work or an unexpected gift from a friend, a kind note from a far away relative or the answer to the secret prayer of our hearts, God still cares for His people. He is not dead. He is not locked up in a tomb. He is waiting right around the next corner with a “surprise along the way.”