Church Family Newsletter | September 16, 2022
We had such a lovely time exploring and appreciating the beauty of God's creation - dry caves, wet caves, canyons, valleys, mountains, rivers, the ocean, natural pools, flowers, trees, ivies, birds, roosters, chicken, the edge of the rainforest, a complete rainbow! It was all so magnificent!
We had time to reflect on our family, our marriage, our children, our ancestors, our appointments, the people in our lives, and our future. In the end, I am inspired by my grandparents' and parents' walk of faith that led them from the Philippines to the Hawaiian Islands. They didn't seek to live comfortably. No, they chose to lead lives of service. Their love for the Lord and their sacrificial living made an impression on my life and so many others.
This same week, the world received the news that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away. It has led to many discussions as to how she lived her life, the impact she had on the world, and the legacy she leaves behind. In Heaven, she has received her crown of glory, but ultimately, she is in the presence of the King of Kings.
These two verses came to mind:
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16, NIV)
"Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." (1 Peter 2:12, NIV)
There are two videos included in this newsletter. One will be shown during the Community Care Rally on Saturday. It is called "Make an Impact". The music video is called "Royalty". Let these be reminders to you of how we have been chosen by God to be an example to the world.
Can vs. Should
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” United States of America Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
I think it is safe to say that since the Age of Enlightenment began in about 1685, heavily influenced by 17th-century philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, and Newton, and its prominent exponents such as Kant, Goethe, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Adam Smith, Western civilization has been focussed on identifying and protecting a vast array of “rights” and the freedom to exercise those rights.
Wars, both civil and worldwide, have been fought over them. The Constitution of the United States saw its first set of amendments as a “bill of rights”.
A key distinction between democracies and totalitarian societies can be seen in the rights afforded its citizens to associate, assemble and worship according to the dictates of their conscience and beliefs. The list of rights being advocated or discovered seems to grow exponentially every year and includes human rights, civil rights, Miranda rights, voting rights, women’s rights, animal rights, marital rights, indigenous rights, … and so on. The list is seemingly endless. Who knew that eventually the legislature in California would enshrine the right to wear the hairstyle of your choice into law without your employer having any say in the matter!?
But what about religious rights?
It is well known that the Puritans we now call “the Pilgrim Fathers” decided to flee Europe’s oppressive laws against their worship practices so that they could set up a colony of their own where all the participants would follow Puritan rules. This was not exactly religious freedom since you could be excommunicated for not adhering to the rules! Similar examples can be found in monastic gatherings and nunneries. The Franciscans and Augustinians were often at odds with each other because of their different interpretation of what the rules should be. And for Quakers, “no rules” was the only rule for how you should worship in their devotional meetings.
It certainly seems that we humans are very attracted to rules because rules set boundaries. Most people like to stay inside the lines, others like to skate along the edge of the boundary lines, and others delight in getting outside the box.
Of course sometimes people like to follow rules blindly because they think that “I was just following orders” relieves them of intellectual responsibility and is a valid moral defense ( I respectfully disagree!).
So, what are the rules for Christians - Jesus followers? Jesus was asked about this and he said there were only two rules, and they were so similar as to be equivalent.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV
So these rules comprise the Christian’s "Law of Love". This is the obligation every Christian has.
But what of the Christian’s freedoms? Again listen to Jesus’ words:
“…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 NIV
Or as Paul points out:
“…you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14 NIV
This is extraordinary freedom. There are still boundaries, but now the boundaries are set by the Law of Love. The Christian is no longer bound by man-made rules, but has complete freedom so long as he acts within the constraints of Love of God and fellow man.
To early Christians, especially those brought up as Jews with its myriad of rules governing the smallest action in life, this was bewildering. The are many Christians today who are equally bewildered. Actions that were previously prohibited by tradition and man’s laws now seemed to be allowed. So the big question arises: does “can” mean “should”?
As an aside, I am of the opinion that “should” is a “God" word. Anytime you find yourself using “should" in your speech or thinking, pause and think how it relates to the will of God for yourself or the person you are addressing. It will be an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak to you directly! Anyway...
The Holy Spirit gives guidance through the writing of Paul to the church at Rome:
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” Romans 14:13-18 NIV
In essence Paul is saying that just having a clear conscience about our actions with respect to loving God is not enough, we have to balance our freedom with the effect our actions will have on others and love our neighbors too!
When I was in Sunday school we used to sing a chorus (to the tune of “Jingle Bells”), "J-O-Y. Surely that must mean: Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between!" I think this gets the priorities right! For anything you want to do, test the perceived outcomes in the following order: does it Glorify God?, does it benefit others?, will it bring me joy?
So to return to my title: knowing I “Can” only ever means I “Should” exercise my boundless freedom when doing so fulfills the law of love and glorifies God and uplifts my neighbor.
Let me add to the ever expanding list of rights we have:
We have the unrestricted right to commit random acts of kindness
We have the pluripotent right to glorify God by our living
We have the unlimited right to enter God’s presence and ask for his guidance in exercising our rights.
Enjoy your freedom!
Blessings on you and yours,
This will take you to Jim Black's collection of articles since starting the newsletter.
Lt. Helen Reyes: Guest at CAMEO
Once again, you are our hero! So many of our families have nothing and we are now able to provide them with some cool supplies for their children. We are having a family night in October and will be able to give them notebooks, a little pouch with pencils, colored markers, glue, etc. Every single thing you gave us will be put to great use!
Thank you so much!
International Prayer Focus
INDIA SOUTH WESTERN TERRITORY
Territorial leaders: Colonels Gabriel and Indumati Christian
Prayer requests: Please pray for the following areas of concern:
1. Natural Calamities
2. Unexpected Flood
4. Depressed and oppressed communities
5. Illiterate people
6. Unemployment of young people
7. Spiritual Development of the Territory
8. Candidates for officership
9. Religious Harmony
10. Active and Retired Officers and Soldiers
11. Reservation for Dalit Christian Community
Mosquito Fire Response
For your awareness, we are currently responding to the rapidly growing Mosquito Fire. It is currently 33,754 acres (up from 25,000 yesterday). It is 0% contained. We have the Auburn and Roseville EDS Teams feeding at 2 shelters respectively with the Oakland Team on the way to feed at a third shelter. We have also deployed an Incident Management Team.
Patrick McGinn, Emergency Disaster Services Director, is the Incident Commander for now. Major Randy Hartt is the Operations Chief, Capt. Tim Danielson is the Logistics Chief, and Amy is the Finance and Admin Chief. Each Canteen Team is supported by their local officer.
To donate and current news about where the fire is and the details about our operation, check out this link:
This Week's Schedule
- 9:00 AM - Praise Team Practice - Chapel
- 10:00 AM - Sunday School - Classroom 3
- 10:00 AM - Corps Cadets - Classroom 2
- 10:00 AM - Adult Sunday School - Library
- 10:15 AM - Time of Prayer - Prayer Room
- 11:00 AM - Worship Service - Chapel
- 12:15 PM - Fellowship Time - Fireside Room
- 12:30 PM - Youth Music Practice - Chapel
- 6:00 PM - Men's Bible Study - Fireside Room
- 6:00 PM - ROOTED Small Discipleship Group - Library
- 7:00 PM - Songsters Practice - Chapel
- 8:00 PM - Senior Band Practice - Chapel
- 10:00 AM - CAMEO: Sea Glass by Major Nancy Helms - Hybrid
FRIDAY - SUNDAY
- Delegates will be away at the Young Adult Retreat at Camp Del Oro.
Click here to learn about specific volunteer opportunities, requirements, and expectations.
If you would like to help with the interviews, please click here to get to the shifts.
- Oct 1 - Fall Craft Fair (Concord Corps)
- Oct 7-9 - Western Territory Staff Band Ministry Weekend (Concord Corps)
- Oct 20 - Divisional Senior Day - DHQ
- Oct 22 - Divisional Music Rehearsals (Suisun Kroc Center)
- Oct 30 - Trunk or Treat Community Outreach Event (Concord Corps)
Staff Band Concert
NOTE: Friday night, the Staff Band would like to invite the Concord Senior Band to dinner at 7:00 PM at ButterCup. Further details will be emailed to members directly. It will be a time of fellowship followed by a joint practice at 8:00 PM back at the corps.
Trunk or Treat Community Outreach Event
Please contact Major Willdonna if you would like to sign-up: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to share your requests. Requests will be prayed for in our Prayer Room and distributed through our Prayer Chain. Requests can be made anonymously.
You can make a tithe payment, give an offering, or donate towards the World Services fund.
Defenders of Justice & the Vincents
The Cadet Chorus—including the Defenders of Justice and their sister session, the Reflectors of Holiness—opened the meeting in song with “In the Army.”
“I am excited by the future of the Army, especially when I look at these cadets,” said Territorial Commander Douglas Riley in his words of welcome. “We’re here to celebrate God’s goodness and his faithfulness to us.”
After a College for Officer Training (CFOT) team led worship in song, Cadet Nicolas Carrillo-Saad prayed over the meeting and the Staff Songsters offered “I Sing Because I’m Happy.”
Watch the whole service in the video below.
Captain Jennifer Masango, Territorial Candidates’ and Recruitment Secretary, presented the cadets to the audience, turning to a video in which each cadet introduced themselves and their family. Douglas Riley then presented the session flag to Cadet Sean Pease.
“Being a defender makes you think there’s a space we need to defend, where we would stay put,” said CFOT Principal Major Nigel Cross in introducing a congregational song. “And yet, being a Defender of Justice means to move out into the world and to defend others with justice. We’re told to be ready to give a defense of the hope that is in us with gentleness and respect [1 Peter 3:15]. It’s an offensive moving out.”
Cadet Emily Reed gave her testimony on behalf of the session, noting her call to officership while on a short-term mission trip to Belize in 2017.
The years that followed, she said, were filled with hardship and led her to question if she really had heard a calling. She began to pray God would give her a sign with the word “justice,” and later learned it would be in the name of her session.
“God heard my plea when I asked for confirmation and he gave me my word,” Reed said. “I’m here to tell you that our God is faithful. He will work things out far better than you could ever imagine.”
Commissioners Douglas and Colleen Riley installed the Vincents, officers of the Canada and Bermuda Territory, to their new leadership appointments in the West.
“We share with you the deep conviction that this appointment has been the response of God’s guidance on your lives,” Douglas Riley said. “The God who was with you when you signed your covenants 36 years ago. The God who today will continue to be your sufficiency…who will empower you for the responsibilities which you are now being placed in charge of.”
Both promised to be servants of the Lord under the flag of The Salvation Army, making every effort to hold its doctrines sacred.
Douglas Riley charged the Vincents to preach the word of truth and uphold its principles, to raise up officer candidates and others, to provide pastoral care, to empower all people to use their spiritual gifts, to make Jesus the focus of their ministry, and to administer the work of The Salvation Army in the West. Colleen Riley then prayed over them before Sophia Simoes and Kelsie Groenleer offered words of wisdom.
In response, Genevera Vincent shared her testimony
“We don’t come with any great skills or abilities but we can promise you we do come with a deep love for God, deep love and appreciation for people, rich Salvation Army heritage and firm belief in its ministry and mission to the world,” she said. “We have come here to learn, to listen and yes, we have come to lead as God directs us. We will do that by working with a great team and relying heavily on God to supply what we need.”
She read from Scripture, Micah 6:1-8, before the Staff Songsters sang “Take My Life and Let it Be.”
In his message, Eddie Vincent shared about the journey into justice, noting that while “justice” has many interpretations, “we do know that God is just.”
He pointed to Micah 6:8: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
First, to walk humbly, Vincent said, means getting to know God and understanding there is a God—and we are not him. “It means recognizing our place in the grand scheme of God’s kingdom,” he said, and surrendering to his will, which even Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Next, Vincent said the Christian should be the most likely of people to show mercy, “because we are the humble recipients of the undeserved mercy of God.”
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matt. 6:14-15).
“Established on the foundation of humility and mercy, we can do nothing less than be Defenders of Justice for those who are marginalized, abused, misrepresented, trafficked, shunned, excluded and whatever the reality that attempts to squeeze the life out of those created by God to live life in abundance,” Vincent said.
A time of prayer followed his challenge to attendees to consider what might be preventing their humility or surrender. “Are you prepared to let mercy rule so that justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream?”
Finally, the Rileys offered words of farewell to Lt. Colonels Kyle and Lisa Smith, Territorial Secretary for Communications Secretary and Territorial Secretary for Program, respectively, who soon take up new appointments in the Singapore, Myanmar and Malaysia Territory.
“You’re unique individuals, each with different God-given talents but your desire is one: To know God and to make him known to others,” Riley said to the Smiths. “As a result of being around these two, are lives have been full of joy. They are friends, fun, faithful and fruitful.”
In closing, Colleen Riley led a closing song, “Are You Washed,” and Major Stacy Cross, CFOT Director of Education, led the benediction.
Music was provided throughout the meeting by the Tustin Ranch Band (B/M Neil Smith) and Western Territory Staff Songsters (S/L Barbara Allen).
Watch the entire service in the video below.