All posts tagged Salvation Army

How’s Your Voice

“All human beings have an almost infinite capacity to take things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley

If you can wade through the blow up Santa’s, 5000 different kinds of Christmas lights, and fake trees, you may be able to find a few token Thanksgiving items.

The Salvation Army even starts ringing the bell for the famous red kettle before the last Thursday in November.

But Thanksgiving is important. Not just one day a year, but every day, especially for followers of Christ.

Sunday, our pastor spoke from Luke 17. Ten lepers cry out to Jesus from far away. Grotesque, smelly, voices raspy and weak from the disease, they beg, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

And He does. In fact, He tells them to go and show themselves to the Priest, and as they obeyed, they were healed. Nine of the ten continued on their way, ecstatic over their physical healing. After approval from the High Priest, finally, they could eat a meal with their loved ones, sleep in their own bed, and worship in the temple.

Physically healed, they were satisfied.

Here is what Scripture states about one of the lepers,

“Then one of the, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16.

Turned back is another word for repentance in the Bible. Turning from our own way, we turn to Christ for salvation–for healing. This man knew there was more to Jesus than the healer.

Then, he cried to Jesus with a loud voice. Not only were his sores healed, but his voice became strong once again. With that new, strong voice, he began to praise God.

After he returned to Christ, he fell at Jesus feet gave thanks, and worshiped.

Christs’ response is surprising. He asks three questions of the crowd, pointing out that the man is a foreigner from the half-breed Samaritans. Jesus also notices that nine were healed and only one came back to give thanks.

But it is His last statement that is astounding. “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

All ten experienced healing in this life, but only one was saved for eternity.

How’s your voice? Is it raspy and weak? Is your body infected with sin. If so, you need healing. And the healer waits. John 6:37 states, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Some need physical healing, but all of us need spiritual healing. Friend, don’t let Him wait any longer, Turn back, repent, worship and be healed.

Those of us who have experienced the transforming work of the gospel in our lives, use your strong voice to praise. Give thanks. Don’t take that miraculous salvation for granted!

So duck under those fresh cedar trees, get to those Thanksgiving plates, and when you sit down to your meal this Thursday, really, really, give thanks.

A blessed Thanksgiving from a very very close-up shot of the Hyltons. (Couldn’t delete it…please don’t look at the wrinkles.)

Is There Baseball in Heaven?

“Next year,” I remember hearing as a young girl. And I wondered about that.

Always this phrase came on family vacations while lounging around a campfire, perched on rickety lawn chairs, or makeshift  stools fashioned out of logs. I’d be sitting alongside my childhood friend, Jimmy Shiels, who was like the little brother I never wanted.

Our parents remained best friends throughout our childhood, so we vacationed together. We would either camp at a state park, or stay at a camp for our furlough from our parents’ ministry as Salvation Army Officers. Camp Lake, or Army Lake became our desired destination, both located near the Chicago area.

And I loved it.

Jim and Nel Shiels were my godparents and my favorite people over thirty.  They were very different from my parents. My father, Ray Wert, would rather fish or hunt or be outside while Jim Shiels would rather pick up a good book and tease his best friend, Ray. Mom came across as tribal leader but in real life, she followed my boisterous father along, listening and  occasionally adding her opinion. Aunt Nel could have taught camping. She cooked the best roast I think I’ve ever had, and she did it in a heavy pan, buried beneath the ground, covered with hot coals. I can still remember the taste.

So when I overheard snippets of conversation between the adults about the Cubbies, I took notice.

“The Cubbies aren’t doing so well this year, are they Raymie?” Uncle Jim would interject.

“Nope. Maybe they need to replace their manager,” my father would add.

“Or maybe the whole team,” Nel would add. And they’d all laugh. I’d laugh, too, although I didn’t understand it. I just knew the Cubs were as much a part of our family as my unwanted little brother.

Usually, while vacationing at an Army camp, we’d participate in a softball game. Or at least most of the Clan would. Jim held the prestigious position of commentator. He would position himself in a shady spot and advise Raymie on his batting stance, or how he should have swung at a high pitch.

Those were the best times of my young life.

Fast forward a few decades. Instead of Mom and Dad lounging in lawn chairs, they rested in the matching lift chairs that adorned my living room. The Cubs game blared on their outdated TV set while I cooked or cleaned up after dinner. Eventually, I joined them not only in the living room, but as a bonafide baseball fan. Then Tom began to join us. First, we cheered for the Cubs, and when Joe Maddon joined the Rays, we cheered for both. The Shiels lived hundreds of miles away and the Clan could no longer vacation together, so the Werts had to “settle” for watching the game with the Hyltons.

Aunt Nel joined the heavenly choir first, followed by my father. Uncle Jim was promoted to glory after having to listen to the Cubbies game rather than watch it since in his last years, he lost his eyesight.

Only mom remained. When she turned 95 last September, we had hope that “next year” for the Cubbies would be “this year.” 

But it wasn’t in the baseball cards.

Mom died in my arms on March 22nd of this year, during spring training.

I mourned the loss not only of my parents and godparents, but of a simpler time. A time when baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet were all we needed. A time before “selfies” and social media. Before cell phones and reality TV.

Remembering those happy times, I wonder if there is baseball in heaven. Are Jim and Nel and Ray and Pauline sitting around a heavenly campfire commentating on the game? I hope so.

In fact, I’ll cast my vote for baseball in heaven.

Watching the World Series is impossible for Tom and me since we no longer have a TV. So each evening, we listen to the Series on Tom’s iPad while lounging on our couch. And Joe Maddon as the Cubs manager ? Now there’s Divine Intervention for you. It’s a match made in heaven.

And who knows? Next year may be this year.

Amen. So be it.