OTHERS: Living a lifestyle of self denial

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Reach out and touch
“…he reached out his hand and touched him…”

“A man with a skin disease came to Jesus. He fell to his knees and begged Jesus, ‘You can heal me if you will.’ Jesus felt sorry for the man, so he reached out his hand and touched him and said, ‘I will. Be healed!’ Immediately the disease left the man, and he was healed.” (Mark 1, 40-42, NCV)

We live in an increasingly “touch free” society. Have you noticed? Paper towel dispensers activate at the wave of a hand. The local car wash blasts away with only high-powered jets of water; those soapy hanging scrubber things are long gone. Many schools have adopted “no hugging” policies.

The implication is that all physical contact is bad. In an effort to minimize the spread of germs, protect that paint job on our car, and provide a safe environment for our children, we’ve become contact free. Have we lost the sense of touch?

Jesus touched people. One day a man with leprosy came to Jesus for healing. He got down on his knees to beg, and looking up at Jesus said, “If you want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus looked at the man and was filled with compassion for him. And in a merciful act, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. The leprosy left him and he was cured.

Jesus touched people. He lived with and ministered to them right where they were. Nothing can replace physical presence in ministry. The physical gesture of an encouraging pat on the back can speak volumes to a young person who is struggling in school. A warm embrace can communicate a sense of hope to a mother who is working in a field in order to feed her family. A strong handshake in greeting can also help a homeless person to his feet. Studies show that babies thrive and feel secure when they are held in loving arms.

The old telephone ads might have encouraged us to “reach out and touch,” but a phone call or a posting on Xanga cannot handle everything. Physical proximity matters. Jesus lived that example, and it is replicated in Salvation Army ministry.

Every day, Salvationists around the globe are reaching out a hand and being the gentle touch of Jesus right where they are through an amazing network of schools, hospitals, addiction recovery programs, homes for children and the elderly, and summer camps in 113 countries around the world.

Your Self Denial gift keeps the doors open and the lights turned on, so that service is available in Zambia. It means that children will have desks and books for school, and a teacher to instruct them in the Congo. It means that someone is there, bringing the touch of Jesus to people in need in Panama.

Physical proximity matters! Your Self Denial gift—no matter how much—will make a world of difference!

All are precious in his sight
“….she gave her all…”

“Sitting across from the offering box, Jesus was observing how the crowd tossed money in for
the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and
put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is
that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others
gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” (Mark 12: 41 – 44, MSG)

“What’s it worth?” We’ve all asked that question. We live in a value conscious world and we want to know what we are getting for our money. Internet auction sites and neighborhood garages sales live or die by that question.

The thing is, value is relative. As they say, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Beauty is one measure. Usefulness is another. Some things (such as a diamond) are more valuable whole, while other things (like a beat up car with no engine) have more worth as parts.

How about a person? What’s a person worth? Broken down into its basic elements of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen (with a handful of minerals thrown in), a human body contains about $4.50 worth of materials, but it has little value. A living, breathing, thinking, developing person is priceless!

Do you remember this little chorus?
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world,
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Every child and every adult is precious to God. The Salvation Army, as it works and ministers around the globe, is motivated by the very simple but profound thought that every person is precious to God! We all have a part to play in communicating that message.

For Salvationists, Self Denial is about relationship. The work of The Salvation Army requires resources, and what we give here enables our Christian ministry to continue beyond the borders of our own country.

Your Self Denial gifts enable The Salvation Army to be a continued presence and a source of hope in Romania. They make it possible for corps officers to be available to teach the Word of God and minister in Angola. Your gifts will give children in India a chance to hear about a Heavenly Father who loves them with all his heart.

Your Self Denial gift—no matter how much—makes a difference.

Changing the World One Life At A Time
“….God never overlooks a single one…”

“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never
overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even
numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth
more than a million canaries.” (Luke 12: 6-7, MSG)

“Say cheese!” It was about 200 years ago that a Frenchman named Joseph Niépce took the very first photograph. He was fascinated by the potential to record “real life,” and in 1826 he succeeded in creating a permanent black and white image on a pewter plate. An extraordinary feat, but not very practical for carrying around!

Leap frog through photo history to today. Everything has gone digital! In our high-tech world, we have an unlimited capacity to record ourselves for posterity. Digital cameras have gotten smaller, and more powerful and more affordable. Even our cell phones capture better images that Joseph Niépce ever did!

We can do things with digital photos now that have never been possible before. It all comes down to pixels. A pixel is a single point in a graphic image. Think of it like polka dots. Every dot is assigned a color. When you see a picture on a screen, there are millions of pixels (these little dots) so close together that they appear connected. To your eyes it looks like one picture.

Every pixel must be coded so that the picture you see is bright and colorful. In a digital camera, it happens in the blink of an eye when you snap the picture. It’s amazing! Photography has absolutely changed our world!

The illustration is a good one, as we consider the worldwide work of The Salvation Army. Although we live in a high-tech world, giving hope and changing lives still happens one person at a time. Consider this: Jesus encountered people one by one. He didn’t focus so much on what they were, but who they could become.

Our mission as The Salvation Army is to bring the Good News to the whole world. Jesus still offers forgiveness and hope today. Just like the coding of the pixels in a digital photo, we know it happens one life at a time.

It is through the generous financial support of Salvationists everywhere that the Army’s work continues in 113 countries today. Resources are directed to the place of need.

Your Self Denial gifts make it possible for more children to grow up healthy in Nigeria, because a mother has learned how to care for them. It means that a small family garden will be more productive because a father has received good quality seeds in India. Your gifts enable a Salvation Army captain to be trained and sent to live out the gospel in the Ukraine.

Your Self Denial gift—no matter how much—will make a difference. Together we can change the world…one life at a time!

One week’s salary
“…five loaves of bread and two fish…”

Toward evening the disciples approached him. ‘We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.’ But Jesus said, ‘There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.’ ‘All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they said. Jesus said, ‘Bring them here.’ Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill” (Matthew 14:15-20a, MSG).

“Don’t forget your lunch!”, the mother calls out after her son as he rushes towards the door. It’s a beautiful day out and he is going exploring. “Got it,” he cries back, as he grabs the little bundle wrapped in cloth. And off he goes.

A little later, seeing a crowd gathering up ahead, he runs to catch up and then squeezes in to find out what’s going on. They were all following Jesus. It had been an exciting day and they were waiting to see what would happen next.

As the people found a place to sit on the side of the hill, Jesus saw that they were hungry and so he asked the disciples to find them something to eat. They were stumped and annoyed. They had no money to feed these people. In fact, it would have taken eight months’ salary to get enough bread for them all. “Send them all into town to get their own food,” one suggested.

Jesus asked again, “What do we have to give them?” Andrew spoke up. “There’s a boy here with five small bread rolls and two small fish.” Imagine the look on the disciples’ faces at the moment. More than 5,000 hungry people and all they had was this little bundle of bread and fish. Imagine that boy. He was the only one smart enough to bring something to eat and some big guy wants to take it to give to someone else.

Then Jesus took the bread—gave thanks to his Heavenly Father—and started breaking it into pieces. In the Gospel of John we read that there was enough bread for everyone to have as much as they wanted, with 12 baskets left over.

It was just one lunch. And Jesus used it to do a miracle that day. Can you hear the conversation at home later? “How was your day?” the mother asks, as the boy runs in the house. “It was great. I shared my lunch with 5,000 people!”

Jesus saw hungry people and was moved with compassion. Self Denial is about compassion. It’s our ability to see a need and quickly ask, “What can I do?”

The Salvation Army ministers in 113 countries every day. Our global presence allows us to see the needs of a suffering world firsthand and respond quickly and compassionately on a local level. It is often as simple as sharing some bread and a bit of fish. It is always an invitation to enter into faith and Christian fellowship.

You are invited to share in that worldwide ministry through your Self Denial gifts. How much you give is up to you. Are you willing to take a step of faith? Why not give one week’s salary as your act of Self-Denial? That might sound like a lot. But think about it. If you make $300 a week and divide that by 52 weeks, it’s about $6 a week—the cost of lunch.

Self Denial is not an event. It’s a lifestyle and a spiritual discipline. Self Denial is a conscious choice to take responsibility for our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Your Self Denial gift—no matter how much—will make a difference! May God grant you the courage to take a step of faith!

Fore more information contact your local corps officer or send your tax deductible gift to: Salvation Army Self Denial Campaign, Attn: Program Department, 180 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802.

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