June is a month of new things in The Salvation Army. New lieutenants are commissioned, officers take up new appointments and corps take stock of the past year and plan for a new start after the summer holidays.

Isaiah 48:6-7 says: “From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today.” I have no doubt that God has new and exciting things for us to do and experience. Now is the time for all Salvationists to be open and attentive to his voice. Just as our computers “refresh” from time to time, bringing new information, we must refresh our ministry and outlook, allowing God to give us new insights and new strength to carry out his purposes.

It is good for God's people to rest. Hebrews 4:9-11 says: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” I hope that as you vacation over the summer, you will find the rest you need to be restored in body and spirit.

Our downtime is a wonderful opportunity to focus on spiritual renewal. Our first territorial strategic priority is spiritual health, and it is vital that we all recognize our need to stay intimately connected to God through reading, studying and meditating on his Word, and through prayer and conversations with other believers. How about reading a good book on spiritual care or following the One Army teaching material (salvationarmy.org/onearmy)? You can also check out the spiritual life development website for additional resources on spiritual renewal (saspirituallife.ca).

As you go on holiday, don't take a vacation from God. Make sure you join in worship wherever you are and keep up your spiritual disciplines, even when travelling.

Remember that the purpose of vacation is to be renewed and refreshed, so that when we return to our normal routines, we can be even more effective. To that end, we need to think about how God wants to use us when we return from our sojourn. What new things does he want to show us? What new energy does he want to give us? What new people will he empower us to reach for the kingdom?

As we think about new beginnings and new opportunities, let's remember what Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthian church: “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 GNT).

That passage appeals to me as I think about all the new things I mentioned at the beginning of this article. God accomplished three things through the shed blood of Jesus. First, he made a way for all of us to be reconciled to God—to be worthy to be in his presence. He made us new.

Second, he forgave and forgot the sins of those who believed and accepted Christ's sacrifice by faith. In other words, he wiped the slate clean.

Third, we who have been joined to Christ and made new in him need to reach out and share that wonderful possibility with others. He “gave us the task of making others his friends.” It's our responsibility to share this message of hope by showing friendship to all human beings without discrimination.

I hope you have a restful and refreshing summer. There's a lot to do when you come home!

Commissioner Susan McMillan is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Follow her at facebook.com/susanmcmillantc and twitter.com/salvationarmytc.

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