Tuesday, December 19, 2006
“That deliverance from every thought of self interest and from every particle of fear as to what men can do, which fits people to pass through dark and hard periods unmoved and un-scared, is for everyone who will seek it.” (George Scott Railton)
I came across these two quotes upon re-reading Bernard Watson’s excellent and inspiring biography of GSR “Soldier Saint”.
I am going to take these two challenges into 2007 and urge you to do the same.
2007 is the year in which I will take up my sword as an Officer again in The Salvation Army and I am eager for the fight but only on God’s terms.
I do not believe we will never see revival until we learn the hard lessons of real Salvationist holiness… sacrifice, self crucifixion, poverty and passion for the lost!
Have a blessed Christmas an a soul winning New Year!
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Today I tried a social experiment.
This morning I represented the Army at a local Methodist Church Toy Service and this afternoon I went to a local pub to watch Chelsea against Arsenal. (I am not a fan of either team so the experiment was not tinted with any kind of compromise!)
Both the church and the pub were full. I estimate that there were about 200 in the church and about 150 in the pub.
The church service was entertaining but apart from being told that the genealogy of Jesus was very, very long I heard nothing of any substance. I knew the songs and enjoyed singing them (however, if I had been a non-believer this fringe benefit would have been missing.)
The Pub was full of smoke (yuk!) and stank of sweat and beer but it was so much more fun. The humour was of the highest standard, everyone was welcoming (at the church only the vicar and one other person spoke to me!). In the pub I was even offered a drink by a complete stranger.
Taking away the fact that I have a relationship with Christ, and trying to compare the two experiences objectively - as a neutral, the pub was far more fun, more welcoming and altogether a more pleasant experience.
At least one group was lost and in danger of damnation but which one?
One would assume that the church goers were ‘saved’ and the working men in the pub were ‘lost’. One thing was absolutely certain the two communities were entirely removed from each other. The church never came into contact with the pub and the pub never came into contact with the church.
As I looked around at the group in the pub I though of Railton’s words in Heathen England.
“But to live, and walk, and talk, and work amongst these people every day; to know little children in petticoats who have learned to curse, swear, and fight not street arabs the children of well paid artisans; to see the little ones going to the public house for father's beer, and, sipping it on the way home, so to acquire the taste for death to all that is good and true; to know young men who are fast becoming drunkards and gamblers, and young women who laugh at the sound of shameless songs, and joke in language that would be shocking even from men; to know men and women who constantly visit the public house together or apart, who scarcely ever pass a Saturday and Sunday over without at least partial intoxication, who lavish money in tawdry fineries, and never have a pound in hand when out of work or sick; to know old men and women, tottering on the brink of the grave, who pour forth their feeble indignation in the foulest language, who laugh and joke at the drunkenness and vice of their sons and daughters, and lodgers and neighbours, if they do not actively promote it, who have drink and tobacco brought to them down to their latest hour by dutiful children, as a tender tribute to their paternal worth and valuable training; to know thousands of people who, though they may not be remarkable in any of these particulars, are joined to these people by the common fraternity by utter separation from everything connected with God, and by the common practice of ridiculing anyone who is not so separated; to live and move all the day long amongst these children of hell is it not enough to make anybody who wishes to get to heaven anxious to do anything and everything that can be done to snatch them from ruin?”Even GSR recognised that the environment in which the ‘lost’ lived was full of songs, laughing and joking – it was - in short entertaining.
We cannot compete with the pub nor should we try. Café church in my opinion is a complete waste of time, we cannot be come culturally relevant – because the gospel is not part of the culture we seek to work within nor relevant to those who have adopted that culture.
What we need to do is ‘snipe’ one or two trophies of grace – like Railton did in New York – we need to grab a Jimmy Kemp in order to set revival in motion.
Maybe we should try full on confrontation it’s always worked before :-)
Sunday, December 03, 2006
A trough for a crib
With dung for a carpet
And straw for a bib.
The cobwebs and rafters
Looked down where he lay
His cradle cap
Halo caressed by the hay
The cattle 'helloing'
Are sniffing his straw
And laying fresh carpet
All over the floor.
I love thee Lord Jesus
A baby can't crucify
Challenge or call.
Get from me boy Jesus
Get far, far away,
Pull down the stable
And burn all the hay!
For all the dear children
In thy tender care
Wont let you grow up
While the stable is there.
Have a real Christmas!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I wanted to ensure that the electricians turned up this morning and that Ryan would be there to let them in. I wanted to stand by and intervene if they came to blows! I wanted to make sure that the rewiring actually got completed.
I could do none of these things - so I prayed!
I prayed warfare prayer, I bound up, I set free, I silenced and I rebuked and I did it almost constantly. In other words I wrestled in order to 'tread all the powers of darkness down' Ultimately I handed everything over to God 'absolutely persuaded that he would keep that which I've committed...'
Today the electricians turned up, Ryan stayed calm and the rewiring began.
When I heard I praised God for the wonderful gifts that he has given us, gifts that enable us to continue fighting even when we physically can't get to the front. The gift of prayer and praise and the gift of authority.
Thank you Jesus
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Unfortunately the electricians needed access to the loft and the loft was full of stuff.
I say ‘stuff’ some would probably call it clutter or even rubbish.
Ryan doesn’t have very much and he is therefore loathe to get rid of anything. He keeps everything and that includes things that most people would throw away empty cans, packaging, pen tops (with no pens) newspaper cuttings, magazines – everything! He is also very protective of his own independence so wasn’t that willing for me to help. In the end he did allow me to do some cleaning up. Although reluctant for me to help did want me to stay, as long as I was there he could talk to me rather than the voices in his head.
Among the 'stuff'' was a photo of Ryan with his Mum taken in 1996 when Ryan was 20. It was Christmas dinner and his Mum and the house they were in looked pretty.
It took most of the day but eventually the loft was cleared. The electricians are coming back tomorrow – I pray that everything goes well.
Have you ever noticed how clever people who write books on mission and stand up at conventions telling us how to reach the lost use words and phrases like “marginalised’, ‘disenfranchised’ or ‘people on the very edge of society’ . Such descriptions drip of the tongue with the ease of a well known scripture verse or hymn. They talk about friendship being the new evangelism and they use clever acrostics to deliver their newly published paperback plan for redemption.
The ‘marginalised’ are hard work; they have mental health problems (especially paranoia), addictions, debt, bad friends, estranged partners, emotional baggage and worst of all very little hope. Of course they can and do get saved (Hallelujah!) and as we rediscover the true spirit and sentiment of Salvationism more will (Hallelujah again!) But let us never, ever talk about them as if they are mere pawns in our game to check mate the Salvation Army into being what we think it ought to be.
The marginalised are people, God’s children, Jesus died for them and we are often their only hope.
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost in the Army.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I must confess (much to my shame) that I have not kept this commitment. I love coffee – especially good coffee. I can think of no better way to start the day than a cup of rich black Columbian Americano. I don’t have to buy the stuff it is offered to me all day every day for free! The first thing my boss does in the morning is make a large cafetiere of strong black coffee.
Now some people might tell me that I am stupid to beat myself up over this, they would point out that there are more important things in the world to get passionate about – if I did anything wrong then it was making such a reckless and unecessary decision in the first place.
However, holiness – as originally taught by the Army - requires me to give up not just what is sinful but also “everything that seems doubtful, for the Bible shows such to be sinful.”
Coffee is a big doubt for me for the following reasons.
- Caffeine is an addictive drug, affecting 90% of all users, which alters the brain's natural state, and stimulates it in a manner similar to the amphetamines cocaine and heroin. My body is the temple of God and I want it to be as pure as possible.
- Coffee – especially the Starbucks type - is very expensive. Farmers, many of them indigenous peoples, grow most of the world's coffee beans on plots of less than 10 acres. The prices they receive are often less than the cost of growing and harvesting the coffee, which pushes them into an endless cycle of poverty and debt. Coffee is also grown on large plantations worked by landless day workers including many children in extremely poor working conditions.
- Finney was opposed to coffee and tea - “It is well known, or ought to be, that tea and coffee have no nutriment in them. They are mere stimulants. They go through the system without being digested. The milk and sugar you put in them are nourishing. And so they would be just as much so if you mixed them with rum, and made milk punch. But the tea and the coffee afford no nourishment. And yet I dare say, that a majority of the families in this city give more in a year for their tea and coffee, than they do to save the world from hell.” (Lectures to professing Christians.)
The result of all this is a delay in the confirming blessing of God the Holy Spirit who will not accept an incomplete sacrifice. I have also found that spiritual growth is impeded whilst this issue remains unresolved.
I fear I must surrender coffee or surrender holiness.
Now that would be incredible wouldn’t it - missing out on heaven, holiness and greater evangelical effectiveness all for the sake of a cup of black coffee.
Dear friend I must nail caffeine to the cross or retreat.
What about you? Do you have doubts about anything? Is there any pastime or expense in your life that you are not thoroughly comfortable with? Then crucify it and move on!
Yours (almost completely) set apart for God
Sunday, November 26, 2006
The play (first shown in 1961) highlighted the terrible plight faced by young homeless families 40 years ago in the UK. It also drew attention to the irresponsible and dishonest practices of slum landlords operating at the time and the complete disregard and contempt shown to homeless people by the bulk of ‘respectable’ society. Things have improved but the plight of the single homeless (or near-homeless) remains bleak.
Ryan has been coming to the Army at St Mary Cray for about three years. He has a drink and drug problem and is a regular guest of her majesty. The last time he came out of prison he was given a bungalow by the local housing association – it has taken us 4 months to get the gas and electricity connected! He has been largely ignored by those who ought to be helping him. On Tuesday an electrician is coming around to rewire his 3-room bungalow so we can get a meter installed. Without our help and persistence I think he would have been ignored.
Is it any surprise these people find it hard to kick their habits and settle down? Is it any wonder that they re-offend and go to prison ‘in and out, in and out’?
Ryan came to the Mercy Seat about four weeks ago and asked God to ‘forgive him and change him’ God will honour that prayer but in the meantime it seems that every organised body he comes into contact with (apart from TSA) conspires against any effort he makes to improve himself.
Please pray for Ryan (that’s not his real name but God will know who you mean.)
May we who call ourselves Salvationists love God and make known his love through our living.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Until we negotiate this ‘stumbling block’ called holiness we will not progress as individuals and we will not progress as an Army.
People argue that the eradication of the sinful nature cannot take place because they do not see evidence of it in others or in themselves. They are happy with Christ being able to keep the flesh and the devil at bay on a daily basis but cannot accept his ability to slay it once and for all.
It reminds me of a tutor I had at the Training College who said that the demonically possessed in the gospels were suffering from what we would call epilepsy! I couldn’t understand then why it was easier to accept that Jesus could heal epilepsy than to accept that he could cast out demons?
Doctrine Book, Chapter 10, Section 1, subsection 3
“Entire sanctification is complete deliverance from sin, and the devotion of the whole being, with all its gifts and capacities, to the love and will of God.”What is so difficult with this definition?
Doctrine Book, Chapter 10, Section 1, subsection 3 paragraph C (iii)
"An entirely sanctified person is without sin— ‘freed from sin’ (Romans vi. 7). He is delivered from all sin; his disposition is entirely purified; inward sin is done away with or destroyed. ‘Being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life’ (Romans vi.
Doctrine Book, Chapter 10, Section 5, paragraph A, B and E
“Entire sanctification is not Absolute Perfection or the perfection which belongs to God only, and which can never be increased or diminished… It is not Adamic perfection (sometimes called’ sinless perfection’)… Such perfection is impossible to us, for the Fall has rendered us imperfect both in mind and body…It is not freedom from temptation. Jesus, although ‘without sin,’ was sorely tempted, and our First Parents were tempted when holy. The more advanced a man becomes in the life of holiness, the more likely it is that Satan will attack him. Entire Sanctification does not bring freedom from temptation, but victory over it.”
Doctrine Book, Chapter 10, Section 2, subsection 1
“We believe that God’s people may be delivered from all sin and enabled to do god’s will continually in this life. Many people do not agree with this, but maintain that they must go on sinning and repenting until death, although all admit that they must be made holy before they can enter Heaven.”
Holiness really is very, very easy.
The reason that holiness is rare in Christians is because Christians are rarely prepared to meet the conditions.
I am sometimes accused of arrogance, being bigoted, claiming to have a monopoly on the truth – difficult to debate with etc. It is true that I could probably do with a bit more tact when promoting religion, however I believe that Mrs Booth’s methods for promoting salvation should be ours for promoting holiness – because without it the Army is a dead duck!
“Oh! people say, you must be very careful, very judicious. You must not thrust religion down people's throats. Then, I say, you will never get it down. What! Am I to wait till an unconverted, godless man wants to be saved before I try to save him? He will never want to be saved till the death-rattle is in his throat. What! Am I to let my unconverted friends and acquaintances drift down quietly to damnation, and never tell them about their souls, until they say, 'If you please, I want you to preach to me'? Is this anything like the spirit of early Christianity? No. Verily we must make them look--tear the bandages off, open their eyes, make them bear it, and if they run away from you in one place, meet them in another, and let them have no peace until they submit to God and get their souls saved. This is what Christianity ought to be doing in this land, and there are plenty of Christians to do it. Why, we might give the world such a time of it that they would get saved in very self-defence, if we were only up and doing, and determined that they should have no peace in their sins.”
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army!
Friday, November 24, 2006
How long before legislation force The Salkvation Army to commission practicising homosexual Officers? Are we prepared to go to prison for what we belive in?
"Christian Unions across Britain are seeking legal advice after four university campus branches were banned from official lists of societies or denied access to university facilities and privileges.
Now Christian Unions at Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Birmingham universities are seeking legal advice in the face of accusations that they are excluding non-Christians, promoting homophobia and discriminating against those of transgender sexuality.
The 150-strong Christian Union in Birmingham was suspended this year after refusing to alter its constitution to allow non-Christians to address meetings and to amend its literature to include references to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and those of transgender sexuality.
Edinburgh University has banned an event run by the Christian Union called PURE which promotes a traditional biblical view of personal and sexual relationships. The university defended the ban, saying that PURE was in breach of its equality and diversity policy because PURE claims that any sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage is not God-ordained.
The pressure came principally from the Gay and Lesbian Society at Edinburgh University and follows the university’s decision last year to ban copies of the Bible in its halls of residence after protests from the students’ union. The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship criticised the decision to ban PURE, saying, “This incident is an attack on freedom of speech in an institution where an open exchange of views and a search after truth should be strongly upheld. “In this instance the Christian Union is being denied freedom of expression because what they say and believe is uncomfortable for some groups in the university.”
Christian Unions elsewhere are also coming under increasing attack. Christian students are threatening to take Exeter University and students’ guild to court over human rights breaches after the university temporarily suspended the Christian Union from the official list of student societies on campus. The Exeter Christian Union – which has a 50-year history at the university - has also had its Student Union bank account frozen and has been banned from free use of students’ guild premises or advertising within guild facilities.
Exeter University’s student guild claims the Christian Union constitution and activities do not conform to its Equal Opportunities Policies, which have only recently been introduced. Exeter Christian Union told the university Thursday that it would take legal action after 14 days if it was not fully re-instated as a student society by the guild with full rights and was allowed to call itself the Christian union. "
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Then I came across this great quote from Donald Gee*
"This Pentecostal movement is something which God has started at high speed, but the faster we go the greater the need of holiness. The more power we have, the more we need to have every obstacle cleared out of the way. That which cannot be noticed in an old dead church can wreck a revival in a Pentecostal church. May God give us holiness with our Pentecost, for we surely need it. No revival can continue with the blessing of God upon it that does not have a high standard of holiness."As Matthew 7 verse 21-23 reminds us…
“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”If the Christian is to make real progress then sin must be eradicated, not just its eternal consequences but the daily bondage of habitual sin. The whole person, body, soul and mind must be cleaned and kept blameless. Pentecostal power without purity will fizzle out – we have witnessed this within the last decade. ‘Refreshings’ which promised revival have come and gone without making the impact we had hoped for.
Yours set apart
*Donald Gee (1891-1966) was an English, Pentecostal theologian. Considered by many to be the father of modern British Pentecostalism he took part in the first international, Pentecostal conference in Stockholm in 1939.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I came across the following excellent article by Gordon McDonald - entitled "When Leaders Implode." Its worth a look.
We need holiness, oh how much we need holiness. We need to rediscover it in the Army and we need to educate our brothers and sisters in the church. Proper holiness takes away the desire to sin and makes us 'more than conquerors'.
Holiness happens when we give up sin and surrender all to God and then in faithful obedience wait for Him to bless and eradicate within us the desire to sin. It doesn't take away temptation but it makes temptation redundant - if God has all I am then I do not have the resources available that will enable me to sin.
The charismatics might have power and gifts but without holiness the believer remains vulnerable. If you do not have the blessing of holiness don't take another step until you get it - especially if you are in a position of leadership or have an apparently annointed holiness.
Without holiness we are all scandals waiting to happen.
As usual - Wesley has a song for it!
Not all the powers of hell can fright
A soul that walks with Christ in light,
He walks and cannot fall;
Clearly he sees, and wins his way,
Shining unto the perfect day,
And more than conquers all.
Ten thousand snares my path beset;
Yet will I, Lord, the work complete
Which thou to me hast given;
Regardless of the pains I feel,
Close by the gates of death and hell,
I urge my way to heaven.
Still will I strive, and labour still,
With humble zeal to do thy will,
And trust in thy defence:
My soul into thy hands I give;
And, if he can obtain thy leave,
Let Satan pluck me thence!
Yours faithfully obeying, safe in holiness, loving the lost.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
There he stands, black gowned and scaley red."Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." (Galatians 6:1-3)
With whipping cane and mortar boarded head.
His yellowed dribbled teeth with spittle rusted.
His calloused cloven hooves all fester dusted.
His agents wander wild within our reach.
We listen wrapt and wonder when they preach.
They plant his traps and bait his hooks,
And slimey "sir" puts ticks in all their books.
They imitate our diction and our guise
And falsify a sparkle in their eyes.
They spread their doctrines of dissent
With fierce fanatical intent.
We fear and duck the enemies big guns
That hardly hit and injure twos and ones.
Yet disregard this vile column in our ranks
Who sabotage our planes and stall our tanks.
He hatches spies like me and you
- Corruption cloaked in navy blue.
Yours thoroughly set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army
*I recently found an old Amstrad PCW 9512 disc in a box; the disc was simply labelled poems. I found a company in Cornwall who converted the contents of the disc to Word documents I discovered a whole load of poems I had written and lost. Most of these poems were written either just after my conversion (some possibly before).
Thursday, November 16, 2006
For Jesus this struggle was ultimately settled in Gethsemane and centred on the complete surrender of his free will in exchange for total obedience to God.
1 John 2:6 says:
‘Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did’This verse makes it quite clear that the challenge that beset Christ will eventually come our way for we cannot crucify self without first passing through Gethsemane. The minimum requirement of proper biblical Christianity is entire sanctification. Such a transaction can be summed up in the simple yet profound prayer:
‘Thy will not mine be done.’Jesus referred to this transaction as the greatest commandment:
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38)It is only when the greatest commandment is fulfilled in the life of a believer that they become truly effective and fruitful. It is when many Christians participate in the act of entire sanctification that we experience revival:
- holiness was at the heart of Pentecost,
- holiness was at the heart of ‘The Great Awakening’,
- holiness was at the heart of the Methodist revival in 18th century England,
- holiness was at the heart of the American revival in the mid 19th century,
- holiness was at the heart of the birth of The Salvation Army (and the global revival its foundation spawned)
- holiness will be at the heart of any future revival!
The only people who can possibly hope to complete this transaction are those who are convinced that holiness is both a requirement and a possibility. It may take time for a believer to become convinced that holiness is plausible – it took Wesley 10 years! Once a Christian finds they are being badgered by thoughts about holiness they should seek to close the deal as quickly as possible.
Conviction may come in several ways, scripture, the example of others, the history of revival, the lives of the saints etc. Holiness is not possible without conviction. When conviction comes a believer must take advantage as soon as possible, to delay would simply compound the sin we are being encouraged to do away with.
In Matthew 7: 21-23 we read
“"Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”In 1 John 1:15-17 we read
In 1 John 2:3-6 we read
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires will pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever’
“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”It is abundantly clear from the bible that giving up sin and freedom from a constant desire to sin is a basic requirement of Christianity. Holiness must start with a willingness to comprehensively identify and renounce sin. Holiness cannot and will not progress beyond conviction without us making a thorough inventory of those things in our lives that are both sinful and doubtful followed by the giving up of everything identified.
To fulfil this condition thoroughly will require prayerful attention to detail and a willingness to eradicate even the smallest compromise. Many things once considered sinful by the church have now been relegated to doubtful – for example worldliness. It is only in the last few decades that worldliness has become acceptable in Christian circles. Materialistic consumers will never possess holiness!
This is the area where we are most likely to fail - our inability (or refusal) to recognise and eradicate even the small compromises that have all too often become part and parcel of our lives. It is always unwise to give examples (for failure to list all things doubtful can generate a false sense of security) nevertheless we should consider surrendering anything that is either non essential to, or a distraction from, our mission (with the exception of those things which are obviously moral such as devoting proper time and resources to our civil, legal and domestic responsibilities)
Be assured that if even the slightest compromise remains un-renounced holiness will not happen. Whilst we may be prepared to rationalise and justify compromise, the spirit of God will hold back until the issue - however small - is resolved.
We must pray the prayer of the psalmist in Psalm 139:23-24
We must continue to pray this prayer until we can confidently repeat the prayer of David in Psalm 17:3
“Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting”
“Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.”
The third condition of holiness after conviction and renunciation is consecration.
In Romans 12 we read
In Romans 6:22 we read
“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as iving sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his pleasing and perfect will.”
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”
In Romans 8:12 we read
“Therefore, brothers we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.”
In Matthew 13:44-46 we read
It is crystal clear that the bible requires the entire surrender of our whole being to God. Our ‘whole being’ comprises our time, money, influence, leisure, ambitions, personality— literally everything that we have and are. Again whilst it is dangerous to give illustrations (lest something is left out) we should carefully and prayerfully consider how we spend our time and money:
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
- What kinds of things make us passionate?
- What kinds of thing make us excited?
- What is our number one interest in life?
- What commands most of our attention prayer or television, sport or bible study?
- How much time do we spend on our personal appearance before going to the Army, compared to how much time we spend on preparing ourselves spiritually?
"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others… So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (Corinthians 10: 23-33)In our eagerness to surrender all we must remember that ‘rest’ is a commandment. I am absolutely certain that God made rest a commandment because he knew that our response to Christ would drive us on to extreme commitment. Sabbath rest is essential and placed by God before murder, adultery and theft in his list of commandments. ‘Rest’ is a command that was not cancelled out by Christ's death, it is a command for our benefit, and a command that we disobey at our absolute peril! The Command to rest is explicit in both the Old and New Testaments. To disobey this command would be ‘to disobey a known law of God’ and that as Wesley would be quick to point out is sin!
A quote from Railton to at least keep the idea of rest in a Salvationist context!
“But our soldiers must take holiday sometimes perforce; and then they look to the Army to provide them with such holy entertainment as their souls delight in. Services all day long, or, at any rate, during the afternoon, open-air demonstrations, camp-meetings, expeditions to other stations, or to mission some new neighbourhood, watch nights, all nights of prayer, are some of the entertainments to which Army people treat themselves upon extraordinary occasions.” (Heathen England Chapter 8)
Absolute surrender is not extreme or unreasonable but it is the minimum requirement made by God upon those who dare to call themselves Christian.
The final condition of holiness is obedient faith. If I “'Love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with my entire mind' then my devotion will be proven by the way I obey the second greatest commandment which is to 'Love my neighbour as myself.'
Whilst renunciation might be complicated obedience is relatively simple, for all the commandments are summed up in these two.
Sometimes people get concerned with that element of holiness which delivers the recipient from the chains of habitual sin but faithful obedience and the righteousness it brings are the logical result of renunciation and consecration. Sin requires resources – if all of my resources are ‘set apart’ exclusively for God’s use then I do not have any resources with which to sin. In addition if my renunciation and consecration is motivated by love then I will have no desire to sin. My only desire will be to please God. Add to this the immeasurable grace of God and the unlimited power of God and the transforming nature of the new covenant and it is the thought of disobedience that seems farfetched.
How do I please God?
In John 15:16-17 Jesus says:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.”
When Jesus reinstated Peter he only had one issue to settle:
“Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." (John 21:16)
Paul tells the Romans:
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
He also reminds the Corinthians that even spectacular and apparently anointed Christian service without love is nothing.
Love is the hallmark of Christianity:
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)
When Kate Booth was asked the secret of her power she answered:
"First, it is love; second, love; third, love. And if you ask me how to get it, I answer first, by sacrifice; second, by sacrifice; third, by sacrifice."
One would be hard pressed to find a more concise definition of holiness.
It should be remembered, as the old doctrine book says, that “Consecration, although a condition of sanctification, must not be mistaken for sanctification itself. Consecration is an act done by man before God sanctifies him; sanctification is a work done by God within man after man has done his part.”
This is true of all these conditions:
- they originate with God,
- are made possible by God,
- are encouraged by God,
- are empowered by God,
- are realised by God,
- are maintained by God.
- Holiness is both possible and essential (‘without holiness none shall see the Lord!)
- Holiness makes Christians fruitful and effective
- Holiness leads to revival
- Holiness is conditional upon Conviction
- Holiness is conditional upon renunciation of all that is sinful and doubtful
- Holiness is conditional upon consecration (absolute surrender)
- Holiness is conditional upon obedient faith
- Holiness is the work of God not man
- Holiness brings about complete and instant deliverance from sin (Holy people do not sin)
- A holy life is exemplified by a love for God expresses in practical love for others
Finally, if the above conditions are met then holiness can and should be instant. If you are reading this because you have been beset with thoughts about holiness then now is the time to make the sacrifice and claim the blessing. Why be continually pestered by the hampering annoyance of habitual sin when you can be free? Why waste another moment on pretend Christianity? Why not go for the real thing now? At the end of the day what may seem to be the ultimate commitment is simply the first step along that little found narrow way that leads to heaven. Don’t delay do it now!
If you would like to discuss holiness in more depth or even better would like to be led into the blessing then please email me at email@example.com and by God’s grace you will discover the most liberating and empowering experience that God has to offer his children – Hallelujah!
"O thou God of every nation,
We now for thy blessing call;
Fit us for full consecration,
Let the fire from Heaven fall.
Bless our Army! Bless our Army!
With thy power baptize us all.
Fill us with thy Holy Spirit;
Make our soldiers white as snow;
Save the world through Jesus' merit,
Satan's kingdom overthrow.
Bless our Army! Bless our Army!
Send us where we ought to go.
Give us all more holy living,
Fill us with abundant power;
Give the Army more thanksgiving,
Greater victories every hour.
Bless our Army! Bless our Army!
Be our rock, our shield, our tower.
Bless our General, bless our leaders,
Bless our officers as well.
Bless our converts, bless our soldiers;
Speed the war 'gainst sin and Hell.
Bless our Army! Bless our Army!
We will all thy goodness tell.
Yours thoroughly set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
“Some people like to argue that Wesley actually never testified to the holiness he recommended and preached.”Last week I determined to blog no more until I had personally resolved the outstanding issue of holiness in my life. What many have accused Wesley of was certainly true for me – I had not experienced the cause which I so enthusiastically championed!
Steve then went on to defend Wesley with the following quote from the Father of Methodism:
“Many years since I saw that 'without holiness no man shall see the Lord'. I began by following after it and inciting all with whom I had any intercourse to do the same. Ten years after, God gave me a clearer view than I had ever had before of the way how to obtain it, only by faith in the Son of God. And immediately I declared to all, "We are saved from sin. We are made holy by faith."10 years ago I was wonderfully saved – Hallelujah! My testimony can be found here. Since then God has been badgering me into a corner. Recently I (like Wesley) have discovered that the narrow way is ultimately blocked by a demand for entire sanctification and unless that sacrifice is made there is no way of travelling further. I have preached holiness, campaigned for it, defended it until I am blue in the face but I have not ‘testified to that which I recommend!’ No matter where I have looked all paths of enquiry have led back to holiness.
I have now by God's generous and undesreved grace resolved this matter once for and all and I can say with absolute confidence that God can and does (where he is allowed to) offer his children absolute deliverance from sin. Not just deliverance from the consequences of sin but deliverance from the disease itself.
I have over the last few days been negotiating that stumbling block we call holiness.
I began by making a list of all those things that were obviously sinful in my life and another list of all those things that were doubtful (as recommended by Booth in his ‘Ladder to holiness’.)
The big sins were relatively easy to identify and deal with it was the little compromises that proved awkward (things like taking time and resources from my employer – using the photocopier for personal use etc.) I also found that holiness would not settle for any degree of compromise and that everything however small or ‘doubtful’ had to go. This was a difficult process because some of this sin (especially the doubtful stuff) had embedded itself in my life so completely and needed almost surgical removal - the line between good and bad was at times perilously thin!
Once satisfied that this had been done (fully expecting God to reveal more as time goes on) I renounced all my sin both the obvious and the doubtful.
After that I surrendered everything I have and am to God in a solemn covenant in which I promised (by his grace and in accordance with his word) to obey him at all times and to refrain from all sin.
At last the great transaction was done! I was finally ‘my Lord’s and he was mine!”
Since then – dare I say - I have not sinned – I certainly have not consciously broken a known law of God – sometimes my humanity has caught me napping but generally the spirit via my conscience has been keeping me saved. In addition the desire to sin has vanished – the devil satisfied that I truly have placed all my resources on the altar knows that I have no capital available to spend on disobedience.
It is my firm intention to remain on this path for as long God lets me live – God knows how long it has taken me to find it. The bible tells me that such an ambition is both honourable and possible –for he has promised to keep ‘me blameless’ hallelujah!
I can now (and believe me I will!) preach holiness from a point of experience and with a clear conscience.
As for assurance, I have not had any mega-blessing (as yet) – a couple of delightful ripples have come my way but nothing major –However, I didn’t close the deal in order to get blessed! I did it because God requires holiness in the life of all believers.
Friends, believe me, God can and does deliver us from all sin and keep us blameless, holiness is not an antiquated Victorian form of extreme spiritual masochism it is a basic Christian requirement. It costs absolute renunciation of everything that hinders the work of the spirit and the total surrender of everything to God – but it is well worth the price!
Don’t follow mine or Wesley’s example and take 10 years to discover the blessing of holiness but do it today, every consecrated warrior brings global revival closer because without ‘holiness none shall see the Lord’
I am not merely ‘treated’ by the ‘wounds’ of Christ I am healed! The blood of Jesus is not some kind of spiritual steroid cream that temporarily removes unsightly symptoms it is the ‘balm’ that heals and ‘makes the wounded whole!”
Yours truly set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army
Friday, November 10, 2006
In one world my neighbours are Railton, Cadman, Finney, Phoebe Palmer and a host of unknown holy illiterate early Salvationist converts. In this world absolute surrender to God and rigorous separation from the values and fashions of the secular world are the norm. Here entire sanctification is considered a basic requirement of Christianity and an absolute must for Salvationists. In this world total commitment and constant victory over sin is seen as possible, reasonable and essential.
The other world in which I live is The Salvation Army Greater London 2006. Here Entire sanctification is talked about but normally dismissed as unlikely, unreasonable and old fashioned. In its original form it is either dismissed as culturally irrelevant or watered down until it becomes unrecognisable to the holiness preached a hundred years ago. Here people say that the acceptance of TV, Cinema, DVD’s, Sunday sport, cosmetic surgery and greater material wealth etc. means that such extreme commitment just won’t work – this is a world that could easily accommodate the Rich Young Ruler who failed to meet Christ’s expectations.
Last night, being unable to sleep, I asked God to talk to me about this issue. I asked him if old fashioned holiness was still appropriate for today and if so what that actually meant in practice.
Today I had an email from a good friend, who basically seemed to be saying stop discussing, stop researching, stop debating and do it!
This blog is called “Beyond the brook’ a reference to Osborn’s hardcore holiness song. The ‘brook’ the old General was referring to was the brook of Kidron (John 18.1) and it separated Gethsemane from Calvary. I have come to this brook in my own spiritual journey and find myself facing three options; I can retreat, I can stand still or I can cross it and make my way to Calvary.
If I cross it that will mean that I have said yes to the absolute surrender so familiar to those early pioneers, it will mean that I have finally accepted that entire consecration and separation from the values of this world is as relevant today as it has ever been. It will mean that in addition to being saved, justified and baptised in the Spirit I will at last be ‘holy’ – a living sacrifice acceptable to and consecrated by God.
Another lost poem seems to suggest that this struggle has been going on within me for some time!
I am here Lord in that garden fair
Where you struggled hard to conquer your will,
And the trees that shade
Heard the prayers that you prayed
And their leaves gently whisper it still,
"Must I go still further, climbing the distant hill?"
I am here Lord and the flowers bright
Write your answer with their glorious hue,
And the birds that wing
Overhead also sing
Of the things that a saviour must do,
"See he goes still further, climbing the distant hill!"
You are here Lord in the garden fair
Where for many years I've struggled to pray.
And the master’s shout
Tells my soul to come out.
For you've come here to take me away,
And you lead me still further, climbing the distant hill.
If the sentiments expressed in this blog, on my web page, around the internet and in private conversations have been sincere then it is time to get my feet wet. At the end of the day the holiness argument will only be settled by example.
The friend who emailed me quoted from Booth's 'Ladder of Holiness' - seven steps to full salvation (a book I have never come across). Step 1 says, in relation to holiness, "set apart a special time for it's consideration, retiring for the purpose if possible into a place where you can be alone with God - earnestly pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit". This person also pushed me back to Romans 8 (not that I needed much pushing I basically live in this chapter!) This also tied in with a word I received from another good friend some time ago.
I am going to follow this advice and I will not blog again until I have crossed the brook and I am enjoying the blessing of holiness as it was appreciated by Railton et al. Then I can preach what I know, happy and resolved that my gospel is neither extreme nor unreasonable but simply the gospel of Christ unchanged from generation to generation.
Yours soon to be (by the grace of God) fully set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
My sad soul stoops,
Beneath it's heavy guilt bent double.
As conscience scoops
And prints the headlines of spent trouble.
And once again
Forgotten thorns that hardly scratching
Caused little pain
As gaping wound now cry for patching.
Much more than fear
Must motivate my plea for healing;
More than a tear
That cultivates self-sorry feeling.
I must repent.
The prayers I paid as vain regrets,
The thinking lent
To would-have-beens and fancy frets
I must withdraw.
Then when the whole is reinvested
I may be sure
Sin more than sorrow is detested.
Until that hour
God's grace can only give forgiving.
And selfish power
Will hold another son from living.
(Both root and fruit of true repentance-
Hates more the crime and less the sentence.
*I recently found an old Amstrad PCW 9512 disc in a box; the disc was simply labelled poems. I found a company in Cornwall who converted the contents of the disc to Word documents I discovered a whole load of poems I had written and lost. Most of these poems were written either just after my conversion (some possibly before).
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
However my everyday actions - in particular the way I spend my time, money and resources - do not (and certainly) have not always reflected this.
I have read and re-read Chapter 10 of the old doctrine book and I am more convinced than ever that Entire Sanctification is the only possible way forward. I can do nothing and stay where I am but I will not make any further progress without properly embracing Entire Sanctification.
I am willing to admit that I fall well short of this commitment and I know very few people – even those ‘best practice’ Christians we peddle out now and again seem to fall short of this extreme and total surrender.
I am certain that we will not see revival until we put this right. The price of holiness is entire renunciation and consecration, the price of revival is personal holiness. Without this transaction taking place nothing will improve and we will remain an irrelevant and redundant movement within the world.
What does Entire Sanctification practically mean to me?
The following is taken from the old Doctrine Book.
“The bestowal of entire sanctification, as with every other gift of God’s grace, is conditional — it depends upon the whole-hearted co-operation of the person to be benefited.”
Renunciation: Giving up everything opposed to the will of God… must be forever, and it must be entire…including things that are:
· wasteful (of both time and money), injurious … selfish (causing annoyance to others), unnecessary…
· absorb time, thought, and money which could be better employed…
· doubtful (whether connected with mind, body, family, business, recreation, dealings with comrades, or anything else.
The Bible clearly sets forth principles, which should govern the daily conduct of God’s people…
· God’s people should be separate from the world in spirit and conduct.
· Habits, which influence others wrongly, ought to be given up, even though harmless to those who practice them.
· The body is to be honoured and treated as God’s dwelling-place, and hence should not be polluted or injured.
It is reasonable that seekers after Holiness should completely renounce everything wrong or doubtful.
Consecration: The dedication to God of ourselves and all we possess, to live only to please Him and do His will.
Consecration to God must be both entire and real.
· it must include the body, with all its members and powers; the mind, with all its faculties; the heart, with all its capacities; also goods, money, family, influence, reputation, time, ability, life, indeed everything.
· not in imagination or sentiment merely, but everything must henceforth actually be used as belonging to God and not to ourselves.
· Consecration is like a sacrifice because by it we give ourselves up to God… a living, not a dead sacrifice.
· Consecration is like crucifixion because it involves painful dying to many things very precious to the natural man…
· When once a man’s possessions have been consecrated to God, he will use them, as God directs him, in the way that seems most likely to advance God’s Kingdom, whether this be by selling all that he does not actually need, and devoting the proceeds to God’s cause right away, or by retaining his property and using in God’s service the income which it brings to him.
Renunciation means giving up what is against God.
Consecration means giving up all we have to be used for God.
Consecration, although a condition of sanctification, must not be mistaken for sanctification itself. Consecration is an act done by man before God sanctifies him; sanctification is a work done by God within man after man has done his part.”
Conviction + Renunciation + Consecration + Faith + Obedience = Holiness = Revival
Monday, November 06, 2006
For every voice that smacks of glamour,
There is a stutter and a stammer.
Divorce, despair, death through miscarriage
The darker side of love and marriage.
Behind each artist's stately swagger,
The sightless, soundless, speechless stagger.
For every 'harvest home' we shout
There's famine, flood, disease and drought.
A cripple sits for every dancer
And little boys still die of cancer.
And God sits on his cloudy throne,
Unseen, unheard. unfelt, unknown,
And all because men wont confess,
When life is bad - God's God no less!
For reasons only known to him
He puts up with the twisted limb.
In full accordance with his plan
He tolerates retarded man,
Acknowledges each cough and sneeze
Each groan and grunt each husky wheeze.
And when I feel that life's unjust,
I'll turn away and cringe and trust.
Though cancer still kills little boys,
We're precious souls not passing toys!
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army!
Monday, October 30, 2006
However, ‘Spiritual formation’ is not holiness.
In her book “The Way Of Holiness”, Phoebe Palmer (a big formative influence on Catherine Booth) stresses the instantaneous elements of sanctification to the exclusion of the gradual. She also teaches that entire sanctification is not really the goal of the Christian life, but rather its beginning. This is the holiness teaching upon which early SA ministry was based.
It seems to me that ‘Spiritual formation’ is possibly a tad too slow from a Salvationist perspective. Our job is to save the lost and to provide them with an internal infrastructure that sustains their conversion and allows them to immediately begin leading others to Christ.
One can almost imagine the devil telling his lieutenants “If you can’t stop them becoming Christians at least get them to slow down a bit!” When we sing ‘Glory, glory, Hallelujah I have given my all to God’ it terrifies him if but if we were to sing “Glory, glory, Hallelujah I am thinking about giving my all to God’ he would see that as a victory.
There can of course be a process that leads to absolute surrender and there is definitely a process post absolute surrender but absolute surrender can only occur in an instant. To use Alistair Smith’s analogy “I can’t grow into a coat but I can put a coat on and grow in it!’ Finney would say that someone who has sanctified 95% is not a mature Christian but a rebellious sinner! It might seem harsh to us but that is basically what Christ told the rich young ruler. If ‘Spiritual formation’ has a place in SA teaching it must be as something that occurs post absolute surrender.
Salvationists are among the first to expect God to instantly deal with sins in the life of a new convert like alcoholism, lust, gambling, drug addiction – we teach sinners that God can instantly deliver them from such bondage. However, when it comes to things like anger, pride, bitterness (the things most likely to impact upon us) we quickly retreat into the safety of ‘process’.
I am full of praise for people like Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, and Terry Wardle – at the end of the day contemplative spirituality is better than nothing but in The Salvation Army do we not possess a more rapid form of Christ-likeness?
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
My 23 year old son and his fiancée go there on special occasions (such as the annual Halloween Ball.)
This morning (at 4am) I picked them up from outside and took them to Victoria coach station.
Obviously my giving them a lift in no way endorses their interest in S&M – indeed I find the club and everything it stands for quite repulsive. I give them a lift to the coach station – one, because he’s my son and two, because in doing so I can guarantee that at least one part of the evening is safe.
The Halloween Ball is held in the crypt of a church – the church is still consecrated and 3 hours after the club closes the church opens for communion.
As I sit outside the club I watch lost humanity being washed along in the sewers of self destructive and transitory nihilistic existence. The people spilling out from the club are not all young – indeed many are in their forties. Some seem genuinely happy while others find a quiet corner to throw up and look disappointed.
Brixton High Street at 4am on a Sunday morning is as busy as it might be on a Saturday afternoon. As I watch and wait I realise that Booth’s submerged tenth has become a submerged nine tenths!
It dawns on me that this immoral majority, helpless and lost as they are have no contact with the church commissioned to be their light – indeed like spiritual vampires they sleep while we wake and retreat into the darkness as we move into the light. Railton’s words (from ‘Heathen England and what to do about it’) come to mind that —
“It is useless to shut our eyes to the plain fact that the awful condition of the masses could not possibly continue for so much as twelve months if the people or God were faithful; but in the Master’s own dreadful summing up, “If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Is not this precisely, what we see today?”As I drive home I ask God to talk to me about the lost, about the past, about the present, about revival… When I get back home I look up the quote, later in the same chapter the old pioneer describes the infant Salvation Army —
“there is not anywhere today another organisation professing to undertake throughout the whole world a scheme of evangelisation specially directed to meet the need of the most abandoned and godless part of the community; and surely, therefore, we may fairly claim to be the Lord's special force raised up for this emergency.”Then in the holiness meeting at our insignificant Corps in a part of London many have never heard of, Luke a drug addict and alcoholic moves to the Mercy Seat and quietly whispers midst his tears ‘God forgive me and change me’.
I go home with the knowledge that we had ‘one soul’ today, it’s nowhere near enough but it’s a start.
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
(if the domain name plays up just click on the link)
130 pages of raw blood and fire history - Railton tells it how it is (or how it was and can be)
Study this book and you'll see where we're going wrong and where we could be going right (if we want to!)
Set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Basically, William Booth took 1400 recently converted east end roughs to Dunorlan (two train loads!) for a series of prayer and experience meetings, a love feast and a huge tea! Sadly, Mr Reed’s house was destroyed by a fire just after the 2nd world war but the terrace where the love feast was held is still intact. As I walked around the grounds it was very easy to visualise this large group of barely literate new Christians seeing the countryside for the first time in their lives.
To make things even better the day I visited it poured with torrential rain as it did all those years ago!
On a serious note the visit also reminded me once again of the scope and the cost of true revival. Imagine an SA Officer, today, being appointed to plant a corps in Whitechapel and within 15 years he has started not just one Corps but 500 in the UK and 200 overseas and has recruited 1200 full time evangelists (living largely on faith) working in 16 Countries including Australia, India, Canada and the USA. This is what happened in the period 1865 to 1880 – only fifteen years!
The simple answer is that their success was founded upon an entire consecration of all they were and had to ‘the war’ (24/7) and an unlimited and practical belief that God would fulfil his promises instantly (especially his promise to save the lost). One can’t imagine GSR or Elijah Cadman spending 6 nights a week in front of the TV.
Can it be done again? Of course it can and will be done again in our lifetime once we meet the criteria (the work will all be God’s not our own but as with most biblical promises there are conditions which must be met.)
- We must seek forgiveness for personal and corporate sin.
- We must renounce all that is sinful.
- We must renounce all that is doubtful.
- We must detach ourselves from worldly amusement and entertainment.
- We must detach ourselves from materialism and consumption.
- We must adopt simple, uncluttered lifestyles.
- We must pray without ceasing.
- We must look for and pursue instant results.
- We must preach, teach, administer and live holiness.
- We must not compromise.
- We must ‘go out’ and make friends with the marginalized
- We must confront sin in our preaching
- We must remember that there is a judgement and a hell
- We must recognise the need for urgency in our mission
- We must be identifiable (some form of uniform is essential)
- We must adopt the principles of spiritual warfare
- We must love the unlovable
- We must surrender our human rights in sacred trust to God and the Army by way of covenant and be prepared to do all of this on faith alone if necessary
If we ado all of this we will still be way off what our forbears gave in the 1870’s and 80’s but I believe that if we do this (and whatever else God and contingency demand) then we will see revival – Hallelujah!
Are we up for it?
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army!
Excerpt from Heathen England Chapter VIII
“But our soldiers must take holiday sometimes perforce; and then they look to the Army to provide them with such holy entertainment as their souls delight in. Services all day long, or, at any rate, during the afternoon, open-air demonstrations, camp-meetings, expeditions to other stations, or to mission some new neighbourhood, watch nights, all nights of prayer, are some of the entertainments to which Army people treat themselves upon extraordinary occasions.
It was by the kindness of Mr. Henry Reed, then at Tunbridge Wells, that the first grand holiday of the kind was enjoyed as here described by a "Labourer in another part of the vineyard."
"A day in the country, among green fields and shady groves, is no slight privilege to the London artisan and labourer, and to the East End little shopkeeper, whose religious principles keep him from desecrating the Lord's day in suburban tea gardens and skittle grounds. The opportunity of making acquaintance with the beautiful scenery of our native land would mark any day as a 'red-letter day' in the calendar of these sons of toil, but connect with a run into the country for an airing among God's blessed sunshine and health-giving breezes, food and exercise for the soul as well as for the body, ample means or religious enjoyment and solemn worship, and we can hardly conceive a happier blending of good things together, suitable for the twofold nature of the Christian who is alive to God and happy in His love.
"Dunorlan, the seat of Henry Reed, Esq., of' Tunbridge Wells has just offered all this to about fourteen hundred of the members and friends of the Christian Mission. They went down from Cannon Street Station in two trains, on Tuesday morning, the 26th July, in a terrific thunderstorm.
" The first train rolled away with its living burden at a quarter past eight, 'singing all the time,' for from almost every carriage was heard thanksgiving and the voice of melody, notwithstanding the pealing thunder overhead, 'which seemed to draw nearer and nearer at every discharge.
"The storm did not cease for some time, and the rain fell incessantly until the train neared Tunbridge. On arriving at the Wells, all was fair and dry; the soft breezes were delicious, and a screen of light clouds kept off the heat of the sun, but left a cheerful warm light in which the newly washed verdure looked most beautiful.
No time was lost in forming a procession of the two train-loads of passengers, and when fairly in marching order, headed by Mr Reed and Mr Booth, with banners exhibiting precious watch words and texts of Scripture, they commenced their march. The sight, as it ascended the hill leading out of Tunbridge Wells to Dunorlan, was intensely interesting and impressive. The distance to Mr. Reed's estate is about a mile. Over the gate rose the ornamental device ‘Welcome to Dunorlan!’ and a text of gospel truth surmounted each postern. The people sang all the way, displaying none of the disorderly frivolity and senseless antics of dissolute holiday seekers, but filled with a sober joy, that beamed in every eye, and pervaded every look and every act. 'I must do all I can for my Jesus, He has done so much for me,' said one good woman who said she had found Jesus in the cellar; and she told forth her joy and her happiness, her trials and her conquests, to her Christian companions. The same spirit pervaded the whole gatheing throughout the day.
"Assembling first on the lawn in front of Dunorlan mansion, the excursionists were addressed by Mr Booth and Mr. Reed, received certain instructions for their guidance during the day, and were then dismissed, with free permission to visit every part of the grounds, — a boon of no ordinary character to East Londoners for the estate is most beautifully situated, and laid out with classical taste and beauty; and beyond, the farm-fields occupying the ascent in front of the mansion, altogether form a little paradise that to many of the poor people might be almost a foretaste of heaven itself, connected as it was with devotions and thanksgivings rising to heaven from every part into which a company of the excursionists strayed.
“A general adjournment to the farm buildings followed the assemblage on the lawn, for there refreshments were stored by the directors of the Mission, to be sold out at very low prices. Thus fortified, the company broke up again into bands, and, electing different spots, held meetings for prayer and praise all over the grounds. Some few preferred to saunter about and see how all the happy people enjoyed themselves; but the majority joined the devotional parties, and so proved how much their hearts were in the proper work of the Mission. Everybody was happy and in earnest.
"Active preparations for feasting the whole company on the grass in a large field near the farm buildings were commenced at two o'clock, and at half-past two the gong was sounded for all to assemble on the terrace, that, after singing and prayer, they might move off in procession to their proper positions. Now came the chief disappointment of the whole day; The gong had not ceased its call when a few preliminary drops called attention to the gathering blackness overhead, and the mutterings of a thunderstorm; and quickly a very tempest of rain came down. The people fled to the farm buildings for shelter, and filled them all, — barn, cow houses, stables, sheds, a commodious schoolroom or chapel, and some of the houses of the farm servants. 'Room was found for all with a little difficulty, though some who were caught by the rain at a distance were thoroughly drenched.
"It soon became evident that it was no mere passing shower, and measures were taken at once to serve out the tea. The way in which help and means of accommodation were improvised was admirable. Mr. Booth was everywhere, looking into every place, giving counsel, a word of direction, or a hint for arrangement, himself wet through, and profusely perspiring with exertion and anxiety; and what may be said of him is true also of all upon whom the duty devolved of providing for the comfort and pleasure of the multitude, but it was due to the active and wise care and generous preparations of Mr Reed that so much could be done in so short a time to meet the emergency. The good humour of the people under the disappointment was beautiful to witness, adding another proof of the power of Divine grace to soften, refine, and elevate even the roughest and most uncultivated when brought under its influence. As Mr Reed remarked, it was worth all the trouble of altering the arrangements to see how the people bore it.
"For two hours it rained heavily. There seemed no prospect of suitable weather for holding the love-feast on the terrace at half-past four, and therefore the happy, good-tempered, good-humoured people, so soon as tea was over, began prayer-meetings and love-feasts or experience meetings where they were. The whole cluster of farm buildings resounded with praise, and many blessed and striking incidents occurred. In one of the cow sheds three seeking souls found their Saviour —were born again in circumstances similar to those which surrounded the lowly birth of their glorious Redeemer — songs and shouts of glory and salvation from the saints around taking the place of the songs of the heavenly host over the plains of Bethlehem. It is impossible to describe the whole scene. Such an exhibition of the power of real religion to control and make happy — seriously, earnestly, joyfully happy — a mixed multitude of all ages, must be seen to be appreciated.
"It became fair between four and five o'clock; and soon after the gong sounded for the love feast on the terrace. Nearly a thousand people assembled, formed a ring round a central spot in which stood Mr. and Mrs. Reed, Mr. Booth, and some of the leaders and preachers, and for nearly two hours some scores of persons testified of the grace of God in their personal salvation and the power of God in connection with the work of the Christian Mission. The child of ten or twelve and the aged saint of seventy spoke of their love and devotion to Jesus: the venerable proprietor of the estate, standing in the midst, his white head towering above the majority there, told in simple weighty words what God had done for his soul, and his pious lady thanked the good Father of all even for trials and chastisements through which we are perfected and brought into unison with the spirit of the blessed Jesus. It was difficult to conduct a meeting like this, where hundreds of happy souls were eager to tell of their joy; and it seemed still more difficult to conclude it while scores of precious saints were left with unopened mouth on this great subject. But at length the end came: Mr. Booth's well known voice caned attention to a few brief directions for the return to the train, and with much earnestness and feeling he presented to Mr and Mrs. Reed the grateful thanks of the people for the day's entertainment. This was responded to by the people on one side with uncovered heads and joyous shouts, and by Mr. Reed on the other with a few kind and tender words, recommending ' Jesus only' as their motto, their example and their glory. Like a polite, as well as generous host, Mr. Reed attended his guests to the railway station, and saw them safely depart for London.
"The journey home was in perfect keeping with the entertainment of the day, The voice of prayer and praise resounded from every carriage, and even in the train penitent sinners were being pointed to Jesus. Would to God that such sights and sounds were more common in connection with the excursions of His professed people, but judging from the surprised and puzzled air of the railway officials, such demonstrations on the side of Christ and His gospel do not often come across them. Of one fact this annual excursion furnished most emphatic and glorious proof, that the labours of Mr. and Mrs. Booth and their coadjutors have been abundantly owned in bringing souls to Christ. Such a band of living and earnest believers it was never before our lot to meet in one gathering, and we earnestly commend this blessed work to the sympathy and support of all who love the Lord Jesus and desire the coming of His kingdom.”
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The following quote from Railton’s ‘Heathen England’ expresses a bit of what I mean.
Are we up for this? Are we ready to be at the Army every night? Are we ready to spend ourselves in hunting out new converts and chasing them down?
“And once a man is laid hold of he must not be let go for an evening. A hundred public-house doors must be passed ere he gets home from his work. His home may have little attraction at any time. Since his conversion it may have become a very nest of hornets to him. If you want to make it possible for such a man to get established in the ways of God, you must not leave him one leisure evening unprovided for. Reading is not likely to be con¬genial to him even if he had anywhere to go where such reading as he now takes pleasure in could be done in peace. To open any good book at home is to raise a hullabaloo of ridicule if not of blasphemy which, no matter how valiantly withstood, must render profitable reading impossible. You cannot, must not hope to lead poor people to heaven unless you lead them daily.
More than that! The man who is daily fought against must daily fight if he would win, and it makes it unspeak¬ably easier to fight all the working hours alone amongst the immense majority who oppose, if he can at least fight a few hours every evening in line with his comrades.
"You were at that ranting-shop last night, then," said his mate to a man the other day. "Yes, and I'm going again to-night," was the overwhelming rejoinder, "and I mean to keep on going every day as long as I live, for God blesses me there."
How much harder it would have been for that man if days intervened between every attendance at the open-air or indoor service, and if thus each fresh visit became like a separate effort with the prospect of new obloquy and difficulty each time!
But once it is a settled matter that he is coming every day to help to oppose sin and get other people converted, the public-house, the club, the social gathering, the worldly entertainment have lost their chance of catching him. He has no time for such trifles. They are gone - left behind. He is "doing a great work and cannot come down."
Sometimes we talk about revival as if it were some romantic notion – this is probably because we have never experienced it. Revival when it happens (and it will happen in our lifetime) will involve fierce and constant fighting, it will be tiring, costly – not for the faint hearted or lazy but above else immensely satisfying!
Bring it on!
Friday, October 13, 2006
Atheists us and Hell...Professor Richard Dawkins was recently cited as Britain’s top intellectual in an independent Poll carried out by Prospect Magaz
A quick glance at the Professor’s CV would seem to confirm that Mr Dawkins is indeed an impressive individual.
In edition to his own qualifications Professor Dawkins is the holder of 5 honorary degrees from countries across 3 different continents. He isn’t just a professor at any old university but occupies one of the ivory towers at Oxford.
He is a past winner of the Times Literary Prize, the Michael Faraday award, the Humanist of the Year Award, the Shakespeare Prize for his contribution to British culture; he is also a member of the Royal Society.
Since 1979 he has delivered 65 keynote lectures and addresses around the world. He has penned 8 best selling books and his latest book ‘The God dilemma’ is perched at the top of the UK best sellers list where it will probably stay until well after Christmas.
Richard Dawkins is not very complimentary about God or indeed God’s word, in a recent interview with the BBC he described the bible as being
‘just plain weird… a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and 'improved' by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries.’In the same interview he goes on to say
“This may explain some of the sheer strangeness of the Bible. But unfortunately it is this same weird volume that religious zealots hold up to us as the inerrant source of our morals and rules for living. Those who wish to base their morality literally on the Bible have either not read it or not understood it…’It is equally true that the bible is not very complimentary about Professor Dawkins for it says in Psalm 14:1
'The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."’Yet, to be fair to Richard Dawkins and his fellow atheists it isn’t really God that they have a problem with it is his followers.
God is love and his latest encounter with humanity (the death and resurrection of Jesus) is an act of almost unbelievable and unmerited generosity. Yet in spite of God’s new covenant of grace the adherents of the world’s three main religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism (all of whom claim to follow the God of Abraham) very often remain characterised by intolerance, sectarianism, cruelty and self-righteousness.
The following quote from Professor Dawkins addresses the recent rise in religious fundamentalism and its political impact upon the contemporary world.
‘Western politicians avoid mentioning the R word (religion), and instead characterise their battle as a war against 'terror', as though terror were a kind of spirit or force, with a will and a mind of its own. Or they characterise terrorists as motivated by pure 'evil'. But they are not motivated by evil. However misguided we may think them, they are motivated, like the Christian murderers of abortion doctors, by what they perceive to be righteousness, faithfully pursuing what their religion tells them. They are not psychotic; they are religious idealists who, by their own lights, are rational. They perceive their acts to be good, not because of some warped personal idiosyncrasy, and not because they have been possessed by Satan, but because they have been brought up, from the cradle, to have total and unquestioning faith.’It is of course true that no one who calls himself a Christian has a biblical right or a divine mandate to murder anyone – not even those who perpetuate abortion - just as a proper understanding of the Koran cannot provide similar divine authority for suicide bombings. Yet the devotees of the three main Abrahamic religions continue to give their God a bad name.
There are some within the religious right who have already consigned the likes of Richard Dawkins to hell (in spite of Christ’s absolute prohibition on judging others set out in Mathew chapter 7). Yet the bible teaches that Professor Dawkins, like the rest of us, will be judged according to the light that he has received. Again, there are many within the church that will see the Professor’s lack of illumination as being self-inflicted and that he is still therefore likely to burn forever for his militant atheism.
However, can the likes of Richard Dawkins be blamed for possessing a definition of religion which has largely been determined by the behaviour of the religious? In recent years Christianity has excelled at hating the ‘sin’ and miserably failed at loving the ‘sinner’. Adjectives such as intolerant, belligerent, judgmental, homophobic and arrogant have all been accurately used to describe a faith which ought to be more closely associated with words like, humble, loving, inclusive, forgiving, gentle and kind. Are we not called to love the unlovable, to bring the invisible into sight and into mind?
In light of the growth in atheism and indeed the growth in all kinds of immorality and moral anarchy we would all do well to remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16.
“"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”If Professor Dawkins and others like him blame their blindness on the evident inability of God’s people to shine then it may well not be him who finds himself on the downward path to damnation. Didn’t Jesus say something about the last being first?
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army!