Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mighty warrior God is with you!

I cannot shake the following chorus out of my head, I fall asleep singing it, I wake up singing it and I get through the day singing it.
All my work is for the Master,
He is all my heart's desire;
O that he may count me faithful
In the day that tries by fire!

These words have been kept company by the following quote grom William Booth that I have come across on four separate locations this week!
“The greatness of a man's power is the measure of his surrender.”
What we need today is men (and women) who have real spiritual power. They are around but they do not recognise the potential lurking within them. Even those that are called doubt the reality of their own destiny and repeatedly test the validity of God’s call upon their lives.

At this precise moment many of them are hiding from the Midianites and when God addresses them as ‘Mighty warrior’ they will look not to his ability and strength but to their own poor heritage. Then they will put a fleece and another fleece and constantly question whether God is really with them.

Are you a ‘Mighty warrior’? I believe that I am, I believe that God has called me to slay the Midianites!

Fellow warriors can we do this?

The answer lies in Booth’s words above – our power is dependant, absolutely dependant upon the measure of our surrender!

What will we surrender to this week? Will we surrender to lust, materialism, greed, mediocrity, television, sport, eBay, ambition, selfishness, lethargy, apathy? Or will we lay all on the altar and wait ‘for the fire’?

Osborne again;
“Have I worked for hireling wages,
Or as one with vows to keep,
With a heart whose love engages
Life or death, to save the sheep?
All is known to thee, my Master,
All is known, and that is why
I can work and wait the verdict
Of thy kind but searching eye.”

And a final word to a modern Osborne (Keith Green)

Do you see, do you see all the people sinking down
Don't you care, don't you care are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb not to care if they come,
You close your eyes and pretend the job's done.

"Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord" You know it's all I ever hear.
No one aches, no one hurts no one even sheds one tear.
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds and He cares for your needs,
And you just lay back and keep soaking it in,
Oh, can't you see it's such a sin?

Cause He brings people to you door, and you turn them away
As you smile and say, "God bless you, be at peace"
And all heaven just weeps 'cause Jesus came to you door
You've left him out on the streets

Open up open up and give yourself away.
You see the need, you hear the cries, so how can you delay
God's calling and you're the one but like Jonah you run.
He's told you to speak but you keep holding it in,
Oh can't you see it's such a sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark that the church just can't fight,
'Cause it's asleep in the light. How can you be so dead When you've been so well fed.
Jesus rose from the grave and you, you can't even get out of bed,
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead come on, get out of your bed.

How can you be so numb not to care if they come
You close your eyes and pretend the job's done
You close your eyes and pretend the job's done
Don't close your eyes don't pretend the jobs done

Come away, come away, come away with Me my love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, my love.

May God lead us all into full surrender, may we all be Might Warriors in his hands – fully committed to him and his cause.


A message for the Army!

The following came froma good friend of mine, Carol Young.

This is specifice word, please Blog it and pass it one. Carol hears from God and is a trusted source.

"We had a great prayer day today, 9am-9pm. We received specific words for the mission here which were encouraging and challenging.

I just wanted to pass onto you Psalm 90:7-17, which I know seems to be about the writer trying to cope with the mystery of time and the frailty of man but as I read it I just felt it could refer to the Army.

V 8 was sobering. The Salvation Army has such a great reputation with many but God knows our "secret sins".

v 9 paints a negative end to life and in the scheme of things it is all so short and transient. The Salvation Army is not an old organisation and looks so frail in many ways. Yet waste and destruction is not inevitable

v12 the wake up call, "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Whatever happens we can't drift along, every moment counts.

v13 the plea for mercy

v14 re-focus on God

v15 prayer for a turn around

v16 prayer for God to be at work in the midst of his people again

v17 prayer for God's favour to return and make what we do count for something."

'Let those who have ears hear!'

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Message in a bottle - Frustration! Frustration! Frustration!

I want to blog, I want to fast and pray, I want to finish my book on holiness, I want to link up with other warriors and sharpen swords. I want to go and find Luke and give him more than just food - I want to have the time to talk properly to him about Jesus and lead him into Salvation. I want to establish a ministry among his druggie friends. I want, I want, I want!

Instead I must settle down and write to the London Community Recycling Network about a centralised composting initiative in Bromley!!!

I feel like Paul, I am a prisoner in chains.

Today’s Blog is simply a message in a bottle! If you find this note then please pray for me. Pray that I am given patience, pray that I am given the grace to maintain a holy life and outlook during the last few months of my sentence.

This time next year I could be free!

I wan to leave local government in such a way that I am missed, missed for my effort, missed for my resourcefulness, missed for my abilities but most of all missed for the fresh air and positive atmosphere (holiness) that I brought to the office.

It has been many years since my sin forced me from the ranks and at last the day of my release beckons. I believe that this last few months will be the hardest of all. Please pray for me.

I feel like a little boy who got up early and packed for his school trip, all eager and excited, only to run around the corner at school to see the coach disappearing into the distance.

Dear God please don’t let my past sin mean that I miss the bus! Amen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Total surrender is the bare minimum!

I have been reading 'With Christ in the school of prayer' (Andrew Murray) recently. I's like to post the following quote taken from Chapter 13 of that book (get an online copy by clicking here)

“While ordinary Christians imagine that all that is not positively forbidden and sinful is lawful to them, and seek to retain as much as possible of this world, with its property, its literature, its enjoyments, the truly consecrated soul is as the soldier who carries only what he needs for the warfare. Laying aside every weight, as well as the easily besetting sin, afraid of entangling himself with the affairs of this life, he seeks to lead a Nazarite life, as one specially set apart for the Lord and His service. Without such voluntary separation, even from what is lawful, no one will attain power in prayer: this kind goeth not out but by fasting and prayer.

Disciples of Jesus! who have asked the Master to teach you to pray, come now and accept His lessons. He tells you that prayer is the path to faith, strong faith, that can cast out devils. He tells you: 'If ye have faith, nothing shall be impossible to you;' let this glorious promise encourage you to pray much. Is the prize not worth the price? Shall we not give up all to follow Jesus in the path He opens to us here; shall we not, if need be, fast? Shall we not do anything that neither the body nor the world around hinder us in our great life-work,--having intercourse with our God in prayer, that we may become men of faith, whom He can use in His work of saving the world.”
I have believed for a long time that the complete and utter consecration of everything we have and are is the bare minimum acceptable to God. Entire sanctification is not an optional extra for 'specialist' Christians it is a mandatory obligation for anyone who claims to follow Jesus.

God will not do what he wants to do in The Salvation Army until Salvationists rediscover the importance of three essentials - these essentials need to be applied corporately (from the top down) and individually (from the bottom up). They are:
  • Repentance
  • Renunciation of the world, the flesh and the devil
  • Total consecration to Christ
These essentials must be sought not legaistically but within the context of love. God loves me in spite of my rebellion, I love God because he first loved me, the love I hame for him is expressed in a practical love for the 'least of these my brethren."

Lord, we come, and from thee never
Self nor earth our hearts shall sever;
Thine entirely, thine for ever,
We will fight and die.
To a world of rebels dying,
Heaven and Hell and God defying,
Everywhere we'll still be crying:
Will ye perish, why?
Love and prayers - Andrew

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

God is filling his lungs and about to roar! Part 2

Read Part One First!

This predicted resurrection is already beginning. The beginnings are clearly evident. The flesh and the tendons have already begun to knit the bones together – the breath has been drawn into those omnipotent lungs, the lion of Judah is ready to roar!

Check out the following Blogs and web sites (this is the bones coming together, this is the start…) - Matt & Lynne Clifton – what an inspiration! (Matt is my brakes, he restrains me when I need it!) God's people - always praying! Nick and Kerry Coke - this is so encouraging, I only came across this ministry yesterday (this is guts, bang in the middle of the East End - we should be shouting this from the rooftops!) Great stuff happening here (see Andrew's Blog too at

See Carol Young’s Blog at (Carol and Alan Young are Corps planting in North Allerton, Yorkshire, UK)

Check out GC’s Urban Army Blog at (Gordon will soon be inspiring Cadets at the WBMC in London!)

Of course you will find more evidence of the bones coming together at and

Friends, The Salvation Army is coming back to life. The exiles are returning from captivity, the dam that holds back God’s blessing is starting to crack. Let us then press on!

Pleas email more evidence of Ezekiel’s words coming to fruition (

What must we do? – our General has told us what to do, he is actually leading us!! – Amen!

“We are all exercised by the Army’s inability to grow numerically in certain parts of the world. We rejoice that in many places the Army is rapidly expanding. Globally we are bigger than ever before and getting bigger… if God is withholding numerical growth from parts of the Army, why is that blessing withheld? Rather than discussing strategy, method, ceremony or even identity, I have a deep sense in my heart that God wants us to follow the example of the Old Testament prophets when they sensed God’s blessing was withheld. The prophets went to God’s people asking: Is there sin in the camp? … perhaps God is saying, ever so gently and ever so lovingly: ‘I love you, Salvation Army, but would you please look within and see if there is sin in the camp, and if there is anything that causes the blessing to be withheld we must deal with it.’ Some issues will be personal to individual Salvationists, others will be corporate… We may find that as we draw nearer to him, closer to him in purity and righteousness, the blessings begin to flow where at present they sometimes appear to be withheld."
We must repent, we must prophesy, we must pray, we must fast, we must believe, we must get together in ones and twos, we must at all times strive to remain Christ centred – if we do all of this then we can wait for the following to be fulfilled – not in the long future, but now in our midst, in our time, through us – Amen!!!

' 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.' "


God is filling his lungs and about to roar! Part 1

I have become obsessed with the first fifteen verses of Ezekiel Chapter 37. If ever a part of the Old Testament belonged especially to The Salvation Army’s western territories then these verses do! I have become so familiar with these 15 verses that I can almost recite them off by heart.

Have our hearts become so calloused, our ears so dull and our eyes so dim that we are unable to receive the hope and glory that this message longs to deliver?

What is the prophet asked to behold? A dead and defeated Army, a despondent army ‘'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.”. This not some kind of mass desert grave – these bodies decayed where they fell. This mass of dry bones is the evidence of a lost battle. No ceremony or memorial marked the passing of this army other than the memorial of their own corpses! The prophet is made to examine the bones in detail, God wants him to fully appreciate just how dead this Army is – “He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.”

God asks the prophet - can this Army live again? In his commentary Matthew Henry picks out beautifully and with precise discernment the thinking behind God’s question. "Son of man, can these bones live? Is it a thing likely? Canst thou devise how it should be done? Can thy philosophy reach to put life into dry bones, or thy politics to restore a captive nation?"

How perceptive and prophetic Henry was – how long we have struggled to bring our Army (in the west) back to life, or even worse we have denied it’s dead, or worst of all viewed it’s death as inevitable! We have tried our ‘philosophy’ and our ‘politics’ we have tried to ‘devise how it should be done?’ Stewardship, Church Growth, Planned Giving, Alpha, Structural Reorganisation (all good but all limited in their restorative powers). How long will we persevere before we recognise that we are dry and dead?

We have to own up to the fact (not just intellectually but in the very pit of our souls) that the only person who knows if this Army can live is God! Ezekiel is a wise man, an impulsive prophet would have pre-empted God’s will and said ‘Yes’ in response to God’s question but not Ezekiel – he simply responds with the statement “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know”.

Can our Army live again? There is an admirable impulse within us to cry out an unconditional ‘yes’ but like Ezekiel we must stop and seek out God’s will. Can our Army live again? Let us assume nothing but in humility respond “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” If we respond with humility and repentance, if we hand the initiative (even our hope) over to God then he will show us just how much he longs and waits to resurrect this ‘vast army’!

Now is the time for action!!!

What must we do? We must prophesy? We must prophesy via every medium, from every hilltop, we must write articles, we must Blog , we must preach, we must pray and fast. We must band together and encourage each other, we must sharpen each other as ‘iron sharpens iron’. Above all we must prophesy, and prophesy and then prophesy again. To prophesy is different from preaching or teaching. The aim of prophesy is not first and foremost to encourage or chastise although it may do both of these things) to prophesy is to deliver the word of God first hand in a specific and targeted way.(A good contemporary example is the Gerald Coates word for the Army – it wasn’t for the wider church it was for the Army, it was specific.)

Who is our audience? We must prophesy to the dry bones! See Ezekiel 3:4-9

He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel- not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.”
What is our message? We are blessed prophets indeed for our message is one of hope, restoration and success.

"Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.' "

What will happen when we prophesy in this way. God will breathe life into the old, he will bring life to what has been long dead. This is not a new Army, this is an old Army. This is an Army, once proud, a vast Army that died on the field of battle. We must hear the word of the Lord and respond. Our job is to bring to speak life into that which was dead. Ezekiel doesn’t set up a tent on the edge of the desert and put up pictures of Lord Kitchener. He is not called to create a new Army but to raise up an old one.

This is where we must not (but so easily could) go wrong. Sometimes when we think of ‘the old’ we think of externals. We must not focus on externals. “The old” that God wants to restore is internal. It is the ‘old’ commitment, the ‘old’ holiness, the ‘old’ aggressive compassion. This ‘old’ spirit is exemplified in the lives of people like Railton, Cadman, Lawley, Booth-Tucker and a million and one Salvationists who enlisted between 1880 and 1900. What will God resurrect in his Army?

A sacrificial love ( willing to work without pay - living by faith)
A love for the unloved (the paedophile, the single mum who aborted her child, the militant homosexual, the atheist who wants to make religious education a crime)
A practical love (the spirit of the ‘slum and gutter’ brigades)
An aggressive love (‘tear of the bandages and make them look’)
An uncompromising love (that refuses the world’s thirty pieces of silver in order to protect its autonomy)

A courageous love (that buys a quarters ‘within a yard of hell’ and not in the suburbs, a love that lives where the need is and doesn’t commute to the battlefield)
A repentant love (that constantly reviews and checks its motives, a love that will not tolerate ‘sin in the camp’ )

A mobile love (not held in one place by buildings and trappings but a love that can move quickly to the point of need) A constant love (expressed in a ‘living sacrifice’) A HOLY love (totally set apart and reserved for God, a love that drives his agenda, an extreme commitment that scares the uncommitted yet at the same time draws them in)


Monday, February 20, 2006

Railton, Ratatouille, Repentance and Revival!

It’s a wet, cold, grey Saturday morning in February. I go to the hall to get it ready for Sunday. Having hoovered up ‘Tufty’s’ crumbs and set out the chairs I stay for a time of prayer. Later in the afternoon, still in prayer, I make my way to Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington. During the half an hour drive to Abney Park I keep on praying - the Holy Spirit has already brought much to my attention, wrong attitudes, unforgiveness, pride, ‘sin in the camp’ and of course hope – so much hope!

If I have a favourite spot in the world then this it – sitting on the rock slab that shields the mortal remains of George Scot Railton from the elements. On one side of George lies William, Catherine and John Lawley on the other side is ‘Fiery Elijah’ and across the way Bramwell and Booth Tucker. When it comes to sitting down there are a lot of slabs to choose from! However, my favourite spot is George’s.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing spiritually significant about this spot. This is not an altar or a ‘high place’ and I do not come here to chat with the Army’s first Commissioner. I like the spot because it is tangible proof that these people actually lived and therefore the historical information I know about them – incredible though it seems – is actually true! Sometimes the lives of these pioneers take on mythical proportions – yet when you sit here among their bones all doubts are destroyed.

Whenever I am here (and I come here often) I always ask God to give me the same spirit that these great pioneers had - indeed I ask him for a double portion! Yet of course I know that the spirit that drove them forward and gave them such success was nothing less than God’s spirit. Before I leave I kneel down and ask the ‘God of Elijah’ to ‘hear my cry’ and ‘send the fire’ I ask him to begin the ‘revolution’.

I tell him that I want to be obsessed with the Army – some would question me and say ‘you mean obsessed with God don’t you?’ but I don’t mean that, I mean what I say, I mean the Army. For me God and the Army are synonymous – you can’t have one without the other. I want to be like Railton – I want to have no clothes other than my uniform. I want to always travel second class unless there is a third class! I want my life to be a complete ‘living sacrifice’. I want to be radical, if necessary I want to turn up at Westminster Central Hall in sackcloth and ashes! My prayers and my spiritual fantasies become extreme and God gently brings me back to earth.

I turn and walk the short distance from the grave to where I have parked the car. It is like walking through a time slip – I have left behind the big bowed bonnets and working class roots of the Army and stepped into the sophisticated coffee bars and pasta restaurants of urban London. Suddenly the world is full of three wheeled designer buggies and young couples sipping black Americanos in pavement cafes. Maybe I do need more clothes than just my uniform after all it is 2006.

As I get into the car I wonder where it will all meet? Where will all the strands come together. So much of ‘the old’ is in my blood, I didn’t ask for it to be put there, it’s always been there ever since I was a small child. I never asked God to make me feel the way I do, but I feel that way all the same. There is something in the past that needs to power its way into the present. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet - personal holiness, separation from the world, prayer and fasting, practical evangelism, bravery, aggression, compassion, initiative – yes it’s all that - but there is something else too.

For the moment (from my mortal perspective) everything seems so impossible, the future, repentance, revival, return from exile, the restoration of ‘Jerusalem’. It’s all too much, too complicated. Yet things are happening, there are stirrings, rumblings, rumours – God is on the move. The dry bones are waiting to come together waiting for the sinews and flesh to be applied - waiting for someone to ‘prophesy’ and say ‘hear the word of the LORD! I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'

I get into the car and the CD player strikes up with

“I’ll follow thee of life the giver,
I’ll follow thee suffering redeemer,
I’ll follow thee deny thee never,
by thy grace I’ll follow thee”.

I drive the same route trudged by those who buried Railton and the inescapable question that must have challenged them challenges me ‘The old warrior is dead - what are you going to let God do in you?’

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The mouth, pride, sin & Aggressive Christianity

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
Proverbs 21:23

I’ve been reading CB’s ‘Aggressive Christianity’ again, below are some familiar extracts.

"Go ye". Don't wait for people to come to you. Go to them, where they are. "Seek them out; run after them, wherever you can get at them....Wherever you find a creature that has a soul, go and preach the Gospel to them....That is the meaning and the spirit of the commission.Am I to wait till an unconverted Godless man
wants to be saved before I try to save him....Am I to let my unconverted friends and acquaintances drift quietly down to damnation, and never tell them about their souls... 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....Don't let your relatives, and friends, and acquaintances die, and their blood be found on your skirts!!!
I know that this was for then and not necessarily for now but the spirit that bubbles within me is not urging me to be God’s sniper selectively picking off individuals I am by nature and possibly by calling too a weapon of mass destruction.

I can be incredibly tolerant and gentle with those outside of the kingdom but I have little patience when it comes to those who purport to be within it! Like Jesus I want to make friends with the woman caught in adultery and attack the Pharisees with a whip. This means that sometimes I need to be restrained. It would be very easy for me to do a Saul and charge into battle, win a victory, build a monument to myself and then wonder why God rejected me as any kind of spiritual leader?

Recognising the pride that leads us into rebellion can often (though not always) result in humility.

I recently deliberately rebelled against my better nature by contributing to the Salvation Army’s international discussion forum – this (albeit brief) sojourn did me few favours.

I have been here twice before and on both occasions I was led out just as surely as I was misled in. When Jesus warned against casting pearls before swine he wasn’t hurling insults at the gentiles but simply reminding us that we need to think before we lay God’s treasures before a potentially unappreciative audience.

Still – ‘all things work together for good’ and I have made some friends on the forum and have been encouraged to discover that there are many ‘out there’ who agree with our message and that is encouraging. The detractors speak for themselves and declare much more through their postings than they think.

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.

Psalm 141: 3- 4

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pre-Millenial Pessimism

I am concerned that some Christians see decay and decline as inevitable precursors to the return of Christ.

If we talk about numerical decline within the church they say such decline is inevitable in the build up to Christ’s millennial reign.

If we talk about the increase in heresy, false prophets, materialism, immorality again they see such things as inevitable.

They seem to adopt a fatalistic approach to all things.

‘Christ is coming back soon’ they say and ‘so don’t be surprised if everything seems to be on the slide, such things must come to pass’.

I can see where such thinking comes from and I could identify the scriptural passages that would be selected to support such a view but in spite of this it does not sit comfortably within my spirit.

Surely a truly redemptive gospel is about going all out to save as much as you possibly can rather than almost encouraging it to slip through your fingers.

I for one feel more at home with the following quote from 2 Chronicles 7:13-15

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”

Monday, February 13, 2006

Pray for a bigger labour party!

I read the following this morning in 'With Christ in the school of Prayer'

“It is a terrible blot upon the Church of Christ that there are times when actually men cannot be found for the service of the Master as ministers, missionaries, or teachers of God's Word. As God's children make this a matter of supplication for their own circle or Church, it will be given. The Lord Jesus is now Lord of the harvest. He has been exalted to bestow gifts--the gifts of the Spirit. His chief gifts are men filled with the Spirit. But the supply and distribution of the gifts depend on the co-operation of Head and members. It is just prayer will lead to such co-operation; the believing suppliants will be stirred to find the men and the means for the work. (Lesson 9 - 'Pray the Lord of the harvest;' Or, Prayer provides Labourers”.)

Murray – is spot on! Christ is the Lord of the harvest so why only 31 cadets at the William Booth Memorial College and not 300? Either; we are not praying for a bigger labour party or God is not prepared to invest the human resources in our movement that we want?

Many people are praying for a bigger labour party and the decline in Officer applications has been identified as cause for concern for many years now. Indeed the Army has rightly seen Officer recruitment and retention as a priority and has thrown the weight of many creative minds at the problem.

Yet in spite of having clearly identified our target (greater quantity and quality of Officers) – numbers continue to decline – why?

I believe that this is yet another clear sign that God is withholding his blessing. Matt Clifton recently drew my attention to the following from Deuteronomy 28:38-42

"You will plant many crops in your fields, but harvest little because locusts will destroy your crops. You will plant vineyards and take care of them, but you won't drink any wine or gather any grapes, because worms will eat them. You will have olive trees everywhere in your country but no olive oil to rub on your skin, because the olives will fall off the trees. You will have sons and daughters, but you won't be able to keep them because they will be taken as prisoners of war. Crickets will swarm all over your trees and the crops in your fields."
Let us be certain about this and understand the reality of our situation – many people dismiss this decline as simply being the necessary pruning that Jesus spoke of in John 15 . I do not believe this is so - pruning is meant to remove dead growth and improve the general quality of the plant. My observation is that although God in his mercy has blessed us with a remnant of impressive, committed and competent Officers it is not the dead wood which is being cut away. In addition the decline that we are seeing is not revealing new growth. The Salvation Army is not being pruned but it is dying and if it cannot find its ‘ears’ it runs the risk of being “picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”However, the sentence is far from final and if we apply the prescribed cure the prognosis is very encouraging. Thanks to Matt again for his insight into the Moab Covenant and The Salvation Army – if we repent then...
"The Lord your God will bring you to the land your ancestors owned. You will take posession of it, and the Lord will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors were. " Deuteronomy 30:5

My all is on the altar!

Entire Sanctification

I have been delaying entire sanctification on the grounds that there is much to do. I need to become more experienced in prayer, I need to think through the consequences of such a move - count the cost.etc.

I have also been putting it off because of perceived complications associated with this experience lived out in our modern world. Last night in prayer I read the Doctrine Book (1923 edition). The truth was plain - why delay any longer? According to the text there were 4 essentials and none of them seemed unreasonable to me.

  1. Convicition
  2. Renunciation
  3. Consecration
  4. Faith

God also directed me back to the writings of Phoebe Palmer and there I read the following quote from John Wesley:

“A man cannot be sanctified without faith. He may have ever so much repentance, or ever so much good works, yet all this does not at all avail. He is not sanctified until he believes… but the moment he believes he is sanctified. You shall not be disappointed off your hope; it will come and will not tarry. Look for it, then, every day, every hour, every moment! Why not this moment? Certainly you may look for it now, if you believe it is by faith. And by this token you may surely know whether you seek it by faith or by works - if by works you want something to be done first before you are sanctified you think I must first be, or do thus and thus. Then you are seeking it by works unto this day. If you seek it by faith you may expect it as you are, and if as you are then expect it now… do you believe we are sanctified by faith? Be true then to your principle and look for this blessing just as you are, neither better nor worse, as a poor sinner that has nothing to pay, nothing to plead, but Christ died. Stay for nothing; why should you? Christ is ready and he is all you want. He is waiting for you; he is at the door! Expect it by faith, expect it as you are, expect it now!”

I determined then and there to present my 'living sacrifice' without any further delay. I prayed a simple prayer of dedication

Lord Jesus Christ I come to you in faith and in the confidence which faith brings. As I am with no right to plead save that you died, rose again and live to save me. Tonight I willingly without any reserve place everything that I am and have upon your altar. This is my reasonable service!

Every gift, every word, every penny, every moment, every ambition, every influence, every contact – indeed I place upon your altar every single facet of my life. I do this in faith. Grace will sustain this living sacrifice from this moment forward. I believe that it is “ the privilege of every believer to be wholly sanctified” and that you are able to keep that which I have committed until Christ comes again. Why did it take this long? In the name and power of Jesus Christ I pray in faith, God shall have all there is of me, as of this moment I am set apart totally reserved for God’s use alone. Amen!

I have made similar promises before but somehow last night I felt that the time was right, I felt that God was there and that the Holy Spirit sealed the transaction. Amen

Friday, February 10, 2006

Isaiah 62 – a message for The Army

A friend asked me to pray into these verses and this is the outcome – God bless The Salvation Army!

Zion's New Name

1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet,
till her righteousness shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.

God will do what he is going to do and nothing will stop him. He has started doing it already by awakening within us a need to repent, fast and pray. He will not stop until The Salvation Army surpasses the glory of its historical victories with an even greater Pentecostal outpouring than that seen in the late 19th century.

2 The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendour in the LORD's hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

We are ‘the righteousness of Christ’ – this is the first direct reference in this chapter to personal holiness “Christ in me the hope of glory”. Our holiness will be visible to all – more than that it will ‘be seen’ (i.e. acknowledged) by the world. What Christ intends to do through us will be seen even by Kings (politicians etc)

I believe that this new name ties in with the other ‘new’ things promised for the church, namely the ‘new covenant’ (Jeremiah 31) the ‘new heart’ (Ezekiel 36) both of course quoted in the New Testament.

Sceptre and diadem indicates power and authority – we will become the sign of Christ’s authority in the spiritual realms.

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The power and authority we are given is to ‘make disciples’ and defeat demons, the power is given to release prisoners and increase the kingdom. However, a sceptre and a diadem are only symbols of power, they only come into their own when the power they represent is utilised.

According to Revelation 2 and 3 a ‘new name’ is given by God to those that overcome and there are obvious links between Isaiah 62 and Revelation especially in regard to brides and weddings! I think the new name is an indication of the covenant changing hands – belonging not to a specific race but to those who believe (i.e. those who overcome).

4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah, [a]
and your land Beulah [b] ;
for the LORD will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a maiden,
so will your sons [c] marry you;

as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.
‘Deserted’ and ‘Desolate’ – what do you see when you read these words? I see empty halls, galleries once full and now used as store rooms or converted into offices. I see empty houses at the training college. I see Corps without leaders. I see resigning officers and backsliding soldiers, I see little used Mercy Seats and never used Holiness Tables – need I say more? These adjectives apply to the contemporary SA certainly in the UK and undoubtedly in other territories.

6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the LORD,
give yourselves no rest,
7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth.

I believe this refers to our calling we have been commissioned as watchmen. The task of a watchman is an onerous one and carries heavy penalties for failure. Our calling is like that of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:16-24).

Once commissioned as a watchman there is no escape from potential judgement, we are now not only accountable for ourselves but for the wider Army. This is an enormous but privileged responsibility.

This is a tough calling –‘day and night’ - ‘no rest’ .

Above all of the prophets Ezekiel was unique in many ways. He has always been a favourite of mine – when I see Ezekiel I see Railton – when I see them together I see an Army of dead bones coming to life as God’s spirit falls upon them (Ezekiel 37)

8 The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
"Never again will I give your grain
as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the new wine
for which you have toiled;
9 but those who harvest it will eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather the grapes will drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary."

I believe this is a reference to personal and corporate holiness. This is the grain and wine that Osborne picked up on – this is the bread and blood of the new covenant. The toiling refers to the dedication of people who strive hard yet see little visible result.

This refers to Officers running corps that are set up as examples of best practice but compare their results against Acts 2. They may be doing well by contemporary standards but they remain hungry and wanting more. The wine being drunk by foreigners and the grain being eaten by enemies is a reference to the ‘trickle’ ministry such people have to endure. ‘Enemies’ and ‘foreigners’ I believe refers to the demonic who’s hold can only be loosed by repentance. Repentance is made possible by Christ’s sacrifice. What are we released into? Holiness!!!

“Lord, let me share that grace of thine
Wherewith thou didst sustain
The burden of the fruitful vine,
The gift of buried grain.
Who dies with thee, O Word divine,
Shall rise and live again.”

The Salvation Army is that denomination which has been entrusted (I believe more than any other) with the propagation of personal holiness – yet more onerous and serious responsibilities.

10 Pass through, pass through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.

We have to ‘pass through’ in order to prepare a way – the holiness argument can only be proven by example. How do we pass through? Repentance, prayer, fasting, fervent desire and again and again and again! (See Matt Clifton’s article in JAC) The way of course is the “Way of holiness”. The way was originally prepared by John who was in turn a prophet in the OT tradition.

The banner is of course ‘his love’ but also the good old yellow, red and blue!

11 The LORD has made proclamation
to the ends of the earth:
"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.'

This is it, buckle your seatbelts and hang on – the ride is about to start – remain seated at all times and don’t put your hands outside the carriage! What a fortunate people we are. We have been called (may Churchill forgive me) not to witness the end but to be actively involved in the beginning of the end – Hallelujah.

12 They will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the LORD;
and you will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted.

Do I need to comment on this? What can I say!!!!! I love the title ‘sought after’ – what a turn around for a largely rejected people and the ‘no longer deserted’ wow. Clear out the galleries, don’t start selling bits of the training college and no more compromise! Imagine the Salvation Army openly called “the Holy People” imagine our dedication and our separation being recognised (not a false and unfounded reputation but a genuine reflection of God’s glory) An Army ‘who’s good works so shine before men…”– not for our glory but for the sake of the lost. AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

a. Isaiah 62:4 Hephzibah means my delight is in her .
b. Isaiah 62:4 Beulah means married .
c. Isaiah 62:5 Or Builder


Now to the persistent image I get when I pray into these verses. When I read this chapter I feel compelled to turn to Hosea, Jeremiah 3 and also to Ezekiel 16 (Ezekiel again!). Ezekiel 16 is a potted history of The Salvation Army.

I sense that the marriage referred to in Isaiah 62 is a reconciliation following divorce. The grounds for divorce were our prostitution (Jeremiah 3). This is God in grace attempting (longing) to mend a broken covenant.

1 "If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him and marries another man,
should he return to her again?
Would not the land be completely defiled?
But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers—
would you now return to me?"
declares the LORD.
2 "Look up to the barren heights and see.
Is there any place where you have not been ravished?
By the roadside you sat waiting for lovers,
sat like a nomad in the desert.
You have defiled the land
with your prostitution and wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withheld,
and no spring rains have fallen.
Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute;
you refuse to blush with shame.
4 Have you not just called to me:
'My Father, my friend from my youth,
5 will you always be angry?
Will your wrath continue forever?'
This is how you talk,
but you do all the evil you can."

I sense that this is significant. These 5 verses from Jeremiah describe TSA (UK) perfectly. The ‘brazen look’ the refusal to ‘blush with shame’ (repent) the withholding of ‘showers’ and ‘spring rains’.

At this wedding we will be asked to once again publicly assert our vows, to publicly assert our commitment. A divorcee could not do this a without first of all confronting their infidelity. This is restoration but it is not restoration without recognition of culpability! We will have to face up to and acknowledge our failings if we are to enjoy our wedding!

Why ‘Beyond the brook’?

The quote is taken from one of the greatest holiness songs of all time (penned by (Albert Osborn) The song in it entirety is show below:

My life must be Christ's broken bread,
My love his outpoured wine,
A cup o'erfilled, a table spread
Beneath his name and sign.
That other souls, refreshed and fed,
May share his life through mine.

My all is in the Master's hands
For him to bless and break;
Beyond the brook his winepress stands
And thence my way I take,
Resolved the whole of love's demands
To give, for his dear sake.

Lord, let me share that grace of thine
Wherewith thou didst sustain
The burden of the fruitful vine,
The gift of buried grain.
Who dies with thee, O Word divine,
Shall rise and live again.

The theology expressed within this song is hardcore holiness. It expresses in beautiful poetry the various stages of holiness. These steps need not be taken over years they can be made in a few brief moments. The commitment that leads to holiness can be (in an ideal world always would be) an instantaneous experience

"My life must be…" holiness is an essential and without it (none shall see the Lord – Hebrews 12:14)

"My love…" the poet sees holiness in Wesley’s terms as ‘perfect love’ God’s perfect love for me giving me a perfect love for him

“That other souls…” The purpose of holiness always finds its ultimate expression in loving others (especially the unloved). The first verse brings the two most important commandments together as a recognised need within the heart of the writer.

"My all …" Palmer’s altar theology, Herbert Booth’s “I bring my all to Jesus” – the suggestion made at the start of the verse is that holiness depends upon ‘entire sanctification’.

“For him to…” My all is handed over not in a one off dedication but as a ‘living sacrifice’ for him to use as he pleases on a daily basis. The importance of ceaseless yielding is clearly indicated.

“Beyond the brook” probably the most potent and mysterious line in the song. The brook is the brook of Kidron (John 18.1) This brook stood between Gethsemane (‘Thy will be done”) and Calvary (The ‘wine press’). This is very deep theology delivered in one line. Osborn is saying, you have my will, you have my life but you will only get my love (‘My outpoured wine”) once the fulfilment of my calling crushes me!

The final verse reminds us that ‘my grace is sufficient for thee’. The poet concludes with the truth that God alone is the creator, director and sustainer of holiness.

My passion, my calling is to do all that I can to encourage and inspire every Soldier within The Salvation Army go ‘beyond the brook’ thus making that short but intensely painful journey between the surrender of the will to God and the delivery of their love to a fallen world.