Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Brengle on Zeal!

Speaking as a self-confessed zealot I found the following from SLB in ‘The Soul –Winner’s Secret’ most encouraging

"It is said that Sheridan went to battle with all the fury of a madman, and recklessly exposed himself to the shot and shell of the enemy. He told General Horace Porter that he never went into a battle from which he cared to come back alive unless he came as a victor. This desperation made him an irresistible inspiration to his own troops, and enabled him to hurl them like thunderbolts against his foes. If he became so desperate in killing men, how much more desperate, if possible, should we become in our effort and desire to save them!… He that is anxious about his dinner and eager to get to bed at a reasonable hour and concerned about his salary, and over solicitous about his health, and querulous about his reputation, and the respectability and financial condition of his appointment, and afraid of weariness and painfulness and headache and heartache, and a sore throat, may make a very respectable field officer or parson, but not a great soul-winner.”
And as William Pearson prayed…

"Spread Calvary's great salvation fame,
Make every tongue a living flame,
Soul-saving truth inspire.
With zeal inflame thy fighting host,
Baptize us with the Holy Ghost,
And set us all on fire."
Yours under Christ and irrepressibly over the Devil


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The unsaved need the saved!

I haven’t seriously read Brengle since I was 16 and my spiritual makeup at 44 is quite is different from what it was nearly 30 years ago.

So having completed several excellent books by Andrew Murray and Charles Finney I have decided to re-read the works of Brengle.

Starting with “The Soul-Winner’s Secret” (Because I like the title!)

Brengle starts with an obvious but oft forgotten truth which might be behind the problem that the contemporary Salvation Army in the west seems to have with soul-winning..
“Every soul-winner is in the secret of the Lord, and has had a definite personal experience of salvation and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which brings him into close fellowship and tender friendship and sympathy with the Saviour… In short, he must have a definite, constant, joyful experience of God’s salvation in his own soul in order to save others… It must be a definite experience that tallies with the Word of God. Only this can give that power and assurance to a man which will enable him to lead and win other men. You must have knowledge before imparting knowledge. You must have fire to kindle fire. You must have life to reproduce life. You must know Jesus and be on friendly terms with Him to be able to introduce others to Him. You must be one with Jesus, and be “bound up in the bundle of life” with Him if you would bring others into that life.”
As I have already said, it is a simple truth but one we often forget. Is there a lack of soul-winning in our lives, Corps, territory – Army? It is probably because we are either not properly saved ourselves or we doubt our salvation. The average western SA Officer no longer considers salvation to be the first or most obvious solution to an enquirer’s problem.

I fear that until we get this right we will continue to struggle.

Saved people are used by God to save others!

Yours under Christ and irrepressibly over the devil.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The return...

If there were such a thing as SA Officer-spotting (like bird watching or train-spotting) then Bromley South railway station would be an anorak’s delight.

There is probably a greater density of SA Officers in the London Borough of Bromley than in any other geographical location in the world!

So, when I am sitting on that station waiting for the next train to Orpington or St Mary Cray I am not surprised to see the occasional Army fleece (although a cap is harder to spot these days!).

Some SA Officers stand out more than others – such as my DC Anthony Cotterill – like Saul he is (literally) head and shoulders above the average commuter!

So it was, that at about 4:40pm on Wednesday 17th May, I bumped into my DC.

This was the moment in time when I heard that my application to return to Officership had been officially endorsed by the TC.

How did I feel upon receipt of this momentous news? – not elated not even a sense of relief. I simply felt an immense sense of gratitude mingled with overwhelming deep humility.

I do not deserve to be an Officer and deep down in my heart I never thought this door would open to me again but my leaders have accepted the validity of my testimony and have placed their confidence firmly in Christ’s ability to forgive, change and empower!

As I travelled home on the train, the following words came to mind,

I have no claim on grace;
I have no right to plead;
I stand before my maker's face
Condemned in thought and deed.
But since there died a Lamb
Who, guiltless, my guilt bore,
I lay fast hold on Jesus' name,
And sin is mine no more.

O pardon-speaking blood!
O soul-renewing grace!
Through Christ I know the love of God
And see the Father's face.
I now set forth thy praise,
Thy loyal servant I,
And gladly dedicate my days
My God to glorify."

What will happen now?

Due to circumstances beyond my control I cannot take up an appointment until 2007 which gives me plenty of time to prepare myself and to wait (like the disciples) until my Pentecostal appointment arrives.

Then what?

Watch this space!

I am not returning to Officership to be nominal or to ride the gravy train or to keep regular office hours. I am not going to pace myself along the way of holiness. I am not returning to adopt a maintenance role. I am coming back to burn! I am coming back to ‘spend and be spent’. I am coming back to ‘restore the years that the locusts have eaten’. I am coming back to save the lost, to fight for social justice, to befriend the friendless, to lead and inspire, to challenge, encourage and chastise, to teach and live holiness. I am coming back to be at the centre of the revival that God is about to pour on the western territories of The Salvation Army. I am coming back to engage every hour, every penny, every power, every influence – all that I am in the Salvation War and it is my intention to fight until I die – Hallelujah.

I am coming back and I cannot wait!

Yours under Christ and irrepressibly over the Devil


Friday, May 19, 2006

Are we fit enough for revival?

In relation to revival - I wonder whether we fully understand the demands that it will make upon us. The following quote is from 'Heathen England'

"YES; every day! That is it! The wild whirl of city life is daily carrying the multitude on its thousand eddies to the awful rush and boom of death's terrible waves and to the dark depths of eternity. No day must be lost if anything effective is to be done for the poor dying souls. There are a thousand objects all around to catch every eye and to fill up every mind. The Son of Man cannot be lifted up too often if we are really anxious to have all men drawn unto Him. 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 un-provided for. "

Something productive for the new convert every night of the week in a world where many Corps only meet once a week - Are we ready for this? Are we prepared to put in the hours that revival will demand?

one more quote from the same book...

"The Army having found out the need of the people has: therefore, from the first laid down the law. “An open-air service and an indoor service - at least one of each at every station, every night, if possible.” Of course, it is not always possible to hold an open-air service; and it is not always possible to hold one open to the public indoors, seeing that meetings of a more private kind must occupy the only building we have to use. Of course, every officer employed by the Army has not had the strength needed for so many services- some, alas! have not had the diligence either. These last have soon found that, as there was a way into the Army, there was also a way out!"

Evangelism and discipling in the midst of a revival is tough work and not for the lazy, worldy or faint-hearted - are we up for this?

I believe so - Hallelujah!

Friday, May 12, 2006

A typical Army Sunday...

A quote from GSR’s Heathen England (1877)

“There is a prayer-meeting at seven in the morning, an open-air service from ten till eleven, indoor service eleven to twelve-thirty, open-air again from two to three, indoor service, generally an experience meeting, from to half-past four, after which a plain tea is provided, at cost price for those who prefer to keep together preparatory to the evening’s work. A prayer meeting is held after tea, concluded in time to get to the open-air stand at six o’clock. The indoor service at seven o’clock with the prayer-meeting, which forms its great practical feature, rarely concludes before ten o’clock. Such is an Army Sunday.

At large station, of course, a number of open-air services are held simultaneously on Sunday evenings, and in some cases at earlier hours also, in order to fully utilize all the available force, and occasionally the whole of the Sunday morning or afternoon is spent out of doors.

We need scarcely say that, in many cases, our people have to walk a considerable distance to each service, so that really an efficient Army Officer or member has, with the exception of an hour or two for meals, some fifteen hours on duty every Sabbath.”

How did we get from this to a suburban Corps where people commute in (few live in the neighbourhood) to meet for one indoor meeting with no prayer meeting not even an appeal?

Revival costs!

Yours under Christ and irrepressibly over the devil


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Read it and weep - Court & Campbell

I am currently reading Campbell & Court’s ‘Be a hero’.

I cannot stress enough just how essential this book is to those who see themselves as true Salvationists. If you like to add the tag ‘primitive’ to your calling then you cannot escape reading this book.

I think that, in time, this book will be seen as a major catalyst in the revival and reformation of The Salvation Army.

However, I want to talk specifically about chapter 6.

I have only got as far as Chapter 6 so what follows may be true of other chapters as well.

I normally read books very quickly but this book needs to be chewed well. The powerful revolutionary rhetoric, information and challenge within this volume cannot be quickly swilled around the mouth and swallowed whole. To do so would cause spiritual indigestion on a damaging level – in addition this book needs to have every ounce of nutrition absorbed by the soul.

Reading chapter six anointed me! Now I know I am prone to flamboyant speech but this is not hyperbole – as I read Chapter 6 of this book I felt God’s anointing come upon me - like the oil in Psalm 133 - as I read Chapter 6 God’s spirit oozed all over me. I felt that I had entered the Holy of Holies. This was not a shiver down the spine moment this was a powerful manifestation of God. I have never felt such an anointing come upon me as a result of simply reading a book. I trembled, I crumpled and I cried (and I was in The London Borough of Bromley Staff Canteen at the time!)

Why did I feel like this?

Because God was confirming and underlining to me the fact that he is going to surpass what he did (so comprehensively described in Chapter 6) in The Salvation Army 1865-1894 and he is going to do it in and through us. He is going to give us a revival of truly Acts 2 proportions – indeed what is coming probably needs another word than simply ‘revival’ as that word has become so watered down over time that it has lost some of its impact.

This is going to be a “revolutionary” revival for “primitive” Salvationists (tautology I know but so is born again Christian!)

If you consider your life to be nothing more than a resource given freely to God for the mass plunder of the devil’s kingdom and the global Salvation of the world then buy this book. If on the other hand you quite frankly couldn’t give a damn about the damned then buy this book and your mind will be swayed!

Be warned, however - this book will upset you and offend you because it peels away the crusted bandages of our so-called civilised world and makes us stare upon the fetid sores and smell the putrid puss that oozes from years of sinful oppression and Christian compromise

Buy this book and read it on your knees and then enlist to be a hero, a glorious soul-winner, a victorious saint, a champion of the poor and needy, a victim of persecution, a potential martyr – in short a true Salvationist!

Yours under Christ and irrepressibly over the devil!


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Youth Council's Syndrome and a Roots rant!

This Blog entry carries a Sensitive Salvationist health warning!

When I was a teenager we used to go to Youth Councils, usually, while we were there we would do one or possibly all of the following;

  • Go to the Mercy Seat
  • Buy takeaway food on a Sunday
  • Lead a glory march
  • Offer for Officership

On the way home we would lean out of the mini bus windows and sing ‘When the roll is called up yonder’ and shout out at strangers on the street ‘Jesus loves you’.

By the following Monday lunchtime most of us would be back to our old ways, playing football in the school playground and swearing at our friends.

I call this the ‘Youth Council’s Syndrome’ and I have noticed that it is now applicable to other SA events; in particular I think that we have developed in the UK a ‘Roots Syndrome’.

Now don’t get me wrong, great things happened when we went to Youth Councils and great things happen at Roots too but the impact is largely limited and the effect short-lived.

Why is this?

I believe it is because the territorial spirits that beset the Salvation Army, work wherever there is a crest, a shield or a flag (even if they are carefully tucked away in the corner). Whether it is Youth Councils, Congress, Roots, Bible Weekends the demons are always there and they know the Army - the SA is their specialist subject.

Their modus operandi is to make any ‘encounter’ with God as emotional as they can, their wish is to keep any thought of real commitment as far from what takes place as possible. Again, please don’t get me wrong – you can’t have an unemotional encounter with God but you can have an emotional experience in which you do not encounter God.

These spirits are helped by our own apathy, self righteousness, self importance and self reliance.

This year at Roots I heard a sermon which contained little substance and inappropriate illustrations, a sermon which contained one illustration which lasted nearly 10 minutes (which I have heard at least twice from the mouth of the same speaker – and which my wife tells me the same speaker used last year at Roots!). This sermon was ill prepared (probably) because the one who delivered it is blessed us with the gift of communication and so therefore thought he could get by (and even impress) with what was in the light of day nothing more than poorly tacked together revivalist rhetoric?

Do we really expect God to honour this?

Then there is the issues of music. Music is a wonderful gift from God but like all gifts it can be manipulated and twisted by the evil one.

Some Salvationists go to band festivals and listen to brass and call it ‘inspirational’ others go to Roots (or something similar) and call it praise. Both groups of people tend to criticise each other and think of themselves as superior. Yet, at the end of the day, if the activity (in terms of the commitment it generates) is simply nothing more than a concert it is not a better concert simply because it carries the tag ‘charismatic’. For many people the ‘praise’ at Roots is no more ‘praise’ than is the ‘inspiration’ received received by some at Band festivals. Worship will always result in lifestyle change, always lead to greater commitment and always humble us. Whether it is a band festival or a praise party the questions we should be asking are; Does it change us? Are we different because of it? Does it empower us? Does it humble us? Does it lead us into repenantnance? We would do well to remember the words of Isaiah…

“When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

Music is irrelevant what matters is the state of one’s heart; if the heart is right then whatever comes out of the heart will be the music that God wants to hear. If the heart is wrong then whatever the style used it will offend God.

I heard someone at Roots explain to me why we hardly sing any Army songs? The answer, I was given was because the Army songs are old and people at Roots want to sing new songs. Yet we sang ‘Holy, holy, holy’ and ‘Be thou my vision’ both of those songs have got at least 200 years on anything published by the Army!

Another reason for the Youth Council’s Syndrome is that we refuse to accept who we are. Momentarily we catch a glimpse of what God wants to do with our lives, but it quickly fades as we re-enter the real world. Why do we struggle not just individually but as an Army when both the need and our destiny (which is to meet that need) stare us in the face. With such a clear calling set before us why do we refuse to look? One of the best things I heard at Roots 2006 was Danielle Strickland’s take on ‘true humility’ – For God’s sake we AN ARMY!!! Let’s fall on our knees, repent of our ‘false humility’ and be what God wants us to be.

We have drums and bands (whether powered by electric or our lungs who cares?) We have flags; we wear uniforms (a simple t-shirt with a crest or shield will do). We fight social injustice, we fight sin, we protect widows and orphans, we go for souls ‘and go for the worst’. We are not a middle class, limp wrested, main stream, left of centre, comfortable, evangelical denomination! WE ARE AN ARMY!

God doesn’t need a church he already has one! He doesn’t need unidentifiable Christians wandering the streets – he has millions of them! He doesn’t need a humanitarian organisation subsidising people’s addictions or entertaining young people – We are not the YMCA or the Red Cross WE ARE THE SALVATION ARMY, FOR THE SAKE OF THE LOST, FOR GOD’S SAKE LET’S BE ONE!

Youth Councils certainly helped me but it didn’t change me only the red hot God of Pentecost could do that! Roots will help, it will help individuals – it has helped me but it will not change our movement (not even in the radical way it seeks to). To really change, to have a revolution, then the God of Elijah will have to “hear our cry”.

Yesterday the Officer Review Board will have sat down and determined whether or not I can be an Officer again – what will their answer be? If it is a yes then watch this space for as an Officer (without the distractions of secular employment) I will live and pray and strive for nothing less than an absolute unadulterated revival-revolution in the SA UK, then the western territories and then the world (if they haven’ already beaten us to it). There is nothing grandiose, unrealistic or arrogant about such a calling - indeed this ought to be the attitude of all Officers and Soldiers.

“We need another Pentecost” please, please, please dear God send the fire!!!!

Yours -frustrated, sometimes angry, chomping at the bit, yet as always - under Christ and irrepressibly over the devil.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And you, you can't even get out of bed!

Every day Roots Uk starts with a knee drill.

8:30 am in the prayer tent.

I reckon that once you have deducted the prayer tent 'staff' there was on average an attendance of 25 delelgates at each prayer meeting.

I calculate that to be about 1/2 % of delegates.

Practicalities allowing that's still a pretty poor show...

Reminded me of the hard hitting Keith Green song, 'Asleep in the light'

"The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church 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."

Prayer is the boiler house, without sacrificial prayer the ship can't even leave the dock let alone sail around the world.

Yours irrepressibly under Christ and over the devil

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Roots 2006 and a holiness manifesto!

I went to Roots expecting God to deal with some specific concerns and he dealt with all four.

Although I attended the first 5 Roots events I have not been since – until this year. I chose to go this year only because I wanted to hear some of the advertised speakers.

There were four areas of my life where I needed God to work;

1) Past sin and present guilt.
2) Destiny
3) Lifestyle
4) Self

Jeff Lucas was used by God to deal with issue number one. Jeff preached on Peter’s restoration following his betrayal of Christ. This was a powerful message and left me trembling. Ultimately I allowed the God who forgave me to also take away my guilt.

Danielle Strickland was used by God to deal with issue number two. She took the text that was part of a word first given to me 12 years ago when I got saved. She took the words ‘Mighty warrior God is with you’ from the story of Gideon and spoke of true humility. She explained that to back away from one’s destiny because we feel unworthy is false humility, whereas true humility is to accept what God says and respond accordingly. When I was prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit the man who prayed for me spoke a prophetic word. The word concerned my life and what God wanted to do with it within TSA and it also spoke of the scope and proportion of that potential work. In spite of repeated ‘fleeces’ and repeated confirmation I have baulked at the massive scale of that word. Sunday night I responded to the call (not to Officership that was done a long time ago) but to destiny, my destiny and I exercised true humility and accepted it – watch this space! I have to stress here, if Danielle knew me well and was familiar with all my circumstances she could not have been more personal, specific or accurate as was this address, it was if God had singled me out.

The third issue had already partially been dealt with before I arrived in Southport but the confirmation I received at Roots was profound. For some months now I have been uncomfortable with the issue of lifestyle. Before going to Roots I penned some resolutions which I have now turned into a personal manifesto, these can be read at my webpage blood and fire Steve Court’s book and campaign ‘Be a hero’, together with the UK Watershed and Human Trafficking initiatives underlined the importance of embracing an ascetic, Franciscan (or to use an SA saint) Railtonian lifestyle – this may not be for everyone but it is certainly for me. Then when I returned home I looked up my good friend Matt Clifton’s Blog and saw a William Booth vision that was suggesting the same thing – more confirmation!

The final issue was nailed without anyone’s help apart from Gods!. During the final song, in the last session, I rescued the Army flag from a flag holder in the shadows in the corner of the tent and confidently marched around the Big Top with it – did anyone follow? I don’t know I didn’t look behind me. Did anyone object? I didn’t care. I crucified self using the flag as my cross. It wasn’t about me or anyone else it was about parading the fact that both my sin and guilt were gone; it was about parading the fact that I was happy with the massive impossibility of my destiny, it was about being obedient. It was both hearing and responding to that little divine whisper that said ‘go and get the flag and parade it, stake your claim, make your case and start taking ground.’

Quite a bargain for £150 and 500 mile round trip!

Yours irrepressibly under Christ and over the devil!