Tuesday, December 19, 2006

2007 and revival!

“The force of The Salvation Army is ‘not its military discipline, nor its organization or its social service, not the absolute character of its doctrine, not the abilities of its super­ior officers, not the eloquence of its apologists, nor the skill of its ad­vertising - it is a joyful acceptance of a life in poverty, giving all to the benefit of the lost’.” (Blanche Peyron)

“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

Church or Pub?

Where can you have the most fun - Church or the pub? What’s most entertaining - Church or the pub? Where do you find most of the lost – Church or the pub? Where would you feel most welcome – Church or the pub?

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. CafĂ© 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

Away with the manger!

Away with the manger!
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
Especially small,
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!