Wednesday, December 05, 2007
If there is another vocation out there that crams as much into one month as Salvation Army Officership crams into December I’ll eat my cap!
Incredible things have been happening at Dartford – God has been picking off individuals like a sniper. We have seen no conversions to date but God is definitely preparing the ground. We have seen the power of holiness transform lives and it is indeed an amazing thing to behold.
On a practical front we‘ve got building works starting on Friday – all funded from within the Corps. We also have a new sound system and AV rig going in before our carol service at the end of the month. We’ve also got a quote coming in for a new fitted kitchen. We haven’t applied for any external grants or funding - this is all being paid for out of existing funds and money generated by new fund-raising started up in the last 3 months.
Our sale of work this year raised £2481 (our Corps budget anticipated £400) this incredible total included one single cash donation of £1000 – this came not from a Salvationist but from a lady who simply ‘admires the work of the Army in Dartford’ (an admiration that began long before we arrived!)
Last week our band played in the High Street for the first time in 16 years! Later on the same day we carolled at Bluewater shopping centre – unable to get any help from surrounding Corps - we followed the lead of Gideon and went in the strength we had! Nobody at the Corps could believe that Dartford band had carolled – let alone at Bluewater!
We took our Corps flag to the High Street and also to Bluewater – I noticed it’s got a few moth holes in it – should we get another one or should we let the old one enjoy a new season of outreach and open-airs before we promote it to glory? Booth Tucker visited Dartford (where his daughter was the CO) back in 1920’s – it’s quite possible he marched behind the moth-eaten flag – I think we’ll give it another season of warfare first!
On Sunday a family of political asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who we had given a food parcel to earlier in the week came to the meetings. They didn’t understand a word that was said or sung but they understood (and responded to) the love that was shown to them.
God’s hand of blessing is quite clearly upon us and I am certain that 2008 will bring even greater blessings including the onset of revival!
Watch this space.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The other day I was prayerfully considering the plight of the unsaved and their obvious discomfort (at least until they’ve been converted) in ordinary Corps meetings.
Then I had this brilliant idea!
Why not have a special meeting dedicated to the unsaved, somewhere they would feel comfortable, somewhere where they could hear the gospel in a way they understood, maybe free coffee and doughnuts – who knows? Whatever works best!
Then I thought but how would I get the unsaved to come in? I’d have to go outside and find them, I’d have to round them up, chase them down, invite them to come back to the hall!
Brilliant – I could see the whole thing taking shape in my imagination.
Then a little voice inside my head (or maybe my heart) said – “So you’re going to have a salvation meeting preceded by an open-air?”
There truly is nothing new under the sun!
Love and prayers
PS The picture is an early SA open air meeting in Dartford! (about 1908)
Sunday, November 04, 2007
"Imagine what would happen if Christians really did care enough to get those outside their churches inside (not just for a week or two once a year but all the time), what would their chances of success be?
Look at the average church, the building, the way the people dress, the way people behave, the way things happen (should I stand or sit?), the language used, the songs sung – one might think the whole thing had been deliberately designed to keep ordinary people out. Even if you could get them to come along once the likelihood of a return visit would be slim indeed.
And then think about the service itself, — to those who have attended all their lives it might be described as beautiful, carefully designed to teach, refresh and encourage those who have developed an appetite for the acquired taste of such heavenly food, yet this same service is probably completely indigestible to non church goers. Outsiders might enjoy the music yet not have the confidence to join in, they might listen to the prayers, but again not join in — maybe not even realise the prayers were being prayed on their behalf. As for the sermon (assuming they could understand it) — because it had been written with believers in mind it would probably fall on deaf ears. The whole experience, despite the kindness shown by the genuine warm welcome and many handshakes, would suggest to the newcomer that this kind of thing was probably for others but not for them.
Let me put a question to those who have organised special evangelical services and outreach programmes where they have invited preachers to come along who are killed in preaching salvation – even if you have succeeded in bringing people in – how many have come back?
The truth is that most ordinary people cannot be encouraged to attend ordinary church services and ordinary places of worship, no matter how sincerely they are invited to do so. This fact is proven by the constant stream of conferences and seminars held throughout the church to address this very situation."
Love and prayers
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
"WHY AREN’T PEOPLE INTERESTED IN CHRISTIANITY?
Why is it that while so many churches are putting up new buildings, collecting more money, holding more services and social events (including special youth services) and thinking seriously about evangelism that the noticeable gap between Christians and ordinary people is still so great?
Part of the reason is that many Christians won’t admit (or can’t see) that there is a problem. Just stand and watch a large congregation leaving a popular Church on a Sunday evening. Watch the well dressed, comfortable, happy people. Look at their smiles as they say "Good evening" to each other. Their cheerful chatter sounds as happy as the whistling of the birds in the woods. They’ve had a great time — an inspiring sermon, a good crowd, powerful praise, perhaps they’ve even had a prayer meeting with seekers at the Mercy Seat.
Now look at the gang of youngsters who are walking by. Just a quick glance tells you they have had nothing to do with Jesus today. They are as smart as the others; but they are not the slightest bit interested in Christianity. Neither is that man with the cigarette in his mouth, who guides his wife and child through the crowd of ex worshippers. He prefers to take his wife out somewhere else on a Sunday rather than go to church. The big rough men who follow him, angry at the people in their way, show their hatred of both Christians and the church in the way they swear and curse as they push their way through.
The pastor and his congregation, indeed everyone who has been in that church feels no discomfort at the thought of those who stayed outside. The simple truth is that such a thought never even crossed their mind.
 The original word here was ‘meerschaum’ which was a soft white mineral used for making pipes or cigarette holders."
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Yesterday I went to LSE Youth Councils and at the end of the day was asked by the DC to go forward and pray for some of those kneeling at the Mercy Seat. 25 years ago I would have approached such a request in the same way I would have approached any request associated with my ‘job’. However, yesterday I felt tremendously privileged and at the same time humbled by the enormity of what I was about to do. I prayed for Jason and Gordon (who they are and where they come from I’ll probably never know) but I do know that God moved in their hearts yesterday enough to motivate them to make it to the Mercy Seat. I also know that God will have heard theirs and my prayers and the dear, ever present Holy Spirit would have touched them.
It was also good to take 5 young people from Dartford who'd never been to such an event before (although I did feel a little bit sorry for John the only boy among the 5!)
What a wonderful honour and to think I get paid for this!
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Not murdered but
Promoted to Glory.
I think all death for a Salvationist, however it happens, is a 'promotion to glory' that is not to say that Bo's death was not a terrible sin but it is to say that for the Christian 'all things work together for good.' Whatever happens, no matter how deep the grief, no matter how wide the scars - in spite of everything - the Colonel, even in his death remained 'more than conqueror'.
However the Colonel's life ended he has gone straight to heaven!
The Colonel was martyred for the stand he took against corruption, Bo stood up against 'sin in the camp' when he suspended his alleged murderer and for that he was killed - I think that 'Promoted to Glory' is definitely a fitting comendation for a martyr.
A quote from an article 'We are the Poor' written by the Colonel, follows:
"The Salvation Army’s mission is to ‘event’ the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our mission is to make the message of Jesus real to people. That has to happen in the context in which people live their lives. Jesus always met people where they were. He never said to anyone, ‘Please change the circumstances of your life and then I will come and have fellowship with you.’"
What better place to 'event the gospel' other than the communities in which we live and where our halls are? (see my previous blog entry).
Peace, perfect peace, when at last death shall o'ertake me;
Peace, perfect peace, shall surround my lowly grave;
Peace, perfect peace, when the songs of angels wake me;
Peace, perfect peace! Peace, perfect peace!
May God bless and comfort those who mourn
Friday, September 28, 2007
Yesterday I arrived in the High Street to sell The War Cry; I went to a café in the town centre. The café is frequented by those people who Booth and Railton would have called ‘working men’. However, these men and women don’t work but survive on an assortment of benefits. I thought it would be good ‘presence evangelism’ to sit with them in full uniform (model C, cap and all).
As I ate my ‘special breakfast’ I overheard a conversation between two of the staff and it became apparent that one of them was a victim of quite terrible domestic violence. Before leaving I introduced myself and offered to do everything we possibly could to help. One of the things that came out of the conversation, was the fact that this lady who probably gets paid ‘cash in hand’ and earns no more than about £400 per month had no phone and had spent the previous night, alone, awake, surrounded by broken glass, terrified and unable to call anyone for help. Later in the day Tracey returned and gave the lady a phone with credit loaded onto it and telephone numbers for local and national support groups. With the phone was a postcard with all our activities listed and our contact details.
Later in the day, whilst collecting, a family of 7 approached me and asked ‘when’s your place open, when can we come and ask questions?” Yesterday was our ‘Pantry’ when we open our hall to the public and sell meals, drinks, snacks and cakes. I arranged to meet the family at 12:30 at the ‘Pantry’. It turned out that the matriarch who was registered disabled and the only child still living at home (a son aged 25 – also disabled) had received 56 days notice the day before, by their landlord, to vacate their home. Two vulnerable people, scared, confused and facing homelessness with no one to turn to but The Salvation Army - all it took was a quick call to the relevant Council department and all fears were allayed, accommodation was offered and an interview at the ‘housing’ was arranged.
Back on the streets a young ‘Goth’ decked out in black with numerous piercings had been eying me for some time with suspicion. I remembered Commissioner Hunter’s advice to ‘collect eyes as well as money’ and smiled at him every time he looked my way. Eventually he came and made a donation and walked off reading The War Cry. Two smart grammar school boys and a businessman also took War Crys – all because the ‘special one’ (Jose Mourinho not Jesus!) stared menacingly from the front cover. What a great evangelical tool the War Cry is.
Whilst I was out with The War Cry, Tracey at the ‘Pantry’ (along with an amazing band of hard working and tireless volunteers) had fed 5 homeless men, spoken to another about a more permanent solution to his predicament and distributed sleeping bags. There are a lot of homeless men in Dartford, most of them with drink or drug problems. Comfort, succour and advice was given and of course the gospel was shared in a very matter of fact way.
On my way home I popped into our local ‘Turning Point’ office, introduced myself and expounded the benefits of working together. In spite of the fact that I was very up front about our evangelical objectives the staff seemed very keen and the idea of a mutually beneficial partnership seemed positive to all.
As I trudged back up ‘West Hill’ towards he quarters I felt elated, nothing really special had happened on that Thursday but it had been a truly wonderful day. I felt so fulfilled, so complete, I was so happy and content I wanted to cry. As I walked and praised God so a tingle began to move across my body, a warm glow from the soles of my feet up to the crown of my head. It was a truly spiritual experience, as real as if someone had laid hands on me and prayed. A little voice deep within stole a phrase from the old song book and said, ‘Andrew this is holiness enjoyed!’
Sunday, September 23, 2007
In 1982 Rosemary (Ray’s daughter) and I got married at The Salvation Army’s Training College in Denmark Hill in London (UK).
Sadly, as with so many things in my life at the time, the marriage ended in failure and we divorced in 1991. However, Rosemary and I have remained good friends. We had two children Ben (23) and Caitlin (20).
On Saturday I took our children to their Grandpa’s birthday bash and sat with the grand old man, his wife Joy and their other daughter the Reverend Barbara Steadman Allen (an Anglican minister) in a box at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon.
I wore my Captain’s uniform, the badge of my calling, while my ex-wife sang in the International Staff Songsters. There was a moving and humbling sense of both reconciliation and forgiveness accompanying the proceedings. There was a definite nailing of the past, a restoration of the years the locusts have eaten and a warm feeling of love, forgiveness and mutual respect in the air (the sort that sometimes only seems to come with age).
The highlight for me was the playing of Ray’s masterpiece – Romans 8. Featuring the tune associated with the words
“In the cross of Christ I glory,Towering o’er the wrecks of time;All the light of sacred storyGathers round its head sublime.”
After an excellent and inspiring evening I went home to my new life with Tracey and marvelled at the wonderful grace of God that can draw life out of death and make all things work together for good.
Then to top off a truly wonderful weekend 5 people knelt at the mercy seat at Dartford in an act of faith in the future and in a spirit of re-consecration.
Sometimes God takes the most promising things in life and subjects them “to frustration…” in the hope that “they will be ‘liberated from bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” God has certainly done this with my life and I give him all the glory.
I cannot think of a time in my entire life when I felt more content or more at the centre of God’s will than I do now.
Love and prayers
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The following points aren’t all applicable to Annual Appeal but they are all applicable to local collecting, street stands, pubs etc (which is what I’m really talking about). The points are not in any order of importance.
- Collecting allows me to exercise my responsibility to make my Corps financially self-sufficient. Being on mission support is a little bit like owing your Mother money – if you ring her up and say we’ve bought some new curtains she wants to know why she’s not been paid back first. Financial self-sufficiency gives freedom.
- Also, if my Corps becomes financially self-sufficient I am releasing funds to help other Corps in need of money.
- Collecting takes me into the real world – where I should be. When I collect I am vulnerable, often the subject of abuse (and sometimes praise and thanks). Either way it keeps me on my toes.
- Collecting is evangelism (sometimes verbal evangelism – always presence evangelism). The uniform declares that ‘Mr/Mrs Salvation Army’ is around. (I learnt this from my great friend Alan, who at Ripon, and then North Allerton (and now undoubtedly at Pill) was instantly recognisable to so many in his community as the Salvation Army Officer.
- Collecting gives me a chance to pray – it’s a bit like standing still prayer-walking. I can target certain places and individuals with my prayers. I can pray generally for the Corps and its mission.
- Collecting gives me chance to pay back both God and The Salvation Army for the undeserved generosity they have shown me.
- As a Corps Officer I have some considerable control over how the money I collect is spent and therefore I don’t need to feel guilty that I am collecting under false pretences.
Sometimes I think that if we returned to the principle that we don’t get paid if we don’t raise enough money I think we might prosper more.
The ‘burden’ of fund raising doesn’t distract me from mission it is an integral part of it – hallelujah!
Love and prayers
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
To ease the burden I made up the following ditty (to be sung under my breath as I collect)
By the way, the tune is Rachie…
Love and prayers
In the name of Jesus I now bind up greed
In the name of Jesus selfish hearts are freed.
In the name of Jesus think less of your self
And in gen-er-os-it-y please share your wealth!
In the name of Jesus pause upon your way,
Put some money in my box today I pray.
Yet much more than money I am hoping for
In the name of Jesus there is much in store.
I can share salvation if you dare believe
Health and hope and hap-pin-ess you can receive.
In the name of Jesus pause along your way
Seek and take salvation – oh be saved today!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
According to their web page “Rotary International is a global network of service volunteers. It is the world's largest service organisation for business and professional people, with some 1,210,905 members operating in 168 countries world-wide. There are some 58,000 Rotarians in Great Britain and Ireland in 1,845 clubs, helping those in need and working towards world understanding and peace. It’s a fulfilling role, and Rotarians can get involved as much or as little as their time will allow.”
But ‘Salvo Cadet on a mission…” asks “I was just interested in your reasons for declining the Rotary invitation... I know several officers who are part of their local Rotary and find the relationships built there are invaluable... what's your thoughts?”
The following quote is taken from an article I had published in JAC last year:
“Rotarians instead of radicals
“Our Officers will make broad their phylacteries and hob-nob with mayors and councilmen and be greeted in the market-place, but God will not be among us” (Brengle)
Now I have no problem with The Rotary Club whatsoever; it is a noble organisation and one deserving of praise. However it is a humanitarian organisation and not a Christian organisation. My concern is that it has over the years become incredibly popular with Salvation Army Officers. I have even known some Officers who have accepted positions within the organisation such as ‘president’ or ‘secretary’. Now if ‘all my days and all my hours, all my will and all my powers’ belong to God and The Salvation Army what time do I have to spare for The Rotary Club? No matter how noble the project is to which I am lending my time how can it be more pressing than one that has God at its heart? Attending a lunch once a month with well-to-do business men may seem like a good way of securing financial support for the Army – but is it the best use of my time? If I am totally honest with myself is my attendance really motivated by fund raising or by the promotion and well being of my own self importance? Indeed if I find myself willing to wear the ‘Inner Wheel’ on my lapel but shrink from displaying a Crest or a Cross is that not evidence of serious inner betrayal?
My purpose is not to knock Rotarians (be they Salvationists or otherwise), nor I am saying that to be a Rotarian is a sin – far from it! My purpose is simply to ask whether there is any risk to our commitment if we give in to the temptation to divide our loyalties. In addition, is association with such groups likely to lead us into materialism? Are we more likely to judge ourselves according to the world’s standard rather than God’s?
There is however a much more serious threat posed to Officers through links with humanitarian groups such as Rotary. Over familiarity with the world can lead us into deeper and more dangerous associations. Like a man who smokes ‘pot’ for recreational use it is easy to slip into ‘hard drugs’, just so, these innocent memberships can lead us into the clutches of secretive and more devious societies. History – albeit largely unwritten history – shows that The Salvation army has always struggled to maintain its independence and its impartiality when courting commerce.”
“Membership of service clubs (Rotary etc) is governed by approval from the territorial commander.”Each to his own!
Love and prayers
Sunday, September 09, 2007
To say I have thoroughly enjoyed my first at Dartford would be an enormous understatement!
The excitement, variety, challenge and optimism that covenanted Officership delivers cannot be equalled anywhere in the world. This week...
- I met a confused elderly lady who wants a fridge
- a recovering alcoholic who wants more than just food (hallelujah!)
- delivered a business plan to DHQ for much needed hall improvements (not just aesthetics but improvements that will increase our mission capabilities)
- came up with a strategy to make the Corps financially self sufficient by Spring 2008
- led a two hour roller coaster Corps Council meeting,
- did two much needed pastoral visits,
- chased up THQ about IT,
- collected for an hour at ASDA (Wal-Mart for those over the pond!)
- Spoke to a lady whose husband wants to trace his lost Father,
- shredded about a ton of obsolete filing
- and introduced myself (via email) to the other ministers in the area.
I am so happy, so certain that I am in the right place and that God is here and I am only just starting to warm up.
We are going to have revival at Dartford (not just the SA but all the churches), I know it, and I feel it in every fibre of my body and every pulse of my soul. Am I making myself a hostage to fortune by saying that? No! I’m simply expecting God to deliver – and he will!
Watch this space.
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
In the meantime, yesterday was a Bank Holiday and somehow it just didn’t seem right to do no work today and so I dealt with the Corps’s outstanding administration.
- A letter to Reliance Bank Ltd
- An email to THQ
- 4 emails to DHQ
- A polite letter to the Rotary Club declining their invitation to join
- The processing of two soldier transfers
- Asking payroll to sort out an error in my pay (I got paid £-20 – i.e. according to my payslip I owe them £20!)
- Calculating telephone refunds
I am actually an Officer again and the joy I feel is genuinely beyond words!
These little tasks were completed with real care and devotion and a sense of excitement and anticipation.
Can there be a better or more fulfilling occupation other than Salvation Army Officership?
Yours set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army – Forever!
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sorry to disagree with your non salvo mate Steve but TSA did come up with Alpha and most of the over modern evangelical tools used by the church today.
We were using the ward system long before cell church poked its head out of the womb! As for Alpha our system for making and following down recruits (welcome sergeants, recruiting sergeants, rolls, visititation sergeants, recruits classes, Soldiership classes) as used prior to 1950 surpasses anything Alpha has to offer! Add to that that directory and Corps Cadets, open-airs, pub booming, slum and gutter brigades etc and there is very little the contemporary church has ‘discovered’ that wasn’t used by or even initiated by TSA. We were doing ‘Café church’ and offering a sandwich alongside Salvation before cafes had been invented – Railton mentions salvation tea-parties in ‘Heathen England’ in 1877! As for the ‘4 spiritual laws’ how many tracts beginning with ‘How to…. Get saved… find holiness… win souls’ etc did the early SA publish? Our problem is not that Salvos spend “too much time asking why they didn't come up with good stuff rather than using that time to actually come up with the good stuff”. Our problem is that we stopped using the good stuff we’d already come up with and even today continue to discard that good stuff because we think it is past its sell by date.
When TSA has the guts to be TSA and stop trying to imitate other churches we might actually notice that other churches have been imitating us and borrowing our ideas for years!
"Salvationism is a clear and well-defined quality that represents distinctive features of doctrine and service which distinguish it from all other organizations and makes of it an entity entirely apart, incapable of being blended with any other people. Any attempt to harmonize it with methods employed by other religious bodies destroys its effectiveness and renders it incapable of achieving its purpose or continuing to develop its special characteristics." (Edward Higgins - When Chief of the Staff 1n 1928)
Love and prayers
Friday, August 17, 2007
- Leadership skills (how to make awkward decisions)
- Administrative skills (how to organise your time rather than allowing it to organise you!)
- Soul winning (how to close the deal)
- Practical holiness (how to experience daily victory over the world, the flesh and the devil)
- Spiritual gifts (how to acquire and use them)
- Spiritual warfare (How to attack and defend!)
When it comes to Officers shouldn’t quality matter more than quantity because quantity without quality equals decay whereas quality will always reproduce itself.
Love and prayers
Monday, August 13, 2007
Suddenly I thought of Railton travelling steerage on one of his many evangelistic voyages. I thought of him surrounded by the poor and hungry, no proper sanitation, very little food, no fresh air. He would have been surrounded by illness and vomiting and constantly exposed to the risk of personal infection.
As quickly as I could, I unplugged my headphones, called for he nurse and did my best to comfort and assist ‘Bob’ until she arrived. Consequently, Bob began to open up and share with me and that simple act of kindness enabled me to share Christ not only in action but also by way of testimony too.
Later, in the quietness of the ward I asked God to forgive me for my selfishness, thanked him for the humbling that followed and professed my willingness to suffer whatever came my way as a result of showing kindness to others.
Another lesson learnt.
Love and prayers
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Made some good contacts and learnt some powerful lessons.
The period from Tuesday 31st July (pm) to Friday 3rd August was hell! That is not hyperbole but a simple fact. I have a wound from my sternum to two inches below my navel. Part of my oesophagus and intestine has been removed, my bile duct repositioned and my stomach has been opened. No food or fluids until Saturday 4th August.
Week one has kind of been wiped from my memory, but I learnt the first two of several powerful lessons (which would come my way during my stay in hospital) in this week.
Hell is torment, endless untreatable torment from which there is no relief – that’s why Jesus died to save us! These few days were torment. Not just the thirst and the pain but the horrible (deeply horrible) dreams induced by the morphine. I don’t like hell. I don’t want to go there and neither do I want anyone else to go there! I must evangelise more and my evangelism must be effective.
It’s ok to pray for yourself! Not just the ‘Lord have mercy on me a miserable sinner’ prayers or the ‘Lord be glorified through me’ prayers but the ‘please help me’ prayers as well.
In the midst of my torment all I could do was throw myself into the arms of Jesus and ask him to heal me quickly – I’ve never been comfortable asking God for things for myself but Jesus answered my payer and told me it’s OK to ask for things!
Sunday 5th August onwards I began to make a rapid recovery – one so fast even the Dr’s were amazed. I was meant to be discharged next Tuesday but here I am back in blogland and fit enough to type – Hallelujah!
Thank you all for your prayers… more lessons to share over the next few days.
Love and prayers
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Obviously I will be absent from blog land for a few weeks!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
“though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
We go with confidence because I am absolutely convinced and deeply moved within my heart that a revival is about to hit the western territories of TSA with a holy vengeance never experienced before – something even greater than 1865-1880!
I don’t need any encouragement because I am already like a dog chomping at the bit however Richard Munn’s call to ‘neglect not the fight’ has increased my eagerness to engage in battle – listen to his call to arms here Innocence & shrewdness.
Soldier, rouse thee! War is raging,
Through the world resounding,
Lord, we come, and from Thee never
Hark! I hear the warriors shouting,
Yours set apart by Christ, in the Army, for the lost
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Saturday, July 07, 2007
I had some great cards yesterday, but perhaps the most memorable had the following words on the front – “Don’t count your years. Make your years count.’
Is the world ready for another Railton? Ready or not the world and The Salvation Army both desperately need another Railton.
What if in addition to sharing the same birthday and the same aspirations we could share the same lifestyle?
The intent is there; indeed the intent get’s stronger every day. I pray that as we get closer to taking up our appointment at Dartford God the holy spirit realises the intent in a glorious Pentecostal-powered life that tells for God, rescues the lost, liberates the enslaved – gives everything until – eventually, it ‘falls at its post’.
I pray that God the Holy Spirit gives me not only a portion of Railton’s spirit but that he gives me a ‘double portion’.
In the words of Jean Luc Picard – ‘Make it so number one!’
Friday, June 29, 2007
The sermon was based on the following reading from Zechariah 3:1-7
"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not his man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by. The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here. "
Love and prayers
Thursday, June 28, 2007
According to the research I’ve done I believe it was taken in the summer of 1883 in Oakland California. When Major Wells (on one knee by the drum), first Salvation Army officer in the west, arrived in June of 1883 he met with the members of the Pacific Coast Holiness Association. The PCHA had come across a War Cry possibly as early as 1881 and decided to model their organization after The Salvation Army. They even went so far as to ask William Booth to send someone to the west to open the work in California. (California at this time wasn’t exactly tamed. Most images of the Wild West with stage coaches, saloons, cowboys and miners certainly apply to California at the time.)
The group in Oakland was called the #1 regiment because the PCHA was trying to keep the spirit of the military structure that was used in London. Oakland had the #1 regiment, San Francisco had the #2 regiment, and San Jose (a town on the southern end of the bay) had the #3 regiment. When Wells arrived he met with all these groups who were part of the PCHA and rolled them into The Salvation Army. Sadly by the time Henry Stillwell, Wells’ partner who had stayed in New York to handle some business matter before crossing the continent, arrived in October of 1883 most of the members of the PCHA had left the Army. One of the members, who stayed though, although not in the photograph, was John Milsaps who became the first American Salvation Army Officer in the American West.
This is possibly one of the first photos ever taken of Salvationists in the American West. This photo is definitely a treasure of the Army's past, especially the Western Territory's past.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
'when I read the different musings on theRubicon and in other Salvation Army literature, I find myself wondering if we really know what our mission is. Do we now why we exist? Do we have a biblical understanding of what God desires of us?'Dion then goes on to answer his own question - Dion seems like an OK sort of guy but I think his answer is fundamentally flawed - what do you think?
For a balance compare Dion's view with that of Matt Kean - expressed in his excellent and refreshing article 'Our first love' found in the same journal.
Where do you stand?
Love and prayers
Monday, June 25, 2007
The penguin used to hang from the interior mirror of a car I had back in 1991. The penguin was bought for me by my son Ben (then aged 8). The penguin used to bounce up and down on elastic whenever the car went over a bump and at the same time it squeaked. The elastic has long since broken and the penguin has lost all its bounce and all its squeak. It no longer functions in the way it was designed to. It lurks away in my sock drawer kept for purely sentimental reasons.
As I packed the penguin away I thought that he kind of symbolises the way some people view their Salvationism. It is no longer functional – not even decorative – it’s simply hidden away and held onto for purely sentimental reasons.
‘Wake up O sleeper and rise from the dead and God will shine on you!’
Love and prayers
Saturday, June 23, 2007
TSA arrived in LA in 1892, this pictue must have been taken prior to 1900. It's a real wild west picture. I wonder if anyone out there can spread any further light on the photo?
If you click on the image you can see the photo full size.
Love and prayers
Thursday, June 21, 2007
"Salvationism is aclear and well-defined quality that represents distinctive features of doctrine and service which distinguish it from all other organizations and makes of it an entity entirely apart, incapable of being blended with any other people. Any attempt to harmonize it with methods employed by other religious bodies destroys its effectiveness and renders it incapable of achieving its purpose or continuing to develop its special characteristics." (Edward Higgins - When Chief of the Staff 1n 1928)
Love and prayers
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The redistribution of land from white colonists back to the indigenous population is slow - most farmland is still white-owned. The government is committed to transferring 30% of farmland to black South Africans by 2014.
South Africa has the second-highest number of HIV/Aids patients in the world. Around one in seven of its citizens is infected with HIV.
Whilst some will argue that the World Cup will do much to boost the economy will these benefits ever filter down to those in the shanty towns? The country gets richer and the gulf between rich and poor seems to increase proportionately.
Maybe Salvationists should boycott the world cup and thereby draw the world’s attention to AIDS and poverty?
Love and prayers
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
This does not meanthat we should not live in peaceful non-violent coexistence in so much as we arecalled to love others and show the world by our example that we are Christians. But it does mean that we are at war, and our war is every bit about the mind as itis about the body and soul. If the truth is offensive, then offensive we will be. This is the very essence of Christianity, a religious system based not on philosophical mush but on the historical fact of the death and resurrection of theJesus Christ. We proclaim Christ and we proclaim him crucified. Let it offend.The Salvation Army and the Christian Church will not survive the next century ifwe do not first win the battle for truth." (John Norton)
Read the whole article at JAC
Love and prayers
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Today I visited a very well known Computer store. I had gone to return a faulty keyboard and also to place an order for a laptop. The keyboard was worth about £5 the laptop a lot more (with all the accessories included).
I was served by the store manager. Out of nowhere came such rudeness – I know that in the UK we are not very good at working in service industries (the Yanks have service down to a fine art!) However, this man took rudeness to a new level. When I threatened to complain he said ‘go ahead’ when I told him that I wouldn’t shop there again he said ‘I don’t care’. He refused to replace the keyboard and consequently lost the laptop sale.
When I got home I emailed a formal complaint – the outcome is a promised £20 gift voucher (to buy a new keyboard) and a letter of apology from the man concerned.
Later in the day I felt guilty – although I had done nothing to provoke such aggressive surliness was I right to complain. As Christians where do we draw the line between letting people walk all over us and turning the other cheek?
Being ‘humble’ has an honest almost honourable ring to it but being ‘humiliated’ doesn’t – are the two words synonymous?
Answers on a postcard please.
Love and prayers
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
The comments of 'anonymous' would carry far more weight if he/she were to back up their posting with a name - however the point made is extremely valid and I am grateful to 'anonymous' for the reminder.
One thing, however - like all Salvationists and Officers there have been (and undoubtedly will be) times when I fall short of the promises contained in my covenants but there is a difference between failing, repenting and reconsecrating and deliberately breaking a promise because you think it is no longer valid or because you think the promise is wrong but do not have the courage to renounce it.
I may not always be true to the letter of my holiness manifesto but I am always true to its spirit. What would be really bad would be to attach my name to it whilst actively believing it to be wrong - that would be pointless as well as stupid.
I'm glad I published the manifesto as it will (and already has) increased my acountability.
Thanks anonymous for speaking out.
One last thing - making vows that increase our accountability to God and each other is not the same as legalism - the manifesto 'is not an attempt to earn God’s blessing but is a response to blessings already received, it is not an attempt to win ‘salvation by works’ it is a commitment to see God’s words reflected in my actions.'
Love and prayers
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
In his well known song “I renew my covenant with thee’ Will Brand asks the question – ‘have I grieved thee with an ill-kept vow?’
TSA in the UK has a hardcore clique of Officers and soldiers who are openly dismissing (in both practice and public preaching) the following Army beliefs:
- Doctrine 5 – Original sin
- Doctrine 9 – The possibility of back sliding
- Doctrine 10 – Holiness
- Doctrine 11 – The general judgment and eternal punishment of the wicked
- Officers who baptise new converts
- Corps that regularly hold what can only be described as communion services,
- Officers who question our commitment to total abstinence from tobacco and alcohol,
- Officers who only ever wear their uniform when compelled to
- Officers and soldiers who openly rebel against the instructions of their leaders in these particular areas,
Anyone who disagrees with TSA's beliefs and practices to such a degree should feel morally obligated to resign their Officership and ask for their soldiership to be cancelled. Once they are not in disagreement with the covenants they voluntarily made they are then free to fight their revolution. To be so at odds with one (and for Officers two) sacred covenants is deliberate sin and dishonours themselves, the Army and most of all God.
Broken covenants are a serious business – either keep your covenants or cancel them but please don’t compromise them – such sin in the camp merely withholds God’s blessing from the Army.
“Have I ceased from walking close beside thee?Yours set apart by God, for the Lost, IN THE ARMY!
Have I grieved thee with a well kept vow?
In my heart of hearts have I denied thee?
Speak oh speak dear Lord and tell me know.”
Monday, June 04, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
How come uniforms are so 'last century' to everyone other than new converts who can't wait to put them on!
Also pictured is my beautiful wife and soul mate Tracey!
On to the conflict...
Friday, May 25, 2007
John Harding and Andrew Skipjack have enlisted for the Salvation war.
In preparartion for the big day I have written the following song to be used during the signing of the soldier's covenant.
We will sing these words to the tune of Repton:
In faithfulness we humbly bow
Before your throne Lord Christ,
Draw close and hear our sacred vow
And may your grace accept just now
The lives we’ve sacrificed.
As soldiers we are called to fight
In this dark world of sin.
O Pentecostal flame ignite
Our lives with holy fire and light
So we will fight and win.
We’ll feed the hungry, save the lost,
The prisoner we’ll release
The poor and lame we’ll gladly host
We’ll pray and preach but love the most
Empowered by your peace
So come and seal our offering
Accept our lives we pray
As in our hearts we crown you king
And with the angels gladly sing
Of soldiers made today.
May God bless the new converts - pictures and a full report will appear here on Monday!
Love and prayers
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Our little hall was full to capacity.
We sang the following songs:
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
As for me... "I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day!" (2 Timothy 1:12)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Those arguments have been summarised and dismissed in an article by Chick Yuill in the Rubicon (for more detail and context go here)
Yuill dismisses the surpassing importance of personal holiness over and above ceremony and rite as follows:
“That line of argument—beautifully, movingly and poetically expressed by Albert Orsborne—has been that the sacramental principle is too big and too important to be limited to a ceremony and that, properly understood, the true sacrament is the fully surrendered life of the Christian… This, to me, is the Army’s position at its best. But alas, it now seems that the noble and worthy position of Orsborne and his like has been hijacked and even perverted into a rather unpleasant statement of superiority—one which not only denigrates the convictions of many sincere, seeking and troubled Salvationists, but also effectively dismisses almost the entire Christian church who do not share our position.”
I find this paragraph highly offensive to those sincere proponents of personal holiness who do not see themselves as superior to the rest of the church but sincerely and humbly believe in the “noble and worthy position of Orsborne” The Osborne position is still valid – the only reason it seems weak isn’t because it has been hijacked or perverted by those who see themselves as superior but because the demands of holiness appear unrealistic (or perhaps unpalatable) to the majority of contemporary Christians. Even if this argument was ‘perverted’ surely our responsibility toward what was once ‘a noble and worthy position’should be to reclaim it and restore it not discard it.
Chick goes on to say
“I would contend, however, that the real issue—and here I come to the heart of my argument—is not that red juice fascinates less spiritual comrades who are not sufficiently tutored in the blessing of a clean heart, but that faith in Jesus Christ as a perfectly adequate, all-sufficient Saviour does not nullify our humanity.”
I agree that holiness does not ‘nullify our humanity’; holy people remain quite capable of making mistakes and still require the grace of God to motivate and maintain their holiness. Humanity also makes us susceptible to the power of symbols and ritual. However, whilst holiness does not ‘nullify our humanity’ it does supplant our human nature by creating the image of Jesus in us.
Charles Finney used to argue that if a believer surrenders 99% of their life to God and knowingly withholds 1% their sacrifice is worthless, as the 1% withheld represents deliberate disobedience and deliberate disobedience amounts to sin. Holiness is about grace inspired and fuelled surrender – complete surrender. A completely surrendered life might well remember Christ at mealtimes (indeed at all times throughout the day!) but would have no need of a ceremony in order to remind themselves of the one to whom they have consecrated themselves and who, in return has sanctified them.
This issue is hugely important because without meeting the demands of holiness the church – let alone TSA has no future! This is why our denominational witness is so important.
As a mission we need to travel light – our job is to make converts, enrol soldiers, train evangelists, fight for social justice and help people to lead holy lives.
I have read and re-read Yuill’s article with great care, and whilst the reintroduction of the sacraments might expand or broaden our corporate and personal worship I cannot see how it could possibly make us a more effective mission.
If our mandate is still to save the maximum number of people in the minimum amount of time how would such a change help?
Surely what we ought to do is just get back to preaching the gospel, pressing for decisions, supporting converts, helping people live holy lives.
The restoration of communion (in whatever form) might make Sunday more fun for believers but do very little for the lost.
One final thing – if Salvationists feel so strongly about this issue there area plethora of evangelical churches they can join which will adequately meet their needs. For those of us committed to a non-sacramental stance there is only TSA.
Dare I say that the main reason many (not all but many) Salvationists want to see the sacraments return is because defending the Army's position becomes increasingly tiresome when they are constantly rubbing shoulders with sacramental Christians on the 'preaching circuit'. It's bad enough always having to say 'sorry I don't drink I'm a Salvationist' but at least that only usually happens in a secular environment but constantly being asked 'why don't you have communion' for some is obviously a bit wearing.
Love and prayers
If it be asked whether I mean by sanctification or a Personal Pentecost the mighty rushing wind and the tongues of fire, gifts of healing and miraculous power, I answer emphatically, "No!" But I mean the plenitude of the Holy Spirit, the filling of our hearts with the Divine love and power which results in the salvation of many souls. Thank God we may now be so filled with the Spirit, entirely sanctified, made perfect in love, and possessed with a passionate enthusiasm for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
But in order to come into the enjoyment of this glorious experience certain conditions must be met. Need I point out that God has attached conditions to the bestowal of all His great gifts, and clearly stipulates them in His Word. With these conditions we must cheerfully comply; we must add nothing to them, and take nothing from them. But as soon as we meet the conditions, God undoubtedly will fulfil His pledge. He cannot mock us. He will not go back on His own truth. He lovingly waits now to confer the infinite riches of His Holy Spirit upon His every obedient child.
But now, putting aside all preliminaries, what are the conditions with which we must comply before Jesus can baptise us "with the Holy Ghost and with Fire," and fill us with all the fullness of God. Briefly, they are these:-
1. THERE MUST BE A GENUINE HUNGERING AND THIRSTING FOR THESE GIFTS. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." This is the initial step - the cornerstone of the whole structure. No hungering, no thirsting - no filling. We may reckon positively that the Holy Ghost will never pour resurrection life and fullness into our lives until we are right dead in earnest about it, and feel we cannot live and work another day without it. Are you hungering and thirsting for this incoming? This is the first step, and we cannot take the second until we have taken this one.
2. THERE MUST BE A SPIRIT OF ABSOLUTE AND UNQUESTIONING OBEDIENCE. This was the condition attached by Christ to the bestowal of the first apostolic baptism. He commanded them “that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me" (Acts 1:4). This condition of all blessing is expressed in the words of the mother of Jesus, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it" (John2:5). The obedient alone shall eat of, the fat of the land. There must then be prompt, exact, and cheerful obedience if this gift is to be possessed.
3. THE BAPTISM MUST BE SOUGHT SOLELY FOR GOD'S GLORY. Not for my comfort, nor my joy, nor the promotion of neither my interests, nor that I may be happy. All these things will come in their natural course. One thought and purpose alone must possess and move me; "Not my glory, but His, and His alone!"
4. I MUST YIELD MYSELF UNRESERVEDLY TO GOD. I must “present” my “body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is" my "reasonable service" (Rom 12:1) “What things” are "gain unto me, these I” must count “loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I” must count “all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, and ... count them but dung.”
Another condition upon which the fullness of the Divine blessing is dependent is given in Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, If I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
See also Matthew 19:20; Mark 12:44. To yield is to possess; to lose is to find.
5. LASTLY, I MUST TAKE. One of the most significant words of the whole Bible is that little word TAKE. It is a case of "take it or leave it." You will get no more than you take. Do not remain talking about “trying” to take it. Take it! Help yourself!
The results to any company of people receiving this baptism must be similar to those produced at its first bestowal. Let us see what those first results were, and their present day analogies on our life and work.
1. THE BAPTISM QUALIFIES US FOR ATTRACTING THE CROWDS. We read that immediately after the first Pentecost, “when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together.” A house on fire always attracts a crowd, so does a man on fire. A Band or Brigade filled with the Holy Spirit and with Fire will not be long without crowds.
2. IT SETTLES THE QUESTION OF " HOW TO GET A MOVE ON - In some places the work of God may be stagnant; almost everything has been tried by way of a remedy, and yet things remain in, many instances as they were. Why not try a Pentecost? You will be certain to create a stir then. We read that when the hundred and twenty were baptised the people “were all amazed and marvelled”, they were “confounded” … "in doubt, saying to one another, what meaneth this?” (Acts 2:6-7 and 12). There is nothing like the Holy Ghost for creating interest, causing a stir, “getting a move on” among the people.
3. IT WILL SETTLE THE QUESTION OF WHAT WE ARE TO PREACH. Read Peter's sermon as recorded in Acts 2 from verse 17 to the finish of the chapter. We must give the people the pure unadulterated truth of God, without trimming or qualification, if, we want to cut men and women to the heart. There must be no withholding the sword from blood, no holding back unpalatable truths about sin or judgment or hell. The Holy Spirit will teach us to deliver “the whole counsel of God.”
4. IT WILL HELP TO SETTLE THE QUESTION OF CONVERTS STANDING. They will remain steadfast -not carried away by every wind of temptation, persecution, or false doctrine that blows. “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship." (Acts 2:42.)
5. IT WILL HELP TO SOLVE MANY DIFFICULTIES. “And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common.” They were of one heart and of one soul. Men sometimes call the sacrifices of love of that day fanaticism. Such practice is, perhaps, not possible in these days, but the spirit of it is as necessary now, as then, to the success of God's Kingdom on earth. No stingy man can have the Holy Ghost. The work of God is backward in many places, almost solely because of the stinginess of God's people. Nothing but a general and genuine Pentecost will alter such a state of things.
6. IT ALSO BRINGS CANDIDATES FOR OFFICERSHIP. “And ye shall be witnesses unto Me... Unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” A Pentecost brings men and women to that point where their highest joy is to devote all their powers to the publishing of the everlasting Gospel.
In conclusion, let me say that I believe it will help to solve all the problems connected with ourselves and the work God has given us to day. It is your high privilege, and the command of your Lord: - “Be ye FILLED with the Spirit.”