Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dartford Dispatches

It’s a long time since I’ve had the time to blog.
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

A brilliant soul-saving idea!

The contemporised words of GSR (see previous blogs) have set my mind racing.

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

A

PS The picture is an early SA open air meeting in Dartford! (about 1908)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

More modernised Railton...

More from 'Heathen England in modern English - remember this is a report from 130 years go yet it could be a contemporary report looking into the reason why evangelism fails!

"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

A

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Heathen England today!

I've been updating the language in GSR's 'Heathen England' (An eye witness account of the the birth of TSA was first published in 1877). I'm hoping that the ammended text might be suitable for publication.

It is amazing just how much of what GSR reports is relevant to today - people say that the world has changed but in truth it hasn't. I was walking down Dartford High Street on Market day and the scene would have been one GSR would have recognised. Perhaps the Gin Palaces have been replaced with 'greasy spoon' cafes and amusement arcades but the place is essentially as it was 100 years ago (right down to the modern equivalent of the Pawn Shop!)

Below is a taster from the updated 'Heathen England' taken from the opening of chapter 2.

"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[1] 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.

[1] The original word here was ‘meerschaum’ which was a soft white mineral used for making pipes or cigarette holders."
love and prayers


A

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Holiness testimonies please!

I recently bumped into an Officer who was a delegate at 'Brengle' (here in the UK) some time ago but was disappointed when the teachings of Brengle were dismissed early on in the proceedings due to the fact that 'no one today testified to holiness' (as understood by Brengle).

Once again biblical standards are brought down to our miserable levels of moral ineptitude and poor performance rather than held up as an attainable goal – so let me put my neck on the line and throw out a challenge at the same time!

I am fully saved by the blood and grace of Jesus. I am saved from sin and also from sinning. I can testify that everything I have and am is fully consecrated to God. I have (in line with God’s revelation) renounced all that is sinful in my life (and doubtful) and by God’s grace I do not deliberately break any known laws of God. By God’s grace I do not sin!

I still make mistakes, I still act impulsively and I am still sometimes a little immature (especially when I play with my two little girls!) I still have to go to Christ and seek his forgiveness when these human traits make my ministry less effective than it might be but by the grace of God I do not sin.

I am not under law but under grace, I am no longer a slave to sin but I am a ‘living sacrifice’ constantly and consistently set apart for God.

I believe that the rediscovery of personal holiness and its power to deliver us from sinning (as well as from sin) will prove to be the salvation of the Salvation Army.

What about you? – do you enjoy the blessing of a clean heart? Do you walk each moment by the saviour’s side? If so then please fulfil that last condition of holiness and testify (here in the 'comments' section of this blog) to God’s power to save completely!

“Lord, give me more soul-saving love,
Send a revival from above,
Thy mighty Spirit pour.
The Army of salvation bless
With righteousness and holiness,
Pressed down and running o'er.”

Hallelujah!

A

Monday, October 08, 2007

The wonder of it all

Although only back in Officership for a few months I am consistently amazed at how tasks, which in my previous incarnation, I would have seen as a duty or even a right are now seen as an immense privilege.

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!

Hallelujah!

A

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Promoted to Glory!

Colonel Bo Brekke.

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

A






Friday, September 28, 2007

Holiness enjoyed

Oh what a wonderful, wonderful day!

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

Birthdays, bands, and reconcilliation...

On Saturday evening I attended a festival to celebrate the 85th Birthday of Ray Steadman Allen.

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

A

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The joy of collecting

I love collecting – dare I say I find it almost as fulfilling as leading somone to Christ!

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

Andrew

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"We are an Army mobilised by God!"

I recently read a really exciting account of churches working together, people getting saved, wonderful scenes of divine refreshing. However, this comment, posted by a Salvation Army Officer, had a sting in the tail. The last sentence contained the following comment "uniform is almost a thing of the past" .

On Thursday, whilst collecting in the High Street in Dartford, I had conversations with 5 drunks (all positive - though one began quite aggressively). One lady with mental health problems (who I had helped previously in the week) stood with me for 5 minutes and sang the praises of The Salvation Army. My uniform makes me visible, vulnerable and always available. I also had a conversation with a fellow minister from 'Churches together' who was out shopping; I doubt he was accosted by any drunks?

I love wearing my uniform and I am hardly ever out of it (even on those rare occasions when I limit it to a t-shirt with a red shield on it.) When I am out and about in my parish I want everyone to know who I am and what I stand for. When I pick my daughter up from school parents approach me for advice and help. The other day a man collecting trolleys in a supermarket asked me about TSA and we ended up talking about Jesus and Salvation.

People who would quickly forget me walking past their shop remember the uniform. Some people may mistake me for a traffic warden or a security guard but at least I look different and stand out. Whatever people associate the uniform with anywhere else in the country - in Dartford it is associated with practical love, evangelism and social justice. I sometimes wonder why we as an Army are so quick to surrender what other churches would quickly take up if given the chance – we have a traditional right to carry out loud and intrusive street evangelism, we are welcome in pubs and clubs with Christian tracts, we are free from the restraints of rites and ceremonies, we have a recognisable uniform.

I am all for ecumenism and I would be equally happy to be the Officer at a Salvation Army Church as I am to be an Officer at a Salvation Army Corps but please, please, please let’s not lose The Salvation Army bit. I’m happy to be a Christian, I’m blessed to belong to the body of Christ, I'm overwheled by the generosity of salvation, but I am so glad that God called to me to serve as a covenanted Officer in The Salvation Army rather than a pastor in 'Pioneer', ‘Icthus’ or the ‘New Frontiers’ (great though those churches are). Being a Salvationist for me is the icing on the cake!

We don’t need another 'Pioneer', ‘New Frontiers’ or ‘Icthus’ because we already have those effective and growing community churches within the body - but we do need a Salvation Army! We have a denominational witness to deliver to the rest of the body, we have a prophetic role to play. Let's give all we possibly can to the body and take all we need but not at the cost of diluting our own God ordained brand. Let's not forget our accountability.

Yours set apart, by Christ for the lost, in the Army
A

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Collecting ditty :-)

This week I have been collecting and collecting and collecting…
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…

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!

Love and prayers

A

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What's wrong with being a Rotarian?

What's wrong with being a Rotarian?

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.”

Incidentally O&R’s for Officers seems to recognise the need for care when joining secular clubs etc when it says in Volume 2 – Procedures, Part 9 - External Relations Chapter 1 - Governments, Public Authorities and other Agencies. Paragraph 7:

“Membership of service clubs (Rotary etc) is governed by approval from the territorial commander.”
Each to his own!

Love and prayers

A

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Stuck record...

I don't want to sound like a stuck record but...

It’s the end of week one and I can honestly say that I cannot think of anything else I would have rather do or anywhere else I would rather be than the Corps Officer of Dartford Corps.

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

For blessings which he gives me now!

My body is recovering quite well following my recent surgery. My external wound has healed exceptionally well but the internal ones will take a few more months. I go to see my surgeon a week today and hopefully he will permit me to return to light duties.

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

Nothing amazing here, no one got saved, no one received the blessing of holiness, the naked weren’t clothed nor the hungry fed but it felt so good.

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!

A

Monday, August 20, 2007

TSA and the origins of Alpha.

Check out the comment from Steve Court's non-Salvo mate here

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

A

Friday, August 17, 2007

Corps Officers - essential requirements

If there was a job description for Salvation Army Corps Officers I’d like to think the following would be listed under ‘essential requirements’
  • 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!)
Corps Officers today have immense autonomy and are largely unmonitored – this lack of accountability and increased independence is a dangerous mix which can result in incompetent leadership.

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

A

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lessons from hospital (2)

The second week of my stay in hospital I just wanted to get home and as a result was terrified of getting any kind of infection. So… when the elderly man in the bed next to me began to throw up (obviously in some distress) I turned up ‘The Singing Company’ on my Ipod and tried hard to ignore his retching.

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

A

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lessons from the knife!

Well I’m back from hospital…

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.

Lesson 1:
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.

Lesson 2:
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

A

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wounded in action!

In about two hours time I am going into hospital for major gastric surgery. This procedure is to correct/modernise a procedure I had done about 15 years ago. It isn't a 'quantity of life' issue but it is a 'quality of life' issue and to ensure that it doesn't become the former it has to be done. It is unpleasant surgery and I probably wont be properly concious again until Friday. The surgery requires a two week stay in hospital and then a four week convalescent period.

To say that this is frustrating right at the start of our tour of duty in Dartford is an understatement! However, we have always found that God's timing is perefect and I woke up this morning with the band piece 'constant trust' playing in my head - 'Trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus', 'The cross is not greater than his grace' etc.

Uncharacteristically, I am quite scared about this procedure (maybe because I have undergone similar surgery before) but my faith is strong.

My CSM said to me last night on the phone - 'You're a good man and definitely destined for glory but not yet - please Lord' - I heartily hope so (on both counts!)

Obviously I will be absent from blog land for a few weeks!

Thank you in adavance for your prayers.
Yours set apart by Christ
A

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Soldier rouse thee!

A week today we will lead the forces of good stationed at Dartford against the forces of darkness in that area. We go with absolute confidence because :–

“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,

God and fiends are battle waging—

Every ransomed pow’r engaging,

Break the tempter’s spell.

Dare ye still lie fondly dreaming,

Wrapt in ease and worldly scheming,

While the multitudes are streaming

Downwards into hell?


Through the world resounding,

Let the gospel sounding,

Summon all, at Jesus’ call

His glorious cross surrounding.

Sons of God, earth’s trifles leaving,

Be not faithless but believing,

To your conquering Captain cleaving,

Forward in the fight.


Lord, we come, and from Thee never

Self nor earth our hearts shall sever;

Thine entirely, Thine forever,

We will fight and die.

To a world of rebels dying,

Heav’n and hell and God defying,

Everywhere we’ll still be crying,

“Will ye perish—why?”


Hark! I hear the warriors shouting,

Now the hosts of hell we’re routing;

Courage! Onward! Never doubting,

We shall win the day.

See the foe before us falling,

Sinners on the Saviour calling,

Throwing off the bondage galling—

Join our glad array.

Yours set apart by Christ, in the Army, for the lost


A

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Millions will consider Jesus next year ...

Millions will consider Jesus next year …

The BBC plan to show peak time half hour episodes of the whole passion narrative after EastEnders throughout Holy Week in 2008.

The intention is to be as accurate as possible to the Biblical narratives and include the Resurrection and appearances on Easter day. The purpose will be to retell the great story as it has been written, so many will ask questions.

Now is the time when the church can pray for the production team headed by Nigel Stafford-Clark, and provide a positive voice for the BBC. It will also be a major evangelistic opportunity that needs some careful thought, prayer and planning. What an opportunity for millions to consider Jesus. How can we respond?

Do pass around your networks so as many people as possible know that this is on the horizon. I understand the pod cast of the session will be on http://www.churchesmediacouncil.org.uk/ sometime next week.

Love and prayers


A

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Spot the difference?

158 years ago yesterday (July 6th) George Scott Railton was born. 46 years ago, yesterday, I was born. I must admit that I like having the same birthday as the founder of primitive Salvationism.
However, sadly, we have little else in common. The main difference between us is that Railton lived out the beliefs that I (at present) merely aspire to.

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!’

A

Friday, June 29, 2007

Joshua the reinstated priest... The video!

The following link will take you to a video recording of the sermon, I preached at my reinstatement as an Officer. Have a quick look because it took ages to work out how to do this.

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

A

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thanks Clinton Trimmer

A couple of days ago I published the picture (left) and asked if anyone could shed any light on it. Rob Reardon put me in touch with the wonderful Clinto Trimmer who came up with the following:

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.

Thank you Clinton

Love and prayers

A

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

To save or not to save?

Over at The Rubicon, Dion Oxford, says that...

'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

A

Monday, June 25, 2007

Penguins with no bounce or squeak...

Packing enables us to discover things we either forget we had or thought we had lost. The other day in my sock drawer (where I keep all kinds of miscellany) I came across a small stuffed penguin wearing a Father Christmas hat!

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

A

Saturday, June 23, 2007

California dreaming...

I love this photograph. According to the drum its the first California Corps (what fantastic faith - Corps were numbered even when they only had one!).

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

A

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A peculiar people!

A great blast from the past and as true today as it ever was...

"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

A

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

World Cup Woe!

In 2004 when South Africa landed the 2010 World Cup, it estimated that costs would be around $300 million. Today, the organizing committee reports it is going to cost $1.5 billion to host a one month long football competition. That is merely five times the original estimate!

South Africa, a poor country by anyone’s standards is spending quite a bit of money building new stadiums, a questionable move considering how these stadiums end up largely redundant when all the fans go home.
Despite being Africa's superpower (having the continent's biggest economy, strong financial and manufacturing sectors, rich mineral resources and a strong tourist industry) many South Africans remain poor and unemployment is high.

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

Positive aggression!

"Aggressive Christians are going to have to take a stand against this creepingsecularism. Already it has a stronghold in the Christian community, and I fear, in The Salvation Army itself. There is a difference between right and wrong, truthand lies. There is a heaven to be won and a hell to be shunned. The gospel isright and all other religions are wrong. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. There is no compromise.

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

A

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Negative Aggression!

Where does negative aggression come from?

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

A

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Letter from the devil

Someone emailed me this the other day - I thought it was worth passing on...

Letter From the Devil

Hi - I saw you yesterday as you began your daily chores. You woke up and without kneeling to pray went straight into the day. As a matter of fact, you didn't even say grace before your meals, or pray before going to bed last night. You are so ungrateful, I like that about you.


I cannot tell you how glad I am that you have not changed the way you live - you are mine. Remember, you and I have been going steady for years and I still don't love you yet. He kicked me out of heaven, and I'm going to use your life as long as you let me to pay him back. You see, Fool, GOD LOVES YOU and HE has great plans in store for you. But you have given your life to me, and I'm going to make your life a living hell. That way, we'll be together forever. This will really hurt God. Thanks to you, I'm really showing Him who's boss in your life with all of the good times we've had. Your day is crammed full of TV, football, cinema, DVDs, church politics - thank you for not having any time left for loving the lost.


We have been having a great time together cursing people, stealing, lying, being hypocritical, fornicating, overeating, telling dirty jokes, gossiping, being judgmental, back stabbing people, disrespecting adults, and those in leadership positions, no respect for the Church, bad attitudes. I'm so glad you don't want to give all this up. Come on, let's burn together forever. Oh, and by the way - thanks for not believing in me and judgement and all that stuff it makes life so much easier! I've got some hot plans for you. I'f I'm going down I'm going to take as many of you with me as I can.
This is just a letter of appreciation from me to you. I just wanted to say "THANKS" for letting me use you for most of your foolish life. You are so gullible, I laugh at you. When you are tempted to sin, you give in HA HA HA, you make me so happy. Instead of pursuing holiness you discredit it and laught at those who think it's the only way out - I just love the way you think that sin is inevitable - who'd have thought I could have pulled that one off!
Sin is beginning to take it's toll on your life. You look 20 years older, and now, I need new blood. So go ahead and teach your children how to sin. All you have to do is smoke, get drunk, cheat, gamble, gossip, fornicate, and live as selfish a life as you can . Do all of this in front of your children and they will do it too. Kids are like that.

Well, I have go for now. I'll be back in a couple of seconds to tempt you again. If you were smart, you would run somewhere, confess you sins, live for God with what little bit of life that you have left. It's not my nature to warn anyone, but to be your age and still sinning, it's becoming a bit ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I still hate you.


Yours eternally - the devil


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Anonymous hits the nail on the head!

In my previous post I mentioned the deliberate sin that is committed by those (Officers and soldiers) who try and serve God with deliberately broken vows.

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

A

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Officers and soldiers who 'grieve' God...

'Have I grieved thee with an ill kept vow?'

Every Salvationist publicly states at the time of their enrolment that they ‘believe and will live by the truths of the word of God expressed in The Salvation Army's eleven articles of faith.’ In addition every soldier solemnly declares that they “will be true to the principles and practices of The Salvation Army, loyal to its leaders, they will show the spirit of Salvationism whether in times of popularity or persecution.”

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
In addition we have:

  • 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,
Under the guise of post modernism, cultural relevance, free expression and intellectual freedom these Officers and soldiers are all attempting to serve God ‘with an ill kept vow’ for they are living lives completely at odds with the two covenants mentioned above.

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?
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.”
Yours set apart by God, for the Lost, IN THE ARMY!

AJB
PS - the photo is a 'stock image' from IHQ and not a renegade Lieut-Colonel weeping over a broken covenant (at least not as far as I know!)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Make a date... Now!

I have recently encountered quite a few people who have heard the call to become Salvation Army Officers. Some of them have even gone so far as to contact their local Candidate's department. They have announced their intent by way of testimony, some have even blogged it on the internet.

However (with the exception of one of them) they have all failed to specify a date! If God has called you to full time covenanted ministry as a Salvation Army Oficer then don't delay make a date today. Get your calendar off the wall, get your diary off the shelf, get your IPAQ out of your briefcase and make a date!!!

If you don't make a date now then before you know where you are you'll be surrounded by a whole host of attractice and logical reasons why becoming an Officer is impossible.

'Come join our Army and make no delay the time for enlisting is passing away'

'Not called' did you say? 'Not heard the call', I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible and hear him bid you go.' William Booth.

Yours set apart for the lost, in the Army

A




Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Onward Christian soldiers!

Andrew Skipjack wanted to join a church and as he doesn’t drink alcohol decided to try the Army – finding a very warm welcome at St Mary Cray he decided to stay. On Sunday Andrew was enrolled as a Senior Soldier. At the same time John Harding was also enrolled, John came to the Army from the Baptist church feeling called to continue his Christian service in the ranks of the Army. Andrew (left) and John (right) were enrolled on Sunday resplendent in their new uniforms.

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...

A

Friday, May 25, 2007

Reinforcements now appearing...

This Sunday sees the enrollment of two new soldiers at St Mary Cray - Hallelujah!

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

A

Sunday, May 20, 2007

'Tis done the great transaction's done!

Today I was reinstated as a Captain in The Salvation Army by my Divisional Commander Major Anthony Cotterill.

Our little hall was full to capacity.

We sang the following songs:

Army of Salvation, Army of the Lord!
I have no claim on grace.
All my work is for the Master.
I believe we shall win!
By the love that never ceased to hold me.
I'll go in the strength of the Lord!

Anthony presented me with a new Commission signed by John Matear (TC) and a new covenant which I signed at the penitent form. My Father in law offered a prayer, as did Paul du Plessis and Carol Young shared a bible reading.

My 8 year old daughter Bethany prayed the prayer that everybody else wanted to (but didn't have the courage to) when she said "Dear God please make sure my Daddy doesn't walk away from you again!"

I preached on Zechariah 3:1-7 - the reinstatement of the fallen priest Joshua.

Commissioner Denis Hunter (British Commissioner when I was a Cadet 25 years ago) was the first to come to the penitent form in reconsecration, then Majors Alan & Carol Young (sessional mates of mine) followed by my eldest daughter Caitlin (20). Then our Corps Secretary came forward, then my older sister, then my two sister-in-laws (who were reconciled at the conclusion of the meeting after two years of not speaking to each other).

God was glorified and the angels rejoiced in heaven!

We had 60 people stay for dinner after the meeting.

On the way out of the hall Comissioner Hunter said "Sock it to 'em when you get to Dartford Andrew!" - By God's grace we will.

Tomorrow I'm off to Sunbury Court for a 4 day conference and then next Sunday (Pentecost!) my first duty as a new Captain will be to enroll two new soldiers (and their not transfers from the YP Corps!)

God bless The Salvation Army!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A rose by any other name...

Shakespeare asked (via Juliet) "What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet..."

Just wanted to say that this Sunday I will be reinsated as an Officer in The Salvation Army, my commission will be to preach Salvation and teach Holiness. I will sign a covenant which will be an extension to my Articles of War.

If I am obedient, faithful and believing then God will bless my endeavours with Revival.

Please feel free to replace any of the above words with ones of your own choice as long as they mean the same thing!

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)
Love and prayers

A

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Yuill tidings, old chestnuts and holiness!

The arguments set forward by TSA for remaining non-sacramental have, over the years, been well presented and are well known.
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

A

Entire Sanctification by Commissioner T McKie (1907)

The following article is reprinted from The Bandsman and Songster October 26th 1907.

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.

THE CONDITIONS

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!"

ENTIRE SURRENDER.

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.

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.)

DIFFICULTIES SOLVED.

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.”