Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Negative prophecy - or message of hope?

My Isaiah word certainly seems to have stirred things up – I say ‘my’ word but I sincerely believe it came from God.

I have had some wonderfully encouraging emails and more importantly news of other prophetic words from around the world all agreeing with this and with each other.

One of the concerns registered by some on the SA IHQ forum (and in comments here) has been the validity of prophecy within the modern church and how we discern what is from God and what is merely personal opinion dressed up as prophecy.

The following definition comes from the wonderful (the amateur theologian’s best friend!) BTW the links are Wikipedia’s not mine.

“In the Bible prophecy is often referred as one of the fivefold ministries or spiritual gifts that accompany the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The five ministries being; Apostles; Prophets; Evangelists; Teachers and Pastors.(Eph. 4:11) The focus of prophecy is not just future events though, this is only part of the prophetic gifting. Prophets often brought words of comfort, exhortation or general upliftment to the Church. Paul teaches in Corinthians that it is for the benefit of the whole body. It is not meant in Christianity for believers to know the future. But it is important for God to speak to believers as he does through his prophets.”

Far too often prophetic words are see as missives of doom and gloom where as most prophetic words are (if read in context) positive.

If you went to see a Doctor and he told you that you had a particularly invasive form of cancer which threatened to kill you in 6 months you might understandably see that as negative news. However if he went on to tell you that with treatment, diet and exercise you could expect a complete cure his message (in context) would be far from hopeless.

In his first interview as General (almost a year ago to the day) Shaw Clifton said in response to the following question:

Do you have a sense of where that breaking and moulding needs to happen? What strategies do you want to use?”

"It is too early to be specific, but this High Council has mandated the next General to find appropriate, loving ways of asking The Salvation Army some fairly awkward, difficult questions. We are all exercised by the Army’s inability to grow numerically in certain parts of the world. We rejoice that in many places the Army is rapidly expanding. Globally we are bigger than ever before and getting bigger. This High Council has mandated me to ask: If God is withholding numerical growth from parts of the Army, why is that blessing withheld?Rather than discussing strategy, method, ceremony or even identity, I have a deep sense in my heart that God wants us to follow the example of the Old Testament prophets when they sensed God’s blessing was withheld. The prophets went to God’s people asking: Is there sin in the camp? Now that is a very difficult and pointed question. One has to be very tender and sensitive before even raising it but perhaps God is saying, ever so gently and ever so lovingly: I love you, Salvation Army, but would you please look within and see if there is sin in the camp, and if there is anything that causes the blessing to be withheld we must deal with it.Some issues will be personal to individual Salvationists, others will be corporate. I would like to find a way as General of being a catalyst and put that biblical question to Salvationists. We may find that as we draw nearer to him, closer to him in purity and righteousness, the blessings begin to flow where at present they sometimes appear to be withheld.”

Some might see the fact that God is withholding victory and blessing back as negative but take the General’s message in context and it becomes full of hope.

Let me reinforce what I said earlier - There is ‘sin in the camp’ (see Joshua 7 if you don’t know what this means) and this sin is holding back the growth and development of The Salvation Army. This sin (as the General states is both ‘personal’ and ‘corporate’. Failure to deal with it will result in death but earnest and sincere repentance with fasting accompanied by holiness, faith and obedience (prefect love) will result in global revival – what is negative about that?

God bless the Army!


Monday, January 29, 2007

Revival and the need for repentnance - this is positive!

An anonymous comment on my blog has asked for something positive - how about the following from the Daddy of Revivals Finney.

By Charles Finney

It presupposes that the church is sunk down in a backslidden state, and a revival consists in the return of the Church from her backslidings and the conversion of sinners.

1. The foundations of sin need to be broken up. A revival always includes conviction of sin on the part of the church. Backslidden professors cannot wake up and begin right away in the service of God without deep searchings of heart. The fountains of sin need to be broken up. In a true revival, Christians are always brought under such conviction; they see their sins in such a light that often they find it impossible to maintain a hope of their acceptance with God. It does not always go to that extent, but there are always, in a genuine revival, deep convictions of sin, and often cases of abandoning all hope.

2. Revival is a new beginning of obedience with God. Just as in the case of a converted sinner, the first step is a deep repentance, a breaking down of heart, a getting down into the dust before God, with humility, and a forsaking of sin.

3. Backslidden Christians will be brought to repentance. A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God. Just as in the case of a converted sinner, the first step is a deep repentance, a breaking down of heart, a getting down into the dust before God, with deep humility, and a forsaking of sin.

4. Christians will have their faith renewed. While they are in their Backslidden state they are blind to the state of sinners. Their hearts are hard as marble. The truths of the Bible appear like a dream. They admit it to be all true; their conscience and their judgment assent to it; but their faith does not see it standing out in bold relief, in all the burning realities of eternity. But when they enter into a revival, they no longer see "men as trees, walking," but they see things in that strong light which will renew the love of God in their hearts. This will lead them to labor zealously to bring others to Him. They will feel grieved that others do not love God, when they love Him so much. And they will set themselves feelingly to persuade their neighbors to give Him their hearts. So their love to men will be renewed. They will be filled with a tender and burning love for souls. They will have a longing desire for the salvation of the whole world. They will be in an agony for individuals whom they want to have saved--their friends, relations, enemies. They will not only be urging them to give their hearts to God, but they will carry them to God in the arms of faith, and with strong crying and tears beseech God to have mercy on them, and save their souls from endless burnings.

5. A revival breaks the power of the world and of sin over Christians. It brings them to such vantage ground that they get a fresh impulse towards heaven; they have a new foretaste of heaven, and new desires after union with God; thus the charm of the world is broken, and the power of sin overcome.

6. When the Churches are thus awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow. Their hearts will be broken down and changed. Very often the most abandoned profligates are among the subjects. Harlots, and drunkards, and infidels, and all sorts of abandoned characters, are awakened and converted. The worst of human beings are softened and reclaimed, and made to appear as lovely specimens of the beauty of holiness.

7. When a revival can be expected? A revival may be expected when Christians have a spirit of prayer for a revival. That is, when they pray as if their hearts were set upon it. When Christians have the spirit of prayer for a revival. When they go about groaning out their hearts desire. When they have real travail of soul.

I think that this is very positive - my Isaiah 1 posting was not about God destroying the Army it was about the fact that God wants to revive one of his favoured Children - God wants to know if we are up for it? Are we willing to meet the conditions he has set down for revival - he wants to revive us!

Overall the responses I have recieved would seem to suggest that we are willing and that is positive.

It would appear that we really do 'want another pentecost' and it will start when we get on our knees... and on our knees is where many of us are often found - Hallelujah!

Bring it on Lord Jesus bring it on!

Yours praying for and expecting revival!


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Two Armies?

I recently posted the Isaiah 1 prophecy on the SA International Discussion Forum and have been amazed at the reaction of some Officers.

Whilst there were some very positive comments some were extremely personal, unfounded and from a theological point of view (quite scary!)

Are we actually becoming two Armies?

One committed to pesonal holiness and winning the lost for Jesus and the other only nominally committed to these two aims?

One Officer even suggested that I should be reported to the General, TC and DC for my comments - I hope I am!

Perhaps things are worse than I ever dreamt.

Still - nothing will distract us from our goal in Christ - we remain more than conquerors.

I suppose after the name calling will come the bricks and stones for we certainly wont have revival without persecution.

Yours ready and willling

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Isaiah 58 to 61 more prophecy for TSA

In a comment on my last blog entry Aaron White responded:

"Isaiah 58 is said to be our founding charter. It might be an appropriate re-founding charter (lots of "If...then's"). I try and pray Isaiah 58 over our local expression and the larger Army everyday, believing there is a remnant of hope."

There are no verses more heavily underscored in my NIV study bible than chapters 58-61 of Isaiah. There is no room in the margins for any further handwritten comment (even though I use a drawing pen with a 0.5mm nib!)

At UK Roots last year I became convinced more than ever that these 4 chapters are central to global revival (led by God's Army - The Salvation Army - this is not denominational pride - if I could find a denomination that had a better chance of starting global revival I'd go and join it!)

These chapters make the following points which are peculiarly relevant to TSA.

Good works is the result of proper biblical faith (not the other way round!).

Loving the unloved doesn’t make me a Christian but being a proper Christian certainly makes me love the unlovable.

Proper prayer and fasting will always be hallmarked by a practical interest in social justice – holy people oppose social evil and support its victims. For example – drinking alcohol and gambling are both social evils which enslave the poor – proper holiness aggressively attacks social evils like these whilst at the same time treating its victims. Like Jesus TSA exists to ‘destroy the works of the devil’ (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Our resources must come from God and not from the state or over controlling benefactors – certainly not from downright evil sources like freemasonry. We should not always be looking to the public to fund our work – ‘God’s work done God’s way never lacks God’s resources’. This applies to physical strength and spiritual direction as much as it applies to money. (Isaiah 58:11)

Revival will include a return to basics, although God is about to do a ‘new thing’ in our midst it will not be that different in sentiment from what he has repeatedly done in the past. As a ‘wineskin’ the Salvation Army still has room to expand it doesn’t need replacing it just needs using properly. This will not mean a return to old ways but it will mean a return to old thinking – it is the sentiment and spirit of the past that we need to rediscover not necessarily the methods – however a return to open-air and other forms of pro-active evangelism will be included. (Isaiah 58:12)

Our witness must be visible as well as verbal – lifestyle will increasingly become a key issue – simplistic living (even where possible the voluntary embracing of poverty) will be integral as will personal integrity and ‘not conforming to the standards’ and values ‘of this world’. (Isaiah 58:13)

Isaiah 59 makes it quite clear that repentance, humility and real faith are essential pre-cursors to global revival. A lack of trust (verse 15), a lack of justice (verse 14) and a lack of aggressive intervention on behalf of the poor and marginalised (verse 16) are issues we need to address in this area. However if we are faithful then the revival will start among those who serve in the western territories (verse 19) but only if we repent (verse 20).

Chapter 60 shows us the revival we are being invited to be a part of will be unequalled in church history and will impact upon nominal Christians, unbelievers and disciples of other faiths – indeed converts from other faiths will become significant players (verse 10). This revival will convert important world leaders and heads of state (verse 16) and the Salvation Army will be in the vanguard. This revival will include a return to proper Arminian doctrine (justification through faith, dependence on God, the possibility of backsliding and purity, a belief in heaven and hell etc.) Central will be the rediscovery in practice of ‘Christian perfection’ (holiness). Holiness will become the norm and not only the experience of a few hardcore devotees (verse 21).

Revival (if we meet the conditions) will happen soon and be all inclusive (verse 22)

Isaiah 61 (especially verses 1-4) remind TSA that our mandate is the same as that which Christ adopted for himself. Our parish is the world (Wesley) our cathedral is the open air (Railton) and our target remains the un-churched (Booth).

The rest of chapter 61 speaks for itself.

Let’s get on our knees, let the remnant start repenting, let’s put our armour on and get on with it.

“Through the world resounding, Let the Gospel soundingSummon 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 to the fight!”

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


Friday, January 19, 2007

A prophecy for the Salvation Army from Isaiah 1

Comrades in Christ

Isaiah Chapter 1 - a prophecy for the western territories of the Salvation Army and for individual soldiers within the Salvation Army.

The following came to me today in prayer and I share it in humility – may God bless, redeem, sanctify and use the Salvation Army – Hallelujah!

“The Salvation Army is one of my favoured children. In your youth I gave you a multicoloured coat woven with a weft of marvellous signs and wonders, but over the years you have rebelled against me until you are no longer able to recognise the sound of my voice. It is bad enough when a parent and child refuse to speak but when one fails to recognise the voice of the other the situation has become tragic. I am speaking to you as much as I ever have done but you do not recognise my voice.

I am still calling you in the direction of the disenfranchised and friendless but you cannot hear me.
I will am still calling you to purity of living and holiness but you cannot hear me.
I am still calling you to stand between the oppressed and the oppressor but you cannot hear me.
I am still calling you to the mighty work of soul winning but you cannot hear me.
I am still calling you to poverty, persecution and victory but you cannot hear me.

The once covenanted warriors of my Salvation Army have become desensitised to my voice.

Like the early church you were born with a rush of Pentecostal fire and your early years were accompanied by salvation war and revival. You were persecuted because you made serious inroads into the devil’s territory and the narrow way that led to heaven was crowded with your converts. You found again the pearl of holiness and sold all that you had to possess it.

Now you have become a

“Sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! You have forsaken the LORD; you have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned your backs on him.” (Verse 4)

I have seen your suffering and I beg you to stop your wilful self-harm.

“Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted…” (Verses 5-7)

Your Corps are closing, your seats are empty, your halls are falling into disrepair and you have no money to rebuild them. Other denominations are trying to use the weapons I crafted for you – they are trying – but they are not you and their armour is ill-fitting and clumsy, they have not read the manual, they have not been properly drilled, your methods – the tactics designed for you are alien to them.

“Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.” (Verse 7)

Yet in spite of this breakdown in our relationship, in spite of your rebellion and your self-harm and poverty you continue with your religious ordinances. You march to deserted streets and preach to nobody. You feed the slave and clothe him but fail to break his chains. You polish your holiness tables but deny the possibility of purity. You hold music festivals that are nothing but concerts with an ‘amen’ at the end. You parade your good works like phylacteries ensuring that the world - along with your right hand - knows exactly what your left hand is doing. This offends me, I find it detestable, it is worse than the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah - I never asked for this.

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies.” (Verse 13)

You are praying and even fasting but I have blocked my ears – Salvation Army I am not listening to you.

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.”

Go and wash yourself, your hands are stained with blood for the road to hell is now crowded with the shuffling hopelessness of those I raised you up to save and their blood is on your hands – you think it is enough to feed them and clothe them and wash them but it is not enough. There is no greater contradiction than yours for your arrogant self obsession slaps a man on the back with a hearty ‘God bless you’ and then turns away as he falls into the fiery fissures of hell.

“Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.” (Verse 16-18)

Once you depended on me, you bought where you had no money, you attacked where you had no chance of victory and you opened fire on a wing and a prayer. Once heaven rang with the sound of your volleys and the angels wept at the audaciousness of your evangelism but now you have prostituted yourself. Now you have taken what is Caesar’s and failed to give me what is mine. You have taken Babylon’s money and bedded the heathen philanthropist. You have sacrificed your right to pray and preach for the chance to buy a building. Once you shouted ‘no compromise’ but now you are all compromise.

“See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her— but now murderers!” (Verse 21)

What is my judgement to be? How will I treat you? What is my response to your individual and corporate sin?

“Come let us reason together…”

I am looking and waiting for you. Like the prodigal I can see you now feeding on the scraps of this unclean world. It is in this mess, that you have created, that you must come to your senses. Dear Salvation Army come back to me for I have a robe and a ring and a fattened calf all waiting for you. It is time to come home!

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Verses 18-20)

I have left for myself a remnant and if they will humble themselves and identify themselves in repentance and sorrow then I will unblock my ears and clear my eyes and let the ‘revolution now begin’.

The cost is repentance.
The cost is a full renunciation of the values and standards of this world.
The cost is a new and brave exposure to total dependence upon me.
The cost is a full consecration of all you have and are to me (all I have ever asked is that you love me with all your heart, soul, body and mind – I am a jealous God and will not share your love with another!)

“I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counsellors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City." Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.”

The future of the Salvation Army will be settled in the next 10 years – it is a clear choice – repent and live or rebel and die.”

God bless you all,
Yours set apart by Christ for the lost, in the Army.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Holiness seeker's paradise

I have just come across the most fantastic website.

Here you can find literally thousands of online audio sermons from speakers like Tozer, Ravenill, Chambers, Spurgeon et al. There's even some sermons from the late great Keith Green!

You can also find videos (including some early William Booth stuff).

There are text sermons and photographs as well.

The real gold however is the audio sermons - they are all free to download and they come in mp3 format - whether your marching round the walls of Jericho or doing the ironing - whatever - download thse sermons and plug into our glorious holiness heritage.

Be inspired, be challenged, be convinced and be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect!


Yours set apart for God


Monday, January 15, 2007

Holiness, holiness everywhere!

In my devotions this morning I read the following passage from Proverbs 2:1-11
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright; he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you."

I have read these verses before but this morning I saw them in a new light. These verses are talking about holiness. When we think about holiness we (quite rightly) tend to focus on love, faith and obedience rather than knowledge and discretion.

However, look at the following two phrases:

  • "Store up my commands within you turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding”
  • “He holds victory in store for the upright; he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.”

These verses are referring to the benefits of personal holiness.

I have never come across these verses being used by any of the great holiness teachers as proof texts for the blessing of Christian perfection but that is exactly what they are.

When we “look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure” then holiness jumps out of almost every page of God’s word – Hallelujah!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Repent and surrender - there's no other way!

I have been rereading Murray's classic 'Absolute Surrender' and thought the following quote was so applicable to TSA.
"Let us bow before God in humility, and in that humility confess before Him the state of the whole Church. No words can tell the sad state of the Church of Christ on earth. I wish I had words to speak what I sometimes feel about it. just think of the Christians around you. I do not speak of nominal Christians, or of professing Christians, but I speak of hundreds and thousands of honest, earnest Christians who are not living a life in the power of God or to His glory. So little power, so little devotion or consecration to God, so little perception of the truth that a Christian is a man utterly surrendered to God's will! Oh, we want to confess the sins of God's people around us, and to humble ourselves. We are members of that sickly body, and the sickliness of the body will hinder us, and break us down, unless we come to God, and in confession separate ourselves from partnership with worldliness, with coldness toward each other, unless we give up ourselves to be entirely and wholly for God."

Love and prayers


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

God save us from managers and theorists!

A colleague sent me the following amusing story recently:

Once upon a time, a man in a hot air balloon realised that he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted. "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." The woman below replied. "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 50 and 51 degrees north latitude and between 114 and 115 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an Management Consultant," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman. "How did you know?" "Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I've no idea how to make use of your information. The fact is, I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip." The woman below responded, "You must be in management."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is, you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, you've managed to make it my fault!!"

The Salvation Army doesn't need Managers or Management Concultants it needs red hot Missionaries, it needs holy covenanted warriors who get their authority and power straight from God. Let's go back to annointed leaders and dump the secular concept of management.

Love and prayers


Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 and revival!


February 8th 2007 receive marching orders.

May 20th 2007 I will be reinstated at St Mary Cray Corps in the presence of God, family and friends – as a Salvation Army Officer!

July 25th We will move to our new appointment.

August 4th Welcome Sunday

August 5th 2007 and onwards… start the revival!

God bless The Salvation Army