Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rest that’s an order!

December is the CO's busiest month! Add to that the complication of a death in the family and one of my children admitted to hospital and the limited time in one's meagre allowance of hours is quickly eaten up. If the early Salvationists had a failing (and they hadn't many!) it was their inability to rest. In the 1880's to rest in the Salvation War was seen as cowardice and neglect of one's duty. The primitive's attitude to rest can be summed up in the following verse written by Horatius Bonar in 1843:

"Go, labour on: spend, and be spent,
thy joy to do the Father's will:
it is the way the Master went;
should not the servant tread it still."


Look at the following quote from O&R's for Field Officers (1908) on the subject of holidays (which were only really permitted where ill-health demanded it):


"The Army does not allow Officers to be absent from their duty merely for pleasure or recreation. The field Officer who could contemplate spending his time for personal pleasure would prove thereby that he had lost the spirit of the war – if he had ever possessed it!"


And again later in the same chapter:


"When on furlough the FO must not take part in such sight-seeing, pleasuring or amusement, or anything else as is unseemly for an Officer. Things may be lawful for others which are not so for him."


It is quite clear that such an attitude to rest was not only foolish but it was in direct conflict with the instruction of God (as set out in scripture) and against the example of Christ who knew the benefits of contemplative rest.


To resist the natural urge to rest is (according to God) as sinful as adultery, murder, lying or worshipping idols. When we break the command to rest we take ourselves outside the providential care of God (as we do every time we sin).


This disregard for rest among our forbears resulted in many of them (Booth and Railton included) being disabled for long periods (sometimes months at a time) as a consequence of complete physical and mental breakdown.


2008 has been a busy year – September to December has been particularly busy. I am on furlough until Monday January 5th (apart from Sundays of course) and I intend to rest, enjoy myself, play with my children, ride my bike, watch football on TV, walk and generally do nothing. On Monday 5th I will re-enter the fray, batteries recharged, armour polished and all guns blazing. As far as the Salvation War goes the next few days are the equivalent to a homeland pass. The war goes on but for me there is time for a short break.


Of course I will still pray and read my bible and by God's grace live a life of holiness - if the call comes I will be ready to return to the front (if and when my help is requested) but it is my intention (circumstances willing) to rest.


I need not feel guilty and the battle will not suffer by my absence – the command to retreat comes not from me but from my Commander-in Chief.


Grace and prayers, A.

P.S. The picture's not me!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

So here it is...

Gifts!

What do we do with them? Love them, loathe them, exchange them, treasure them... give them away again as a gift to someone else?

What makes for a perfect gift?

The quality of a gift depends upon three key factors:

How well does the giver know us?

How much does the giver love us?

What resources does the giver have at their disposal?

A combination of perfect knowledge, absolute love and unlimited resources results in the gift of all gifts!

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Romans 5

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Ephesians 3

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Infinite knowledge, infinite love and infinite resources – the incarnation – the gift of all gifts!

Have an excessively happy Christmas and a peaceful and successful New Year.

Grace and peace, A,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two things...

First of all another great quote from O&R's for Field Officers (Corps Officers) 1908:

"No duty that the F.O. has to discharge in the whole course of the War is of greater importance than that he shall be ready to give an answer, clear, positive, and confident, to the question which will be so often put in his hearing or proposed to him personally, "what must I do in order to be holy?"

Secondly, some New Year's resolutions...

I once saw a poster outside a church in September which said 'Worship Jesus now and avoid the Christmas rush!' I thought I'd apply the same logic to New Year's resolutions and make them now and avoid the rush on the 31st!

I'm so bad at keeping the promises I make to myself that I'm not going to list my resolutions – although I might blog them in six months (if I've managed to keep them!)

However, there is one resolution I will share.

In 2009 I am going to make holiness my first object in life. I am going to take it apart, study every component, put it back together again, fully understand it, experience it, share it, preach it, teach it and by God's grace live it!

2009 must be the year when I begin to permanently live 'beyond the brook'.

Holiness will prove to be the salvation of The Salvation Army and those of us who consider ourselves to be salvation soldiers must live, eat and breathe holiness.

Jesus, thy fullness give,

My soul and body bless;

Cleanse me from sin that I may live

The life of holiness.


 

In white, in white, walking in white;

He makes me worthy through his blood

To walk with him in white.


 

With full salvation might,

My heart and mind make strong;

Help me to live and do the right

And part with all that's wrong.


 

Give me full joy and peace,

Eternal inward rest

Lead me to Calvary's holy feast,

There let my soul be blest.


 

Saved from the power of sin,

Kept by thy grace secure,

Let all without and all within

Be pure, as thou art pure.


 

William James Pearson (1832-92)

Grace and peace, A.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Uninterrupted victory over sin!

I came across this great quote the other day in the 'Orders and Regulations for Field Officers' (1908 edition):-

"Holiness is not an end of war with outward sin but a career of uninterrupted victory over it."

Isn't that a fantastic statement!

We should make 2009 the year of holiness.

Next year's Salvation Army Officer Cadet Session is called 'The ambassadors of holiness' so let's declare 2009 the year of holiness too.

15 years ago when I first got saved I hardly ever heard holiness mentioned but its status has been steadily increasing among Salvationists in the years since then – especially in the last decade.

What is holiness? It's not about asceticism, it's not about Puritanism, it's not about isolation – it's simply about supernatural victory over sin.

What is the central ingredient of Christmas?

When you consider the incarnation, the visit of the shepherds, the loyalty of Joseph, the obedience of the kings – what is the common denominator? The answer is the supernatural power of God.

What makes holiness possible? The answer is the same – the supernatural power of God.

When the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary the result was Christ – the most perfect and comprehensive expression of God's love there could ever be.

When the Holy Spirit descends upon us and we cry out with the same faith and courage as Mary did and say with absolute surrender 'let it be done to me as you have said' then Christ is born in us – 'Christ in us the hope of glory'!

Let's preach holiness.

Let's teach holiness.

Let's expect holiness.

Let's experience holiness.

For without it none of us will ever see God!

Grace and peace, A

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Help needed!

I need help!

A while ago under clear conviction from God I surrendered certain things within my life. Among these consecrated items were caffeinated coffee and football (watching not playing!)

I have no doubt whatsoever that these acts of surrender were done in obedience to God and the conviction that drove me was inescapable.

Now here's my dilemma…

Having been obedient recent events and new revelation seem to be suggesting that I can have some of these things back.

I've felt the spirit warning me against adopting a kind of puritanical self-righteousness which could turn me into - at best a kill-joy and at worst a man who rejects pleasures and joys which God intended to be part of 'life in all its fullness'.

Football is immoral for oh so many reasons – gambling, players wages, participation on a Sunday and so I could go on. However I don't think anyone is going to go to hell because they watch football – if they are then my DC (Chelsea) my Divisional Director for Evangelism (Chelsea) and our current General (Spurs) are in need of our urgent prayers.

Coffee is also dangerous on many fronts – it's an addictive drug, its production has implications for social justice (unless it's fair trade) and it is (if it comes via Starbucks) expensive.

However, refusing coffee and asking for water in itself can draw attention to one's advanced spirituality and become a source of pride. In addition, recently both coffee and the coffee house (especially for teetotallers) have become the hub of the social wheel – coffee is the oil that seems to lubricate the wheels of the contemporary church.

So where do I go from here?

Of course holiness is much more than just a tick list of things we should give up. Holiness is a balance between self denial and accepting what's 'put before you' and not calling 'unclean' what God calls clean. Christianity is also a celebration of life set free from the restraints of legalism – we are not under law but under grace!

At the end of the day doesn't a 'fasted lifestyle' have to be a reflection of Christ's presence within us rather than a puritanical legalism we force upon ourselves?

I want to do what's right and not what I think is right especially if my self denial is potentially an affront to God's generosity and a possible area for pride in my relationships with others?

What should I do?

I'm certainly not prepared to go to hell or minimise the effectiveness of my mission for the sake of a double espresso and a game of football but perhaps Christ's injunction to be 'in the world but not of it' means I have a responsibility to engage in the community in which I'm called to serve (within – of course- the confines of obvious morality).

What would Jesus do?

Probably drink coffee and watch football – he was, after all, described as a 'glutton and a drunk' – one thing is certain however, he would have refused the legalistic approach of the Pharisees and sought to reflect the love of God in every environment in which he placed himself.

Maybe football and coffee are in themselves possible avenues to effective evangelism, maybe they are both ok in moderation.

As Idols they would have to be demolished but if they are no more than aids to legitimate relaxation and socialising maybe they're OK?

I'm genuinely not simply trying to rationalise here, this is a serious dilemma. We are all on a steep learning curve and God's revelation changes direction at his will – for coffee and football read Isaac!

Maybe God is looking for unconventional Christians – Christians who drink coffee, watch football, have tattoos and piercings but only in strict accordance with the freedom he gives us – I've no desire for a a tattoo or a piercing but I can see that in certain communities having them might actually help.

Does any of this make sense or I am just looking for excuses?

Answers please…

Grace and peace, A


 


 

 

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life, love and death...

Tracey’s Mum is dying in hospital. Promotion to glory is probably hours away rather than days. Although she has been unwell for some time the end, as is so often the case, has come somewhat suddenly. The whole situation has set a series of confusing and complicated thoughts racing through my mind. Partly because I will miss Lola, partly because it is distressing to see Tracey upset and partly because the 25 year anniversary of my brother’s death was only 3 days ago.

If it was me lying in bed surrounded by angels eager to lift me to heaven what would I be thinking? I can only assume that God in his mercy encourages the dying to look forward rather than back if heaven is, as the bible says, a tearless place. However, in those brief momentary lapses when I would slip back into the physical realm I imagine that regret would be my principle thought. The things I hadn’t done, said, sacrificed, achieved or completed would fill my mind.

Tracey’s Mum passed away as I was typing these words – I’ve just had a phone call. She died at 10:20pm.

Death focuses the mind in a way that nothing else can. It forces us to review our own priorities and demands that we put our own house in order. It asks the question and insists upon an answer – what matters most?

It is not what I do or say, it is not what I surrender or embrace – it is about where I am - for it is only by abiding in Christ that I can be certain that my life meets with the Father’s approval. To love God with all my heart is all that matters.

Usually, Albert Osborn, Herbert Booth, John Gowans or Charles Wesley has a word for such occasions – in this case the prize goes to Osborn:

I must love thee, love must rule me,
Springing up and flowing forth
From a childlike heart within me,
Or my work is nothing worth.
Love with passion and with patience,
Love with principle and fire,
Love with heart and mind and utterance,
Serving Christ my one desire.

All that matters is the quality and quantity of time I spend in God’s presence – externals are unimportant it is the transactions that take place within that matter not those that occur without. It is only when we truly love God that we can even begin to obey his commandments.

May God forgive me for trying to build a kind of ‘bolt on’ Christianity and may he help me to draw closer to him, to die to self, to live life abundantly and to act in full accordance with his will motivated and empowered by nothing other than his love.

Grace and peace, A.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'd forgotten how life used to be without the Internet!

For about a week now we've had no internet connection at home and we have all been lost!

Xander can't vlog, the girls can't do their home work, Tracey can't play 'word twist' on Facebook and I've just had to do 11 entries in my 'Soldier's Guide' blog.

The internet is the source of so much information - train times, admission prices, stock availability - you name it - where do we turn first in 2008? The world wide web.

Imagine what life would be like without the Holy Spirit!

Christian's can't function without the annointing - they might look the part, they might be the shiniest motor in the showroom - but like a brand new Rolls Royce or Ferrari - they're not going anywhere unless they've got fuel.

Why do we try and live without the Spirit? Probably because 'maintaining contact with the life giver' takes effort, sacrifice and discipline.

I've missed the Internet but I don't need it - I can survive without it. But oh how I need the company and constant inner presence of the Spirit!

Spirit divine, come as of old
With healing in thy train;
Come, as thou did’st, to sanctify;
Let naught of sin remain.

Come, great Spirit, come,
Make each heart thy home;
Enter every longing soul;
Come, great Spirit, come.


Spirit divine, purge thou our hearts,
Make us to understand
Thy blessèd will concerning us,
And teach us love’s command.

Spirit divine, cleanse thou our souls
With pentecostal flood;
Breathe into us the life that shows
The Father-love of God.

Grace and peace, A

Sunday, November 16, 2008

May this solemn consecration...

I have had a very good week!

I'm experienced enough to know that life – even the life of a Christian – is full of ups and downs; however, I believe the quality of my week (not my circumstances but my awareness of God) has been a reflection of the seriousness of my consecration. It's early days – and like Fletcher of Madeley – I have lost this blessing on many occasions; even so, there is a deep confidence and sense of security within me. I have not found my 'fasted' lifestyle a problem, indeed it has been quite a liberating and refreshing experience. I have had a good week and an excellent Sunday – which could be summed up by what the songbook used to call 'holiness enjoyed'!

As for this week and the week after and the 'rest of my days' I will trust God and by his grace remain obedient. I will do my utmost to keep my Christian walk in step with the ever increasing clarity of the revelation of his will. I am in a safe place. Like a 'Tommy' tucked away in his underground bunker in the Great War – the shells seem to be exploding above me and the most damage they do is cause my candle to flicker. Of course I must spend time in the trenches if the front is to advance but only a fool would choose to return anywhere but here when the push is over.

My song for now and the future is a simple one.

"May this solemn consecration
Never once forgotten be;
Let it know no alteration,
Registered, confirmed by thee.
Thine I am, O Lord, forever,
To thy service set apart;
Suffer me to leave thee never,
Seal thine image on my heart."

Set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army!

Love and prayers

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Holiness as it happens…

In May 2006 God called me to a very clear and specific lifestyle. I believe it was the 'fasted lifestyle' that Court and Munn refer to in their excellent book 'The Uprising'. It was the lifestyle alluded to in Booth's vision. It was the same lifestyle reflected in the life of St Francis and George Scott Railton. It is a lifestyle that it is completely and utterly absorbed by God and totally lost in his love.

May God forgive me for the length of time I have spent prevaricating over this clear and concise call.

Talk about vacillating – my life - since receiving this call, has been a rollercoaster of commitment, obedience and victory followed by the plummeting and hellish compromise that is always the ultimate consequence of disobedience. I have lost count of the number of times I have blogged about being 'in a corner'!

Tonight, in my study, I engaged in the most titanic struggle with the evil one. How he longs to cling to my life and retain lordship… all he needs is a 'foothold'. Like the rich young ruler I could excel in righteousness to the point of lacking just one thing – but my failure to surrender that one thing would be all Satan needs to retain ownership. I cannot say that the battle is won for I feel that these deep-seated and battle hardened monsters will not leave simply because of a few words. They need to see 'fruit that proves my repentance'and by God's grace they will!

We stumble not over the 'sinful things' but over the 'doubtful things'. I am fed up of stumbling! I am not on this planet for me; my object in life is not to fulfil my own ambitions but to be a tool in God's hands for him to do with as he pleases!

My life, thoughts, hopes, influence, words, money, time, resources, passion – these things are mine to do with as I see fit. I have just two choices (for those spiritual powers who battle for my soul will not allow me to retain rights of ownership) – I either commit myself fully and unreservedly to God or I slip into the hand of the enemy. In war one cannot hope to survive for very long in no man's land!

How can I possibly refrain from making the commitment that God so obviously requires?

I here and now renew the promises I made in my Soldier's covenant and in my Officer's covenant and I add to those solemn undertakings a commitment my own God-given holiness manifesto.

I do this because I must, because I have no option, because I am compelled by God's love and all of heaven's might.

It is quite literally 'holiness or hell' not just for me but for the thousands of people that God longs to reach through me.

I sincerely ask those who know me, either via the internet, or personally to keep me accountable to these promises and challenge me whenever it seems evident that I am slipping into the comfortable arms of second-rate consecration.

Love and prayers

A

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I miss my time with you...

Tracey (my wife) is one of the most sensible people I know. She doesn't just possess common sense but she possesses a kind of 'spiritual' common sense.

Recently she's been talking a lot about Sabbath rest – not a puritanical, legalistic attitude towards Sunday – but a belief that God created us with an inbuilt need to rest. Not just an extra hour in bed – but quality time set aside just to sit at the feet of Jesus, waiting for him to speak.

I agree with her completely in theory but when it comes to the practice... I must admit that I don't really know how to rest. I am very much a Martha and not very often a Mary.

The following song keeps on cropping up in my head:

"There he was just waiting, in our old familiar place
An empty spot beside him, where once I used to wait
To be filled with strength and wisdom for the battles of the day
I would have passed him by again if I didn't hear him say...

I miss my time with you those moments together
I need to be with you each day and it hurts me when you say you're too busy
Busy trying to serve me but how can you serve me when your spirit's empty
There's a longing in my heart wanting more than just a part of you it's true
I miss my time with you

What do i have to offer how can I truly care my efforts have no meaning
When your presence isn't there but you will provide the power
If I take time to pray I'll stay right here beside him and you will never have to say...

I miss my time with you those moments together
I need to be with you each day and it hurts me when you say you're too busy
Busy trying to serve me but how can you serve me when your spirit's empty
There's a longing in my heart wanting more than just a part of you it's true
I miss my time with you


Enough said!


Love and prayers A

Thursday, November 06, 2008

47 and counting…

What do Barack Obama and Andrew Bale have in common?

We are both 47.

There are probably other commonalities but our age is probably the most obvious.

This week I visited a Salvationist who is dying. She is still alert mentally and is aware that 'soon and very soon' she 'is going to see the king'.

Add to all of this the fact that this Sunday, in the UK, is Remembrance Sunday and it all adds up to an emotional and demanding mid life crisis.

Barack Obama is President elect of the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world. At 47 I think he can be content that he has used his allotted time (to date) wisely.

The lady I visited, whether or not she has used her allotted time wisely, has no time left to make a significant impact. If she has allowed the 'locusts' to consume any of her years then there is probably insufficient time for God to do much restoring!

Getting to 47 has not taken a long time! It seems like only yesterday that I was a teenager (indeed, it is only recently that I have actually accepted that I am no longer 'young'). I am, whether I like it or not, a middle-aged man! If my years match those allotted by the bible then I only have another 23 to go!)

William Booth was 49 when The Christian Mission changed its name to The Salvation Army, and as a commissioned Officer in the Salvation Army, I have substantially greater resources and opportunities at my disposal than he had in 1878. Maybe there is a possibility that God has not finished with me yet and through his grace and power, the years ahead can make a significantly greater impact for the kingdom than those that I have already spent.

Of course, any future harvest (as with all God's promises) is conditional and with all these thoughts floating around, I woke up this morning with the following words ringing in my head from 1 Corinthians 13:

"11 When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."

At the ripe old age of 47 think it is probably time to grow up!

Love and prayers A


 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Remember, Remember…

Terrorism inspired by religious bigotry has been around a long time...

Remember, remember the Fifth of November
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,

I can think of no reason,
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgotGuy Fawkes,
Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer.


A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. Catesby felt that violent action was warranted. Indeed, the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists.


To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder - and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords.


But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack, including some people who even fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th. Was the letter real?


The warning letter reached the King, and the King's forces made plans to stop the conspirators. Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed.

It's unclear if the conspirators would ever have been able to pull off their plan to blow up the Parliament even if they had not been betrayed. Some have suggested that the gunpowder itself was so old as to be useless. Since Guy Fawkes and the other conspirators got caught before trying to ignite the powder, we'll never know for certain.

Even for the period which was notoriously unstable, the Gunpowder Plot struck a very profound chord for the people of England. In fact, even today, the reigning monarch only enters the Parliament once a year, on what is called "the State Opening of Parliament". Prior to the Opening, and according to custom, the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster. Nowadays, the Queen and Parliament still observe this tradition.

On the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.

Love and prayers to all people everywhere – whatever their creed, colour or country!

A

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Stop Press - Prostituted people beyond forgiveness!

There has always been a strong traditional belief that the 'woman caught in adultery' in John 8 was a prostituted person; it's a theory that makes sense, the men who used her to prove a theological point knew where to find her and knew exactly what she would be doing. In addition there is no man on hand to protest her innocence or offer any protection.

This encounter is well known but there is a deeply significant theological point made here - this woman is beyond forgiveness. That is not to say she cannot be forgiven but that Jesus (in his wisdom) says she doesn't need it!

Look at what passes between them:

"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

She doesn't need forgiveness because Jesus refuses to condemn her!

Someone who is fighting against human trafficking and is especially involved in helping prostituted people really ought to pick this up and run with it!

Along with abused children, prostituted people are the victims of the most gross moral and social injustice - taken (often) against their will and forced (even if only by circumstance) to 'service' the whosoever.

When you and I were thrown at the feet of Jesus he forgave us - hallelujah!

When the prostituted woman was thrown at his feet he refused to condemn her - that's significant!

Who said Jesus doesn't have favourites!

Love and prayers A

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why should the devil have all the best pumpkins!

In the powerful name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth; who died and rose again and who now lives; seated at the right hand of God the Father - in his powerful name I stand against the 'principalities and powers, the rulers of this dark world' and I rebuke them and bind them up with chains forged in the precious blood of the lamb.
I command them to go to the place that has been prepared for them and to leave my heart, mind, body, soul and any sphere of influence they may have over me or my family. In the almighty name of Jesus Christ I forbid any demon, evil spirit or stronghold to have any power or influence over my life or the lives of my family. I remind those that dwell in the spiritual realms that 'no weapon formed against me can prosper' I remind them that 'he who is for us is greater than he who is against us' and that 'the battle is the Lord's!'

I pray that the same Holy Spirit who led Christ to victory at Calvary and who subsequently led Satan captive in triumph through the heavens would move today in the town of Dartford and beyond, I pray that dear Holy Spirit you will send ministering angels to confuse and negate the work of Satan and all who serve him.

I wash myself, my home, my family, my hall, my car and my people in the precious all powerful, deep cleansing blood of Jesus. We are children of God and nothing can harm us!

Jehovah is our Strength,
And He shall be our Song
We shall o’ercome at length
Although our foes be strong.
In vain does Satan then oppose,
For God is stronger than His foes.

The Lord our Refuge is
And ever will remain;
Since He has made us His
He will our cause maintain.
In vain our enemies oppose,
For God is stronger than His foes.
The Lord our Shepherd is;
He knows our every need,
And since we now are His,
His care our souls will feed.
In vain do sin and death oppose,
For God is stronger than His foes.
Our God our Father is;
Our names are on His heart;
We ever will be His,
He ne’er from us will part.
In vain the mightiest powers oppose,
For God is stronger than His foes!
Amen

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The waiting game...

The dilemma over holiness continues...

Is it hardcore asceticism that drinks only water and has a cold shower every morning? Or is it a celebration of freedom in Christ that knocks back black coffee and indulges in every, and ‘all good gifts around us’?

I want to get it right because holiness matters and the outcome of this inner debate will determine what I preach for the rest of my life.

Contrast Paul’s advice to the Corinthians with John’s words in his first letter;

“If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If you love the world, love for the Father is not in you. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful people, the lust of their eyes and their boasting about what they have and do—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

Of course holiness ought to be joyful and obvious celebration of ‘life in all its fullness’ but the mantle of a prophet brings with it a ‘fasted lifestyle’ that seems eccentric to all, other than the Holy Spirit who motivates it.

There’s the rub! Holiness has to be motivated by God. Holiness is what Finney called ‘disinterested benevolence’ what Wesley called ‘perfect love’. Holiness has got nothing whatsoever to do with what I do - but everything to do with what I allow God to do in and through me.

Holiness is a reflection of God’s love; it is ‘Christ in me the hope of Glory’! If Christ in me wants to drink coffee and go to the occasional football game that’s his prerogative – on the other hand if he wants to shower in cold water and eat dry bread so be it!

I need to follow the instruction he gave to the apostles following the resurrection and simply ‘wait’. It is in the waiting, in the ‘hiding’, in 'the secret of his presence' that holiness truly begins!

Lord come and educate
And teach my keen desire
That only where souls learn to wait
Falls Pentecostal fire.

If I would see the way
Where you would have me walk
Then I must when I kneel to pray
Allow you time to talk.

Revival shall be mine
In strict proportion to
The sum and quality of time
I spend alone with you.

Your word oh Lord is clear
The sentiment so plain.
If we would see and know you near
Then still we must remain.

The shells that God employs
To force his foes to ground
Though packed with loud and happy noise
Are fired without a sound.

Love and prayers - A

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two visions - not for the faint-hearted!

2 Visions over 100 years a part and yet strangely similar.

The first is taken from one of William Booth’s lectures at the 1904 International Staff Officers Councils. The second is from the founder of the 24/7 Prayer Network.
I can’t overestimate just how critical I believe these prophetic words are to our generation – aggressive, pure, incarnational holiness - lived out in a simplistic lifestyle is the way forward!

What the world needs now is a George Scott Railton or a St Francis of Assisi or maybe just you and me!
THE FUTURE
Do not limit the possibilities of the future. God has many ways of fulfilling His purposes towards the sons and daughters of men. Here is one, of which I dreamed a dream. The one I am going to mention came to me when thoughtfully wondering, as I so often do, what The Salvation Army of the coming years was likely to be.
In this vision I beheld many things that were novel and fascinating, but nothing that took greater hold of me at the moment than the one I am about to describe. Perhaps the superior interest it excited in my feelings arose out of its intense practicality. It seemed all so natural, so possible, so fruitful, and the results so desirable, that I came almost to feel that the thing was not a dream, but an actual occurrence, literally happening before my eyes.

I thought I was looking at The Salvation Army in its varied future operations, and while I looked I thought I saw a new body of Officers suddenly start into existence. In many respects they strongly resembled the comrades with whom I am familiar to day. In other respects they appeared strangely dissimilar.
I will try to describe them, and while I do so you will be able to judge of the probable usefulness or otherwise of such a class, the possibility of creating it, and whether you would or would not like to belong to it, if it were created.

As I looked at this new people, they appeared to manifest extraordinary signs of earnestness, self-denial, and singleness of purpose; indeed, they had every appearance of being a reckless, daredevil set. On inquiry, I found that they described themselves as "Brothers of Salvation" or "Companions of the Cross of Christ." They went forth, two and two, strengthening each other's hands, and comforting each other's hearts in all the work they had to do, and all the trials they had to bear. They seemed to welcome privations, and to revel in hardships, counting it all joy when they fell into diverse persecutions, and facing opposition and difficulties with meekness, patience, and love.

As I looked, and looked, I wondered more and more, for I observed that they had voluntarily embraced the old-fashioned vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience. These vows I observed, further, were regarded as only binding upon them for a term of years, with the option of renewal for a further term at the expiration of that period, or of being able at that time to honourably return to the ordinary ranks of Officership.

As I looked at these new comrades, who had as it were suddenly sprung out of the ground, I saw that they wore a novel kind of uniform of simple shape, but very pronounced, and displaying very prominently the insignia of The Salvation Army. They were evidently proud of their colours.

And then I saw another thing that was peculiar about this new Order – I do not know how else to speak of it. I saw that they refused to accept any money or gifts for themselves, or for their friends, or, at most, not more than was necessary to meet the very humble wants of that particular day; while I saw that they were pledged not to own any goods of any kind, save and except the clothes they wore.

And then I saw that they were great wanderers, continually travelling from place to place, and that very much on foot, as this gave them the opportunity of visiting the hamlets, cottages, farmhouses, and mansions on the way, and speaking to the people in the streets, market squares, or other open spaces on week-days as well as on Sundays, as they passed along.
I saw that they assisted at the services in The Salvation Halls wherever they came, always working in friendly co-operation with the Officers in Command; visiting the Soldiers, sick or well; hunting up backsliders, and striving to promote the interests of every Corps they visited, to the utmost of their ability.

I saw that they visited and prayed with the people from door to door, in the great cities as well as in the villages; talked to them in the streets, trains, or wherever they had opportunity, about death, judgment, eternity, repentance, Christ, and salvation.
I saw them in my dream addressing the workmen at the dock gates, at the entrances to public works, in the factories at meal hours; indeed, they were talking, praying, and singing with whomsoever they could get to listen to them, singly, or in company wherever they came.
And as I looked, I saw their number, which was very, very small at first, gradually increase until they reached quite a multitude. And the educated and well-to-do, charmed with this simple Christlike life, swelled its numbers, coming from the universities and the money­making institutions and other high places.

Do you ask me about their support? Oh! I answer, so far as I could find out in my dream, they never lacked any really necessary thing, having all the time what was above all and beyond all in worth and desirability - the abundant smile of God, and a great harvest of precious souls.
(International Staff Council Addresses 1904, General William Booth, p144-147)

The Vision

So this guy comes up to me and says "what's the vision? What's the big idea?" I open my mouth and words come out like this… The vision? The vision is JESUS – obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.

The vision is an army of young people. You see bones? I see an army. And they are FREE from materialism. They laugh at 9-5 little prisons. They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday. They wouldn't even notice. They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the west was won. They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations. They need no passport .People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence. They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying. What is the vision? The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and adults angry. It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars. It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure.
Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation. It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games. This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause. A million times a day its soldiers choose to loosethat they might one day win the great 'Well done' of faithful sons and daughters.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night. They don't need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again:

"COME ON!"

And this is the sound of the underground the whisper of history in the making, foundations shaking, revolutionaries dreaming once again, mystery is scheming in whispers, conspiracy is breathing… This is the sound of the underground

And the army is disciplined. Young people who beat their bodies into submission. Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms. The tattoo on their back boasts "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain". Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes. Winners, Martyrs. Who can stop them? Can hormones hold them back? Can failure succeed? Can fear scare them or death kill them? And the generation prays like a dying man with groans beyond talking with warrior cries, sulphuric tears and with great barrow loads of laughter!

Waiting. Watching: 24 – 7 – 365.
Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules. Shaking mediocrity from its cosy little hide. Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels, fasting essentials. The advertisers cannot mould them. Hollywood cannot hold them. Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties before the cockerel cries.
They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive inside. On the outside? They hardly care. They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but never to hide. Would they surrender their image or their popularity? They would lay down their very lives - swap seats with the man on death row - guilty as hell. A throne for an electric chair.

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days, they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them. Their DNA chooses JESUS. (He breathes out, they breathe in.) Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus. Their words make demons scream in shopping centres. Don't you hear them coming? Herald the weirdo's! Summon the losers and the freaks. Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes. They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension. Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of Eden.

And this vision will be. It will come to pass; it will come easily; it will come soon. How do I know? Because this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the Spirit, the very dream of God. My tomorrow is his today. My distant hope is his 3D. And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking great 'Amen!' from countless angels, from hero's of the faith, from Christ himself. And he is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner.

Guaranteed.

Love and prayers - A

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dartford Corps 122 years old today!

This weekend we celebrated our 122nd Corps Anniversary. Malcolm and Stephanie Jones led Sunday worship. On the Saturday all the Corps sections praised God and entertained the troops!

The Saturday night included the debut performance of our new YP Band!

Thanks to Xander for the following 4 1/2 minute highlights video! Let's aim (unless Christ returns before then) for another 122 years!

God bless Dartford, God bless the Salvation Army - Amen! Love and prayers A

Saturday, October 11, 2008

To the brook and beyond!

In the “The Salvation Soldier's Armoury” morning reading for October 12th I came across the following verse in 2 Chronicles 30:14 –

“They removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.”

This verse is part of the account given concerning the purification, by Hezekiah, of Judaic worship from the influences of Assyrian cults.

I couldn’t help being pulled up by those words ‘Kidron Valley’.

The Kidron Valley runs along the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. It then continues east through the Judean Desert, towards the Dead Sea.
Once a river ran through this valley, but the water was diverted through Hezekiah’s tunnel to supply Jerusalem with water. In the time of Christ a seasonal stream or brook ran through the valley. It is that brook that Albert Orsborn refers to in his song from which this blog drives its name:

“My all is in the Master's hands
For him to bless and break;
Beyond the brook his winepress stands
And thence my way I take,
Resolved the whole of love's demands
To give, for his dear sake.”

In order to get from Gethsemane to the ‘winepress’ of Calvary Jesus had to cross the ‘brook’ of Kidron.

In other words he had to cross the valley into which his forbears had tossed their foreign Gods and broken idols.

This link really spoke to me, how often we, on our pathway towards holiness, hesitate over the worldly debris we have sacrificed. If we want to experience holiness then sacrifice is only part of the journey. Sacrifice must be followed by obedience. For Christ the sacrifice was made when he prayed ‘thy will not mine be done’, but it was obedience, evidenced by the crossing of the brook, that led to our salvation.

Then in my devotions I read the following verses from 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7

“3It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual
immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that
is holy and honourable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not
know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take
advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already
told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a
holy life.”
Let us make sure that our own sanctification is not corrupted or maybe even invalidated by a longing for the things we have surrendered – let’s make sure that we go ‘beyond the brook… resolved the whole of love’s demands to give, for his dear sake.’ Let there be no lingering, no hesitating, no looking longingly into the waters below, but instead a determined stride towards Calvary and the glory that awaits us there!

Love and prayers A

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Todd Bentley and the dangers of partial consecration...

I’ve just read the following on the web page of www.God.tv in response to the revelation that Todd Bentley of the Lakeland Revival has filed for divorce following an affair with a member of his team and bouts of binge drinking.

“Was it because Todd was vulnerable and certain areas of his life were not surrendered wholly - Yes - like so many of us - in all probability. Was it because the character of Christ was not yet formed in him in the equivalent measure to his gifting? Yes - like so many of us - in all probability. Could it be the case that ‘there but for the grace of God go I’… Yes - In all probability.”

If the ‘rich young ruler’ were a Salvationist then he would probably be considered the holiest soldier we knew! He had been obedient to his ‘soldier’s covenant’ (in his case the law), he tithed his income and was punctilious in his duty to the local Corps. If Jesus had carried out an appraisal of this man it would have contained just once comment ‘he lacks only one thing!’

There’s the rub – entire sanctification is exactly what it says on the tin – entire. Even when we give 99.9% of what we have, what we hold back invalidates the rest of our surrender.

When we hold back even 0.1% we place ourselves at risk! This is especially so for Christian leaders. Let’s pray for Todd and for Future Fire Ministries and for the Lakeland Revival and let’s make sure that we leave no unguarded place – this is war and in war there are casualties on both sides!

Love and prayers, A

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something we always knew anyway...

For centuries, religious believers have endured suffering with impressive fortitude. Now scientists claim to have discovered that faith in God really can relieve pain.

New research at Oxford University has found that the Christian martyrs may well have been able to draw on their religion to reduce the agony of, for example, being burnt at the stake.

In a bizarre experiment, academics at The Oxford Centre For Science Of The Mind ‘tortured’ 12 Roman Catholics and 12 atheists with electric shocks as they studied a painting of the Virgin Mary. They found that the Catholics seemed to be able to block out much of the pain. And, using the latest brain-scanning techniques, they also discovered that the Catholics were able to activate part of the brain associated with conditioning the experience of pain.

The findings were welcomed by the Anglican Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, who said: ‘The practice of faith should, and in many cases does, alter the person you are. ‘It can affect the patterns of your brain and your emotions. So it comes as no surprise to me that this experiment has reached such conclusions.’

The experiment is one of a series being conducted by the academics, a group of scientists, philosophers and theologians from different departments at the university. A sparking device was strapped to the back of the participants’ left hands to deliver an electric shock.

The scientists then asked them to contemplate two paintings, Sassoferrato’s 17th Century Virgin Annunciate (Virgin Mary) and Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th Century Lady With An Ermine.


The researchers hoped that the face of the Virgin Mary would induce a religious state of mind in the believers, while da Vinci’s painting was chosen because it did not look dissimilar and would be calming.


The volunteers were not told the true purpose of the experiment, only that it was designed to judge how people felt pain while contemplating pictures of different things.

They spent half an hour inside an MRI scanner, receiving a series of 20 electric shocks in four separate sessions while looking at either the religious or non-religious picture.

Each time, the volunteer had to rate how much it hurt on a scale of 0 to 100.

The Catholics said that looking at the painting of the Virgin Mary made them feel ‘safe’, ‘taken care of’ and ‘calmed down and peaceful’.

More significantly, they reported feeling 12 per cent less pain after viewing the religious image than after looking at the Leonardo.

The front right-hand side of their brains lit up on the scanner, indicating that the neural mechanisms of pain modulation had been engaged.

There was no such brain activity among the atheists, whose pain and anxiety levels stayed roughly the same throughout the experiment.

Writing in the scientific journal Pain, the researchers concluded that at least some religious believers can moderate their pain by thinking about it more positively.

Why go to all that bother when they could have just asked us?

Love and prayers - A

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spike Milligan on Christian Basics!

If I have learnt anything in my 14 years as a Christian then it is this - there are some basic building blocks within our faith without which, we cannot function. If we want to be useful to each other and more importantly useful to God then these blocks have to be in place. Christianity is about discipline, obedience, sacrifice and perseverance but it is also about joy, victory, peace and fulfilment. If we find ourselves this morning less than ‘conquerors’ then it will probably be because the enemy has undermined our faith, quite literally dug beneath our foundations causing spiritual instability and potential collapse.

These essential building blocks are prayer, God’s word and obedient faith. Prayer is the ‘Christian’s vital breath’ and when used in conjunction with the word of God encourages it directs, chastises, empowers, heals, restores, forgives – without these two foundation stones solidly set in place our Christianity will not work and cannot be productive. As blood and breath are to the body so prayer and God’s word are to the soul. Faith is the fuel that enables these two avenues of grace to move us forward. Faith is the ‘evidence of things now not seen’ and replaces our dismal outlook with God’s bright future.

Do we make time every day for serious (and delightful) intimacy with God, do we memorise his word and ‘walk with him and talk with him along life’s narrow way’? Do we hear and obey his voice? If the answer to these questions is no, then our lives are probably full of despondency and personal disaster. I remember once seeing a Spike Milligan cartoon, the drawing showed a series of small insect like creatures each reciting out loud simple mathematical problems – the caption underneath simply said ‘it’s the little things that count’ when it comes to Christianity that is so true.

It is the little compromises, the small sins, and the casual neglect of prayer that causes us to fail and fall. Being a lazy parent, an insensitive spouse, an indifferent employee – once these things have been dealt with then God will lead us on. We need to start our pilgrimage from where we are and not from where we want to be, one step at a time, moment by moment. As Jesus once said "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

Love and prayers A

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Xander and the Battle for Bull Centre

Saturday 13th September was a significant day in the life of Dartford Salvation Army.

First of all - we have reinforcements in the shape of Brother Xander Coleman from Australia - I discern powerfully that Xander is going to be a big blessing to Tracey and I personally and our Corps ministry here in Dartford. Xander shows a spiritual maturity way beyond his years.

Secondly we celebrated the 'Battle for Bull Centre' with an amazing march of witness, open air meeting and a grand music festival and salvation meeting which culminated in five souls at the Mercy Seat. and the town Mayor in full regalia joining in a glory march!
Rather than duplicate stuff here, there are some great reports starting to appear around the internet - some including video footage - chck ou the links below:




Forgive the laziness, but time is a premium and these good folk have probably said it better than I could!

God bless Dartford, God bless Xander. God bless The Salvation Army

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

A

Monday, September 08, 2008

Countdown to the Battle for Bull Centre 1


This is the front page of The War Cry, Sept 4th 1908 (if you click the image you'll get a bigger version). In the centre is a picture of Mrs Ensign Roy, who together with her husband, commanded the Dartford Corps a that time. This Saturday (September 13th) we are celebrating her release from prison (she was put there for preaching the gospel!). We are goingto have a full out assault on the enemy, a march of witness (aided by Chatham Band) and open-air and a festival/salvation meeting.
I'm not sure we'll get arrested but we certainly will shake up the town a bit :-)
The following is a local press report concerning the absurdity surrounding what became known as the 'Dartford Disgrace'.
Hopefully Xander will be with us on Saturday - no time for jet-lag in God's Army :-)
PUBLICANS OFFER TO PAY SALVATIONIST’S FINES.

The current issue of the “War Cry” contains several interesting comments on the situation at Dartford. Under the heading of “Persecution,” the official organ of the Salvation Army makes the following remarks: —

“Were it not for the significant fact that the names of various Salvationists continue to be taken at Dartford, one might be justified in concluding that the good sense of the magistrates and the voice of the people had at last prevailed. Whatever may be the cause of this “willing-to-wound-but-afraid-to-strike” attitude on the part of the authorities, there is no mistaking the growing interest in, and sympathy with, the Army’s position by the public.

“Amongst those who have come forward with offers to pay the fines imposed on our comrades are two publicans, while the demand for the War Cry’ which contains latest news of the proceedings, has necessitated a rise of twenty dozen during the past week, and even then would-be purchasers have been disappointed.

“Encouraging and helpful, however, as the approval and goodwill of the people may be, the calmly confident attitude of the Salvationists is not based on this so much as on the knowledge that they are standing for liberty to preach salvation in that locality in the town “where people most do congregate”. This is a matter that vitally touches Salvationists everywhere. It is of such supreme importance to them that prison bars are, in comparison, mere trifles.

“Dartford comrades feel this most keenly, and there is not a soldier amongst them who is not willing to suffer the ignominy of imprisonment in defending this sacred principle.”

Cutting from the ‘Chronicle and District Times, Tuesday August 18th 1908”

Saturday, September 06, 2008

War is declared!

The way of holiness continues to be travelled and my consecration remains (by God's grace) intact. However, the bullets have been flying. The fighting has been constant - literally a moment by moment wrestle with the enemy.

Dartford has become a definite front line and we are all on red alert.

The fighting is undoubtedly tough and intensely demanding yet in an unexpected kind of way exhilarating and deeply fulfilling.

I have rediscovered the truth that there is only one way to take ground and advance on the enemy's territory and that is clad in the armour of God with the name of Jesus on your lips, bathed in the blood of Jesus and obediently trusting his command to 'attack'

Recent enemy activity promises a great time of spiritual refreshing and even revival of that I am sure. If we were no threat to the devil then he would treat us with the contempt we deserve. So let me remind him, as the Captain of God's Army in Dartford, as the Lord's anointed in this corner of Kent, in the name of Jesus Christ take your leave for we mean to win and by God's grace 'we never, never will give in!'

Yours under Christ, set apart for the lost, in the Army forever! Hallelujah!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Commissioner Geoffrey Dalziel

Today is our 16th Wedding Anniversary! I can honestly say that I am more in love with Tracey today than I was 16 years ago - why she married me I'll never know but I'm so glad she did - and I thank God for her daily - marrying Tracey was the best thing (outside of religion) that I ever did.

Now what's that got to do with a photo of the Joystrings?

On Thursday Tracey wanted to buy me a present so we went to Bluewater (which is a five minute drive from Dartford). While Tracey went off to buy a present I made my way to Costas for a cup of coffee (that I probably shouldn't really be drinking) the man that served me (on seeing the Army shield) on my shirt refused to take any money and told me that the coffee was 'on the house!'.

We got into conversation and it turned out that his name was Emil and he was the son of Lt Colonels Peter and Sylvia Dalziel! (For those that don't know Peter and Sylvia were members of the Joystrings) We had a good chat about God and the Army and especially about Emil's grandfather Commissioner Geoffrey Dalziel. As we chatted I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit around us in a very powerful way and I sensed that Emil was also aware of this.

Commissioner Geoffrey Dalziel was the British Commissioner when I was a teenager and he led the South London Division Youth Councils in 1976 when I first seriously gave my heart to Jesus. My pilgrimage has been somewhat circuitous since then but it was those formative experiences and the influence of people like Commissioner Dalziel that put me where I am today.

For those who never knew the Commissioner the following is the tribute paid to him in 'Salvationist' in 2007 when at the age of 93 he was promoted to Glory.

"WHEN PEOPLE speak of Geoff Dalziel, they inevitably mention his physical stature and bearing - tall, upright and dignified. This was also a spiritual quality: he was upright in all his dealings, never devious or manipulative, always dignified and respectful in his relationships. He walked tall in the sight of God and man.He was a cadet in the 1933 Witnesses Session, and it was during a second year, as assistant sergeant-major, that he met and fell in love with Cadet Ruth Fairbank. They married four years later.

Their children - John, Peter and Christine - were born during corps commands at Williamstown, Shipley and Staple Hill.In ‘digs' during his first appointment at Cefn Fforest in South Wales, he promised to keep the working timetable of his host, a miner. This meant rising with the family at 5.30 each morning - a habit he maintained for the rest of his life.

A member of training college staff from 1946 to 1951, he poured into fledgling officers every ounce of his own enthusiasm and spiritual dynamism. From 1951 to 1959 he inspired thousands of lives as divisional young people's secretary in the Norfolk, Liverpool and South-West Scotland Divisions, followed by five years as training principal in Australia Southern.

His next appointment as chief side officer at the International Training College was a difficult transition, but - with the careful support of his wife - he accepted it graciously and with commitment.Chief Secretary responsibilities in Australia Eastern and Canada were followed by territorial leadership in East Africa, where the Dalziels opened their hearts to its people and found themselves received and loved in return. The experience left an indelible impression on their lives.

As British Commissioner from 1974, a well-worn path to the second floor ‘inner sanctum' at 101 Queen Victoria Street established that pattern of consultative unity with IHQ so necessary for the Army's continuing effectiveness in the UK.

Always most proud of his children and grandchildren, after retirement in 1980 he and Mrs Dalziel spent a memorable time visiting John, Christine and their families in Australia, and Peter and Sylvia in South Africa. In 1982 he began 20 record-breaking years as President - and later, Chaplain - of the South London Retired Officers Fellowship, for which he received the Certificate of Recognition.The only time he considered breaking into those years of service was with his wife's sudden illness and eventual promotion to Glory in 1990. Further sorrow pierced his heart in 2003 when his daughter Christine died from cancer in Australia.With his eldest son John in Australia, and Peter presently serving in the Netherlands, there is significance in a verse the commissioner loved to quote at family prayers:

There is a scene where spirits blend,
And friend holds fellowship with friend;
Though sundered far, by faith they meet
Around one common mercy seat.(SASB 573)
With his passing, there is no break in this certainty."

We could do with a few more Officers like Geoff!

A

Saturday, August 16, 2008

8 days after 08.08.08.

So it's 8 days after the 8th of the 8th 2008 and it's been a mixed week.

Back to work (if you can call Officrship work - maybe I should say back to service). I love my job and feel that Officership is a great privilege. Having said that I have struggled this week to get out of holiday mode! Everything that needs to be done has been done but I'm not sure I've got out of 2nd gear yet.

There is an exciting couple of months coming up at Dartford - especially the centenary celebrations of the Dartford Disgrace on September 13th (the imprisonment of the CO and others for preaching in the open air) and of course two days before that the arrival of reinforcements in the form of Xander Coleman on September 11th (hallelujah - thank you Jesus!).
The following contemporary newspaper report gives a taster of what we're celebrating on the 13th.

"In defence of the Salvation Army - wild scenes on the streets of Dartford


There was a massive and fervent response to the arrest of Dartford's Salvationists. A defence committee was formed to co-ordinate the protest campaign. Public meetings of protest attracted large crowds; protest marches were held and banners, slogans and posters appeared all over the town.


Banners declared 'IMPRISONED FOR CONSCIENCE SAKE'; 'DEFEND RELIGIOUS AND PERSONAL LIBERTY' and 'WE DEMAND LIBERTY TO PREACH CHRIST'. 15,000 people gathered at Dartford Station to welcome home the prisoners when released from jail, two of them still wearing their prison uniforms bearing broad arrows.


During the course of the exuberant celebrations the Dartford police were stoned and pelted with rotten fish heads and bad eggs. Hooligans used the occasion to vent their spleen on the local constabulary. Dartford's Superintendent Poole was pelted for four hours. Policemen were stoned to the station. There were violent speeches at the Drill Hall - a torrent of rancorous abuse."
Let's 'do or die for Jesus'
Love and prayers
A

Friday, August 08, 2008

The 8th of the 8th 2008!

There was no alarm clock to rouse me this morning – we’re on holiday. I woke when I woke, had a shower and drove the few miles to Whitstable. I parked the car in the harbour car park at 8:08!

There’s a lovely little coffee shop at the end of the High Street and it seemed appropriate to start this particular quiet time here in the temple of one of my addictions.

There was a great deal to consider as I submitted today’s entry for ‘The Salvation Soldier’s Guide’ and the following verses (all found in today’s reading) held particular significance.

First 2 Samuel 23:5

“Is not my house right with God?
Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant,
arranged and secured in every part?
Will he not bring to fruition my salvation
and grant me my every desire?”

Then 1 Chronicles 22:11-13

"Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

Then, perhaps most significant of all I the light of what Finney has to say about holiness -

"My will be swallowed up in Thee;
Light in Thy light still may I see
In Thine unclouded face.
Called the full strength of trust to prove.
Let all my quickened heart be love,
My spotless life be praise."

During this period of quiet reflection it seemed appropriate to read Romans 8.

How can a Christian refuse the validity and (therefore) justified claims of holiness when faced with this chapter?

Verse 8 seems to take the necessity for holiness beyond debate to anyone who wants to be useful to God – “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

I definitely want to ‘please God’ - it is (as it should be for all Salvationists) my raison d’être. Finney has helped me enormously this week and I believe that thanks to him I now fully understand what needs to be done.

‘Christian perfection’ happens when Christians experience and respond to the love of God. This response must be what Finney calls ‘disinterested benevolence’ – that is love which is given naturally with no thought about what it costs us or what potential blessing it might deliver. This is proper Christian love, it results in a life naturally focussed on God and his desires without room for any other consideration. It is only love like this that can enable us to give up all that is ‘sinful and doubtful’ and devote all that remains to God.

There is a struggle associated with the attainment of holiness, however this fight should not be with the minutiae of our consecration – holiness doesn’t begin with a comprehensive list of those things we must give up. Our struggle must be the struggle that Christ had in Gethsemane. This battle must centre on our will and the will of our Father in heaven.

The ultimate question every believer must answer is who am I going to serve? Who am I going to obey? This is the issue that determined whether Calvary went ahead or not and this is the issue that Paul devotes so much time to in his letter to the Romans.

What then does God expect of us? What standard of behaviour is he hoping to see in our lives? ‘If you love me’ says Jesus ‘you will obey my commandments’. It is loving that matters most, love involves the heart and it is within our hearts that our motives and desires are born – “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.’

How do I know if my love is genuine? The answer is simple - If I obey then I love, love and obedience are inextricably linked. Where can I find such love? The answer must always be in our own Gethsemane. Seekers after holiness are still required to go ‘beyond the brook’; for it is only here that ‘the whole of love’s demands’ can be resolved.

Today will prove to be a significant day because I choose to make it so, if I employ my will to meet God full on and in that encounter declare my complete love for him then holiness (and all it promises to give to me, my family and Dartford) will be mine.

Will this happen on the 8th of the 8th 2008?


I see no reason why not – watch this space :-)

Much love and prayers A

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Finney and Holiness on holiday!

It's 7:55am and all the family are asleep. I've just posted today's entry for The Salvation Soldiers Guide and have just concluded a short time of personal prayer and reflection.

I've almost finished Finney's 'Lectures to Professing Christians' and it has been well worth the wrestle.

I like reading Finney because (although he wrote 150 years ago) he has a fresh approach to the bible - nobody else quite sees Christianity like he does.

Take for example his attitude to 'Christian Perfection'. Finney says things about holiness that out of context would sound like heresy - for example - Finney declares that everyone (whether regenerated or not) has within them the natural ability to obey God. At first this sounds unbiblical but then Finney unwraps the statement. What is it that really hold us back? Is it inability or a lack of desire? Is the problem that we can't obey God or more properly the fact that we choose not to? Finney then goes on to say that a change in our attitude depends upon two things working together in harmony - the power of grace through regeneration and the submission of our will to God.

Finney is very big on the importance of the will.

I am, according to Finney, what I choose to be and I do what I choose to do. Christian Perfection is nothing more than a man or woman simply obeying God - moment by moment. Such a thought of course calls to mind Paul's 'living sacrifice'.

I have always though that these verses in Romans 12 are key verses in the understanding of holinesss and I further think that the way they are rendered in the message is excellent.

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."

It is this 'living sacrifice' - the complete and utter consecration of my 'everyday, ordinary life' my 'sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life' that will become the focus of my prayers between now and Friday.

Love and prayers

A

Monday, July 28, 2008

Holidays...

I’ve always believed that God commanded us to rest because he knew that our commitment to him and our love for the lost would drive us to work for him until we drop. I think that an annual holiday falls into the category of legitimate rest.

Of course people like Booth and Railton (who never took holidays) were constantly breaking down. Railton, in particular, was confined to bed as a result of nervous and physical exhaustion on more than one occasion (sometimes for months on end!).

Holidays are good for several reasons; the following are just a few of those reasons.

Like Christ’s frequent sojourns in the desert - holidays provide us with quality time when we can be alone with God – while the children build a sandcastle – we can close our eyes and meditate on God (with no interruption from a phone call or an email).

Holidays afford us time to read – we can chew over some solid stuff whilst sitting in a deckchair (I remember one year on holiday I got through Finney’s systematic theology).

From my experience our demons don’t follow us on holiday but are geographically bound – I have no biblical evidence for this it is an assumption made purely from experience. I’m still involved in spiritual warfare on holiday but the battles are invariably different.

So for the next two weeks I’m legitimately holidaying in Seasalter (just along the south coast from Whitstable). I’m reading Finney’s ‘Lectures to professing Christians’ and (hopefully) the same author’s ‘Revival Lectures’. I’m also expecting a positive time of close communion with God.

My good friend Carol Young told me once that during a time of prayer the number 8 came to her in relation to me – our last day on holiday will be 08-08-08 (rightly or wrongly) I’m expecting great things from this holiday J

Love and prayers

A