Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Of pigeons and people...

Yesterday morning, as I left the hall, I noticed a rather ragged looking pigeon who had obviously (either temporarily or permanently) lost the ability to fly. It was nervously trotting around the edges of the road with an almost resigned look on its face. Two passing women showed a momentary interest in the bird, mumbled some sympathetic comments and walked on.

An hour later upon my return sure enough the pigeon had become (like the parrot in the famous Monty Python sketch) an ex-pigeon. All that was left was a scarlet feathery patch deeply impregnated into the tarmac.

I immediately though of the following scripture verse:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

If God winces when a vermin ridden pigeon bites the dust how does he feel about the many residents of Dartford who live in darkness and misery day by day, how does he feel about the elderly, homeless and lonely who struggle on isolation from the rest of society?

Finally, I thought, how does he feel about me and my efforts to win such people? Sure I help those who come to the hall but the sad fact is that most of those who need God’s help don’t come to the hall – but like the pigeon they wander around, helpless and resigned to their fate.

I’m at Officer’s retreat – I don’t do retreat very well but I am finding the time extremely valuable – lots of quality time alone with God. My prayer is that when I return to Dartford tomorrow God will lead me to the ‘flightless pigeons’ of this world, the marginalised and alone and that he will give me the words, the compassion and the skill to bring them into his kingdom. For his name’s sake – Amen!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Commitment 2008

Yesterday was 'Committment Sunday' in the UK Territory and at Dartford we had an excellent meeting with a wonderful and comprehensive response. Numbers were low due to a few people being away and the imminent arrival of a baby!

Used the rich young ruler as a model of failed commitment. Here was a man who 'only lacked one thing'. Pointed out that when we think about commitment we tend to ask the question "what must I do" whereas God wants to talk about ownership - "who owns you?" It's not about 'doing' it's about being' (nothing original here). As my CSM mentioned later 'we're human beings not human doings'

We used the following songs:

  • 'Come now is the time to worship',
  • 'Oh thou God of every nation',
  • 'There is a message',
  • 'I surrender all'
  • 'Lord I make a full surrender'.
Also played Keith Green's 'You love the world and you're avoiding me' half way through the sermon.

During the appeal, pointed out that anything less than 100% leaves us 'going away sad' (even when we've managed to keep all the commandments from our youth up!) Kept in with the theme of 'Hope 08' by pointing out that 100% commitment (i.e. holiness) is our only 'hope' and the only 'hope' for Dartford - 'if we want to see revival in Dartford it will cost us everything!'

Meeting over ran by half an hour but out of a congregation of 36 including (ten under the age of 15) 34 came and knelt at the Mercy Seat in an act of rededication. That's 94.4% - the two that didn't come forward were my 11 year old daughter who was manning the 'toddlers corner' at the back of the hall and a 93 year old soldier who didn't kneel at the Mercy Seat but did take a pack of 'Hope 08' commitment cards with her.

A great encouragement and bodes well for the future!

Love and prayers


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Al change... again

We had a Corps Council meeting last night, mainly to discuss dates for this years Corps calendar. At first the meeting was a bit fragmented as everyone competed with diaries waved like scimitars! However, eventually we settle down and moved on to discuss other topics such as prayer and outreach.

Then the strangest thing happened….

It quickly became apparent that if we were to become an evangelical Corps there was no way one meeting on a Sunday morning was going to provide sufficient capacity for everything we wanted to do!

What we needed was street outreach (open-airs) and then we needed dedicated meetings (gatherings) to bring people back to. In short we were probably going to have to consider the reintroduction of a Sunday night (or maybe a Saturday night) salvation meeting, a mid-week holiness meeting, a custom designed ‘Alpha’ type initiative (one dedicated to discipling within an SA concept with the aim of making ‘Soldiers’)

I couldn’t help thinking about meetings taking place in the same hall, years earlier where (with the best will in the world) SA infrastructure (Corps Cadets, Open Airs, Directory, Praise Meetings etc) was carefully dismantled brick by brick and here we were in the same hall contemplating putting the whole thing back together again.

Why did we change? Was it to accommodate the needs of the world? Was it to become more family orientated? Was it to become more seeker friendly? Or was it simply because we lost our heart for mission, became lazy and apathetic and to quote Keith Green ‘loved the light of our TV’ more than we loved God?

I don’t blame soldiery, I hold Officers accountable, at the end of the day the CO is the manager and the motivator and the buck must stop there.

Love and prayers


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Getting old...

I went to bed early last night as I was tired. However, tiredness isn’t always enough to send me to sleep! So I decided to watch a documentary on TV (always has a soporific effect on me!).

The programme was about the history of ‘light entertainment’ and covered the period from ‘Billy Cotton’s Bandstand’ right through to the current day. As I watched the section that dealt with the 1970’s I suddenly realised how old I was! This year I shall be 47 and if I retire at 65 (which I won’t!) then I only have 18 years working life left.

Where has the time gone? We have been at Dartford now nearly 6 months and it seems to have gone by in a flash. This year my son Ben gets married (I can remember the day he was born as if it was yesterday!)

I struggle with growing old – not from a vanity point of view – I’ve no desire to hang on to my fading youth! I struggle because of the time I have wasted. I sometimes think that is why I am such a driven man – I have so much lost time to make up for.

As I enter my 47th Year the promise below is the one that I am going to cling to, it comes from Joel Chapter 2 and is just prior to the promise of Pentecost.

“23 Be glad, O people of Zion,

rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;

the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
25 "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—

the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,

and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,

that I am the LORD your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed."

I have a feeling that the church is about to enter a time of reaping, I think today’s Christians are called to ‘bring in the sheaves!’ May God bless us and make us fruitful and may we see the ‘years the locusts have wasted’ restored.


Love and prayers


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Brengle on men of fire!

I came across the following quote from Brengle's 'Ressurection, Life and Power' - I think that in 2008 I'd like to a 'man of fire'.

"Men of fire are men of faith. They believe God, and they burn because they believe. They believe God is, ‘and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6), therefore they seek him diligently day by day, and he rewards them by sweet assurances and intimations of his love and favour. They seek his face that they may behold his beauty and catch its reflection (Psalm 27: 4 & 90:17); they seek his will that they may do it (Matthew 7: 21); they listen for his voice that they may open the door of their hearts to him and entertain him as their guest (Revelation 3:20); and hearing, they follow where he leads (John 10: 3-5 & 16); and they seek his commandments, his promises and his precepts, that they may live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4: 4).

Men of fire have seasons of solitude for secret prayer. They get alone with God as Jesus did in his all – nights of prayer, as John did in the wilderness, as Moses did on Sinai, as Elijah did on Horeb and there in deep meditation and fellowship with him they see how small and transient is the world with its prizes and its pomp. They count it but refuse for Christ, that they may know him. Men of fire are men of prayer. They pray in secret and they seek out kindred spirits to pray with them.

Men of fire love God. They love his people, his house, his service. They love righteousness and holiness, and they hate sin and every evil way. They turn away their ears from that which they should not hear. They stand on guard at the gateway of eye and ear and every sense, lest sin get into their hearts through unguarded ways.

Men of fire are self sacrificing and self denying. They do not entangle themselves with the affairs of this life anymore than does the good soldier who goes forth to war. They do not mix with the men of the world except to do them good and, if possible, win them to Christ. They guard the fire in their hearts as their soul protection upon earth and their passport to heaven.

Oh my comrades, let us be burning and shining lights, and then great shall be our reward, and great shall be our peace and joy, and good success shall surely accompany all our labours, and the Saviours words, ‘well done’ shall greet us as we are welcomed through the gates of pearl to heaven, our eternal home."


Love and prayers


Thursday, January 03, 2008

So much for resolutions!

This year I made three resolutions.

To completely eradicate caffeine from my diet.

To try and approach life at a slightly more measured pace.

To blog every day!

Today's the 4th January and the first of these resolutions is the only one that is still intact. On reflection I suppose that the third one was never going to happen if I kept the second one and let's face it the second one was never going to happen!

So... my resolutions are down to one - no caffeine!

Now that's sorted I am free to dive into whatever wonderful and demanding adventures God has planned for 2008. Bring it on Lord - bring it on!

"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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)