Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Salvation Soldier's Guide

The Salvation Soldier's Guide was a pocket sized collection of bible readings for the morning and evening of every day in the year.

Issued by William Booth the book was intended to ensure that Salvationists read from the whole bible and not just the New Testament. It was also meant to be small enough for a workman to take with him on his shift and read to his colleagues.

The Salvation Soldier's Guide was eventually replaced by the Soldier's Armoury and more recently by Words of life. However, the original Guide was probably the best of the lot. The readings that were chosen were particularly relevant to the Salvationist's lot.

Obviously the original readings were taken from the King James Version and very few copies of the original 'guide' are still around.
I have an original copy and it is my intention to post the selected readings on a newly created blog each day with the passages updated from the New International Version.

If you have no bible reading plan I would heartily recommend the The Salvation Soldier's Guide - if you already have a reading plan then the 'guide' is an excellent supplementary source of inspiration.

Happy reading, may God bless The Salvation Army - Hallelujah

Love and prayers A

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A call to arms

Yesterday was St George’s day and the birthday of Shakespeare, so with apologies to the Bard I post my own (somewhat altered) speech from Henry V – may it stir your blood, bones and spirit!

“To the front, Comrades, once more; or bridge the gap twixt here and heaven with dead Salvationists. In God’s kingdom there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility:But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, dress gentle Jesus in righteous anger… Grit your teeth and stretch the nostril wide, hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to his full height. On, on, Salvation Soldiers whose heritage is those who once were ‘more than conquerors.

Salvation soldiers that, like so many Booths and Railtons, have in these parts from morn till even fought and sheathed their swords for lack of argument: Dishonour not these pioneers; now attest that those whom you called primitives have led the way.

Be like them now to men of grosser blood, and teach them how to war. And you, good soldier, whose limbs were forged in ‘Blood and fire’, show us here the mettle of your pasture; let us swear that you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not; For there is none of you though once so mean and base, that hath not washed in Jesus’ blood.I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start. The game's afoot: Follow the spirit, and upon this chargeCry 'God for the General, the lost, and Saint George!"

St George of course being Railton!

Love and prayers


Monday, April 21, 2008

Careful it's catching!

So the ‘Bales’ are all in isolation…

Two weeks ago at the Divisional Children’s Camp one of the staff had to be sent home after he showed the symptoms of impetigo.

As far as I’m aware at least three other children within the Division have since contracted the condition including my daughter Charlotte who has subsequently infected our whole family. (By the way that's not her above - that's a stock photo!)

Impetigo is highly contagious (but fortunately is easily and quickly treated with antibiotics!).

As I sit here with my bell by my side, a red cross painted on the door, I can’t help thinking of all the people I’ve hugged and kissed in the last two weeks, not to mention the babies I’ve held and cuddled. Then there’s all the equipment and furniture I’ve touched. Collection boxes, computers, door handles, bundles of War Crys, cups etc.

I wonder if the disease will stop with us or make its way around the Corps - maybe even the whole of Dartford?

Imagine what it would be like if Christianity was as infectious as impetigo – we’d have the whole world saved in a matter of months!

Love and prayers (from a safe distance)


Thursday, April 17, 2008

“Further up, and further in!”

I once went for a job interview where I was asked to list all my weaknesses and all my strengths. I filled up a whole page with weaknesses and my list of strengths contained just one – “ability to identify weaknesses”!

On reflection I was a bit hard on myself yesterday – completely honest – but probably not totally fair. My CSM said to me last night (he had read my blog) “Andrew if the Mercy Seat was lined every week with new converts you’d still not be satisfied” and he’s probably right :-)

What I was trying to say yesterday is that spiritual achievement is directly proportional to spiritual commitment and subsequent obedience and as Finney reminds us if we surrender 99.9% to God but knowingly hold back .9% that act of deliberate disobedience is sin.

It’s a good job we can bring grace into the equation or none of us would get to heaven!

I feel that something good and exciting is in the air, I feel that we as a movement (and Dartford as a Corps) are ready to enter the promised land, but our victory depends on surrendering to God ‘the devoted things’ and moving further along the path of holiness.

I recently re-read ‘The last battle’ (final book in the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis). As the characters make their way to heaven they are constantly urged to go “further up, and further in!” one of them encourages the others with the observation that “the further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.”

Our human perspective often leads us to be deceived! We act as if this is the real world, as if everything is down to us and our limited ability and resources when in fact reality is where God dwells and this is the ‘truth that sets us free’. On our own we can do nothing but with God we can do everything! Too often all we can see is the narrow doorway through which we are commanded to pass into greater achievement and effectiveness (and it is narrow), but we can’t see beyond to the wonderful possibilities opening up just beyond. What we need isn’t more discipline or greater self denial we just need more ‘faith’.

“Lord I believe help thou my unbelief!”

Love and prayers


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Could do better!

Three quarters of a year at Dartford and things have gone well. However, there is a deep and disturbing dissatisfaction in my heart.

If I’d been appointed here in 1887 instead of 2007 then my nine months here would have been considered a failure – Railton would have sacked me for sure! Where are the new converts, recruits and soldiers? Whe re is the revival?

People have been saved, the Corps has grown, finances have been stabilised, property has been improved, the programme tweaked and good relationships with the lost established – But is my commitment and passion really worthy of Christ’s suffering and death?

It is too easy to judge our achievements by those around us, to measure our performance against the achievements of the contemporary church, but when we set the benchmark as Acts 2 or Whitechapel 1880 our efforts receive their proper score!

I’m quite sure that Dartford has not been disappointed with their new Officers and I’m also confident that the other church leaders in the town are pleased with the new Army incumbents, maybe even those on the edge of society might be prepared (in an odd sober moment) to express gratitude for our arrival. But beyond the expectations of others how do I personally assess my performance since last July?

I’d probably give myself 2 out of 10. Why such a miserly score? The reason is that God looks on the heart and not on the outer man. I’ve certainly worked hard and put in some long hours but my heart still backs away from the ultimate location that God is trying to take it.

Last week at our Divisional Children’s camp the kids were asked to put the following things in order of importance: TV, family, God, Church, bible, prayer, football, leisure time, friends and money. Now if I was going to look at the last nine months and do that exercise honestly then the outcome is shown below. I’ve worked this out on the basis of the time committed to them and the passion that they generate within me (I’m discounting the time I spend working as an Officer because that’s my job):

Football, Family, TV, Prayer, Bible, Friends, Leisure Time, Money, God.

Now some might say that I’m being a bit harsh on myself, but how can I really put God anywhere other than last if I consistently disobey him? God is leading me (or trying to lead me) further along the path of holiness but I am struggling to follow him. If I were happy with a compromised contemporary understanding of holiness and if I were happy to compare my achievements with those around me then perhaps I’d be comfortable putting God first.

I read the following this morning in my personal devotions:

“The LORD your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have declared this day that the LORD is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him. And the LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honour high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)

It’s all about covenant – if I keep my part of my covenant then God can do “abundantly more than all I could ever ask for or even imagine” if I don’t then things stay as they are.

I wish I’d been born 150 years ago because then I’d be getting this kind of message three times a week and my spiritual ambitions would be considered normal.

Is this not the personal holiness we need to reclaim if we are to be truly effective again?

Love and prayers