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!


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

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’ĂȘtre. 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