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!

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!
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:


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.


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 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