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


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!


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