Monday, January 26, 2009

Share your faith the African way!

Today I went to Salvationist Publishing and Supplies.

Railton had a problem with 'Trade' selling goods emblazoned with the name and pictures of the Founder goodness knows what he'd make of baseball caps with the slogan 'Black Dyke Mills Band'? (they, unlike long sleeved uniform shirts, can be bought at 'Trade'.) Mind you, there's probably more soul saving usic on a Black Dyke CD than a Staff Band one but cynicism is not what this blog is about - far from it!

On the way back I settled down on the train, plugged into the IPOD ready for a time of prayer when a young African girl came and sat opposite me – "Excuse me sir' she began and then noticing the red shield on my sweatshirt said 'Oh.. you're already a Christian... that's OK... sorry to disturb you...' Then she went to go, I stopped her and asked her if she was about to share her faith with a middle aged stranger?

She was!

One of her New Year resolution's was to share her faith whenever she travelled by train – she travels by train twice a week. I praised her for her courage, told her how impressed I was and she allowed me to pray for her.

Her name was Violet, she was 21 having moved to the UK at the age of 16.

Three years ago while in Zimbabwe on holiday her Father (aged 43) was tragically killed in a car accident – the family had to come home without him.

Yet in spite of all of this Jesus shone out of her face and I am certain that had I not been a believer she would have had a conversion on that train!

God is so gracious, fancy sending young African missionaries into 'Heathen England'!

Please pray for Violet and for the Elim Pentecostal Church she attends in Morden, pray for her enthusiastic and brave evangelistic efforts, pray for her 1 year old daughter, pray for her Mum and sisters, pray for Zimbabwe and pray for her new stepdad who is currently stranded in South Africa and if you've any room left on your prayer list maybe you could squeeze one in for 'Darkest England!'

Thank you God for Violet she made my day?

Grace and Peace, A

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spiritual Growth Assessment Process

I've been a bit busy recently trying to catch up with all the work that piled up the other side of Christmas. The promotion to glory of Tracey's Mum and the associated practical consequences of that, Beth's constant bouts of tonsillitis and the normal responsibilities of Officership have all taken their toll.

I haven't had time to blog let alone read other people's blogs and so I have been dependant on the proactive efforts of others to stimulate me in terms of Christian growth. So, to that end I was very pleased to receive an email from Steve Court this week containing an excellent resource from LifeWay. It's a downloadable (free) Spiritual Growth Assessment Process – you can get your own copy here.

I began the process this morning and I am now going to seek the input of others which will result in the creation of a spiritual growth strategy and some lines of accountability.

So far the process has betrayed a degree of consistency in my current spiritual performance – my scores in all areas were much the same. However, the overall results showed that rather than growing, recent circumstances have forced me backwards as I have surrendered necessary spiritual disciplines for more pressing practical demands upon my time. This is something I urgently need to address and it is also something that this process will help me with.

We all need to take stock from time to time and measure ourselves against God's expectations. The reality is that we tend to measure ourselves against others rather than the bible. This leads to poor performance because the standard set by others is low (in comparison to that set by scripture) or possibly personal pride because our performance may be noticeably better than our peers (though still way below the benchmark of scripture).

Sometimes we need to go back to basics and follow the advice of the writer to the Hebrews and "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart."

Ultimately there is no standing still for Christians – we either grow or backslide – I for one want to grow!

Grace and peace, A

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Publically exposed!

The internet has exposed our private thoughts and feelings more than any other innovation in the history of humanity.

People who blog or even just regularly update their 'status' on Facebook are sharing more with the world than they could have ever done even just 10 years ago. Indeed some people I am certain expose more about themselves online than they really ought to.

I've recently read three statements on a social networking site all of which purported to tell us how a particular person was feeling. How are they feeling? Suffice to say that the comments don't appear to be the sort one would expect to hear from a future Officer of the Salvation Army. You see this individual is currently being trained as an Officer Cadet in The Salvation Army.

Now I don't know them and I know nothing of their circumstances, indeed I wouldn't recognise them if they ran up and bit me on the nose. So maybe the publishing of these thoughts is justified in a way I can't possibly know.

Have I ever been in a position where I could empathise with them?

Of course I have, but shouldn't some things remain between us and God and the few close friends he has given to keep us accountable.

Maybe I'm just turning into a grumpy old man!

Love and grace, A.

Monday, January 05, 2009