Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Free Taster 3...

"Although revivals ultimately end in the conversion of people opposed to Christianity, they always begin inside the Church. When William Booth boldly declared 'send the fire' in his stirring hymn, he cried to God 'Look down and see this waiting host, give us the promised Holy Ghost, we need another Pentecost!' As we seek another Pentecost we might be encouraged to recall that the first one happened in a meeting attended by a group of fearful, sinful, doubting men and women prone to denial, failure and fear. The weaknesses swept aside by Pentecost were personal to each individual disciple. Pentecost didn't demolish the temple, or wipe out the Pharisees or edit the law – it dealt with the individual. Revival will always be the revival of the individual – the more individuals that are revived, the fiercer the flames of revival will burn.

It is no wonder then, that in spite of their many inquiries, the collective denominations that make up the Christian church have been unable to write a strategy for recovery, for the problem lies not in the fabric or the methodology of the church but in the heart of individual believers. Indeed, God can only revive congregations one soul at a time and he does that through holiness.

When Christ speaks about the Church, he uses the metaphor of a body. It is the nature of cells, whether they be healthy or cancerous, to reproduce. Decline will either continue or be reversed according to the health of individual cells. There is nothing wrong with the head or the heart of the church, it is the unhealthy cells that make up the body, through which the head and heart try to operate, that bring about failure."

Grace and peace, A

Monday, June 29, 2009

Free taster 2...

"When contemporary Christians consider the role of the Holy Spirit the emphasis is often based on what he can do for us rather than on what he can do through us. Too often the Holy Spirit is seen as nothing more than a "blessing factory", as a result the connection between the ministry of the Holy Spirit and personal purity is often missed. Of course the Holy Spirit is about blessing - of that there is no doubt - but his main function is to educate and to empower. The gifts we receive from the Spirit are functional not self indulgent, they are given for "the strengthening of the church" (1 Corinthians 14:26)

Whilst the most intense, personal and passionate moments of the Christian life may well be spent relaxing in the embrace of the "comforter", the purpose of such intimacy goes well beyond our own happiness. Love remains the most powerful motive that God has at his disposal and it is not given to us so that we might indulge ourselves in isolation from the lost. Christ's love is always given to us to inspire obedience, in fact if we fail to obey – or at least fail to sense within ourselves the desire to obey – then according to Jesus it never was his love we experienced in the first place."

Grace and peace, A

Friday, June 26, 2009

A free taster...

I'm working on a book on holiness which I'm determined to finish before the end of the year.

For those who are interested here's a free taster from chapter 1:

"The writer to the Hebrews encourages the early Christians to 'make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be Holy...' for 'without holiness no one will see the Lord' (Hebrews 12:14) When individual Christians in a congregation experience holiness collectively, then Christ becomes visible in everything they do. In a 'holy' church, society will see Christ fighting against social injustice, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, setting the enslaved free and performing all kinds of miracles. In a church like this, Christ will be seen at the local council meeting opposing harmful developments and defending the cause of the vulnerable. He will be seen standing up against politicians and projects that seek to take advantage of the weak. In a church like this, Christ will be seen freely associating with sinners and outcasts, living with and loving those on the very edge of society. In a church like this, Christ will be seen, whip in hand, cleansing the temple and re-establishing the fundamental principles of righteousness.

Holiness can do all of this because it fills the individual believer with a perfect love for God and their neighbour and gives them that all important ability to 'stop doing wrong' and obey. Indeed; unless such deliverance takes place in our hearts, we will remain ineffective and unfruitful because our refusal to consecrate ourselves leaves us 'liable to destruction'.

Understanding the function of holiness brings us to the heart of our problem and its solution. Within the contemporary church, certainly in the developed world, there is a distinct lack of expectancy. Although we read about God's power operating in the past, we don't expect that same power to be evident in our churches today. When the unconverted cross our thresholds - especially if the baggage they bring with them is bulky - we don't expect to see instant transformation. Our first thought when an addict knocks on our door is to try and meet their material needs; food, clothing, a sleeping bag or maybe even a train ticket to another town or city – the last thing we offer (if it is offered at all) is Salvation.

Back in September 2007 'The Salvationist' in the UK carried the testimony of a man who said "I could have been in The Salvation Army 10 years ago , but each time I came they gave me food when what I really needed was Christ!"

Why is there this reluctance to offer the bound freedom, the blind, sight, the hungry satisfaction and the sinner forgiveness? Is it because we don't kreally now the power of full salvation for ourselves? Are we all too often bound, blind, unfulfilled and enslaved by habitual sin ourselves? If God hasn't done it for us how can we possibly expect him to do it for other people? The reality is that we can only share the truth if we have personally experienced the comprehensive liberty it promises. Ruth Tracy puts it succinctly when she says:

Only as I truly know thee
Can I make thee truly known;
Only bring the power to others
Which in my own life is shown. (SASB 435)

It is not our theoretical knowledge of holiness or our familiarity with miracles worked in the lives of others or our appreciation of church history that empowers us – we can only ever overcome through the 'blood of the lamb' and the power of our own personal 'testimony'.(Revelation 12:11)"

Grace and peace, A

Monday, June 22, 2009

The war of holiness

Why is it that the most obvious things always seem to take the longest to sink in?

The war of holiness is not won or lost on the battlefield of temptation, indeed defeat or victory is determined long before we reach the moment of demonic persuasion!

Sincere and well meaning Christians do not want to sin even though they do on a daily basis. The deliberate act of disobedience isn't in the sin itself but in the refusal to obey the unequivocal call to consecration that rings in the heart of every true believer. God demands certain things from us – what he demands of you may be different to what he demands of me but don't be deceived he makes demands! Usually these demands are small – almost trifling – 'spend less time playing silly games on Facebook', 'watch less TV', 'cancel your subscription to cable TV', 'don't watch sport on a Sunday' – whatever his demands may be we will know for however we try and distract ourselves these demands will track us and hunt us down and corner us and will not let us go until we either refuse them or yield.

It is here in our own personal Gethsemane that holiness will happen or stall, it is here that our future effectiveness and fruitfulness will be decided. If we are foolish enough to try and hide these 'devoted things' among our 'own possessions' then whatever we do, however hard we try, no matter how intense our prayer or sacrificial our fasting we will fail for we will have been 'made liable to destruction'.

The following quote from John Piper was sent to me by Willis Howell:

"The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of the triviality we drink in every night.... And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable."

Or as God himself puts it in Joshua 7 Salvationists have...

"sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why they cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction."Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it."

God demands all; if we try and give him less than he demands then we will give him nothing.

If we can hear God's clear call to consecration then we must stop what we are doing, drop everything and pay attention for until we respond positively we will endure a life of constant defeat, unvarying vacillation, careless compromise and ineffective spiritual lethargy. The nagging and persistent call that constantly harries us at every turn is not our imagination but it is the voice of God. Let us have the knowledge that recognises who is speaking to us, the wisdom to understand his demands and the courage to surrender! If we settle this question we settle them all!

"Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' "So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle."

Father let the Salvation Army be filled with Samuels!

Grace and peace, A

Saturday, June 20, 2009

All or nothing!

I am now more convinced than ever that holiness must encompass all. There is within The (western) Salvation Army a compromised holiness that might appear slightly better than rampant worldliness but is actually an impertinent insult to God and his purity.

It might seem that going to band practice, not cursing, being a good employee, saying please and thank you, not falling out with other soldiers, attending bible study and tithing makes us better than the 'miserable sinners' around us but when we place such a belief in its true global context it looks as paltry as it actually is! Still, at least this kind of holiness allows me to 'set apart' money for the cable company each week so that I can watch sport on a Sunday.

According to a UN agency report published on Tuesday almost 1 billion people in the world are going hungry each day after the rising food costs have pushed 40 million more people into chronic hunger this year – every tear from a hungry child falls on the heart of God like acid on an open wound.

The western governments' goal of halving the number of hungry people by 2015 has suffered a "serious setback" as the current financial crisis has pushed more people, particularly in the developing world, toward hunger.

"For many countries, the world goal of reducing hunger by half is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve," Food and Agriculture Organisation Director-General Jacques Diouf said, referring to one of the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000. "This sad reality should not be acceptable at the dawn of the 21st century," he said, unveiling the Rome-based agency's annual report on world food insecurity. He added: "Even the objective of cutting by half the number of hungry by 2015 is morally unacceptable."

Is Jacques Diouf a Christian? I don't know – he's certainly not a Salvationist yet even he can see that even the objective of halving the number of hungry people in our world is 'morally unacceptable'.

Holiness, proper 'social holiness' (the only kind there is according to Wesley) puts everything (that's EVERYTHING) it has at God's disposal and says, Lord, take this and use it to feed the hungry, heal the sick, free the captives and preach the good news about Jesus.

Anything else – even if it looks good – is a lie and is gently lulling us into an uncertain eternity!

Grace and peace, A

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Holiness – putting pen to paper...

I'm currently working on two projects.

The first is contemporising the text of George Scott Railton's 'Heathen England' (An eye witness account of the birth of TSA first published in 1877). I'm hoping that the amended text might be suitable for publication. It is amazing just how much of what GSR reports is relevant to today - people say that the world has changed but in truth it hasn't. A walk down Dartford High Street on Market day presents to the eye a scene that would have been recognised by GSR. Perhaps the Gin Palaces have been replaced with 'greasy spoon' cafes and amusement arcades but the place is essentially as it was 100 years ago (right down to the modern equivalent of the Pawn Shop!)

The second is a book on holiness. To say that the latter is a work in progress is an understatement. I first began to write it 15 years ago when I got saved. Since then I have chopped, changed and cut and pasted the text over and over again. Part of the delay has been caused by an uncertainty within about what holiness actually is. I've always been familiar with what Wesley, Palmer, Finney, Booth and Brengle believed it to be but it is only recently that I have fully accepted that what they taught is as true and as relevant today as it ever was.

However, we dress it up holiness is about conviction, renunciation, consecration, faith and obedience!

Today as I was about to wade into chapter 5 of 'Heathen England' I felt the spirit of God stop me in my tracks with the command that I should put Railton to one side and complete my 'work in progress'.

What we need is clear and concise teaching on holiness for (and I passionately believe this) it is a rediscovery of personal holiness that is key to revival.

So if you have any great quotes on holiness please email them to me at ajbale61@googlemail.com

Grace and peace, A

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A blast from the past - you must check this out!

If you love old Army music (vocal and brass) then you will love this great site I've found set up by an Australian Salvationist called Ian Barton.

Here you can download mp3 files of almost every Salvation Army Regal Zonophone recording ever made. Including excerpts from the unveiling ceremony of the William Booth memorial in Westminster Abbey complete with a very challenging sermon by then General Coutts (1965).

There is everything here both vocal and brass, very old vocal solos, original recordings of William Booth, General Higgins (possibly meetings to celebrate the centenary of Booth's birth).

I counted (using a spreadsheet!) 1,309 tracks in total! I'm not sure how long it would take you to download them all!

This is a treasure trove for anyone looking for the origins of souls saving music – enjoy!

Grace and peace, A

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mrs Booth on the Army's success...

Following on from my recent posts on holiness.

I recently came across this quote from Mrs Booth:

“God has blessed The Salvation Army because it has been wholehearted in its
devotion to Him and His service. If every one of you will be true to the
principles of The Salvation Army, and everywhere put the interests of God's
kingdom first, He will help you and strengthen you and uphold you and provide
for you and will use you for the propagation of His kingdom in the world... the
secret of success is in all being true to God.” (She was speaking on July 3rd
1882 at a series of meetings held to celebrate the 17th anniversary of The
Salvation Army).

It should be noted that in the period 1881-1883 The Salvation Army had quadrupled in size going from 172 Corps and 363 Officers in the UK to 528 Corps and 1,340 Officers in the UK and 106 Corps and 201 Officers abroad!

I have struggled to identify the difference between then and now and have (after careful consideration) dismissed all of the contemporary views such as: the world was a different place then, people were generally more religious, they weren't real converts but transfers from other churches etc. Upon careful examination none of these explanations stack up.

In addition some of the conversions were extraordinary such as that of Charles Jeffries who was the second in command of the 'Unconverted Salvation Army' one of the many skeleton armies which sprang up to oppose the early Salvationists. They operated in Bethnal Green with uniforms and flags under their motto 'Be just and fear not!' they carried out organised mock open-airs wherever the local Corps went. Jeffries got converted and went on to be a Commissioner in The Salvation Army.

I have come to the conclusion that the only real difference between then and now is the commitment of Officers and Soldiers. In 1881 holiness was an uncompromising devotion of everything whereas today, if it exists at all, it is a slow and gradual progression through various tiers of nominal Christianity that never expects to reach its goal, which is (apparently) likeness to Christ.

Take the example quoted above, the conversion of Charles Jeffries. Several young recruits of the Whitechapel Corps were so concerned about the spiritual state of Jeffries that after the Saturday watchnight service they stayed on and prayed for his conversion until the dawn. Then they prayed for him again at the Sunday evening service when Jeffries got saved.

Watchnight services came out of the Methodist tradition usually began at 8:30 and went on until midnight. The service consisted of a short suitable sermon, and the rest of the time was taken up with alternate singing and prayer. No doubt on both of these days there would have already been several open-air services and at least two other indoor meetings. Of course they weren't all attended by the same people. However the fact that the crew was willing to change watch meant that the lifeboat continued to patrol the waters without ever needing to stop!

I have been castigated by Officers in the UK who refuse to accept the statement that our devotion to duty and commitment lacks the passion and zeal of our forbears but that is a fact – even if it is unpalatable.

Our predilection for worldly entertainment and our lukewarm attempts at holiness set us poles apart from those early pioneers. We need to go back to our roots, switch of our TVs, turn our back on the movies, put down our books and newspapers and devote all we have to God.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known...” (Habkkuk 3:2)

"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you." (Joshua 3:5)

Come on let's do it!

Grace and peace, A

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Jack and others...

Someone called 'Jack' in comments on my previous blog raises concerns about holiness. It is imperative holiness is properly understood so I've decided to make 'Jacks' comments and my responses a new post.

Jack says:

"The main problem I see with the concept of holiness is that the definition of what is 'sin' will differ from person to person... What you believe to be sin and what the person next to you believes is a sin may be quite different, yet you may both consider yourself to be holy. If it is only your own opinion or what you believe has been revealed to you, does it really have any credibility...?"

The bible and the Spirit working in conjunction identify sin. When they identify sin it must be given up. Holiness will look different on other people because of the degree of revelation but if there is doubt then the grey areas have to be given up as well.

We mustn't forget consecration – holiness is all about consecration and the grace which makes it possible. We need to focus on what we surrender to God rather than on the things we give up - if everything I have is given to God then it will be impossible for me to sin (unless I take something back) to sin requires resources (time, money etc) if all of this belongs to God how am I going to sin?

Jack says:

"So do I understand you correctly... in accordance with your holiness manifesto, drinking anything other than water is for you a sin?"

No not at all. Sometimes it will be impossible to only drink water on other occasions – times of legitimate celebration - it might be OK for the water to be turned into wine (metaphorically speaking!) For me the decision to only drink water has more to do with social justice than holiness (although the two are inextricably linked) the promise to drink only water is a reminder that some go thirsty and a reminder to do something about it.

Jack says:

"So you have set your own definitions for sin and holiness, which will no doubt differ from the definitions of others. You mention the bible as helping to identify sin - who decides what keeping the Sabbath holy means? This is why I still cannot see 'holiness' as being anything other than each individual's perception of themselves - you may think you are holy by your definitions, I may disagree with you. So if you think you are 'holy' but others don't, then what's the point?"

A condition of holiness (indeed a condition of salvation) is obedience. If God directs us via conscience, scripture or experience to surrender something which others see as legitimate the issue of obedience is with me not them. If God (to use your illustration of the Sabbath) tells me not to watch football on a Sunday then the command is for me. If others choose to do what God has asked me not to do that doesn't make them sinful nor does it nullify my obedience.

St Francis of Assisi had no possessions, no home and no money. He wore one simple robe and lived on charity. However, if others didn't have the freedom to work and earn money they could not have supplied the 'alms' that Francis depended upon. George Scott Railton was often referred to as a Salvationist Francis of Assisi; however without the wealth of people like Edward Rabbits and Henry Reed the Salvation Army would never have been born. Holiness is about being obedient to what God is telling me and not about worrying about what he is saying to other people. Holiness isn't about comparing me to others it is about allowing the Spirit to create for me my own unique pattern of faith and practice and then living according to it.

My holiness manifesto is what I believe God is demanding of me, if it challenges others to follow suit that's great (as long as the inspiration to follow comes from God). If it doesn't that's fine too.

I can't tell other people what to give up or what to consecrate but what I can do (and will do) is encourage others to give up everything that is sinful and doubtful and consecrate their all to God. What I can and will do is point them to the command to "love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul and body." It is then up to them to work out the detail 'with fear and trembling'.

What must one give up? Everything that is sinful and doubtful.

What must one consecrate? Everything they have.

Time, health and talents presenting,
All that I have shall be thine;
Heart mind and will consecrating,
No longer shall they be mine.

Take thou my life, Lord,
In deep submission I pray,
My all to thee dedicating,
Accept my offering today.
Take thou my life, Lord, I pray;
My all to thee dedicating,
Accept my offering today."

Brindley Boon)

Grace and peace, A

Monday, June 08, 2009

Without holiness...?

We must start to preach holiness! Pure, unadulterated, raw holiness.

Holiness happens when in response to divine conviction we voluntarily agree to renounce everything in our life that is sinful and doubtful and consecrate everything that is left to God. There can't be a Salvationist alive who doesn't understand what it means to renounce sin, but what does the word 'doubtful' mean? It means exactly what it says – if I'm not fully convinced it is a justifiable use of my time, money or resources then it is doubtful and it has to go!

Of course such a commitment will look different with different people because we can only respond to God in the light of current revelation. However, ongoing holiness fuelled by greater revelation must inevitably lead to a more fasted lifestyle and simple existence.

Holiness is tossed around these days as if it were nothing more than a theological discussion topic. Holiness cannot be treated in such a light-hearted way because without holiness a Christian cannot function – at least not for very long.

Following conversion there may be something of a honeymoon period when the enemy has had his nose so bloodied that for a short while he is groggy and unable to focus. However this is a temporary condition and must be followed by holiness if victory over sin is to continue unabated. Soon enough the enemy will return and without holiness the plight of the new believer will end up worse than it was prior to conversion.

24"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first." (Luke 11)

The reality is that because holiness is not properly understood or taught in the western Salvation Army it is therefore hardly ever experienced. By default this means that the vast majority of Salvationists in the west are undoubtedly bound by secret addictive sin. They may have periods of respite, victorious days – maybe even months of abstinence but they are not free and will always ultimately return to their sinful ways. The simple matter is that 'without holiness' consistent Christianity can't happen.

The closest that humanity has ever got to holiness without a new heart or mind is probably best illustrated in the life of the rich young ruler. Here was a man who had kept the commandments since his youth. When the disciples heard Christ dismiss his efforts as incomplete they were astounded and exclaimed 'who then can be saved'. Jesus replied 'with man this is impossible'.

In Romans 8:7-8 Paul says 'The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.'

Holiness happens when God gives us new hearts and minds in which he can (according to Ezekiel) actually move us to follow his decrees and keep his laws. Human hearts cannot follow God whereas holy hearts have a natural desire to obey.

The provision of these new faculties is (as already stated) conditional we must want a new heart, repent of all sin, renounce all that is doubtful, consecrate all that remains, believe in God's power to work the change, faithfully obey God and speak to others about what he has done.

Let me state categorically (and run the risk of being called 'judgemental' in doing so) that people who argue against holiness, or try and water it down, or refer to it as spiritual growth or gradual likeness to Jesus are without doubt slaves of sin. I say that, not in the role of judge and jury but based on simple logic. A man, who cannot swim and refuses the rope or lifebelt thrown to him because he doesn't believe in the ability of either to save him, must be drowning! If holiness is the only power that can deliver me from sin and I deny its power and authenticity then I cannot be delivered!

We need to start preaching this simple but uncomfortable message. We need to preach it with confidence. We need to preach it for the sake of those who are currently forced by sin into uncomfortable double lives where outward righteousness and inward moral poverty try to exist side by side. We must preach it because freedom from sin and full consecration are conditions of revival. We must preach it because only the 'fully saved' can be used to 'fully save' others. We must preach it because it is our God-given denominational witness to the church universal. We must preach it if our claim to be a holiness movement is going to retain any shred of integrity. We must preach it because 'without holiness none shall see the Lord!'

If we fail to preach it and live it we will, both as individuals in an eternal sense and collectively as an Army, die!

I bring my all to Jesus; he hath seen

How my soul desireth to be clean.

Nothing from his altar I withhold

When his cross of suffering I behold;

And the fire descending brings to me



Herbert Howard Booth

Grace and peace, A



Saturday, June 06, 2009

One way!

Thursday evening I had twenty minutes to kill and that is exactly what I did – I killed them! I started playing a stupid game from 'Facebook' called 'Staries". When I clicked on the link 'add application' I could clearly hear God telling me that there were infinitely better ways I could spend 20 minutes but I ignored him. The following day I was 'obligated to defeat' and it was a lesson I mean to learn. It's time that those of us who dare to call ourselves Salvationists stopped pussy-footing around and began to preach the glorious holiness heritage that is ours without hesitation, compromise or apology!

The surrender of one's all means exactly what it says – "all"!

Below are a few quotes from the 1923 edition of the Doctrine Book – the meaning of the text is unequivocal!

"The bestowal of entire sanctification, as with every other gift of God's grace, is conditional — it depends upon the whole-hearted co-operation of the person to be benefited… It is but reasonable that seekers after Holiness should completely renounce everything wrong or doubtful. God could only rightly bestow so great a blessing upon those who separate themselves from all that is opposed to Him... By consecration a man once again yields himself fully to God to live only to please Him. Consecration to God must be both entire and real. To be entire it must include the body, with all its members and powers; the mind, with all its faculties; the heart, with all its capacities; also goods, money, family, influence, reputation, time, ability, life, indeed everything. To be real it must be not in imagination or sentiment merely, but everything must henceforth actually be used as belonging to God and not to ourselves."

On April 27th 2006 God revealed to me a plan for my life. On May 2nd of the same year, after prayer and consultation, I both published this 'manifesto' and pledged myself to it. I included the manifesto in an article published in the Journal of Aggressive Christianity, Issue 43 (June 2006). This was round about the same time that I received a letter from The Salvation Army welcoming me back into Officership. However, by September 2006 I was already confessing (on this blog) my failure to stick to the promises within that divinely revealed plan. A further acknowledgement of disobedience followed in November 2006. On Good Friday 2007 I was still publically admitting my failure to adopt the lifestyle I felt God was demanding of me. On June 5th 2007 I published a posting on my blog called 'Have I grieved thee with an ill kept vow?' in which I criticized Soldiers and Officers who deliberately break their covenants by publically doubting our doctrines and reinstating formal sacraments into Salvation Army meetings. An anonymous comment on that posting reprimanded me in the following way:

"Andrew your holiness manifesto states that it is "an extension of my Articles of War, and is from now on a sacred part of my Salvationist covenant." Yet you have admitted previously that you have not fully complied with its contents. Therefore have you broken your covenant to the Salvation Army and God? You seem so quick to condemn others simply for questioning certain beliefs and practices peculiar to this denomination... Perhaps those that hang on to legalism are the problem."

I must admit that my problem in being true to this manifesto was 60% disobedience and 40% doubt as to whether the demands I was placing upon myself were actually from God or simply the production of that sometimes overwhelming desire to 'self-harm' which is present in the hearts and minds of primitive Salvationists. On June I responded with the comment "like all Salvationists and Officers there have been (and undoubtedly will be) times when I fall short of the promises contained in my covenants but there is a difference between failing, repenting then re-consecrating and deliberately breaking a promise because you think it is no longer valid or because you think the promise is wrong but do not have the courage to renounce it."

On March 14th 2008 yet more public confession appeared with the comment "sadly, I have fallen well short of my self-imposed standards..." but this was followed by the statement "the conviction that created those resolutions has not gone away but intensified." Then last November I posted the following "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'!"

Finally – and it has to be finally (MUST be finally) I concede defeat – holiness must be the surrender of everything – every penny and every minute - even the odd twenty minutes we find here and there. Indeed I am now absolutely convinced that it is our reluctance to renounce the doubtful things, the little almost unnoticeable things that is the cause of our constant defeat.

I'm going to republish my original manifesto here and once more publically declare my intent to live my life this way. For me this is the only way to go.

My Holiness Manifesto

I believe that the following lifestyle manifesto is a gift from God, it is not an attempt to earn God's blessing but is a response to blessings already received, it is not an attempt to win 'salvation by works' it is a commitment to see God's words reflected in my actions.  This manifesto is an extension of my Articles of War, and is from now on a sacred part of my Salvationist covenant. I would encourage others to sign up. 

  • As long as people are hungry I will only eat the minimum required to remain healthy.
  • As long as people go thirsty I will only drink water.
  • I will not waste or mince my words while there are people who remain deaf to God's word.
  • I will not abuse my freedom in Christ but will use it to release those who are bound by sin and addiction.
  • In a world of increasing leisure and dubious entertainment I surrender all my spare time to God to reach the distracted.
  • In a world of increasing materialism and consumerism I will embrace poverty (as much as I practically can) and surrender my money to God to reach the dissatisfied and sell all personal possessions which are not essential to my mission.
  • In a fragmented world of broken relationships, where individuals are increasingly marginalised, I will not forget my own family in my enthusiastic efforts to welcome the excluded.
  • I will remember that rest is a command and obey it even though to do so is against the grain.
  • In an environment damaged through the apathy of greedy industry and lazy humanity I will use the minimum of both natural resources and energy.  Practically, I will wash only with cold water, walk (where possible instead of drive) and where I can travel by public transport.
  • In a world of political, economic and social oppression I will fight for social justice, champion the cause of the forgotten and bring those out of sight into mind. I will make myself aware of, and join in, campaigns for social justice, I will use any purchasing power that comes my way to shop ethically.
  • In a world of political correctness and Christian hypocrisy I will hate and oppose the sin but adamantly refuse to hate the sinner - I will love the unloved as Christ loves me.
  • I am a resource in God's hands made freely available for him to spend as he wishes. I give myself totally and without any reservation to God and the Salvation War.
  • I am dead long live Jesus!

What about everyone else..?

Well your commitment might look different to mine but whatever it looks like it must include everything – especially the little things. If it doesn't then let me assure you that you will be 'obligated to defeat'. We cannot hide the 'devoted things' among our own possessions and expect the result to be holiness. Holiness demands all that's why it's called entire consecration.

Thanks to those who have stuck by me and prayed for me during this three year struggle I am so grateful.

Now let's go to war!

Yours irrepressibly under Christ and over the devil.

Grace and peace, A



Thursday, June 04, 2009

El Ejército de Salvación

I was just wandering through You Tube searching under 'Salvation Army' when I came across several clips placed by a site called 'Radical Salvation'. The site is a real tonic and the Corps Folk at Bronx Tremont must be some of the most passionate Salvationists in the west.

We could do with some of this passion and urgency here in the UK.

Check out some of the videos on You tube as well – especially the Easter open-air meeting – I want to go to the Bronx!!!

Thank you Capitanos Gerardo and Monica Balmori for your inspirational ministry and committed Salvationism!

God give the western Salvation Army a double dose of the spirit of Bronx Tremont – Hallelujah!

Dios te Bendiga!

PS You need a fast connection, lots of bandwidth and a powerful processor - this is a media heavy site!

Grace and Peace, A