Friday, July 31, 2009

Goals, gongs and scriptural paradoxes.

Yesterday I was listening to a news report about the 2012 Olympics in London. The reporter was explaining how the athletes, as part of their training, set personal targets and log their performance on a daily basis. If they fail to meet a target one day then they try and compensate the next. These targets don't just relate to physical activity but include things like diet, meditation, rest and sleep. Every evening they analyse and record their physical, emotional and mental state and any weak areas identified are targeted with new aims and objectives. In addition they use this intense introspection to identify areas of compromise where potential distractions might be taking their focus away from that illusive gold medal.

The report brought to mind two passages of scripture:

1 Corinthians 9:25-27

"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."


Hebrews 12:1-2

"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."

What do I want out of life? I want to be holy. I want to be a successful soul winner. I want to live in the love of God. I want to abide in Christ. I want my life to be nothing other than a perfect reflection of Christ. I want to be a champion of social justice. I want to be a prophetic voice to The Salvation Army. I want to be a mighty warrior... and so I could go on.

All of these objectives are far more worthy than that of becoming an Olympic champion. Yet how does my regime compare to that of an athlete? Is my diet, sleep pattern, training schedule etc as focussed as theirs?

If I ever met an Olympic athlete I would undoubtedly recognise them by their visible commitment to their goal. That commitment would affect their whole life, the time they went to bed and got up, the food they ate and the amount of leisure time they had – all of these things would be impacted by their Olympic dream.

What about my dream, what about the Kingdom of God? Isn't that worth as much as a Gold medal?

Today's Scripture Readings:

1 Chronicles 9:1-10:13

David's mighty men – imagine being listed in the bible as a 'mighty man'! I don't know who these men were or what they did – but here are their names, preserved for all time in the eternal word of God.

Lord, may I, through your grace, find my name so listed when I stand before you in your kingdom. Amen!

Proverbs 18:17-19:2

"It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way." (19:2)

This September I am starting an MA in theology – those who know me may well be surprised as I have always been something of an anti-academic! I'd much rather be surrounded by ignorant practitioners than knowledgeable theoreticians. However, people seem more likely to listen to you when you have a few letters after your name and so at the Army's behest I've agreed to undertake this study. This will be in addition to my role as a Corps Officer - if I'm honest, (and where can I be honest if not in my journal?) I'm quite looking forward to it J

Romans 14

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (v17)

"Everything that does not come from faith is sin" (v23)

To me these two verses present something of an internal contradiction. This is something I will have to continue to battle with. I will either have to find 'righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' in some parts of my life or I will have to surrender them. There is no room in my life for doubtful things. I think the key is found at the end of verse 17 "in the Holy Spirit" – our standards of behaviour and chosen lifestyle have to be determined here – in the centre of God's love. Holiness is the outcome of my relationship with God as well as the basis for it.

Grace and peace


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gentle exchange

I had a dream last night in which God asked me to surrender some recently acquired habits – to some people these things would be perfectly acceptable pastimes – but God could see that they had the potential to shift my focus and take my eyes of Jesus. Anyway, it's not these activities that I want to discuss but the manner in which the request was made. Jesus didn't demand but asked me to surrender in the most gentle and disarming way. There was no struggle here – he could have asked for anything and I would have given it. The exchange was one of absolute love. I have never had such a gentle nor as effective an interaction with Christ. Needless to say that, through his grace, I have gladly complied with his request. It is a truly wonderful thing to be loved by Christ!

Grace and peace, A

Today's bible readings:

1 Chronicles 4:9-5:26

Proverbs 18:6-16

My mouth has always been one of my greatest strengths and one of my worst weaknesses. I am an impulsive (and compulsive) speaker! A friend of mine once said to me 'Andre your mind is like diamonds in mud, we all hang around and listen because every now and again a diamond falls out but most of the time all we get is mud!'

I want to introduce some quality control into my talking!

Today's reading from Proverbs chapter 18 mentions the mouth three times:

7 A fool's mouth is his undoing,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.

8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to a man's inmost parts.

13 He who answers before listening—
that is his folly and his shame.

I have been guilty of all three of these things: speaking foolishly, gossiping and answering before listening (indeed even before the other person has finished speaking!)

"Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 141:3

Romans 11:5-11:32

Monday, July 27, 2009

Teach me how to love thee

The more I study holiness the more I realise it is about love more than everything else!

It will undoubtedly involve self sacrifice and obedience but they must be responses to God's love.

We have to be 'in Christ' to be effective.

I struggle with this. I know how to pray for people and situations and my prayers are answered but I'm not sure I'm that good at just being 'still' and knowing that God is all that he says he is.

"Teach me how to love thee, teach me how to pray..."

Today's bible readings: I'm a busy person, definitely a Martha rather than a Mary! In recent months I have become painfully aware that the only thing that really matters in life is to regularly spend time in the 'presence and power' of God.

Lord, teach me how to handle silence and inactivity, teach me how to pray, 'teach me how to love thee... better day by day'

Larnelle Harris sums it up well when he says...

"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..."

1 Chronicles 2:18-4:7

When Paul said to Timothy that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" he hadn't recently read the first few chapters of 1 Chronicles. My bible reading plan takes me through scripture once a year and I have to confess that the last two day's OT passages have left me cold!

Psalm 89:19-29

David's understanding of God was almost Christian in its familiarity and intimacy 'He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Saviour.'(v26)

Romans 10:1-11:10

"If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Verses 9-13)

Where would we be without Paul – if you could only have access to one book in the bible which would it be? For me it would be a difficult choice between Romans and 1 John!

Grace and peace, A

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Families and fundamental things!

Yesterday sounded a severe warning!

We had a great family day – went out shopping, had a lovely meal at a Garden centre, laid turf in the backyard, planted flowers and even rounded off the day playing Monopoly!

However, when I got up in the morning I got straight into the day without sitting down with the Lord, praying, reading his word and listening to him. I always intended to but just didn't get around to it! This will have given the enemy an opportunity to undermine my relationship with the 'life-giver', would have weakened me, made me less effective and (if I allow the practice to continue) set me up for a fall.

I am a 'morning person', I like to get up when the sun does and most days God wakes me long before the rest of the family have even thought about getting up. This gives me the opportunity and time to make my devotions the first thing I do in the morning! Thank you Lord for pointing this out, I pray that you will keep me ever alert to the gradual influence of the enemy and keep my eyes focussed on you.

Today's bible readings: 1 Chronicles 1:1-2:55,

Psalm 89:14-18

"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you." (v14)

Holiness and social justice are inextricably linked, to try and maintain one without the other is impossible!

Romans 9:22-10:4

"What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." (9:30-33)

Holiness is not about what I do or sacrifice it is about love, it is about my relationship with God. Of course holiness will include self-denial but such acts of sacrifice must always be a response to God's love and not done out of a sense of cold duty! If I give up coffee because God asks me to and I want to please him – Hallelujah! If I give up coffee because I think that such a sacrifice will in some way or other save me from the enemy – ouch!

There is a magic formula for victory and it is called grace – it comes through prayer, bible study, and fellowship with other Christians – it comes through abiding in Christ. There is no other way to enjoy a 'career of uninterrupted victory over sin' than to 'maintain contact with the life giver' – Amen!

Grace and peace, A

Friday, July 24, 2009

You are always there...

Some days God the Holy Spirit seems to compensate for my emotional and spiritual tiredness. Some days I seem to float through the day unaware of the pitfalls and perils all around me. It's almost like being on spiritual anti-depressants – as if God in his mercy – seeing my plight has decided to numb me to the presence and influence of the enemy. Today has been such a day. I've managed to get a lot done, caught up with administration, answered emails, made phone calls – generally caught up with everything. The devil has been barking at me from a distance but God seems to have encased me in a bubble which the enemy can't penetrate. Today I remembered to put my spiritual armour on – I try and do this every day but sometimes I forget. Maybe it was that act of spiritual self defence that protected me. On reflection it almost certainly was; thank you Jesus for the provision of such wonderful and practical resources.

Today's bible readings: Hosea 10:1 to 11:11

Can't help but think of The Salvation Army and its current state of rebellion when I read the following verses from Hosea 11:

1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.

2 But the more I called Israel,
the further they went from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.

3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.

4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck
and bent down to feed them.

Psalm 89:1-13,

6 For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD ?
Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?

7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
he is more awesome than all who surround him.

8 O LORD God Almighty, who is like you?
You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

Romans 8:8:39

Do you not agree with me that Romans chapter 8 stands at the heart of the bible like some great industrial generator – masses of metaphorical steel and concrete, huffing and puffing with power beyond comprehension, ceaselessly driving the whole gospel forward!

The spirit of God actually prays for us – using our feeble words and groans!

"26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

Everything that happens to me God can take and use to our mutual benefit!

"28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

In Jesus Christ I am irrepressible!

"37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thank you Jesus – Hallelujah and Amen!

Grace and peace, A

Thursday, July 23, 2009

All the memories of deeds gone by...

Today has been a day when 'all the memories of deeds gone by, rise within me and thy power defy.' It is very difficult to live with a converted addict – whether their poison is alcohol, slot machines, drugs or sex. Sin that has been forgiven still has power and the enemy will do everything it can to use memories of the past to inflict misery and pain in the present.

With me this happens in two ways:

First of all I find myself re-running mental recordings of all the wicked things I've done in my life (this usually happens when I'm lying in bed or standing in the street selling the War Cry!) The enemy urges me to focus on the stupidity of my actions and on the pain they caused others.

Secondly, he uses innocent events to resurrect feelings of mistrust in those I love. For example, I may be late home one night and unable to contact Tracey (or maybe just not think to call) and then the enemy puts all kinds of ideas into her mind "where is he?" – "what is he up to?"

The first method of attack I can (through the grace of God) deal with by following the advice of Paul and "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Spiritual warfare also quickly sends the enemy scurrying!

The second method of attack is more difficult to counter and requires a great deal of discernment and wisdom – the truth is that even now I can fully understand why trust is so difficult – because I am, like all sinners, always only one decision away from disaster.

Praise God – time heals!

Praise God – 'love covers a multitude of sins!'

Praise God – 'we are more than conquerors through him who loved us'

"He breaks the power of canceled sin,

He sets the prisoner free;

His blood can make the foulest clean,

His blood avails for me."

Today's bible readings: Hosea 8:1 to 9:17, Proverbs 17:25-18:5, Romans 8:1-17

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (v1&2)

"You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you." (v9-11)

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (v15-17)

Grace and peace, A

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All change...

I've been keeping a journal since April this year. The journal is an honest, no-holds barred record of my personal spiritual pilgrimage. It is (as one would expect) a record of ups and downs, highs and lows and victories and defeats. This morning I read through the journal from the beginning and although I can see steady progress the narrative actually betrays far too much inconsistency in my relationship with God.

I've been blogging since February 2006 and my posts also reflect something of a vacillating approach to Christianity. Both my journal and my blog expose a man who at times has been "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine".

If I were asked to list just three Christian essentials in 2009 I would without hesitation say (in no particular order) lifestyle, accountability and holiness.

By holiness I mean a life that is born out of and sustained by an uncompromising and all consuming love for God. By lifestyle I mean the evidence of that love clearly visible in the way I live and the choices I make. By accountability I mean a fulfilment of John's command 'to walk in the light as he is in the light' – to literally turn the torch of judgment upon ourselves and to do so in the most public arena possible.

I want to bring my blog and my journal together in a way that will increase my accountability and thereby fuel my love for God and constrain my lifestyle. So starting today I am going to start posting my journal entries in my blog – in effect I am going to turn my blog into an online journal. Obviously this is a risky undertaking but one that I feel compelled to do.

God knows all about me so there is no real point in hiding anything back.

My Journal has always included the scripture passages I have read that day, any insights or revelations received, confession and prayer.

So here we go: Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Bible Readings for today:

Hosea 6:1-7:16, Psalm 88:10-18 and Romans 7:7-25

1 "Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.

2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."

It is definitely time to return to the Lord! God has certainly used me in the past and still does today but when I compare what might have been with what has been then the analogy of being 'torn apart' is not far from the truth. The same goes for The Salvation Army – even without our full cooperation he will take and use what he can – God is at war and that means he will always make the best use of whatever is to hand. However, there is no real glory in my warfare or that of the western Salvation Army... but if we 'press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.'

We've just endured a 36 hour power cut! No TV, no internet, no PC's, no hot water, no showers etc. It set my mind thinking of that old SA phrase 'maintaining contact with the life giver' – we lost our power because kids vandalised the power supply causing a fire which substantially damaged the power infrastructure for Dartford. How many times have I(through a careless sin or thoughtless act) vandalised the lines which connect me to God?

I must maintain the supply!

That means being obedient to God at all times, spending quality time with him and his word. Without a direct supply of divine power my ministry will be non-existent and my holiness seriously flawed.

Father forgive me for wilful spiritual vandalism, usually carried out when I am bored or distracted – help me to 'maintain contact with the life giver' at all times.


Grace and peace,

Friday, July 17, 2009

‘Sin in the camp’ from the top!

The recent Salvation Army has produced a written statement endorsed by all international leaders. The full text will be published in SA periodicals but in the meantime you can find the full text here at Jin Knagg's blog.

Below is a quote from the statement:

"... a vision of the worldwide Salvation Army kneeling in repentance, prayer and rededication at the Mercy Seat. We have spoken together of all that this might mean for the Army, seeking new grace, new spiritual power, new divine prompting, and asking for and receiving afresh God's mercy....

... Also we affirm our conviction that, to be truly useful to God, the Army needs to be pure and free from sin, and that senior leaders must, by grace, be effective role models in this. We feel the urging of the Holy Spirit to examine our own hearts afresh to see if there be any wicked way within us. We want to yield again to the demands of divine love, to return to first things, to cast aside distractions unpleasing to God, and to be in a relation of entire obedience to the Father. We acknowledge our constant need of grace.

We renew our sacred vows and covenants as both soldiers and officers of the Army, thanking God from our hearts for the privilege of the calling he has placed upon us. We declare again our availability and our readiness, as senior officers, to go anywhere to do anything at any time under God and within the structures of the Army, seeking only the advancement of his Kingdom. We acknowledge our humanity and weakness, seeking the unique strength that God provides when we are weak and he is strong. We confess our limitedness, knowing that God is all sufficient. We abandon explicitly any desire that has sprung up in our hearts to place self first. We ask for the prayers of our fellow Salvationists to help us in this renewal of our covenants as soldiers and as officers, and in so doing we recognise our vulnerability and our personal need of divine help. In sharing this Spiritual Statement with Salvationists everywhere, it is our hope and prayer that it will be received with humble and understanding hearts, and that by the abundant grace of God it will be used to inspire and prompt others to seek with us repentance, with renewed purity and holiness in Christ."

In his first interview as General Shaw Clifton said in response to the following question:

Do you have a sense of where that breaking and moulding needs to happen? What strategies do you want to use?"

"It is too early to be specific, but this High Council has mandated the next General to find appropriate, loving ways of asking The Salvation Army some fairly awkward, difficult questions. We are all exercised by the Army's inability to grow numerically in certain parts of the world. We rejoice that in many places the Army is rapidly expanding. Globally we are bigger than ever before and getting bigger. This High Council has mandated me to ask: If God is withholding numerical growth from parts of the Army, why is that blessing withheld? Rather than discussing strategy, method, ceremony or even identity, I have a deep sense in my heart that God wants us to follow the example of the Old Testament prophets when they sensed God's blessing was withheld. The prophets went to God's people asking: Is there sin in the camp? Now that is a very difficult and pointed question. One has to be very tender and sensitive before even raising it but perhaps God is saying, ever so gently and ever so lovingly: I love you, Salvation Army, but would you please look within and see if there is sin in the camp, and if there is anything that causes the blessing to be withheld we must deal with it. Some issues will be personal to individual Salvationists, others will be corporate. I would like to find a way as General of being a catalyst and put that biblical question to Salvationists. We may find that as we draw nearer to him, closer to him in purity and righteousness, the blessings begin to flow where at present they sometimes appear to be withheld."

I'd never noticed before (until I read the text again this morning) that General Clifton said "this High Council has mandated the next General..." The call to repentance came from our leaders, it was a corporate call from the very top of our organisation.

On Wednesday night at a united churches prayer meeting in Dartford - knowing nothing of this leaders' statement - I urged the church ministers gathered in our hall to repent both personally and on behalf of the denominations they represented. I then went on to offer a prayer of repentance on behalf of TSA.

There is 'sin in the camp' and until we remove 'the consecrated things we have hidden among our own possessions' we will be 'obligated to defeat' - hold a million seminars, enquiries and conferences and nothing will change. If we repent then the Promised Land lies ahead of us!!!

Thank you to our leaders for their discernment, honesty and humility.

May we have ears to hear, minds that understand and hearts that will follow!

Grace and peace, A

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Premature death, hawks and the wisdom of God

27 years ago when my younger brother (who was just 21 at the time) died of cancer I found myself turning to Job for some kind of explanation. David was fit and healthy and once diagnosed was only ill for six weeks.

Recently we have said goodbye to several Officers in the UK who were all promoted to glory considerably earlier than expected – the most recent two being Jo Norton and Christine Budding (who went to heaven yesterday evening). Like my Brother Christine's demise was sudden and unexpected – 11 weeks ago she didn't even know that she was poorly! Jo leaves a husband and a young family, Christine leaves behind her a brother, her close friends, especially the Dare family who looked after her at home up until the day before her promotion to Glory, the Corps she led so well at Carshalton and the Horsham Corps who were so excited that she was due to take command in a few weeks time.

Yesterday a hawk caught a starling in my garden! I couldn't believe it – I know that the Thames isn't that far away and the heath is just up the road but this is urban Dartford and I didn't expect to see a Hawk with its prey in my garden! The Hawk patiently perched on top of the starling with its talons wrapped around the condemned bird's body. It sat like that for ten minutes patiently waiting for its quarry to stop wriggling. Then once dinner was dead it began to rip the carcass apart. Not the most pleasant sight yet strangely awe-inspiring as I watched the strength and majesty of this perfectly designed killing machine. A later inspection of the garden confirmed that everything had been eaten apart from a few feathers and the starling's beak!

In Job 39:26-27 we read "Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high?"

Will we ever understand the inexplicable sorrow of premature death – or indeed any kind of apparently unjust suffering? No, I don't suppose we will but what we can say – not with the resigned sorrow of Job - but with a confidence born of Christ and his resurrection "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" for "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;"

Christine is with God of that there can be no doubt, the Hawk will probably not hunt for a day or two and as life rolls on so death will inevitably put in the occasional untimely appearance – let us make sure that we who are left do our absolute most to squeeze every possible opportunity out of our lives and never take our friends, family and ministry for granted.

May God bless and comfort the bereaved and may God keep us faithful unto death!

Grace and peace, A

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Great Commission(ing)

At last, Tracey is a fully commissioned and ordained (never quit understood that bit?) Officer in The Salvation Army.

Can there be a higher calling than this - to be a covenanted leader of men and women in a holy war against sin and injustice?

I know that Tracey will (by God's grace) continue to be a fruitful evangelist and pastor and much needed brake to my own somewhat reckless and impulsive approach to leadership.

If I could have custom designed a wife, mother, mission partner and soul-mate to share my life with I could not have improved on the one that God has provided.

20 years ago this November we went out for the first time (to see Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in 'Ghost') when I got back to my little one-bedroom flat I knelt down at the side of my bed and asked God if Tracey could be my wife. A week later she was going to say she didn't want to see me again but before she had the chance to tell me I handed her a poem I'd written – on the strength of the poem she decided to give the relationship a bit more time – six weeks later I proposed and she said yes!

Sure, we've had our tough times (usually due to my stupidity) but 20 years on we are more in love and enamoured with each other than we've ever been.

If there are any youngsters out there reading this who want to know the secret of happiness then find the right person and marry them, stick with them whatever happens (richer, poorer, sickness, health etc)

Then ask yourself if God is calling you to be a Salvation Army Officer (he almost certainly is if you listen hard enough) and then immediately 'leave everything and follow him'. Again – stick it out – there is nothing glamorous or pleasant about war and Officership will certainly be extremely tough and demanding (if you do it right!)

What's the secret of happiness? Get married (to the right person) then answer the call to full time covenanted leadership in The Salvation Army.

It worked for me – I think I am one of the happiest and most fulfilled men alive :-)

Grace and peace, A

Friday, July 03, 2009

Commissioning beckons...

After serving for 9 years in fruitful full time Corps leadership and training for 4 years as a distance learner the 'eternal cadet' is commissioned tomorrow.

My beautiful wife and equal partner in mission, Tracey, will become a Lieutenant in The Salvation Army. You can imagine the atmosphere at home and at the Corps is at fever pitch. The banners have been made, the whistles polished and tomorrow we celebrate. How it must hurt the Devil when new Officers step out onto the battlefield and in the name of Christ attempt to win the world for Jesus!

Our DC describes Tracey as the most experienced newly commissioned Officer in history! Is that true? What does it matter? Experience, intelligence, gifting, competence – all these things are helpful but without that burning divine passion for souls it counts for nothing. Just as 'love covers a multitude of sins' so it also covers a multitude of apparent failings. The SA's most successful Officers were largely uneducated, illiterate and common (one of the most frequent criticisms of the early SA was its inability to aspirate the letter H).

What use is a diploma or a degree if you don't know how to snatch one of Satan's prisoners from under his nose?

Join me in praying for 'The Witnesses for Christ' (especially tomorrow in London and around the world) as God the Holy Spirit unleashes them on the world, the flesh and the devil.

Forgive for corrupting Shakespeare but I can't resist the following butchered quote from Henry V:

"Cry God for Tracey, England and St. George and let slip the dogs of war!"

Wherever you are sing the following song with me, mean it like your life depends on it (actually it does) and feel the kingdom of Satan tremble in the certain expectation of defeat!


"Dear Lord, I do surrender Myself, my all, to thee;
Myself, my all, to thee;
My time, my store, my talents,
So long withheld by me.
I've heard the call for workers.
The world's great need I see
O send me to the rescue,
I'm here, my Lord, send me!

Here am I, my Lord, send me,
Here am I, my Lord, send me,
I surrender all to obey thy call,
Here am I, my Lord, send me.

Too long at ease in Zion
I've been content to dwell,
While multitudes are dying
And sinking into Hell.
I can no more be careless,
And say there's naught to do,
The fields are white to harvest
And labourers are few.

O hear, thou God of Heaven,
The vows that now I make!
To thee my life is given,
'Tis for the lost world's sake.
To serve thee I am ready,
Though friends and foes despise,
I now present my body
A living sacrifice.

Grace and peace, A