Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Friends, fellowship and retreats...

A couple of weeks ago we had Willis Howell over for tea. I love meeting internet buddies for the first time and I am pleased to say that Willis did not disappoint. It is always good to meet kindred spirits. For want of a much, much better cliché Willis and I definitely sing from the sane hymn sheet!

On Thursday, last week, Xander came to tea – it is hard to believe that it is now 6 months since he went into College and that it is a year and a half since he moved to the UK!

Both of these men need our prayers, a leader and a fledgling leader yet both standing at the heart of the battlefield, both with the clash of steel in their ears and the smell of warfare in their nostrils.

Yesterday I came to Ashburnham for Divisional Officers' Retreat and it would appear that many of my colleague Officers find themselves similarly at the heart of intense spiritual conflict.

Let us not forget to pray for each other, intercession is a mighty and effective gift.

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts and our cares.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathising tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart
And hope to meet again.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free;
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity. (John Fawcett)

Grace and peace, A

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Born again!

Working for Jesus Christ in the transformation of people's lives has got to be one of the greatest privileges and experiences an individual can have.

Almost a year ago Lee walked into the Salvation Army Hall at Dartford. Kicked out by his partner, separated from his children, Lee was a street homeless alcoholic who couldn't remember being sober since 15.

We managed to organise detox for Lee at TSA's Grieg House in Poplar. Following this we had hoped to get Lee into residential rehab but the waiting list was so long that we had no option but to support Lee in the local community.

To cut a long story short Lee went to the Mercy Seat and got wonderfully saved! Lee hasn't had an alcoholic drink since March 2009.

Yesterday I helped Lee move into his new house!

We hugged and he thanked Tracey and I for changing his life and then we very quickly acknowledged that the change was down to God and we were simply his servants.

Lee still has a long way to go but hopefully we will get him linked up with the local Corps where he can continue to grow in grace.

Can there honestly be a better job than that of a Salvation Army Corps Officer?

Grace and peace, A

Thursday, February 04, 2010

For even a child may serve the Lord...

Speaking as someone with 26 years experience as a parent I can say with confidence that family life has its highs and lows. Last night was an unquestionable high!

In bible study we dealt with the difficult but important subject of spiritual warfare and demonic oppression. My middle daughter (aged 13) asked to sit in and do her homework; I was pleased that although she was doing her homework she seemed to be listening to the bible study as well. My youngest daughter (aged 11) has a downstairs bedroom next to the living room where the bible study was being held. Unbeknown to me she was listening to every word being said and later asked if she could attend bible study in the future. That alone would have qualified as a high but then she went on to share more with me.

She explained that as she was listening she'd understood the enemy's tactics, 'the devil,' she said 'together with all his demons is trying to pull as many people down to hell as he can whereas God is trying, together with his angels, to pull everyone up to heaven.' Bethany decided some time ago that she wanted to be a Salvation Army Officer and has always been very spiritually aware and mature for her years. She went on to say that 'you and Mummy are working with God to help him get as many people into heaven as you can. I know it's always been understood that one day I would be a Salvation Army Officer but tonight' she continued 'as I was listening to you talk, I got my calling, I knew that God was asking me to help fight against sin and the devil.'

In addition, she also told me that as she had been eavesdropping on bible study she had been monitoring an unpleasant conversation on MSN between some of her friends. She told me how she had eventually intervened and brought the conversation to an end and then prayed with the injured parties online.

In the bible study, in the midst of our conversation, we got onto the subject of Paul and his 'thorn in the flesh'. I explained to the group that the enemy will always attack us first at our weakest point; he'll twist that thorn in our side in an attempt to distract us from our mission.

Bethany has a lot of complicated medical problems and she can become critically ill very quickly. As she had been listening she had identified these problems as her 'thorn' and assured me that no matter how much the devil attacked her she would, in the name of Jesus, stand her ground. As she shared with me there was a glow in her face and an obvious excitement in her delivery. This was undoubtedly one of those very special moments that God gives to parents.

As I prayed with her I remembered that time 11 years ago when, as a newborn baby, she very nearly died because her medical needs had not yet been identified. At that time God gave me a promise for Bethany, a verse from 1 Samuel 1: 27 "27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." When I was given that promise I handed my daughter over to God in a solemn covenant – it would appear he is coming to take what is rightly his – Hallelujah!

Grace and peace, A

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I’m the boy you killed…

I'm not normally susceptible to advertising but the most recent road safety campaign in the UK has really affected me and impacted my behaviour behind the wheel.

In the advert a middle aged man stares in his bathroom mirror haunted by the image of the boy he killed while speeding. Later he spots the dead eight-year-old while taking a bus, when he gets to work the dead boy is under his desk; viewers then see the driver tormented as the boy's dead body lies alongside his bed as the man tries to sleep. The advert finishes with the slogan: "Kill your speed or live with it."

You can't get away from this advert as it also features on the radio - in the radio adverts young victims tell how their memories linger with the motorists who took their lives.
One says: "At the weekends, I'm there. On holiday I'm there, building sandcastles. I'm there beside his son. At night he tries to forget. But I'm always there. I'm the boy he killed five years ago because he was speeding. And now he has to live with it. Think."

I don't consider myself a dangerous or illegal driver but sometimes I am distracted or in a hurry, now every time I get behind the wheel this series of adverts haunts me and changes the way I drive.

Maybe the church ought to run a similar series of adverts to be played to congregations on a Sunday. It could run something like this: Everywhere the subject goes they are followed by a huge crowd of people – poor, ragged, abused, fat, thin, rich, black, and white – a whole cross section of society.

The voiceover could say something like "We're the people that went to hell because you were too timid to tell us about Jesus, we're the people who starved to death because you were too distracted to feed us, we're the children who were abused because you chose to look the other way, we're the trafficked people who were postituted because you didn't care…"

What might the slogan be?

Any suggestions?

Grace and peace, A