Hi! Just a fab section of Captain Steve Court’s blog to think about. Its fab:
“We didn’t just talk about evangelism and read books on it. We kitted up and headed for the front and never stopped to inquire politely of people “would you like to join us?” We lived out heroic lives amid the everyday traffic and people flocked to our colours. The only question we asked was “Can you keep up?” We were heroes, to saints and sinners alike.”Geoff is describing the primitive Salvation Army. And my pulse jacks up when I read it. We’ve got some warriors here on our front who are going for it in a similar way. In most places open air meetings are out of style. Our guys do them at least twice a week. The march consists of a portable sound system sitting in a grocery cart (rescued from a back alley) blasting the live music of soldiers all sallied up (that is, in uniform!) shouting the praises of Yahweh through a tough block of hurt and sin. Then they set up at a little ‘park’ and sing and preach and pray and testify their hearts out to crowds that seem to be growing both larger and slightly more hostile (by that I only mean that there are more hecklers- I guess they are catching our schedule). And when they go home at the end of the meeting, it is to slum rooms just a couple of blocks away (in other words- they live there).They are in the midst of crafting heroic lives like the warriors Geoff describes above. I esteem them. May God multiply their number to billions. If you can empathise then please raise up as many as you can. If you can only sympathise then please take the plunge yourself.
Excellent. Have we lost our bottle? Do we convince ourselves that our tried and tested warfare won’t work? Do we have the courage? Are we too sophisticated?
Watching the movie Gladiator on television at the moment…its a bit gory, but it has brought something into focus for me. When you are in the thick of the battle, it can be disorientating…confusion can set in…its only when you review things that you can see what you have won and lost.
It also helps to have the right armour on…if you don’t, it involves a lot difficulty in battle because of it. Prayer in the Spirit, faith, trust, the word of God…all necessary. How can we possibly be of any success in the Christian life if we do not take care of our spirits? It has been pointed out that the only bit of the body in Ephesians 6 that is not protected is our backs…that means that firslty we must not turn back in our service for the Lord, and secondly, we must be aware of the weak spots where the devil and his agents will attack.
Who dares to say that the Christian life is not a battle? Who dares to say that the Christian life is all glorious? The only thing we can do at times it to prepare properly for the fight. In these days, as the world goes its way and we continue to cling to the Lord, the times will get difficult.
We have God’s promise of protection and his promise of eternal life. The life and salvation of our village lies with us. Will we fight? It will cost, but will we fight?
Interesting day. Led prayers at North Somerset Council this evening…first Salvationist ever to do so apparently. I guess some were not 100% impressed. But hey, I think integrity, honest and justice are good qualities that wee need to pray for our local government. Nah, I don’t think they minded, some of them weren’t listening anyway. But its good to announce the Kingdom in a place the Kingdom isn’t thought about much.
Anyway, have been thinking all the way through today though about people’s experience of God. For many people it can be an intelectual exercize, and don’t get me wrong, its great to work out our faith in our heads. In fact, I think is important to think through what we believe unless we become thick. But even for the most spiritual amongst us, we often stop short of experiencing God in all His fulness.
My experience of God has been progressive since my dramatic conversion. He touched my life enough for me to realise he was there and to put my faith in him…then I did the thinking out and it worked. But I knew from the Bible there is so much more. The Holy Spirit enabled me to believe and to be born again, but his second big visit to me transformed my Christian life and understanding. Traditionally, Salvos of old have called this “a second blessing” or “the blessing of a clean heart.” Both can be misleading if you take them out of the contexts they were expressed, but they are saying the same thing – that there is so much more that the Holy Spirit wants to do.
I believe that “charismatic” Christianity is normal Christianity. Look at the New Testament. The Holy Spirit comes as part of the package, but some of us don’t get beyond taking off the first wrapper. The Spirit brings his “charis,” his gifts of grace to us for use in ministry. Spiritual gifts are not for hiding or for personal consumption. They are not to be hidden either nor shoudl we presume that we are arrogant if we say “well, the Holy Spirit has gifted me with this.”
What am I saying? There is more the Spirit gives than just a cosy cuddle at the end of the sermon or during our favourite song. He is a Rebel with the Ultimate Cause..to ignite the hearts of Christians and fill them with his supernatural power. We need to binge on the Spirit now and again, get drunk (re Acts 2). God wants to empower his people, but the devil doesn’t want God’s people empowered…be warned.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Hallelujah. We’ve started Red Shield Appeal!
Anyway, as I was popping envelopes through the doors this morning and went to one particular door and noticed the surname on the plaque…Friedland. My mind went straight away to Anna, someone we met during our time in Glasgow. Anna was Swedish, lived round the corner and had started to come to our Alpha Course. She came into contact with us through a children’s dedication we did.
Anna came to a few sessions, then we didn’t see her. I sent her a note to ask how she was and then her boyfriend turned up to the door to say that she had committed suicide.
Did she hear enough to save her? Could we have said more? Could we have helped her t be set free quicker?
All those questions went through my mind as I enveloped. We so often loose the sense of urgency that the gospel has weighted behind it. The current way of living out our faith will never do.
“Soldiers of our God, arise,
the day is drawing nearer.
Shake the slumber from your eyes
the light is growing clearer.
Sit no longer idly by,
while the heedless millions die.
Lift the blood stained banner high
and take the field for Jesus.”
yours in the fight
We have some great youger people in our corps. Some of our teenagers are a real example of well thought out faith, but sincere faith of the heart too. They also speak with a reality about the fight they are in, accepting fully that the devil tries to trip them up and that they know they can turn to prayer. They seem to take God at His word and they refresh me…I can get cynical.
We all know in the corps that there are perhaps some of us who don’t think out our faith that well…we are not always good at letting God into every area. We are not always very good at accepting the reality of the fight we are in with ourselves, the way the world works and the devil. We can dress correctly, but perhaps we shouldn’t be so daring as to put our uniform on our backs sometimes.
And the strange thing is that we can look at our teenagers unapprovingly for not only their youthfulness and the fact that they can’t always be bothered to fit into our moulds, and even more unapprovingly because they are not wearing the right clothes. I’d rather have 100 people who have strong strong convictions about faith and are active in the corps than have a 100 people who look right, but they have not settled it in thier own lives that they are not just playing at toy soldiers.
We need to think seriously in these days about what we falsely call “standards.” If by standards we mean “compliance” then we are barking up the wrong tree…however, if by standards we mean a commitment to prayer, bible study, active involvement in corps ministry, a desire to meet and worship God, a willingess to talk to their friends about Jesus, then I would 100% support we uphold “standards.” But really, it is our young people who will give us the better example.
We need to allow our young people to rise and lead us forward. They know their generation, they know the shape of things to come and more importantly, they are seeking God now in these years more than some of us knew how to do when we were that age. Never before has there been a generation who have grasped that they need to re-package the life changing gospel in stuff that their peers will be able to connect with in a real way. More power to them.
So we harrassed the community this afternoon with our first corps motorcade…looked for a moment that the rain might let us down, but the sun did burst through when we stopped for our open airs. We had some mighty speakers blowing out some praise and worship, cars decorated, the whole lot. The benefit of the day? Well, I guess some of us were actually encouraged by the joy of sharing our faith and praying for our community out in the open. And, well, we prayed a good bit of peace and blessing into the streets as we drove through them. There were some cracking conversations going on, people stopping to listen, waving as we went past.
If you can’t find the tap to get a drink, how can you get a drink? We need to be visible, whether it is in a ‘traditional’ way like our motorcade today or whether it is wearing something to identify us in the crowd.
Unifrom gets bad press these days. And perhaps for society at large, its not terribly helpful in the sense that some people wouldn’t be seen dead in a regular SA uniform, but there is a lot to be said by visibility. STOP PRESS: I would rather have my whole congregation wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a Red Shield on it on Sundays, something that can be worn casually every day of the week than have a whole corps who dress up nice on a Sunday. Sure, you can’t stand at the top of a coffin leading a funeral in a t-shirt, but this is the practicalities of living and ministering in a community, to our friends and neighbours.
Visibility….do people have to look deep into your eyes to see Jesus or should we make it a bit easier?
Some weird guys in the early church bought themselves some tall poles, climbed up the top of them and just sat there so that people could see them and come and talk spiritual with them. Sound extreme? Yeah…but no one would have taken notice if they were sitting on the temple steps.