“Hmmm…..Army renewal?” I hear you say. “What’s that?” I hear you ask. Well…I guess I mean a lot of things. I believe God birthed The Salvation Army to be a vessel he could use in a powerful way and I think when we walked along his path he used us as that. But its my guess we went stale, not only in practice…no, those are the symptoms of something deeper.
We went stale inside. I have a feeling I know at what point in history it happened, but thats irrelevant. But you see…our commitment to radical holiness became a dangerous legalism. Our commitment to service for the King of Kings became slavery to a demanding movement. Our desire to be visible and available in our communities became a show of parade ground soldiers in expensive suits and a barrier to belonging to the Kingdom. Our commitment to the war has lessened as we care more about our own selves than the state of the souls around us. We were a part of God’s church that was turning the world (and the church) upside down which has now gone full circle and we need someone to upset us!
But God is raising up the prophets amongst us. And what do we do? We do as people of faith have always done to their prophets. Abuse them. Yes, we throw them out of our training colleges, we sicken them with internal politics, we abuse them emotionally and spiritually to the extent that we should be ashamed. If we don’t agree with them, we appoint them to places where they can’t weild wider influence. Oh we need to repent. But the spirit of the prophet will not be silenced.
As the prophets of old called his people back to the standards and call of God, so do todays prophets. I have been called back to God’s standards and purposes through his prophets in these days that I might also fulfil my role alongside them.
My mission is to hold up the call of God upon his Salvation Army and its soldiers. Its why I bother to put my rank on my shoulders in the morning. Key characteristics that God HAS called and is still calling His Salvation Army to:
Renewed Radical Holiness
The two clarion cries of the Salvation Army are not “Salvation!” and “Service!” They are “Salvation!” and “Holiness!” We believe it is possible not to sin, that God can so empower us every day to keep us from temptation. More than that, we believe that God desires that we be more like Jesus in every way, not just the segment of life we call our “spiritual life” but in our politics, our purchasing, our work, our families, our morality…everything. We have lowered the bar because we don’t think that God demands that we be holy as he is holy but thats what his word says.
Renewed Radical Salvation
We are ashamed these days to say that its either Jesus or hell. Really, we are trying to be nice, but nice is no good. Its lovely to believe that all good people go to heaven, and yes, God is the judge, but he has let us know his standard for salvation…we need to pass through Jesus. Non-negotiable. And so, if we are a “salvation” army, we must remember what we mean by salvation. It means we are saved from eternal separation from God and that we work to help others have that experience.
Radicaly Spiritually Renewed.
The Salvation Army was one of the parents of the world wide Pentecostal movements…our genes contributed to the spread of the church through these churches. The Salvation Army was born by the power of God. The Spirit pulsated from our gatherings…if you couldn’t find the Salvation Army, you could either smell it, hear it of feel the Spirit flowing through it like electricity. We believed in ALL the spiritual gifts, exercised them and were more interested in ministering in His power than by out own ability. We believed that authentic Christianity was lived out by those who we filled, baptised with the Holy Spirit and who could readily testify to that infilling on a regular basis. With out this, we might as well pack up and join the Sea Cadets or the Brownies. Do you desire more of God than you have at the present? God is calling his Salvation Army to life by faith in the Spirit, and not by our own reputation and populairty. The days are coming when Christianity will be tested more than it is now, when the battle will rage more fiercely, and we, as spirit-filled soldiers must march into the future confident, but we can only do that by the Spirit. More than that, we need every soldeir actually to be saved and regenerated in the first place! No room for dead wood. Catherine Booth said she was more interested in one person who could give the devil a hard time and minister in powerful ways than a thousand others who jsut got buy. The thing is, she believed that we could be immensley effective when transformed and used by the Spirit.
We were born on the streets with a heart for the poor…in fact, we existed and were called exclusively for them. And we’ve kinda added the emotionally poor, spiritually poor to that and whilst we need to recognise that, we can’t let ourselves off the hook from our call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked simply because of that. Perhaps that is because more of us who will read this are white and middle class. God has a preference for the poor and the outcast…Jesus spent more time with them than he did with any religious people. He said its teh sick who need a doctor, not the healthy. We are called to be advocates for the poor and broken. We believe in the Upside-down Kingdom that Jesus preached…the first shall be last and the last shall be first. We are called not to walk by on the other side…how dare you cross the road!
We do not exist to be a lovely cathederal of people that stand as a memorial to God, we are called to be a movement that is fighting to gain ground for the advancment of His marvelous Kingdom. Every soldier must be an agent of the gospel in society, in every sphere of influence. If you are not fighting, you are not worthy to be a part of his Kingdom because everyone who finds this Kingdom goes out and “buys the field so that he can posses the treasure contained in it.” We are all so enthralled with the Kingdom that we can do no other but be active in the pursuit of spreading the kingdom… We are heroes, as my friend Captain Court declares, because our mission is to rescue people.
We have dedicated our lives to God by way of our Articles of War. Entered into an agreement that we will put him first in everything. Its a two way covenant between us and God, and us and the Army. God keeps his side of the bargain and holds us to ours. We have watered down our covenant of soldiership because we have lost the idea that we exist not to be a club together, but to engage in the spiritual warfare for the word’s soul. Our articles will only make sense when we need to show the world that the Kingdom is different, and we will only do that when we are commited to the above. Professional footballers don’t walk around abiding by the rules of football all day because they are not always playing football on the field. The rules are simply for the field. For us, life is our field and our articles serve to remind us of how we can be our best for His Highest.
Renewal is not a new way of doing things, it is doing the things we are called to do with the right motive, inspiration and empowerment and blessing from God. God will bless what he has called us to and for. And I need to emphasise that renewal is only renewal when it is Holy Spirit renewal…him transforming us in every way, both in essence and in praxis.
Army Renewal. Oh that we would sense the passion behind “Blood and Fire!” Its the world for God we want (starting with Pill) and we will do it by actively fighting as covenanted soldiers who cares for the poor, who are committed to declaring that the blood of Jesus saves and the Fire of God makes pure…we must ourselves be washed in that blood and empowered by that Spirit.
He or she who has ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to his Army.
yours in the battle for the world for God (starting with Pill),