Wise words from Captain Stephen Court:

For many Salvationists this is the busiest time of the year. We are morevisible in many places than at any other time. We enjoy great favor thataccompanies the great responsibilities we’ve accepted.Let’s determine to do a few things over this season:



1. Let’s determine to live up to what we have already attained. Let’s notlet disciplines or standards slack during this period. If schedules must bepared down, let’s pare down coffee break, magazine reading, the footballgame, and our favourite show before we slip up on our rations,discipleship, or evangelism.



2. Let’s make the most of every opportunity. We’re in the papers and radioand newspapers more than the rest of the year combined (I’m guessing). Weas an army are seen by millions and we get to speak with many who we’dotherwise never meet. Let us preach the word in season and out of season.As, in most cases, we are already meeting the expressed needs of peopleduring this month, let us not neglect to offer the fulfillment of theeternal needs.



3. Let’s celebrate one of the most magnificent events in history (right upthere with the crucifixion and resurrection). Let’s embrace the wonder of 8pounds, two ounces, of the Creator of the Universe shrinking down from allof His fiery, thunderous, explosive Presence to a little baby wrapped up in somecloths. Let’s delight in the manifest love of such an intrusion into ourlives. Let’s be contagious in our joy. Let’s not let up.

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General Gowans preached well. I hope that people take it home and remember his challenge for a bit. God clearly spoke to some people. We all need the courage of our convictions.

The thing that made me smile was the reaction to one comment…Gowans said “People should stop putting the Salvation Army down.” Of course, that is right, they should. But I smiled at the reactions of two groups of people….first, the older traditionalists for whom that statement meant “stop all these young people from changing the Army ways” and to the younger folks it meant “stop all these older people from criticising us .” So, hearty agreement but never was there such a large divide.

The important thing that I am constantly saying to both camps, is that you need to define traditional, figure out that traditional is not the same as traditionalism.

Traditionalism is doing stuff for the sake of it, to “preseve an expression” and to practice a particular thing divorced from its original meaning. Like what? E.g The soldier who would be the first to offer criticism about people not wearing uniform, but they themselves only wearing it to the meeting, and covering it up with a normal everyday coat when they walk home. That, and a thousand other examples are examples of traditionalism.

However, traditional I see is related to our spiritual and organisational heritage…the things God birthed us for in the past and still has in mind for us today. Like what? E.g A strong commitment to aggressive spiritual warfare, aggressive evangelism, engaging in social action, a strong commitment to the life of holiness. Using our last example…in teh context of uniform wearing, a traditional (as opposed to traditionalist) salvationist wears their uniform because it identifies the believer, it is a testimony to a life changed be Jesus, it is a desire for the church to be visible in the community and is more functional than ceremonial.

So, are you traditional or traditionalist? The thing is that that a lot of our senior salvationists (there is always glorious exceptions) are traditionalist, tradition for traditions sake kinda people and thats what our youngsters react agains. But, alot of our youngsters, because of that are led to believe that everything related to our heritage must be negative. That is as equaly unhelpful as the traditionalists.

Somewhere along the line I learned that it is not actually our military metaphor and all that goes with it that is irrelevant. Its not the uniform that is irrelevant, it is often the people who wear it. Oooooh….big judgment. Perhaps…but I feel it is very true. All our Army stuff is a tremendously powerful image when we live it unapologetically and with all the passion we can muster.

yours unaplogetically in the fight

Andrew C

Well, our War Academy’s first term has come to an end this week. We did a little bit of grapling with what had really struck us as a priority as we take steps to practically win this community for Jesus.

We settled that we really need to engage in the spiritual battle in a big way…pathe the way if prayer and wage war in the heavenly realm. Involving repentance for the sins of our community, our faith community, of praying in Kingdom peace, and of taking praise actively to the steets…reclaiming ground. Hallelujah!

And…we settled on the fact that we need to be a visible church…not a task that should be really difficult for The Salvation Army! 120 years of sowing and minsitry in this community must be utilised for the advancement of the Kingdom and using our identity gives us so many advantages. Blood and Fire!

So…thats as far as we got, its a good place to start.

Of course, there is no use in engaging in spiritual warfare unless we go the extra step to connect with people! And, of course, there is no use in being visible unless we can effectively minister in the Spirit, so that when people come into contact with us, we can offer more than words. We need to be aware of the stuff God wants and is willing to do through us, it needs to be a lot more of Jesus than it is of us.

So…”Operation Christmas Joy ” gives us great opportunities to put this stuff into practice and into context of everyday life and minstry. Come, Lord Jesus!

its all for Jesus

yours

Andrew C

Fellow warriors,

If you get a chance, have a read of TO BE OR NOT TO BE (in the book Sowing Dragons) by Captain Geoff Ryan. It excites me to tears…then, after that, read the essay SOWING DRAGONS in the same book. Shakes me to me core every time I read it…and I read it often.

Geoff Ryan has sows dragons in my heart, and he has reaped a dragon, unlike F. Nietzche (did eye spel that rite?) who lamented that he “Sowed dragons but reaped fleas.”

By the way Chris H…did you find my spare copy of SOWING DRAGONS roaming about college?

Have a great day, and remember, for our tomorrow they gave their today.

in Jesus

Andrew

Gearing up for some war in the community. Starting to dig out some old prophecies and visions of previous CO’s as they appear in conversation and it is not surprising that God has placed a similar heart in us all. This community is for Christ…it will come under His sway.

We are in the barracks preparing to fight. Our War Academy is stirring us to aggressive action. But we are all too aware of our enemy’s schemes. The battle must first be fought on our knees before it goes to the streets.

What is our weapon? With a whole lot of prayer, our weapons are extravagant love, radical grace, shocking kindness, abundant peace, heart rending mercy, confident possiblity of redemption and …did we mention prayer?

Individuals have been prayer walking this community in fits and starts for years. But sometimes it can be like the anti-mine people clearing the ground and then the ground troops forgetting to advance. What’s the results of that? Well, the mine-clearers get tired of clearing mines for nothing whilst very little ground is taken. On Thursday I uttered the heresy at War Academy that sometimes we have to answer our own prayers…what I mean by that of course is really that we pray believing and that we also take hold of that for which we have prayed…I think God calls it faith.

yours in the fight

Andrew

Yeah…I hear what you are saying and college was all those things for me (though I never went to the pictures). On a personal level I did have a great time of reflection and invigoration, especially wandering though the west end talking to Jesus as he appeared in the form of the prostitute, pimp and homeless guy…especially deep time of personal prayer and study.

But what I am trying to emphasise is not the fact that it wasn’t good for me personally, because it was…we entered college from a corps appointment which nearly finished off our marriage and our ministry and it was valuable to re-assess…but the fact that corporately, by and large, the Salvation Army has an identity crisis and it is manifested strongly, sometimes more magnified there than anywhere else in the Army world. But in a sense, in the context of what I was writing, it doesn’t matter a jot what college meant to me personally because it wasn’t really what I was referring to.

Yes, its what I made, and I made it productive for me, but in the same way that I choose 100% to model an aggressive pattern of ministry in corps life in a wider context of apathy and timidity in the wider Salvation Army, in college I chose to be the change I wanted to see.

There is a fundamental difference between what I made it because I had to and what it actually is.

I wonder if we can translate this theory into life. Does living in todays culture with a view that you have to make the best of it for yourself really a valid view? Yes, I can live life thinking that I can make the best of this for myself, and if I do that I will be satisfied in myself. But, I argue that unless you can look to the positives and live a productive life AS WELL AS have a deep dissatisfaction with the way things in society are, we are missing the point quite a bit.

So, as I say, whether college was personally gratifying for me personally is neither here nor there, the sad thing is that college, whilst applying grace for human failings, is an environment which could be transformed by a commitment to renewal of all things fundamentally salvationist as I outlined in the initial blog of this discussion…radical holiness, spirit-filled living, courageous leadership, an embracing of our prophetic mantle, commitment to simple lifestyle, commitment to the scriptural definition of salvation and a burning desire to share this great news of the Kingdom.

“You can’t change the future without disturbing the present” said Catherine Booth. Neither culture, the army nor the college can be places in which we live to take from it what we can without exhorting them all to embrace our higher calling.

One does feel remotely like Martin Luther with ones thesis pinned to the door…I cannot recant!

However…some positive things about college. Why do I have to search so hard? As I said, there many special times at college, but I must confess that they were usually cadet-run or cadet-inspired. I don’t appologise that I found the college’s spiritual programme dry 99% of the time. Where as Souled Out’s (Cadet-led, cadet-organised worship) were special occassions. The Bible Study and discussions we held until 3am in the morning were the highlights of every week at college…there was a good meeting of likeminded (to an extent) people. Made the whole 9 months worthwhile.

There were a few members of staff who were personally encouraging and were willing to listen. I appreciated the time to read…er…I appreciated the time to relax.

I appreciated that the college were flexile in training with us, some classes were interesting debates…must I really go on thinking of little things? My non-enjoyment of college is of course purely personal as are my observations. It also springs from my tiredness with tame Christianity, of which there was an abundance.

I cannot hide the fact that I was left bewildered by some people…there were some that made you wonder why on earth they wanted to be in The Salvation Army, let alone be officers in it. I find that sad.

Appologies to Gordon, coz you are a good man….its probably because I was not part of your classes that college was a time of “angst.” But then…I guess we separate on a few of issues.

Well…there it is.

yours

Andrew

DANGER: Slighly controvesial blog-read with caution (and a cup of tea).

Cadet Dawn Hinton, fellow Preparer of the Way (still in college bless em), asked me the question “when I look back at college do I laugh (or cry)?”

Sometime I think you have to laugh to be honest, and of course, there were loads of genuine laughs we had at college alongside the things that we have to laugh at to keep our sanity…there are a lot of great things that college has given me, some really good friends that I will never forget and some good opportunities for ministry not to mention a great corps appointment, but I guess if I was to respond seriously, I have to say that college gave (and gives) me a fair bit of tears.

I risk getting very personal here, also realising that some college staff read my blog now and again, but what really broke my heart about college was our identity crisis. I don’t just mean the cadets that weren’t too bothered about uniforms and flags, (although I was often tempted to say “there plenty other churches out there” Right Chris?) I am talking about not being bothered about some of the core essentials of salvationism.

Such as…?

  • Such as a deep desire for personal holiness and a grasp of the concept that actually, in the power of the Spirit, we can actually go half an hour without sinning. For example…how can doctrine teachers throw Brengle in the bin? Would the TC be bold enough to correct that more fundamental discrepancy? Not just that Brengle would be read at least, but that we will be able to grasp what it means to be a holiness movement by the power of God.

  • Such as an active concept that our enemy is as real as our God and we actually have to do something about him.

  • Such as a high view of scripture as the word of God. I fully agree that we need to look at the bible intelligently and to look at the various way that people look at the authority of scripture, but only from the point of providing evidence for the scripture’s defence. Being looked upon strangely for quoting some ‘conservative scholarship’ was interesting at college. We are people of the word, with out it we might as well read FHM or Hello!

  • Such as a real concept of what it means to be saved. If we muddle this one we might as well got an play bingo. I’d love to have heard someone else at college say “Its Jesus or Hell” (apart from myself) to hear it from staff wold have been a good start. Matched with that, when that realisation comes, a desire to spend ourselves for the spreading of the news. Gee…it would be impossible to rally cadets for a voluntary open air ( I wish someone would prove me wrong by trying). Do people get saved in open airs? No….especially if we don’t do them. We need to take praise to the streets, but more than that, we can’t rely on friendship evangelism to win the world…most of us are more influenced by the world than we influence it. We need more effort in the fight….come on!!!!!!!!!

  • Such as a sense of calling to be salvationist. If you want to practice sacraments please join that kinda church. It is perfectly acceptable, but don’t try and place it on us…we settled this issue years ago…like it or lump it. Our prophetic mantle of “non-sacramentalism” is at risk in these days because we are more intersted in being a church than being an army at war. We still need to be a witness to the wider church about the true grace behind these sacraments, but we also still need to be proclaiming to the world that it is Jesus alone..not Jesus AND baptism and sacraments or any other thing which could become an idol. (Gee…I will be down the job centre tomorrow at this rate). If we want to do more along the lines of helping people experience God in the post-modern way, lets do it by evoking the presence of the Spirit instead of relying on capturing peoples imaginations with clever meditations, responsive readings and other clutter (not that these are wrong, but they will never work if we are not pleading the Spirit in big ways…the Army’s spiritual disease is not the need for sacraments of liturgical worship, it is for a big bath in the Spirit). How about reciting the Articles of War and our doctrines if we want to recite something??

  • Such as a sense of strong leadership. None of this “Oh, I am just the same as you, we are all the same.” Rubbish…leaders are annointed to lead, with the rest of the “eldership” of course, but we are annointed to lead. We all know that a leader must be defined by someone following them. I think we lacked both role models and encouragement to lead like this at college.

  • Such as a commitment to a simplistic lifestyle. I will not say too much on this one, but I do have to say that the old line “its all vanity” could have been applied. I guess some guys will not be able to survive in officership because of this…whilst we might have a right to expect a standard of decency, we must guard against materialism at all costs. We cannot serve both God and money.

  • Such as a respect for leadership. A kind of respect that not only obeys when asked to, but a respect that will challenge decisions when they seem to be made out of a fear of something different or made for the sake of it…if you know what I mean. If we can’t be led, how can we lead?

  • Such as a realistic expectation of real life ministry. I heard some great idealism which was not so much idealism but actually totally unrealistic. Comments like “I will definetely have one day off per week, one day for preparation, half a day for my wife and children, a good few hours a day for recreation and I will take all my five weeks holiday from the time between commissioning anc Christmas” will fall flat on their face five minutes after arriving. And will someones ministry fall down because they don’t have all that? No. You are more likely to fall down if you stick to that kind of idealism.

And I guess…what I would have loved to see the most is every cadet and officers fully understanding the work of the spirit beyond the experience of the section in the songbook, and a clear understanding of spiritual gifts beyond the ‘normal’ ones. I’d loved to have witnessed more passionate worship and prayer and diving into his word.

Hope that answers your question Dawn. Ha! Ha! Sadly, and I hope I am not right, college as it is, whilst it does have many redeeming factors which I have not mentioned (perhaps another blog), is an accurate reflection of the state of salvationism in the territory. And sadly, “a kingdom divided amongst itself will fall” (Jesus). But I have great hopes of renewal, great hopes that the Spirit of God will brand the essentials of his Kingdom and its ways on the hearts of everyone so that we might actually be equipped to prepare the way for the Lord, to make the mountains low, raise up the valleys and make a highway for our God….watch out were coming out to fight and nothing will stop us bulldozing our way through. Anyone willing to be branded by the Spirit?

yours in Jesus

Andrew C

Preparer of the Way

(NB Branding hurts).

Wow! What a whirlwind of a weekend. Just about landed on my feet today as opposed to collapsing in a heap! God did some good things though…”interesting times” as my CSM says.

As I say, busy weekend, but really good to hear what he is doin for some of our younger warriors. Really breaking through with God. We had a good time at the mix, a yoof thing at Bristol. Good pumping worship, although not quite as good this month…not much to bounce to!!

Got to say again though, the adversary is not laying off. We really need people mobilised in prayer. The walls have to be dripping with prayer. Sometimes I feel like cancelling the corps just to pray. Who knows, maybe one week I will.

I guess though, some corps folks may feel unsettled. I feel sorry about that and work to try and minimise the shock, but I think this is a byproduct of the war. When bombs go off there is confusion. However, it is soldiers who are trained who can often keep their head in the explosion. I’d love every soldier along with us in this war. We are so much better when we fight together.

I am really enjoying our new monthly corporate prayer meetings. God is coming close to us. Touching us with his desires. Numbers in attendance at these are growing too. God would u give us a heart to pray. I pray regularly that God would increase that desire in me.

Although, its dangerous to ask that God wold come close, that he would give us a desire to pray, because he loves to answer. I worry about some of the things God communicates to my heart…its often too much for me, too fast. But I guess its only too much when I have a whole lot of other things on my plate that are not necessarrily his will for me to be spending time on.

But God is waiting to open the floodgates of heaven upon us. Prophetic letters written to me are seeing fulfilment before my eyes in many ways. Come on God, do your work.

So we are getting to the really intersting bit of Alpha…my fav bit. I remember the very first Alpha I led…I just wasn’t qualified in terms of knowledge and experience to do the Holy Spirit bit effectively. And I’m just overwhelmed that God has taught my in all the ways I need to be equipped in this ministry.

When the Spirit really began touching my life post-conversion…i.e when I realised that there was more to faith than being nice and attending worship… he just totally captured my mind with his message to share. I struggled big with all the gifts of the Spirit and all of that for a few years but commited myself to seeking God and working it out…well, he worked it our for me! But now I am just so blessed and overwhelmed by the stuff God is willing to hand out…he is soo good and just delights to give us gift if we ask.

I’ve confessed before that I think that Christianity which is anything less than charismatic (not in the denominational sense, but in the practical sense) is not authentic Christianty. You cannot get away from the fact that God gives spiritual gifts, his charis, to every believer and that those are intended to be used. It is just fab when u look at times in history where God has really broken into his church (usually because we’ve shut the gated and bolted it) there is a fresh renewal of people’s awareness of their spirtual gifts. Fab work Jesus…I praise you.

I think people need to understand the difference between Pentecostal, pentecostal, Charismatic and charismatic. U know what I mean? I mean there are denominations which takes these terms as titles and descriptions of their church and often it is there u find the theolgy that the rest of the church might not necasarrily agree on. However, its the P and C in captials that are sometimes the problem and the things that moveus away from it and scare us from embracing what it means to have pentecostal and charismatic expression and experience within our own “tradition”, or, if you like, what it means to exercise charis in the context of Salvationism.

Gee…gone deeper than I had intended for tonight..but, hey, u don’t have to read if you don’t want to. 🙂

I was thinking back to my propeganda evenings we had every week at college…the little bible study I held every week. It was such a joy to me to help guys work out what the bible said and how they were going to act in response to the bibles teaching on all this stuff. I mean, we even had a prophetic prayer party on night…he did some prayin for healing, we saw some cadets begin to speak in tongues (tell in not in Gath!) And I guess the saying that “you can only really take people confidently where you have gone yourelf” is so true.

But I also remembered the “political groups” which were unofficially around at college. For example. The “I-will-not-even-think-of-raising-my-hand-or-do-anything-remotely-charismatic” Group. There was the “If-it-has-a-crest-on-it-I’m-having-nothing-to-do-with-it” Group. And don’t forget the “Get-that-Flag-outta-here” Group. So many people don’t realise the amount of resistance to God that some of this stuff created because God, like the nutter he is (see yesterdays blog) delights to use absoltley everything that will be useful for the Kingdom. How did I get here from talking of the Spirit, well I guess I was saying u have to simply be open to the fact that God is not necessarily going to come to you on yor own terms…he has a sovereign will to promote and yet he is so gracious never to push it upon us. But surely we want to be so abedient t his will…he wants us empowered and effective.

May we never loose site of the fire in “Blood and Fire”

yours in Jesus in the battle for world domination by the power of the Spirit

Andrew

(aka Captain Nutter)