Worship Climate

Had a lovely session of worship this evening…on my own, in the hall just before we kicked off with our discipleship programme. I do that often for my own good, but its something I do regularly in order to pray for the people who usually put their bums on the seats.

Walking round the seats praying for each person…praying especaially for the 5 or 6 empty ones! Gee our hall is too small! If everyone came one Sunday we’d be stuck. Hallelujah!

But other times, I do a lot of war in that hall. Kicking the devil out. We’ve noticed that he’s been around a bit, but then that can be expected when we are on the march…blisters! I’d recommend it to anyone…pray that the walls would be so secure that the deciever cannot stand the holy presence of God.

Major Doug Burr said this this week:

“I love it when The Enemy helps you out! It’s never his intention, mind you, but sometimes, he’s just too smart for his own good.This morning, I was preparing to preach on trusting God through the tough things in our lives. All through my prayer time, I was feeling down- almost depressed. I couldn’t seem to break through. Then all of a sudden, the thought flashed through my mind: “This isn’t worth it. Give up; quit.” That’s when I knew instantly Satan was at work.

So I broke out my Praying the Bible book, and started fighting back. It wasn’t long after that, that I did break through. My spirit lifted and I knew we had a good meeting ahead of us. And that’s just what happened. I think God was able to break through to many people, because we took a stand against our great Enemy and caused him to flee! There was some very direct confrontational prayer against Satan and some very direct proclamational prayer over the people. It was one of those awesome, empowered times when God just wants to get his message through to us! So we’ re all going to watch for those times when Satan comes at us to make us feel depressed or out of sorts. And we’re not going to let him get the better of us. We’re going to trust God to work out any situation for our good. Want to join us? Take your stand!”

Amen Major Burr! Calling all pray-ers…why not have a stomp around the hall…

yours
Andrew

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Sadness…

My aunt’s scan confirmed two tumors in the brain. They have called the MacMillan nurses. Not good. We will know tomorrow if they can do anything about it…if not it might be a case of ‘how long’ unless God responds to prayer and moves in power. Please God.

Seeing a dream…good old Japan

I caught a little soundbite on the TV lastnight, can’t remember what was on, that has stuck with me and I wanted to think about. Apparently, when the Japanese talk about dreaming they don’t say “I have a dream” they talk about “seeing a dream.”

Subtle but interesting difference. You can have a dream but unless you go the next step and ‘see’ it you might never actually see your dream become reality. The whole vision thing is something that has to be seen. I continually keep in my mind a picture of where I think God wants me to be, what he wants me to be and seeing that dream moulds my days (when it isn’t cloudy).

Talking about dreams, I have been having some very active ones. I told you about all the marching last week, well recently it has all been the marchers laying face down in worship. I can’t pick out any songs but just continuous worship and awe.

That is a dream worth seeing!

in Jesus
Andrew

Small things…

My valiant CSM redirected certain people away from us today….thanks Pete. Oh the tyranny of small things, small issues, magnified into mountains.

We’re losing the war to small things at the moment. My trouble is that I’ve never had patience for small things. Partly its my past life…partly, its typical of a prophet….according to a good book. True.

BUT…things like the fact my 37 year old aunt had a brain scan last week to see if her cancer has spread to her brain from her lungs, liver and breasts puts life into perspective. I need to be able to share the gospel with her before she dies or before God heals her. I have been too late with my grandparents…I regret that. She doesn’t want us (her neices and nephews) to know that she is as ill (my cousins are a lot younger than me…I’m the oldest). But, my mum told me. I need to send her something…will probably have to drive to Wales to post it anonymously so that I am not damaging trust between my mother and her.

To be honest I didn’t become an officer to deal with minuteai (how do u spell that) of stuff. You can call it what you like…youthfullness, imaturity, insensitivity, ignorance….but you give me a good enough reason to bother about silly little things and I will do it.

I’m not annoyed with God…God is righteous and merciful. I’m annoyed with people who are the 21st century of pharisees. I understand how Jesus felt about them. It doesn’t seem that Jesus had much compassion on them and I’m not sure why…but he must have pitied them.

Hmm. So….all you readers, please pray for my aunt, Christine. Her husband Gordon, two children Ross and Amanda. My mother, Donella, and my other aunt, Annabel. Prayer is all we got.

Pray that God will speak to her, convict her of her need of him first and foremost. Then pray that God would bring healing to her body.

Thanks
Andrew

Ecumenism…

No…I am not an ecumenist. If by ecumenism you mean that we forget the reasons for which we all came into being and be one big huddle of Christianity…no thanks. So here are the several reasons why I am all for unity in the church but not for ecumenism.

I believe that The Salvation Army, and other churches have their own unique role to play in the Kingdom of God. The emphases of various groups help us to hear a balanced Christianity. I can listen to the pacifist quaker and learn lessons as a militant salvationist. I firmly believe that the world would be worse off without the Army, the Nazarenes, Vineyard (great music), etc etc

I think the great truth of it all is that different groups that have been raised up have been done so perhaps to emphasise to the church some neglected area….for example….

  • the pentecostal/charismatic movement have reminded the church of the important of the charismatic gifts and have emphasised intimacy in worship,
  • the methodists brought about an emphasis on evangelisation and small group discipleship
  • the Army brought militancy, a challenge to ritualised sacramentalism, a focus on the poor, etc
  • the baptists brought a very valid message against baptism of infants
  • the quakers taught us about silence, solitude, pacifism
  • the nazarenes and the other holiness churches remided us that we can be holy!
  • etc etc etc

I have fundamental questions about the ‘Catholic’ element of the church…i.e high anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy.

However, my more fundamental difficulty is with Romanism. I think that growing up in the West of Scotland you find yourself having to understand your culture and I have grown to despise the silly sectarianism, but have grown 100% in the fundamental differences between Catholocism and protestant theology. BIG QUESTIONS like: Mariology (the veneration and worship of Mary) the Sacrament of Confession (we don’t a human mediator to hear and forgive our sin!) Papacy (where do I start?) mystic symbolism in communion, praying to saints (sorry they are dead and they are not God), ‘professional’ Priesthood (priesthood is for all believers). And thats only the tip of the iceberg.

You can call me a bigot if you like, but I cannot ignore the very fundamental flaws in Catholic doctrine and practice. For the other protestant denominations, yes, there are differences, but none so fundamental and flawed as the doctrines of the Church of Rome. The seem almost incompatible biblical doctrine. I have trouble even being in unity with Rome, let alone ecumenical.

So why do I say all this…first of all I love the diversity of the church and I want it to be diverse. The one size fits all culture is long gone. The miracle is that the body of Christ is the enduring one size fits all because the garment is flexible enough to house many arms legs noses and eyebrows of the same body.

The question comes though…what happens when a part of the body has gangrene?

So, bring on unity…but lets keep an eye on ecumenism

Pope Benedict XVI

New Pope…what will we make of him? Here is a quick biography.

CARDINAL RATZINGER: BBC 2
To some, he is the Catholic Church’s intellectual salvation during a time of confusion and compromise. To others, he is an intimidating “Enforcer”, punishing liberal thinkers, and keeping the Church in the Middle Ages. Certainly, in the world’s largest Christian community the Pope’s prefect of doctrine, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, cannot be overlooked.
Against dissent
While many theologians strive for a Catholic Church that is more open and in touch with the world around it, Ratzinger’s mission is to stamp out dissent, and curb the “wild excesses” of this more tolerant era.
He wields the tools of his office with steely efficiency. By influencing diocese budgets, bishops’ transfers and even excommunications, what an opponent calls “symbolic violence”, Ratzinger has clamped down on the more radical contingent of the Church.
He has even claimed the prime position of the Church of Rome over other Christian Churches. Although he has apologised for this, he has never been so contrite about excluding liberation theologians, more progressive priests or those in favour of the ordination of women.
Charming
Personally charming, quick-witted and fluent in four languages, the Cardinal is a convincing orator. Jesuit Father Thomas Reese calls him “a delightful dialogue partner”, but adds that most of the Cardinal’s fellow clergy would be too worried about the prospect of excommunication to enjoy talking to him.
When Ratzinger served the Second Vatican Council for three years from 1962, he supported reform. His own background, however, perhaps sheds light on his need for a Church that stands firm against the currents of change and political shifts.
Schooled in the Nazis’ power of rhetoric during his childhood in Bavaria, Ratzinger later deserted the German Army during World War II, only to be sent to a POW camp when the Allies reached his hometown.
Later, as an eminent theologian lecturing at Germany’s premier faculties, he was horrified by the Marxist ideologies that punctuated campus small talk in the late 1960s.
“Papal fundamentalism”
Since then, Ratzinger has pursued doctrine that can endure, independent of cultural or social trends. He argues that only with a completely separate values system can the Church offer individual freedom. His critics call this “papal fundamentalism”, but Ratzinger is unflappable in his personal theology.
The Cardinal claims that “everything falls apart without truth”. Whether his noble aims justify his tactics is just one of the issues challenging the Catholic Church today.”


Well, there you go…I wonder if he will be one of the two Popes? Interesting. Lets watch and pray. He is 78…obviously not going to be around for too long…

Culture

Was just thinking just now about th Dennistoun (our previous corps). Would you know what I meant when I said you get a certain ‘feeling’ about a place when you remember its culture?

Dennistoun had a ‘fearful’ feel about it. I was always slightly on edge, but then that was probably due to the fact that we were targets for vandalism big time. Our little bungalow was next to the Army hall and the hall was surrounded by Glasgow tenaments. By the nature of our work there, we always had shady characters around…I wonder if I miss them or not…I probably do.

I remember the feelings of almost total isolation…in a troubled community with very few commited Christian workers working with us (we were 20 when we started to lead the corps there). I remember how, at the end of our two years there, Tracy and I were physically, emotionally and spirituall shattered! In a way, we had some things to clear out…it was actually a spiritually depressing corps. But then, there was glorious signs of hope all over the place.

I would probably do Dennistoun different now than we did when we did it. But then thats the benefit of hindsight.

Driving past recently, the new officers have put up a big fence around the quarters, they have their own space to call their own. But I guess I’m quite amused to look back at the way people would walk their dogs in our garden, the way the youth would cover our driveway in broken glass that meant you had to brush a path through before you could move the car. I remember the amount of times our bins were set on fire or out windows were shattered.

I remember the kids, late at night who would run round the house chapping the windows. I remember walking the 1 minute walk between the house and the hall petrified in the dark. I remember protecting old ladies from stones and mud as they left the Sunday afternoon service. I remember catching a drug addict helping himself to our things in the kitchen. I remember the smell of methadone and the queues in the pharmacy for it. Dennistoun was about ‘doing life’ with people.

I remember the baptist church who shared our hall who were so religious it was unbelievable. We had more trouble from them actually that we did with the teenagers!! The ironies of communion wine being served from the holiness table while the presiding celebrants sat on the mercy seat!

I remember the big old metal shutters that covered the front door of the hall that I hated closing..not least because it sounded like a concorde jet when you shut it, but because it unconsciously said to the community “keep out.”

And yet…the gospel moved forward even if only half an inch…we made inroads into several people’s lives. We increased the corps membership by 100% ! (as in we actually made one person a soldier). We shared a positive gospel with those 25 families that we dedicated children from. God spoke prophetically about the ways that he wanted to work and we started to see some of it but we came to the point where we could physically, mentally and emotionally do no more. We put food in the stomachs of drug users, abused wives, prostitutes, poor people..genuinely poor people.

I mean God told me to do a lot of wierd stuff that I thought was so wacky that I didn’t even tell my wife…like the several nights that God told me to get dressed and parade the ‘Blood and Fire’ around the edges of Dennistoun (only about 1m sq) and interecede for the thousands of people (probably more than Pill, Easton and Ham Green put together) who lived in that square mile which was our district. The times he would tell me to go somewhere and there would be someone sitting waiting for me to arrive. And then there was the day that God led me to March down a crowded street in full uniform (with flag) as the people waited for the huge loyal orange order parade to come. I handed out leaflets about what it actually meant to be a true protestant, preached all along Duke Street about how to be saved and sang the Old Rugged Cross on every corner…now you know I’m really a nutter.

And then there were the times that I knew I would have to pray hard when a cold air entered our room or when the music box would start playing. What was that all about?

I hated it. But I loved it. I often reflected that I knew that I had fed and clothed Jesus several times a day…but why was I so scared of him?

I could write a book about those two years.

Andrew

Militant church?

Hallelujah…of we go to transform the world, declare Jesus is alive boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God…The Salvation Army is the church militant and advancing…only if it wasn’t for the fact that it is Monday morning and I have nil energeny to win anything this morning…

I’m sure that by lunchtime I will have caught up with myself and I can arm up an head out…!!

Had dreams last night, pretty constantly, of salvationists marching. There were all sorts of different images…images that I’ve seen on old video footage of early Salvationists marching, modern salvationists, young people, Generals (!?!?!), junior soldiers, everyone. Church militant, the church on the move.

Innoculated

Been reading Walking on the Moon by the Rev Canon Wallace Brown..not your regular CofE Canon. Spent years working in Quinton housing estate in Birmingham…he really established a great work of grace in Quinton among the poor…made Christianity real to people that religion is on par with Walking on the Moon.

I think about the folk religion that was prevelant in the community I ws brough up in where even the ‘vilest offender’ becomes a saint upon death and floats up to heaven in an ice cream cart. You turn to the church to marry you, baptise your children (!) and put you in the ground. Ever person has “their” church…you ask my mother what church she belongs to and she will say “Dreghorn and Springside Parish.” Ask her if she is a Christian and she will swear and then say “not me!” My dad, an Orangeman and a member of the Royal Blacks, signs his name and sits in meetings that are supposed to be able defending the glorious protestant faith and involves all sorts of complicated rituals supposedly based on scripture. But does he confess Jesus as Lord? Perhaps with his mouth because he has to for the ‘club’ but not in his heart of hearts. How do we communicate Jesus to people who have been immunised, innoculated by the established church and its systems?

I think to our own community and whislt I wouldn’t want to say anything against our local churches, I have to wonder if we portray the glorious gospel as we should. The barriers of folk religion are huge ones we have to pray against and have enough integrity to make the right choices.

In two years in Dennistoun I dedicated 25 children to God. Each and every time I used the phrase “nothin I can do can make this child go to heaven…I can only pray that God will bless his/her life.” God really honoured that and we had countless opportunities to share the gospel.

Openess and intgrity…the best way to go. We need to pray for those in ministry, however, who feel trapped by the system.

It takes a lot of work to beat an immunisation against something. I think it is just as difficult to conquer people’s immunisations against Christianity than for a disease to beat a jab.

in Jesus
Andrew