Announcing the Arrival of…

I’m please to announce the arrival of Ceitidh McDowall Clark

She was born on Wednesday 29th March, at 5.13am, weighing in at 6lb 7oz.

Mum and baby and Ben are fine…dad is just about keeping it together!

(PS…its pronounced ‘Katie’)

She is named after Katie Booth-Clibborn (le Marechale). Founder of The Salvation Army’s work in France, and one of William Booth’s children, but spelled the Scottish Gaelic way to reflect her strong Scottish heritage. Most of all, Ceitidh means ‘pure’. We live in a world that needs pure people.

McDowall is my Grandmothers maiden name. It is common in Scotland for children to have a surname as a middle name, often linking generations of families together. My Mothers middle name is McLeod, the maiden name of her grandmother. Consider yourself educated! :o)

Hallelujah…looking forward to seeing what God has in store for her.

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The time is near…

I guess some of you may know that our second child is due to be born on Sunday. Isn’t that jolly exciting? Yeah, pretty exciting. Are we ready? No, we aren’t! The baby has a crib to sleep in but it currently has no space for its crib to be set up (I need to rearrange the house to fit in a little baby!) Life and ministry is rather chaotic, time consuming and hectic at the moment.

But, I’ve been fairly good…my diary is reasonably empty over these next few days. However, that frustrates me like nothing else on earth. I find it difficult to switch the whole turn off work thing…thats because its not work to me but life.

My great joy and privilege in this whole this is to have the joy of picking the baby’s name…was part of the deal! Hm…what name shall I choose? Something with a strong meaning…a good strong name is required. Something reflecting God’s prophetic purpose for this child’s generation of salvationists. Something reflecting the baby’s strong Scottish heritage in spite of being born in an alien land (!!!). Something reflecting something of God.

So..I share that as a matter of prayer and as a matter of excuse if I dissappear from blogland all of a sudden for a while.

Meanwhile, these issues are hot on my mind at the moment: holiness, pioneering, hell, freedom for believers, warfare, corps based social work. I’ll let you figure which of those go together and let you ponder the things to come at armyrenewal in what might be a short absence.

:o)

Andrew

Pioneering!

I love this picture. Let me explain what it is. This is the new unnofficial corps plant in an area of Charlotte, North Carolina. Its not even significant enough to be a mere outpost but great things for the Kingdom are happening there. This flag is on the house of the people who have moved into this poor area to begin living incarnationally and working in the community.

This is an beautiful picture of a spirit of determination, of vision, of tapping into a dream much bigger than yourself, believing that the gospel will and can be established in any given area with a bit of faith, trust and hard work.

I love it when salvationists get a taste of that pioneer spirit…that apostolic urge to spread, to risk, to branch out, to establish and to impact the kingdom of darkness with some pretty powerful light.

My prayer is that God would infect every corps with a pioneering spirit that the gospel will catch and spread like a bush fire. John Gowans had a vision for a Salvation Army corps in every viable community in the UK…and he even said that during the time of largest corps dissappearances ever in our history. There is great life in planting.

When the Army had a strong vision for planting new corps we grew like nothing else. Even now, there is nothing more successful for evangelism than the establishing of new churches…there is tonnes of research and books on this subject.

Lord….Send the Fire!

Andrew C

Holiness is Blocked Channels

I was browsing the Christian Channels on our sattelite TV and came across Jim Bakker preaching. Now, for those of you who don’t know, Jim Bakker is an American evangelist who, some years ago, was publically shamed over an addiction to pornography. Thankfully, however, he has repented and been restored to ministry. He spoke openly about his shame but about the grace of God to cover him.

My grandmother had Sky television for years and years…since I was around 12. At 12 I was exposed, late at night, to whatever Sky had to offer. There was never a shortage of pornography in my home either.

Now, of course, as a young teenager without Christ I had no desire to restrict my viewing and was very much exposed to all sorts of images. Those were images that, when I came to Christ, had to seek much prayer to get transformed!

Now, we have Sky at home now…but I can testify that holiness is blocked channels. From day one of having it at home we blocked all the specifically pornographic, put a watershed on the ones that gradually get worse at night and promptly changed the password to a now unknown number. Holiness is blocked channels.

I wouldn’t like to guess how many young Christians, indeed, how many pastors struggle with pornography. I’ve heard American figures, but not UK ones. There is a shame to talk about it…it is a thoroughly shameful thing. But with everything, the enemy will try to bring condemnation for sins that are now supposed to be under the blood…he will also exploit past weakness. Condemnation of sin will keep you inneffective for God. These are days for the full armour of God! If you are led into sin, in anyway, confess, repent and have faith in the willingness of God to forgive.

I am a great believer in confession to other believers…not that it does anything ‘eternally’ but if can be helpful for accountability (James 5).

Do you struggle men? Find someone you can be accountable to. Have someone who is permitted to ask ‘have you watched….have you looked…have you read…’? I have someone who does that for me and I for him.

Holiness is blocked channels.

More than that, General-elect, Commissioner Shaw Clifton, in one of his books (Strong Doctrine, Strong Mercy) suggests that Christians take action against shopkeepers who stock pornography (I am led to believe this is something he lives out in practice too). The General-elect suggests telling the shopkeeper that you are boycotting the shop until he removes porn and that you will encourage others to do the same.

Well isn’t that a thought!?

yours
Andrew

Brengle

I’ve started to read ‘Sanctified Sanity’ by David Rightmire about the life and theology of Brengle. It is half biography and half theology which gives a very adequate portrait of the often dismissed Brengle.

It was interesting to read of his work during the Booth split between William Booth and Ballington Booth. Ballington, who was in the USA, didn’t like the leadership style of his father nor the way William wanted to work to remain firmly evangelical, so Ballington rebelled and set off to found the Volunteers of America, creating dissention in the ranks.

It was marvellous to get a glimpse of the way Brengle dealt with this shism. He simply went in there preaching holiness, calling people to the higher purpose and was able to unify the Army (to a degree) by raising the standard of holiness over the Army.

Again, when the High Council were in the process of desposing General Bramwell Booth, he was able to unite opinion by exorting holiness.

More interesting to me is the way Samuel devotes a large percentage of his ministry focussing on the personal holiness of his soldiers, his officers when he was in senior leadership, and the way he even challenged Bramwell Booth on his own personal holiness when he took the High Council to court for threatening to depose him. An excellent example of 360 degree leadership…leading yourself, those under you, those above you, those who are your peers.

Holiness is the key. I’ve said this before when talking to the leaders in our corps, it is when people are thoroughly discipled and deepening in faith that pastoral problems become less and less. It is easier to help people who are pressing in to the Lord than to help those who have little concept of that.

I was also captured by the concept of ‘holiness evangelism’ – the idea of preaching holiness for a verdict which not only brough soldiers to their knees seeking more of the Lord, but brough non-believers to the realisation that they need a Saviour.

I’ll be sure to pass on any gems I discover in the process of reading!

yours
Andrew

My tuppence…

Now, I’ve been fairly quiet about the recent big debate in Army Blogland for a reason. Firstly, I’ve blogged about it before…secondly, I understand what Gordon means by false dichotomy and that actually, we’re not always talking at odds.

We’re often saying the same thing…we all agree that the gospel of the Kingdom can’t be fully displayed without it being proclaimed and fully proclaimed without it being displayed. Jesus very rarely preached the Kingdom without then displaying (although Jesus’ display’s weren’t just social care, but spiritual work of casting out devils and demons too).

Where I have challenged Gordon previously is where he himself has been guilty of creating a false dichotomy…where, for example, his youth work has intentionally divorced social care from evangelism. I’ve visited his youth work so that I could show my youth worker an example of good youth work…so, I speak with some sort of qualification having seen Gordon’s team in action.

The bible says we shouldn’t be pushy with the gospel…but it does say we should be ‘pully’, pulling people from the fire (Jude, near the end). Hell is a reality and those without Jesus go there. Gordon doesn’t want people to go to Hell..I know that for sure….he wants people to come to Jesus. His church does ‘evangelistic’ things. But I want to know why we are not making the most of every opportunity (as Paul suggests) to give reason for the hope we have.

So…I’ve listened to Gordon, read Gordon, talked briefly with Gordon, heard him, all the rest. I respect him, but thoroughly disagree. Any one of his teenagers can leave his youth work and be killed, murdered or run over by a big red bus and go straight to Hell from the doors of The Salvation Army.

Pro-active. I’ve talked before about my family..all of whom are unsaved. When they are on their death bed I’m not going to wait for them to bring up spiritual things. I don’t want them in Hell…I want them to know the truth.

Now…if someone was lying on a bed dying, what would you tell them? And why should that be different from what we tell anyone else? We don’t know the time or date that we will die. We have a responsibility for everyone we know.

‘But should we use the thought of hell as a motivation for evangelism?’ Yes. I don’t want anyone to burn eternally in a place of weeping, mourning, pain and unending torment. The greatest act of love and mercy is being clear with the gospel.

So basically, I can’t get passed hell when thinking about Gordon’s approach.

Thats my tuppenceworth.

in Jesus
Andrew

Railton socks it to us…

“We deny that we are in any proper sense a sect. We refuse to settle down into places of worship such as might be agreeable to our people and their families but insist upon the open air stand and the place of amusement where there may be little comfort, but where the most good may be done. We refuse to allow evangelists to stay very long in any one place, lest they or the people should sink into the relationship of pastor and flock, and look to their mutual enjoyment and advantage of others… We are a corps of volunteers for Christ, organised as perfectly as we have been able to accomplish, seeking no church status, avoiding as we would the plague every denominational rut, in order to reach more and more of those who lie outside every church boundary.” (George Scott Railton, Heathen England and what to do about it 1877)

Hangin’ up my hat?

I hope you had a chance to read that last quote from Brengle…I came across it recently when the ‘Primitive Salvationist’ website (linked to at the right) came upon the Army blogging scene.

My good friend Captain Eileen Haliday said something to me once (in our college days) and reading that quote brought her comment back to me. She said that ‘if the day came when you had to hang up your Army hat came it would be the day you die.’ Thats painfully true actually. When she said it I though she was picking me up wrong, but no, she isn’t far off. I’d say it was more accurate to say that I had a passion for passionate church…for me, Primitive Army expresses that, thats why I feel a burden for the Army.

The conversation (it was about 1am) was about a compromised Salvation Army. I’m the kind of fool that probably wouldn’t leave an extremely compromised Army but would hang in there and fight the corner…I’m covenanted to fight until I die. I’ve felt the call of God to speak to the Salvation Army, even the unpopular words that we’d rather not hear (myself included…remember that the message is first preached to myself before it goes anywhere else!) There are several people who walk the opposite way when they see me coming and some who try to be painfully nice whilst thinking I’m a severe pain in the neck.

I want to bring that up close and personal though. There are times when the message and the burden is heavy and you have moments of wanting to hang up your hat…those Jonah moments when you flat refuse to go. Times when you wonder if you can cope…but then a couple of things happen which help you realise that, actually, in spite of a lot of negative reactions to your ministry, there is some tremendous fruit happening somewhere in several places.

I saw that several times today and in this last week and I was so encouraged. This blog has been a source of encouragement when people have written, privately and publically, to say that my words resonate with them. I don’t do it for that, but its a blessing when people link to my page, quote me, or whatever…why? Because I sense that the word God gives is finding its landing somewhere and is encouraging someone somewhere to respond. It is a blessing to receive affirmation…particularly of those who are in leadership over me.

Now, our corps is going through a period of transition, huge transition at the moment…its not easy for anyone. It is painfully chaotic and the tendancy is to feel that its all your fault and that you’ve failed somehow. There will be some who see it like that. I believe, however, that the stage we are at is all very necessary. People worry, naturally, about the fall out consequences of such changes. People get worried about losing ‘saints’ we’ve already got. I do too…and every time I get tempted to go more light hearted, to slow up, to give it a break, to give little homilies, to tickle the ears of my hearers I become so painfully aware that I’ve not done what the Lord is requiring of me. I need to leave it in his hands.

In my eyes we are repositioning ourselves to be a better, more effective soul winning corps…leaner, meaner, holier. I’ve seen in my minds eye God’s heart for Pill. I’ve seen a glimpse of where he wants us and when you see that you say ‘yes Lord, I’ll be faithful and do what’s necessary.’

I am not a thousand feet above contradiction…people are free to challenge me, but I can only be faithful to what the Spirit says to me. If that makes me an akward person it just a bit tough. My prayer is that, constantly God will continue to refine me as a person…I pray tonnes that God would soften me. But you know what he does when I pray that? He softens me to the plight of the lost and increases an indignation of a church that sits on its bottom.

The prophetic truth of Brengle’s statement is that there will always be saints who shirk from the urgency of the gospel. There will also be saints who will be casual in God’s presence and casual with the message. But, there will be saints who feel pressed upon them that burning desire to fight and will have ‘suffering’ (the literal meaning of the word ‘passion’ by the way!) for the cause.

Hang up my hat? Not a chance in the world.

Andrew

Bold Brengle

There are many who are interested in the cause of Christ, and who are pleased to see it prosper in their corps, their church, their city, their country. But there are few who bear the burden of the world upon their souls day and night, who make His cause in every clime their very own, and who, like Eli, would die if the ark of God were taken; who feel it an awful shame and a consuming sorrow, if victory is not continually won in His name.

– Samuel Logan Brengle

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the prophet speaks from beyond the grave so powerfully again!

Andrew