Clarification…

:o) We do like Pill…its been an interesting journey so far…don’t really plan on leaving unless we are told/asked to. :o)

Just in case anyone was planning of getting the flags out…!

Talking about flags…we will, of course, be flying the Blood and Fire from our newly renovated VW camper van. She (Daisy) gets her maiden voyage on Monday in all her newly painted and decorated glory! We are off camping somewhere…not telling you where!

I was once asked to describe what vehicle the Salvation Army is like. I replied…the Volkswagen Camper. Why? Here goes:

Its retro, slightly quaint and with a colourful past…its also experiencing a bit of a resurgence! Its practical, mechanically simple, slow on hills (see my blog below on ‘taking a hill’). Expensive to maintain, always a pleasure to invest in it. Its rusty enough not to get over proud about it. Moreover, its comfortable, big enough to get your family in, but small enough to maintain intimacy. You can fit a load of people in it. You can sleep in it, have a cup of tea and a meal in it.

Not to mention community…its impossible to pass another VW camper owner without being greated with such an enthusiastic wave, honk or flashed lights. It turns heads…grabs attention. Its a pleasure to be a driver in it although it is slightly hard work on the steering (ha ha…you should have been at our corps council last week :o)

My case proved…The Salvation Army and the Volkswagen Camper belong together…maybe thats why I love them both. Praise the Lord!

Pictures of Daisy will follow soon…bet u can’t wait…

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On Covenant

Oh dear, oh dear…the bloggin standards are slipping! Note to self: thou shouldst bloggeth more often.

Today is the 25th of May. It is exactly two years since I signed my officers covenant. This covenant has had strength. It has kept me, urged me on, delighted me, blessed me simply because God is keeping his side of the deal of returning his equipping to me.

The fruit of two years ministry? Well, its there but not sure its what it could have been. I guess there is some fruit I may never know.

When I signed my covenant at the mercy seat in the Assembly Hall at the college, it wasn’t like I expected it would be. Yes, there was that sort of final consecration type thing, but I wasn’t as emotional as I thought I’d be. In fact, although this was the ‘arrrival point’ to which I’d been heading for 7 or 8 years, the excitement I though would be there wasn’t.

Rather, I had an overwhelming sense of humility that God had granted me this opportunity, as I am sure many an officer can testify to. There is no better job in the world (even although it comes with a fair load of stuff to deal with!).

I openly confess, however, that I find it difficult to work out my covenant in the context I am in. I’ve never denied that we have been called to Pill for a special purpose, but I have also never denied the fact that I feel called to the city or to the large town. Its a God thing. It has always been there, I can’t shake it.

Ever since I was a young teenager (around 15), every week, mostly on my own, I’d spend my pocket money on some tins of soup and some bread and I’d get the 40 minute train to Glasgow and find me some people to eat, chat and pray with. During ministry at Dennistoun I was involved in street work and at training college I was on the team that used to patrol Soho talking to the bouncers and girls on the doors and to the guys camped out in doorways.

I miss my people! I miss the council estate. I am not really much good at being ‘The Officer’ in the kind of culture we have in Pill where the clergy are a breed apart, where you have to wear your false face and your cloak of respectability. I don’t fit in there, and I don’t try.

Its that time when we think and pray if we should be moving on. Come the end of the year the DC will probably be having the discussion with us…should we stay or should we go. What I want most is God’s will. Ultimately, it has been his choosing to send us here and it will be his to keep us here or move us on.

Yes…still alive…just….

Its never really my intention to blog once a week, but alas it has been a week…and what an interesting week! Every Kingdom week is interesting…always something new, yet always something familiar as the devil seems to never tire of the same old tactics.

Been involved in a little bit of a prayer protest against the Jerry Springer the Opera musical which is currently showing in Bristol. Couple of us got sallied up and joined some other brothers and sisters to witness to the Lordship of Christ. This musical really is an abomination to the Lord. The worrying thing is the apathy amongst the body of Christ in that only around 100 prayer protesters have turned up to any one showing…a little bit poor. Anyhow, some good opportunities for witness. We managed to pray up a power cut last night, so that wasn’t too bad. More Lord! Narrowly involved being beaten up by a rather irate woman. Hallelujah!

In other news…currently writing up our corps review for presentation. Interesting…I ask myself: did it go far enough? will it make a significant difference? does it prioritise the plight of the lost? will it help us actively disciple our soldiers and equip them as warriors? Hm.

Anyway, key themes are prayer, evangelism and discipleship, active invovlement in community. I pray it acheives something as we work towards where God is leading us.

However, this document is simply the framework we’re working on until Holy Spirit revival comes in all its fulness. We want him to come in power. Nothing less will transform our faith community…nothing less will change our wider community. So we pray for revival…but we also acompany that prayer with the preaching of the gospel and with service until He comes in power.

Captain Matt Clifton has an interesting post over at Future Fire about the exile experience of The Salvation Army…I reccomend it.

We Gotta be holy!

Borrowed from the comrades over at primitivesalvationism.com…

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But just as he who called you in holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’.
-1 Peter 1:15-16

WE GOTTA BE HOLY! No one can argue the fact that Christians are called to lead holy, sin-free lives. We have the Ten Commandments, the Gospels and a bunch of NT books to show us what holy living looks like, not to mention having the word written on our hearts.

So often, though, our experience is more like Romans 7:14-25. READ IT! Especially v. 18. It’s a depressing passage, but the glimmer of hope is in v. 25: Jesus Christ can rescue us from this body of death! We don’t have to live according to the sinful nature anymore! Jesus came, died and rose again not just so we can be forgiven for our sins, but so we can be free from our slavery to sin! Now THAT is Good News!

Now, before we move on there’s three things you should know about holiness:
1.You can’t get holy by being good. You can’t earn holiness or work for it. It’s totally a gift from God.
2.You receive that gift in faith. Like any gifts of grace from God, you have to believe it to receive it. And you have to keep on believing in faith that He has made you holy until His Spirit testifies to your spirit that He’s sanctified you.
3.If you’re willing, you can receive the grace of holiness now. That’s right, you don’t have to wait till you’re older, more mature or dead until you become holy. God will give it to you now, if you have faith to receive it.

“HOW do I get this gift of holiness, freedom from my sinful nature?” I hear you saying. Well, I’m glad you asked! Holiness is totally a gift from God – one that He wants to give you! But just like we had to repent before God gave us the gift of salvation, God requires us to consecrate ourselves to Him (consecrate means ‘to set apart for the exclusive use of God). In other words, Holy Spirit will put to death the misdeeds of your body (i.e. the sinful nature) if you surrender entirely to Him, give up everything that you are and have and do and want – lay it all before God. By this we are basically saying to God, “i want to live according to the Spirit of God and not according to the sinful nature” (check out Romans 8:13-14…read it!)

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Being holy will help your warfare as well! You see, warriors of God have three enemies – the flesh (sinful nature), the world and the devil and his demons. When God, in His great grace, makes us holy the flesh is dealt with – defeated! Keep on guard, though. As you seek holiness, and as God gives it to you, the enemy will up his attacks on you. This usually comes in the form of increased temptation and doubt about if you actually received the blessing of holiness. You can overcome in Christ Jesus, though!

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Talk to God. Surrender your all to Him. Ask Holy Spirit to fill you entirely. Ask Him to put to death your sinful nature and to make you holy. Receive the blessing of holiness by faith. Then walk it out – choose to live out the blessing of holiness by making holy choices.

TESTIFY! Tell someone that you surrendered your all to God and that He’s purified you! That way they can remind you when the enemy puts doubt in your mind. Remember, we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (check out Revelation 12:11). In all things, you are more than a conquerer through Christ Jesus. If they’re into it, tell them how they can get holy too!

YOU WON’T REGRET IT, I promise you. Holiness opens you up to greater blessing and revelation of Jesus. It’s like the fast lane of Christianity. And it’s glorious! By the grace of God, be holy because God is holy!

Attack! Attack!

“Never must we lose sight of the fact that the spirit of attack is one of the distinctive features of The Salvation Army. Was it not, in fact, this that brought the Army into existence? There were already churches and chapels and mission halls. There was probably more religious observance than now, an abundance of preaching, any amount of routine business of what is called Christian service. That which was lacking – that which gave birth to the Army – was desperate unflinching assaults on the strongholds of evil outside.”

‘Trumpets of the Lord’, Catherine Bramwell-Booth

Salvation again

I’ve had an interesting day. Been having an interesting email discussion with a very prominant UK savationist leader (who shall remain nameless).

Basic just of the discussion: does the love of God negate the necessity of preaching holiness as part of the gospel?

My answer is no…you can’t preach the love of God without talking about repentance, faith and holiness. I think article 9 and article 10 are key biblical doctrines that need to be upheld to the extent that I was willing to covenant my life to teaching them when I signed my officers covenant almost two years ago. To say that the Christian will inevitably sin it to empty the cross of its power and the Spirit of His keeping power. When we do sin, it messes our holiness rather than our salvation, but continuance to remain in sin will inevitably lead to an aversion to Jesus and a dampening of our conscience to the Spirit which may ultimatly result in lost salvation.

The leaders answer…God’s love combined with our free will IS, in a way, a license to sin. God doesn’t remove our free will. Its better to assure people of God’s love so that when they do sin they won’t fear coming back to God. Of course, we shouldn’t encourage people to sin, but the liklihood is that that they will. Anyway…The Salvation Army’s take on salvation needs updated for the 21st century because the once saved always saved versus obedient faith discussion is in need of modern development. Our sin doesn’t affect God, only us. He is still interested in saving us afterall. God hasn’t stopped him sinning since he became a Christian.

Now, I hope I have done that leaders position justice. Its the overall jist of what he is saying.

There is plenty of nice logic in his position but it fails to grasp God’s hatred of sin, the power of the Spirit to keep us and the commitment and exhortation to living as holy people. It forgets that we are a movement that has long testified that the Spirit can sanctify us and that we CAN be kept blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess 5). It also fails to address the issue of the will becoming a slave to Christ and the continued battle we are in to subjugate our will to the Lordship of Christ.

Now, sadly I can’t testify that I’ve never sinned since coming to Christ, but I can testify that I’ve gone at least a day without sin by keeping in step with the Spirit. Our co-operation with the Spirit makes holiness possible in us.

This discussion is flying around in lots of places at the moment mainly because I’ve started throwing our holiness doctrine about a bit to whet some appetites for more. It seems to be working. I’m thankful that I’ll be able to teach our strong biblical position on holiness. Nevertheless, we witness the erosion of a precious teaching which is key to life itself.

Interesting day.

yours
Andrew

He is Lord…

The first Tuesday of the month is our corporate prayer meeting. We proclaimed Jesus’ Lordship of our corps again on Tuesday night and we did a bit praying into prophecies given at Roots.

Again and again, we proclaim Jesus’ Lordship over our corps…usually it comes about when one of the people in the prayer meeting has encountered an example of someone trying to usurp Jesus of his rightful place. It happens…and I suspect it happens even more when big bad captain isn’t there to police the place! Of course, the last month or so have been difficult becuase with the baby we’ve been on leave more than at the corps and meetings have been covered by others to help out.

I suppose one of my niggles came back to me at Roots…the fact that I can’t stand some of the stuff that goes on in corps. You know…gossip, back biting, power games, etc etc. What is that all about? I don’t have a lot of patience with it and don’t respond gracefully…I don’t see Jesus responding gracefully to situations which angered him to be honest. The church is supposed to be his family, his bride without spot wrinkle or blemish

There is only one answer to these problems…holiness with a good dose or repentance and an aknowledgement of who exactly runs the show…our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ.

Still…the Lord speaks and we respond to his Word. We look forward to his promises and rejoice that he lets us know what he wants to do. But we don’t forget the conditions of his promises….when will we forsake our wicked ways, humbles ourselves, seek his face and pray?

Roots Report 6

Hi again…sorry..I need to blog all this stuff before I forget it!

I was interested in a couple of things that Major Chick Yuill said in his Bible studies. I can’t remember exactly how he got round to it (and I didn’t buy the CD) but he said something interesting about power and the church.

He commented that the church was never intended to have a position of power. When the church is given a position of power it is more often than not abused. Look at the example of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican church, Church of Scotland etc etc. The aim of the church, when it is given power, it to maintain and hold onto that power. I see that a lot in our village.

Anyway, Chick says that we should be influential rather than powerful. Salt influences all that it touches, it doesn’t control it. Light illuminates its subject and brings understanding, it doesn’t possess it. Thats a good thought.

There are too many in the church looking for power, and when they get it, they become obsessed by keeping it.

Let us be like Jesus who considered equality with God something not to be grasped but who took the nature of a servant. But God raised him to a position that no-one could ever give him on earth because of his servitude (cf Philippians 2).

There is a great danger in being yoked unevenly. In relationships, in organisation, in business, in everything. Let us be yoked to Christ alone…let us carry the death of Jesus around in our bodies (cf 2 Cor 4) so that our light might shine out of earthen vessels that Jesus may be eminent in his body..not our seeking after power.

So..thanks for that Chick. Lets seek to be influential, not powerful.

yours primitively,

Andrew

Roots Report 5

So, surprise! surprise! I took myself along to the ‘Primitive Salvationism’ presentation by Stephen Court on Sunday afternoon at Roots. Was encouraging to see around 150 people there interested enough to turn up to a talk on Primitive Salvationism. Shame it wasn’t more.

Anyhow, I think people generally caught the idea and I guess armybarmy.com will ge getting some extra hits these days. Whether they will take it to prayer and take it to heart is a different matter.

We got round to soldiers and the making thereof. I’m keen on making sure soldiers are well converted, committed to discipleship and committed to and educated as to what their articles require of them. I’ve said before that you can sort of shape the soldiers you have the responsibility of enlisting.

Problems comes with those who’ve been on the road a bit longer. In the session on PS, the question was raised ‘is it fair for those who signed their covenants in ignorance to get in the band or being unaware of the real nature of it to then suddenly demand of them an extreme expression of those same articles.’

That is something I’ve long grappled with, especially as a corps officer. I’ve just read some words of Mrs General Bramwell Booth and she is warning about non-fighting forces and the importance of maintaining an aggressive fighting force.

Firstly, I don’t think its unfair to expect people to live up to what they have signed. If you sign something, even in the ‘normal’ world, you are bound by your signature…you try and get out of it…if you’ve signed it without reading it its kinda tough. Also, given that older soldiers signed a slightly more radical Articles of War the realisation that they should be living what they sign should be obvious.

How do you raise up a fighting force that was never taught to fight in the first place? I dunno. I guess I’m trying and thankfully some are responding.

Andrew Bale recently commented that he didn’t necessarily want to be identified as a Primitive Salvationist…simply a Salvationist. Now, by character and lifestyle Andrew is what you’d call a Primitive, but its his desire that his passion and his commitment and salvationism would be the norm. I share that idea. But oh how far removed is this experience common to Andrew and I (and others) from mainstream salvationism, which is, actually, a poor reflection of its own.

Mrs General Booth comments on the usage of the word ‘Christian’ back in her day. It had come to be synonomous with double standards, hypocrisy, snobbery and Conservatism (yes, with a capital C). The term Christian had become so far removed from its meaning of ‘being like Christ.’ She discouraged salvationists from using it, because the early expression of that word was really nowhere to be seen. The early Christians who got their name from persecution, insult and opposition to their passion, could not be compared with early 20th century Christianity, she said, and so salvationist was a much better term. T

Why? Because salvationism was formed in persecution, insult and opposition to passion for the lost and for the salvation of the world. After all, she continued, we are agressively committed to Salvation.

So, such is the sadness of The Army these days that there is a need for a distinction in Salvationism. I believe in restoration, in renewal and I will do all in my influence to restore the Army’s passion for the lost, the least and the lonely…for holiness and righteousness displayed unashamedly for all to see.

yours primitively,

Andrew

Roots Report 4

Yup…urm…number 4.

Whilst everyone was off trying to get their voice recorded on the Roots Big Band Worship CD, I was in a dark recess of the Floral Hall complex in Southport in a little late night discussion with Captain Stephen Court, Major David Taylor, Lt-Col Prema Rajan, Major Margaret Yuill and Corps Mission Secretary Jani Rubery on mission.

There were around 20 of us there in the end. I was alarmed again about the vague comprehension of what our mission is, moreover, what mission is! The UK evangelical culture is full of doubt about the nature of mission. Its all to do with not wanting to offend people and about feeling we mustn’t offer the gospel where it isn’t asked for.

I listened (holding my tongue) for the first 45 minutes, when just before the end I made my contribution about the urgency of mission and the fact that we must make it our mission ‘snatch people from the fire’ of hell. People responded well…because..actually…people in their heart of hearts know what mission is – its just that our strange culture always asks us to ‘tone it down.’

There is a strange idea that is going around…the idea that the more you know of God the less certain you get of what he is calling you to do. Thats strange to me. The more I get to know God the more I know exacly what he wants us to do. Thats nor arrogance, thats simply hearing and responding to God’s requests.

Anyway, Stephen Court offered a helpful analogy for mission. He said something like:

“Mission is about trying to capture a hill.” (Sorry if I am misquoting you Stephen).

He went on to say that the ultimate aim of mission is to win the world for Jesus, to win the war one hill at a time. To me thats a helpful analogy. I know where my hill is, its our corps district. You see, for some thats too simplistic…but who said that mission was a complicated thing? Its complex in that you’re always trying to fight the war, but its simple when we keep our aims clearly in view.

So…go and capture your hill.

yours
Andrew