I wonder if a few seconds dangled over the fire of hell would change our attitudes towards evangelism?
We dedicated our daughter to the Lord and the war last week. Did it myself (we don’t need a priest, hallelujah!)…and it was rocking! Had some pumpin’ worship and some really special moments (plus lotsa food!).
Anyway, here are the promises we made on Saturday:
William Booth once said that ‘the greatness of a man’s power is in the measure of his surrender.’ I’m not here to say I’m a man of great power, but today Tracy and I have asked you all here to witness our surrender of our daughter. In a sense, you’re witnessing something that has already happened, first in the hospital and many times since. She has been the Lord’s since He gave her to us.
But we want to be here and to say, without grandeur, pomp or ceremony to say that we want to sign our daughter over to the Lord. As Phil Leager just sang:
• we want to surrender our rights to her life, as if she belongs to us anyway,
• we want to surrender her name and dedicate her to his glory…to raise a daughter in such a way that when people here her name they think of the Lord
• we want to surrender our hearts to the Lord so that we might be bold enough to release her at anytime for the plans the Lord might have for her, whatever that means.
• we want to surrender any dreams we might have for her because they are not our dreams to have, we want to bring her up in a way that she knows the true meaning of surrender to the Lord.
• We want to surrender her to the Lord, because keeping her for ourselves would be futile and become a shallow selfishness
• We want to surrender Ceitidh to the Lord and to seek his guidance as we nurture her into a little soldier of Jesus Christ.
Our greatest example is the Lord, who was willing to surrender much more than I could ever amass so that I, my wife and my children could be in a relationship with him today.
When old Booth was dedicating his grand-daughter, Catherine Bramwell-Booth, he said the following to his son, Bramwell:
” Now, it is the principle of The Salvation Army that everything we have or possess belongs to God. We believe the misery of the world commenced with rebellion against God, and in thinking that man could manage better for himself than God could manage for him. We hold it to be a principle of true godliness that we should go back to God and give Him our hearts, our lives, and all we possess. This father and mother, who are here to-night, in the carrying out of that principle, and in the presence of this congregation, bring the dearest, choicest treasure with which God has entrusted them, and offer this dear, precious child up to Him, and engage that they will train, and nurture, and strengthen it to be not only a child but a servant of the living God, and a good Soldier of Jesus Christ, to fight His battles and take up His cause.”
That is exactly how I feel about both of my children, especially Ceitidh today. We bring to the Lord today choicest treasure as an offering of thanksgiving.
When looking for other people who will be a special support for our children as godparents, we have sought to look for people who will always counsel our children in the way of the Lord and who have a concept of that same sacrifice and surrender to his will no matter what. Both Kirsten, who is Ben’s godmother, and Lucy who will be Ceitidh’s godmother have shown such a strong spirit-filled commitment to our children and without their prayers and support we couldn’t be raising up such good kids. We also value the contribution of all our family make to these children’s lives.
I read to you earlier some selected verses from Psalm 144 that to the first hearing may sound strange. But here, we see a strong principle at work. You see, our family is a fighting unit…we’re in it for the Kingdom…we are under the Lord and he trains our hands for battle and our fingers for war as we seek to influence as many as we can for his glory. We surrender ourselves to his training and guidance, we offer our praise, we take him as refuge in the midst of all adversity or none. The result of this surrender is a son like a well-nurtured plant and a daughter like a pillar, carved to adorn a palace…such beautiful images of the surrender process.
Many of you will know that I chose Ceitidh’s name and that I chose it because of its meaning…it mean’s pure. Children are great at purity and its so poignant that Jesus spoke of becoming like children to enter the kingdom of God…because we must be made pure by the blood of Jesus Christ. Ultimately the day will come when Ceitidh and Ben will need to chose the Lord for themselves, they will need to have their own saving knowledge of the Lord because without that they will not see the Kingdom. Therein lies the responsibility of Christian parenthood. We simply must surrender our rights to her, and teach them in the way they should go.
I want to ask you today how your surrender is…are you able to surrender your life for his glory? Can you surrender you hear for his will? Can you surrender your children for his kingdom? We need to make that definite public surrender today before you, perhaps you have something you need to surrender. It makes sense that we take a few minutes to think about that, that I think about that. I need to bring my heart to the place where surrender is the only option…I wonder if you will sing with me the verses of , All to Jesus, I surrender in your order of service, an old gospel song with such beautiful words. Lets take a few moments to bring ourselves before the Lord.
ANDREW: Ceitidh, mummy and daddy are making this unusual step of dedicating you ourselves today because God has been so good to us in giving us such a beautiful daughter. Maybe in years to come, when you see this on video, you’ll be able to understand how we feel about you, and your brother, and you’ll understand our desire for you to grow up to serve the Lord, to know him as your Saviour in a special way.
Before the Lord and everyone here, we promise you and the Lord that we will train, nurture and strengthen you, and your brother Ben, to be not only a child but a servant of the living God, and a good Soldier of Jesus Christ, to fight His battles and take up His cause. We want to say again publically what we’ve already said in our hearts, that we give you back to the Lord and pray that His will will be done in your life and not ours.
TRACY: We promise to keep from you everything which is likely to harm you in body mind and spirit, and to nurture you on all that is pure lovely and honest, and at all time to be the best example we can be to you of a true Christian and Salvationist. We will teach you the truths of the gospel and encourage you to walk holy and pure in every circumstance.
ANDREW: We dedicate you to the Lord today, because he is the only one worthy of such a beautiful child. God Bless you and keep you Ceitidh McDowall Clark.
LUCY: I make the promise today to prayerfully support Captains Andrew and Tracy as they nurture their daughter into maturity. I will be to her the best Christian example I can be and do my best to encourage her in the Lord in whatever way I can.
PETE: In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Pill Corps of The Salvation Army, I receive this child in recognition of the promises you have made today as I now pray Gods special anointing upon you.. .. .. .. ..
Gordon Cotterill over at UrbanArmy offers a helpful quote:
“when elephants fight, its the grass that gets trampled.”
I can certainly sympathise with Gordon, and with the grass, in these days for our Territory and indeed for the worldwide Army, because this thing truly has wide reaching implications. For those of you who have no idea what we’re on about, you’re blessed.
I can see a little from both elephant’s point of view, but actually I’m not interested in that at all, I am just interested in protecting the grass and praying that people who are close to the elephants will be able to minister in such a way that there will be resolution and reconcilliation.
As General Shaw Clifton says in his book, New Love:
“Holiness is not an exemption from temptation. It is not moral perfection or infallibility. Mistakes will still abound. Holiness does not make a man all-seeing or all-knowing. Hence, the believer needs to recognise that the holy life can still encompass error and that our errors can still hurt others. In the holy life, ‘I am sorry, please forgive me’ will be words readily upon the lips and frequently spoken.”
As Major Chick Yuill says in his book, This means War:
“Leaders are at best only human, they too can make mistakes, and they too are accountable for their actions. There are occassions when issues need to be raised, or when Christian leaders need to be challenged with regard to wrong decisions. But the person who cannot accept authority or who spends so much time quarrelling with his leaders that he has neither time nor energy to fight the devil will be of no use in spiritual warfare…
The devil works more evil through damaged relationships than through anything else. He loves nothing more but to wreck the church from within. A Christian fellowship where there is bitterness and discords among its members is one of the devil’s greatest delights. Unsaved people will never be attracted to the gospel by that kind of Church…and the likelihood that the members will so exhaust themselves in fighting with each other that the devil can be assured that there is no danger of any spiritul warfare from that quarter.”
Wise words from wise men.
God bless us all.
The thing about ministry is that you often have to grapple with who you are, what God’s called you to, and in areas where there are situations that would seek to divert you, you must work hard to focus.
I went into our Sunday evening meeting last weekend with my head doing summer-saults (if that’s how you spell it) as I grappled with this issue yet again. As a result, I chucked away my notes and spoke about embracing who God made us to be, and living that live unapologetically, intentionally and passionately. Just focusing on that reassurance that God uses the weak things of the world to confound the wise.
Later, some of our young people were at a youth celebration in the city and I was there worshipping away, wrapped up in the spirit, praying and singing away in tongues when God gently refreshed again my call to being renewed and being an agent of renewal…something that can easily get lost when you have to deal with a whole load of other stuff going on.
When I need re-focussing, I read Geoff Ryan’s challenging set of essays, ‘Sowing Dragons.’ Thoroughly reccommended..youcan still buy a copy at armybarmy.com A must read, but don’t read it expecting not to be thoroughly annoyed, disturbed, moved and excited about the calling of the salvationist.
I’ve no idea who said ‘keep your chin tucked in’ but it sounds like good advice. I feel like I’m in a place where that needs to be the order of the day! Lets put it this way, I had to lovingly preach on Hebrews 13:17,18 last Sunday morning! Go figure!
There isn’t a huge deal that I can blog about with whats happening at the moment….people stuff….but it seems to be one thing after the other. You would not believe how complicated life gets. Its seems all the more complicated because you have a bigger than usual insight into people’s lives as an officer. All that, combined with some stuff I’m dealing with myself personally, life is…well…interesting.
I had a friend, Captain Eileen Halliday to visit last week, and it was great to catch up. As usual we got talking about all sorts of things…the conversation is never ‘light’ when she comes…thats why we get on so well! She knows how to have a good ‘blether’ about things that matter most!
Anyway…she asked me what I’m learning most about officership. I said that I believed that I needed to compromise less. There are decisions which I’ve been going to make, which I know are for the best albeit slightly controvesial that I haven’t made to keep the peace…and the most situations progress, the more I am convinced that my original decisions were the right ones. Still, these are the things you learn. I am not here to please man, but to please God and do whats best for the accomplishing of His will.
We had a fab week in Scotland and another not so fab week away in the New Forest (mainly due to the weather turning cold after the heatwave and the camper breaking down and having to come back early to do a funeral).
Scotland was very affirming…so many people, lovely people. You don’t realise what you miss until you’re gone! But alas, my missionary service south of the border continues.
Thanks for checking back in spite of my less than frequent blogging of late. Note to self: blog more often.