New Year Reads

Looking to get your new year off to a good start? Set yourself in the right frame of mind for 2007? Let me share with you my late December-January (re-)reading list:

“Israel Gaither: Man with A Mission” – a Christmas gift from my inlaws…biography of Commissioner Gather, former Cheif of Staff and current USA National Commander. Just started it, but sure to be an inspiring read. If you’re looking for someone to be an inspiration, let me suggest you start here.

“Aggressive Christianity” by General Catherine Book, primitively updated by Cory Harrison. Get your gospel message in perspective for this year by reading this great reworking of an old Army classic. If you want a copy, and live in the UK, contact me and I’ll give you one for free…I have a few copies lying around. Interestingly, some of your corps people will never want to listen to you again when you start preaching an authentic gospel. I speak from experience! I can also suggest ‘Way of the Master’ and ‘How to win Souls and Influence People’ by Ray Comfort for this purpose. The second of those is a gripping classic with strong military metaphor…you’d love it. Visit Living Waters to buy your copy.

“I’ll Fight….holiness at War!” – Phil Wall. I’ve read this several times, given it away several times and bought more. It was the transitional book for me between nearly being a nominal salvationist to being a passionate one. I’ve no idea where Phil Wall is these days…I believe he’s still out there being the CSM at Raynes Park and all the rest…but Phil, wherever you are, the Army is poorer without your voice! Come back, all is forgiven. That aside, this book will help sharpen up your own personal spiritual walk as you fight as a warror. Add to this ‘Sowing Dragons” by Major Geoff Ryan and you are set!

Finally, for a solid grounding in Salvationism, can I reccomend you download and read SALVATIONISM 101, 201, 301 (I understand 401 is due to appear) from armybarmy.com and have a good old read. Plenty of classic reading on a wide variety of topics to feed you throught the year. You’ll be glad to know that I’m not expecting any commission for this plug Captain Court! Anyway, you can download these great resources from armybarmy store for a very very reasonable price. Can I also mention to any preachers out there: there is great sermon fodder in here as well as being fantastic for cell groupcs, soldiership classes, etc etc

Anyway, read all that and you’ll be so on fire that people will come and watch you burn!

yours
Andrew

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Inter Christmas & New Year Ponderings

Isn’t this time of the year a bit like no man’s land? Its the time of year where every day could quite easily have least the same name and you wouldn’t be any the wiser! Ah well…back to normality soon (whatever normality is!) I always feel very reflective in this no-mans-land time.

My first thought is that I hate the effect of materialism on my children. Quite simply, I’m going to make sure that they don’t have to come face to face with so much stuff again at Christmas. Tracy and I purposely don’t spend much money on the children, knowing well that others truly will. My family, being non-Christian, go especially over the top. All together, I’d guess that between all the children’s grandparents, they have spent something in the region of £400 (thats about $800 US). But actually, its not the money that effects the kids. Its the sheer amount of gifts. The clutter of it all. I am aware that I am beginning to sound like a grumpy old man, but as a grumpy old man with a concern for the spiritual life of my kids, I am going to carry on grumping!

My second thought has really been one of blessing and I suppose of testimony. It is such a blessing to be thinking clearly. I said that in my previous post, about fog lifting. It really is a blessing to be able just to think clear thoughts. Having said that, the last month for us, me particularly, has zapped a lot of energy and drive and I’m praying that the Lord will restore that. I’ve been out of the house every day for the last three weeks…which, sadly is an acheivement in comparison to the previous 15 or so weeks! Praise God.

Thirdly, I’m missing Scotland. I can’t help it! I miss Scotland especially at this time of year. The weather we have here in Somerset just isn’t normal for me! Talk about culture shock! Anyway, we’ll be visiting Scotland in February sometime for our first batch of furlough next year.

Fourthly, New Years Resolutions. Well, I’ve been kinda doin a sorta constant resolution thing over at 43things.com Basically, its a website where you write up 43 things, compare them with other people’s 43 three things, and basically write updates about how yer doin with them. Most of my things are more every day things, but still things I want to do nonetheless. Anyway, I share that because it got me thinking about Podcasting and the fact that I’d love to do it but don’t have the foggiest idea of how to do it! If anyone has the ‘Idiots Guide’ to podcasting on the back of a postcard, please sent me the card!

anyway, thats all folks.

yours
Andrew

Pre-Christmas Snippets

A few snippets for you……
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Our band and other corps members have responded heroically to our Christmas programme again this year. We’ve had a good time and had lots of good positive witness opportunities. A highlight for me was at a local Christmas Fayre in Portishead…I was giving out some ”novelty” gospel tracts in the form of Million Euro notes…people loved them…in fact, I had crowds of young people around me asking for more! The tracts have a link to the evangelistic website advertised at the top of this blog. Good fun. Not hard core evangelism, but better than doing nothing.

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My wife has started blogging…allegedly. I’ll withhold the URL until it looks like she is going to keep it up :o)

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I am feeling very much refreshed personally…the dark fog of depression has gone and its a blessing. I suppose I’m still a little physically run down, but thats due to being busy. I’d have hated to miss the Christmas Campaign and wish I’d been feeling a bit more organised about it, but we got through. The thought did come once or twice that it may or may not be my last in this appointment, but if its not my last, I’ve got a few ideas to spice things up for next year.
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Was struck by the thought a few times this Christmas, that before I was a Salvationist and saved, I doubt very much that if I had seen a Salvation Army uniform that I’d have know what it was. I had no concept of what the Army was other than, believe it or not, recollections of watching Hallelujah on the BBC with my grandfather in the 80s….and thats not exactly an accurate portrayal…fun, but not acurate (I hope). Bearing in mind I was about 3 or 4 years old at the time gives another slant!

I guess it it reminded me that we can’t rest on our laurels going around believing that people know who we are, what we look like and what we do. Folks in our village, most of them, recognise the Army because its very much at the visible centre of the community, but as we ventured to local towns, it was clear that some folds didn’t have a clue. I guess its important to think carefully about what we present as we try and enforce our public identity.

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Anyway, I’d like to wish the readers of Army Renewal a very holy and happy Christmas…may you know Jesus up close and incarnate in your heart.

yours, under the flag,

Andrew

A Word for Youth and Youth Workers

Little word from the Lord: weigh it and test it….that which rings true is of the Lord, that which doesn’t is me:
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Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:2-5

The Lord laid this scripture on my heart a few months back to pray on, chew on, think about, explore, all that. I beleive that the Lord has told me that its a scripture paritularly relevant to Salvation Army youth. I believe that it is encouragement to hold fast to their radical faith in Jesus, expressed in committed discipleship and active witnessing and not to lose their nerve by embracing teaching that simply sounds more palatable or easier, more modern perhaps.

Its also a word for those who work with young people, a call, if you like. Never be afraid to correct, rebuke alongside encouragement…they are all partners together. Careful instruction is needed to make sure the new generation of Salvationists don’t grow up with sawdust between their ears and no ability to discern right from wrong, true from false, righteous from un-righteous.

Its also an encouragement for youth workers who fear losing young people for refusing to dilute the gospel and the radical call to discipleship. By raising the bar of discipleship you will produce more authentic believers. Don’t compromise. You may well see young people gathering around them people who will tell them what they would like to hear…in this situation, don’t question your own sound doctrine, instead be faithful. You will experience hardship if some of your youth can’t stay the course and leave because of your teaching, but stay firm. The Lord will honour you as you honour him.

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yours in the battle for the hearts of young people

Andrew

I’ve been tagged!

I’ve got a few ‘more serious’ things to blog later, but Chris has tagged me so one must respond to these things :o) The challenge is to tell you all 5 things that you don’t know about me! I’ll try and make them all ‘windswept and interesting!’ Here goes:

1) I have been writing and arranging music for full brass band ‘prolifically’, yes, ‘prolifically’ since I was 11…I even got paid £250 to write a march for a major company in 1995! (I am happy to report, however, that God has released me from the oppression of being a bando…apart from being a Christmas Carrolingoholic…I’ve only clocked up 11 hours carolling this Christmas so far!)
2) I was known as Andrew Smith for 8 years of my childhood!
3) I bumped into Davina McColl at Crewe train station, Chris Tarrant at Alton Towers, Chris de Burgh on Regent Street, David Dickenson on a London bus, Jenny Eclair in Sainsburys, Richard Wilson at Glasgow University, Anthony Head in a lift in Bath and Anne Graham-Lotz preached at my graduation from ICC.
4) umm….er…5 things? um……we have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Brengle! (Will post you a picture one day…we’ve had him since September…forgot to blog it!)
5) I can play a classical version of twinkle twinkle little star (complete with alberti bass) hanging over the back of a piano backwards! :o)

Well, there you have it!

Vintage Army Renewal frim July 2005

Fantastic Word of Prophecy to the church in 1999 given by a bloke called Chad Taylor. It struck prophetic chord in my heart! Read it and embrace it.

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Once again shall My church be a Salvation Army that occupies the city streets! Once again will My glory be revealed in the alley ways and the hedges. This is the place that Gideon will break the clay pots and let My glory shine. In the streets, on the corners, in every place My name shall be declared! Surely I will work with you! Confirming the word with signs following! No longer will the world hear the sound of bells on corners asking alms, but rather roars of My people declaring my power and glory! This is the hour to break the clay posts and let My glory be revealed in YOU!

IT IS TIME TO MARCH
I say to you O ‘Salvation Army’, it is time to march! It is time to shine! It is time that every street, every Samaria, every den of thieves and harlotries hear the sound of My people’s feet! It surely is the appointed time to set the captives free! For see, I have poured this anointing on thee, to bind up and pull down, to set free, and to bind, to conquer and comfort, to set ablaze the earth and to shine. This is that hour, this is that prophesied by the prophet Joel, this is that time says the Lord.
Every place of business shall witness My glory. Every Athens shall hear the Truth declared, every Samaria will see My people there, they will, ‘see and hear the miracles’ that are done by My servants. A dispensation is upon you, unto the weak I will give strength, to the poor I will fill your baskets, to the lame and the cripple you shall leap and walk. For this is that which was prophesied in days of old, “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and NEW things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them…” (Isa. 42:9)

TIME FOR MARRIAGES TO BE RESTORED
Marriages that have faltered will now be restored. My generals will rise with wives and husbands by their side. In this hour two will be better than one. A double portion I declare to you says the Lord. A double portion. My Salvation Army is rising with healing in their hands, they will lay hands on the sick and they shall surely recover. In their hands will be My anointing for the healing of the nations. The deaf will hear, the blind will see, the mute shall speak. Watch and see these things coming to pass in thee. Watch and see…

SENDING TWO BY TWO
A time of appointing, sending them two by two, Surely My power will confirm, The places you go and the things you do, For I am with you, and I will work with you, says the Lord. In this hour ‘three hundred’ will cause the enemy to flee, The steps of two or three, Will again lead captive captivity, And the lost will be found and the captive set free! By the works I do through thee! Watch and see! Watch and see! A Salvation Army is marching through this land, Pulling down strongholds and revealing my divine plan, Hearing the words of My command, ‘STAND! And having done all, STAND!’ And I will reveal My power even through your hands! Do you understand? Do you understand?

THE LAME WILL WALK—FINALLY THE ADDICT WILL BE FREE
The lame man will leap, The blind man will see, The addict will be free, The skeptic will believe, By what I do through thee! Religion will bow at My feet, Giving up her captives and setting them free! Do you believe? Do you believe? A Salvation Army will march to this beat, The sound of eternity. The prodigal will hear the sound of his destiny. Jonah will come from the fishes belly, To declare My word and prophecy!

BUT YOU SAY, “I AM UNCOMELY”
This is the hour of the ‘Uncomely!’ Kings will bow and confess, The poor and needy will be blessed, The wind will blow from the North South East and West, Bringing life to dry bones, The orphan a family, the widow a home, Can you feel it blow? Can you feel it blow? Prophesy My people Prophesy! Say to the wind, “LIFE! LIFE” Say to the sinner, “You don’t have to die!” “Jesus was crucified! ” “He is alive!” “He is alive!” “He is alive!” My army is marching. My army is rising. My army will bring salvation like a flood.

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Glory Hallelujah
Andrew C

An Army Cup of Tai Chi

So I casually pick up my recent edition of the Salvationist and have my weekly rummage through. Then, I come to the page describing the recent visit of the Officers from the International College for Officers visiting Reading Central to conduct the meetings. Fine…nice.

But shock, horror, blow me down with a feather, I read that Captain such and such, presumably from an oriental territory, led the congregation in…wait for it….Tai Chi!

Tai Chi is intricately tied up with the practice of Taoism. In order to achieve physical well being, the Tai Chi student must be attuned to the universe by concentrating below the navel section of the body — which is said to be the body’s psychic center. It involves the whole concept of balancing your yin and yang, your positive and negative forces etc.

Tai Chi cannot be rec­onciled with Christianity at all.

When will The Salvation Army wake up to these dangerous practices?

We wrestle not against flesh and blood….

Well, I don’t know what that was…whether it was a retreat, an advance, a stand still or a what? Whatever it was, I’m back at work.

Paul said that we should no longer view things from a worldly point of view. I guess what he means by that is that there is so much more going on in the spiritual realm than we can ever imagine. I also guess he is saying that we shouldn’t just lean on human understanding for understanding situations.

The spiritual reality of this whole situation is that it is simply fierce opposition to our Christian community movong on. Its opposition to our venture into exploring authentic community via our transition into Ward Based corps. Its also opposition in the area of the teaching contained in those Wards, the ‘Freedom in Christ’ material I’ve mentioned before. The enemy doesn’t want God’s people free and they’ve been bound here for so long he has a lot to lose.

The battle is real, the battle is fierce but the victory has already been won in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to feel strong in ourselves in this battle as warriors, because we simply hold the treasure of victory in our little jars of clay and let it be displayed before all men as we rise from adversity in true resurrection faith. Dead to self, alive to Christ. And, ultimately, the battle is the Lord’s.

You see, while all the negative things have been going on, there have been some wonderful developments in the spiritual life of the corps. Our worship together, deepening fellowship and experience of God’s presence have been becoming very real and that’s great. There is simply a cost to pressing on with renewal.

yours
Andrew