Under Farewell Orders!

So…we announced to our corps today that we are expecting farewell orders on the 8th February. Its one of those annoying things you have to keep under your hat until the last minute, but I feel a little bit of relief at having told the corps. We shared it with our leadership a couple of weeks ago.

Mixed emotions about it really…on one hand excitement, on the other hand reluctance. We’re really just at the beginning of the new things God is doing here, but we’ve come through some tough times of transition in these last 6 months or so. Still, having the opportunity now to look back, I’d say it has all been very necessary. We’re still not where we’d want to be yet, but at least we’re on the way.

Praying that our successors will be God’s people for the next stage of the war here in Pill. There is no worse feeling as an officer than the feeling that all your hard work will be undone within a month! I’m sure that won’t happen…God is in it all. We’re praying, praying that God will be preparing the next officers for this unique and exciting appointment with great potential. We now have this next 6 months to consolidate and celebrate what God has done and is doing. I don’t perceive that we’ve got many more difficult bridges to cross in our time here…its just about tying up loose ends and leaving things in as good a shape as we can.

As for us, its possible that we will be moving north of the border to Scotland although we know absolutely nothing with any certainty. Our DC keeps his cards close to his chest, and rightly so…although a little hint here and there wouldn’t have gone amiss! Anyway…we are the ‘salute and go’ kind of people..not bothered where we go as long as its where God wants us.

Just in case you missed it in the last post, we will not be around not until Thursday…off to Sunbury for our Continuing Development Seminar. Woohoo!

yours

Andrew

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Report from Officers Advance

So…we had a good time at the Officer’s Advance. Twas led by Commissioners John and Betty Matear, our Territorial Leaders. I found them to be very refreshing. Commissioner Betty, in particular, impressed me. Here is a woman who has a very strong and powerful ministry. Previous TPWM’s in the UK haven’t been quite so dynamic.

Anyway, they spoke about a lot of things mainly focussed on confidence (in God, in mission, in grace, in prayer, in worship, in hope etc). One of the sessions, Commissioner Betty encouraged the officers to dream of what it would mean to claim and live out the DNA of The Salvation Army.

You’d be surprised to know that I didn’t say a thing. I was really interested to listen to what would come from the other officers in the Division…to see what concepts are flying around. I could see the commissioner trying to urge them on, dream bigger, see wider. It is what we need to do, isn’t it?

Anyway, going through my mind is was the definition coming from the primitive voice: The Salvation Army is a group of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus. I suppose that has become my vision in the way that I want to lead my people to think…its a tall order, but God is able.

On another note, I was blessed to watch tears from the eyes of the centre manager of a social service centre as she pleaded with the Lord to send revival to her centre, as well as Christian staff and workers. Lord, answer that prayer! It is wonderful to hear that coming from social services…interestingly, she isn’t a salvationist.

So…next week I’m off again…to the Officers Continuing Development week at Sunbury Court. I may post while I am there, but just in case I don’t, I’ll put in the caution that there may not be any posts until Thursday.

blessings
Andrew

A song to chew on…

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

by Keith Green

To obey is better than sacrifice,

I don’t need your money, I want your life.

And I hear you say that I’m coming back soon,

But you act like I’ll never return.


Well you speak of grace and my love so sweet,

How you thrive on milk, but reject my meat,

And I can’t help weeping of how it will be,

If you keep on ignoring my words.


Well you pray to prosper and succeed,

But your flesh is something I just can’t feed.


To obey is better than sacrifice.

I want more than Sunday and Wednesday nights,

Cause if you can’t come to me every day,

Then don’t bother coming at all.

Lah, lah,lah….


To obey is better than sacrifice.

I want hearts of fire, not your prayers of ice.

And I’m coming quickly, to give back to you,

According to what you have done.

Turned up

So, Saturday night I attended the retirement meeting of two officers in the city. I headed off early to the meeting basically because I thought it would be hard to get a seat…

although, thinking about it, if it people were having to stand I’d have offered my seat….anyway…

…so, there is no traffic on the way to the meeting, and I’m an hour early. Had a bit of a drive round the community of Easton (if thats what its called) and quickly noticed that this place is well dark. Sex shops, cultic shops, strange pubs, full of high rise flats, generally sort of messy inner city place. Plus, the place is heaving with enthnic minorities.

Decide to get out the car and have a walk round in the dark, although feeling quite safe considering I’m all sallied up. Can’t remember the street I was in, but as I walked past a particular building, I had a picture come to my mind of a woman. She was young, pretty, dressed up. She was sitting in a toilet cubicle and she was crying, her face was stained with tears, she had black rings round her eyes. So, stopped where I was, laid hands on the building, prayed for the woman or whoever she represented, who may or may not have been in the building, and then went on.

So, got to the end of the road, crossed over and got up the other side. Feeling the oppression of this community pretty much now as I wander along praying in the Spirit. I notice that as I get back to the car that I’m actually praying quite loud and people are looking at me. I just smile as if its a normal thing to do…I am wearing a Salvation Army uniform after all.

An hour later, I’m in a packed Salvation Army hall…the one that is in this area. I look around me. Firslty, I’m struck by all the incongruent cars in the car park…very posh for this area. Secondly, I’m noticing the amount of white faces in the hall…certainly not representative of the community. Thirdly, of perhaps 400 people, I can only find one man who looks as if he is a local…he is wearing a trench coat and is pretty dirty and smell. He isn’t too interested in the meeting, he is wearing headphones.

A songster comes up to me and says “I love your tunic Captain, very Army” (I’m in my high collar you understand), and I say “thank you sister.” Next, the above mentioned local man walks past, heading for the side door. The sister says: “Oh, we better watch him…he’s only here for the food you know.” I say to her, rather sarcastically I’m afraid, “Oh, thats very Army!” I don’t think she got the irony. Bless her.

Its near the end of the meeting and Mr Trenchcoat has got up and gravitated towards the side door again, and is standing behind the band. Maybe about 40 in the band, they are pretty good although the back row of cornets seem to be getting upset about the stench of Mr Trenchcoat.

Anyway, we move to the after-meeting eats, and Mr Trenchcoat is no-where to be found. I’m sure he was looking for eats, but it appears to me that either he’s been given a doggy bag to take away with him or he has just been told to leave…I hope not. In any case, I doubt the he would have been made feel welcome and accepted.

I think to myself, as I have often done when in these situations, there goes Jesus again, turning up as usual. You know…standing at the back of the band by the side door, rather smelly, seeing who might care for his needs.

“I was at the meeting in my trenchcoat and you ignored me. Lord, when did you come to the meeting in your trenchcoat? What ever you do for the least…” (Matthew 25:35, my paraphrase).

What do we tell our children?

I intend carefully to instruct my children that if at any time they see The Salvation Army a wealthy, respectable concern, the majority of whose “soldiers” simply go where they please to attend its’ “ministrations,” leaving the godless undisturbed to perish; and if they see another set of people, however they may be clothed or despised, who really give up all to go and save the lost, then they must not for a moment hesitate to leave the concern their poor old dad helped to make, and go out amongst those who most faithfully carry out what the founder of the Army laid down in his writings and acts, may God preserve them from such a day by keeping the Army free from the love of money and ease – George Scott Railton, An Autobiography, Full Salvation, Jan. 1, 1894.

This quote gives me a lot of heartache. It contains a sentiment I struggle with personally every day. Now hear this, I’ve not given up on the Army at all…I believe their can be change and I don’t reckon I’ll ever leave the Army. I’d hate the day to come when I have to say that to my children. But then, if we’re honest, the day when we need to be saying that to our children is probably now…apart from the fact that I know that we can change if we are brave.

I don’t care whether or not the thing called The Salvation Army dissappears or not, but I definetely don’t think it is right for the spirit of Salvationism to dissappear, because at its heart of it is a raw, aggressive, passionate expression of the Christian faith which is so invigorating and inspirational. The sad thing is that many of our children (certianlyin the UK) have never been exposed to it.

I thank the Lord for the youth revolution in Canada, inspired by the War College etc, and, to an extent I’m thankful for the Neo stuff going on in the UK, but I really call out to God for his new day for us. I’m desperate for God’s new day. I also know that the kind of leadership that needs to be given by officers for that new day to come around is painful leadership.

I can’t really draw any conclusions from these thoughts, just to say that, after so many experiences in this past week, I’m desperate for God’s new day for us.

Andrew

A word from the Lord via Bale

A word of prophecy to The Army given to Nearly-Captain Andrew Bale. I add my amen to this message…it corresponds perfectly with what I believe the Lord to be saying to us at this time. Read and respond with repentance, prayer and positive action. This can be the Army’s finest hour…we press on into Christ.

_____________________________________

Comrades in Christ

Isaiah Chapter 1 – a prophecy for the western territories of the Salvation Army and for individual soldiers within the Salvation Army.

The following came to me today in prayer and I share it in humility – may God bless, redeem, sanctify and use the Salvation Army – Hallelujah!

“The Salvation Army is one of my favoured children. In your youth I gave you a multicoloured coat woven with a weft of marvellous signs and wonders, but over the years you have rebelled against me until you are no longer able to recognise the sound of my voice. It is bad enough when a parent and child refuse to speak but when one fails to recognise the voice of the other the situation has become tragic. I am speaking to you as much as I ever have done but you do not recognise my voice.

I am still calling you in the direction of the disenfranchised and friendless but you cannot hear me.
I will am still calling you to purity of living and holiness but you cannot hear me.
I am still calling you to stand between the oppressed and the oppressor but you cannot hear me.
I am still calling you to the mighty work of soul winning but you cannot hear me.
I am still calling you to poverty, persecution and victory but you cannot hear me.

The once covenanted warriors of my Salvation Army have become desensitised to my voice.

Like the early church you were born with a rush of Pentecostal fire and your early years were accompanied by salvation war and revival. You were persecuted because you made serious inroads into the devil’s territory and the narrow way that led to heaven was crowded with your converts. You found again the pearl of holiness and sold all that you had to possess it.

Now you have become a

“Sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! You have forsaken the LORD; you have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned your backs on him.” (Verse 4)

I have seen your suffering and I beg you to stop your wilful self-harm.

“Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted…” (Verses 5-7)

Your Corps are closing, your seats are empty, your halls are falling into disrepair and you have no money to rebuild them. Other denominations are trying to use the weapons I crafted for you – they are trying – but they are not you and their armour is ill-fitting and clumsy, they have not read the manual, they have not been properly drilled, your methods – the tactics designed for you are alien to them.

“Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.” (Verse 7)

Yet in spite of this breakdown in our relationship, in spite of your rebellion and your self-harm and poverty you continue with your religious ordinances. You march to deserted streets and preach to nobody. You feed the slave and clothe him but fail to break his chains. You polish your holiness tables but deny the possibility of purity. You hold music festivals that are nothing but concerts with an ‘amen’ at the end. You parade your good works like phylacteries ensuring that the world – along with your right hand – knows exactly what your left hand is doing. This offends me, I find it detestable, it is worse than the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah – I never asked for this.

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies.” (Verse 13)

You are praying and even fasting but I have blocked my ears – Salvation Army I am not listening to you.

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.”

Go and wash yourself, your hands are stained with blood for the road to hell is now crowded with the shuffling hopelessness of those I raised you up to save and their blood is on your hands – you think it is enough to feed them and clothe them and wash them but it is not enough. There is no greater contradiction than yours for your arrogant self obsession slaps a man on the back with a hearty ‘God bless you’ and then turns away as he falls into the fiery fissures of hell.

“Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.” (Verse 16-18)

Once you depended on me, you bought where you had no money, you attacked where you had no chance of victory and you opened fire on a wing and a prayer. Once heaven rang with the sound of your volleys and the angels wept at the audaciousness of your evangelism but now you have prostituted yourself. Now you have taken what is Caesar’s and failed to give me what is mine. You have taken Babylon’s money and bedded the heathen philanthropist. You have sacrificed your right to pray and preach for the chance to buy a building. Once you shouted ‘no compromise’ but now you are all compromise.

“See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her— but now murderers!” (Verse 21)

What is my judgement to be? How will I treat you? What is my response to your individual and corporate sin?

“Come let us reason together…”

I am looking and waiting for you. Like the prodigal I can see you now feeding on the scraps of this unclean world. It is in this mess, that you have created, that you must come to your senses. Dear Salvation Army come back to me for I have a robe and a ring and a fattened calf all waiting for you. It is time to come home!

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Verses 18-20)

I have left for myself a remnant and if they will humble themselves and identify themselves in repentance and sorrow then I will unblock my ears and clear my eyes and let the ‘revolution now begin’.

The cost is repentance.
The cost is a full renunciation of the values and standards of this world.
The cost is a new and brave exposure to total dependence upon me.
The cost is a full consecration of all you have and are to me (all I have ever asked is that you love me with all your heart, soul, body and mind – I am a jealous God and will not share your love with another!)

“I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counsellors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.” Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.”

The future of the Salvation Army will be settled in the next 10 years – it is a clear choice – repent and live or rebel and die.”

Holiness Teachers

So, we’re planning a holiness weekend at Pill in October. Problem is, Commissioner Howe, who I was hoping would come and lead it can’t make it.

Sad thing is, other than the nearly-Captain Andrew Bale who will be taking up his new appointment in August, I can’t for the life of me think of an officer in the UK who could lead a good weekend on classic Salvationist holiness.

Anyone got any ideas?

Andrew

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!

Came across this cracking article by Todd Frield from Wayofthemasterradio.com. A good read. Will be sure to post part two for you.


You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!
Salvation Army President Predicts Demise of The Church

Part One

Any Fifth Street Promenade tarot card reader would be thrilled to nail a prediction as accurately as William Booth did one hundred years ago. “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”

Was the founder of the Salvation Army accurate?

>Is there religion without the Holy Ghost? With a red face I confess that we conservatives have veered from the zany antics of televangelism into a ditch with little recognition of the active work of the Holy Spirit.

>Is there Christianity without Christ? Have you been to an Episcopal church lately?

>Is there forgiveness without turning from sin? Ask Dallas Theological Seminary.

>Is there salvation without regeneration? Google “Carnal Christianity.”

>Is there politics without God? www.ACLU.com

>Is there heaven without hell? Paging Rob Bell.

How was General Booth able to make such an accurate prediction? He surveyed the doctrines that were under assault, and then forecasted where that errant theology would take us. What deficient theology did he see? He witnessed a forsaking of the preaching of the Law. While he did not know what the result would be named, he knew that anti-nomianism (no law, lots of grace) had to lead to what turned out to be watered down mainline Protestantism and the seeker sensitive movement.

Now that General Booth’s predictions have been fulfilled, we would do well to survey the latest threat. “Isn’t the seeker sensitive movement the latest threat?” you ask. I would suggest it is not.

The seeker sensitive movement is the result of the squishy, anti-nomianism that General Booth witnessed; it is not a new threat. Seeker Sensitive is the manifestation of bad theology. Seeker sensitive is merely a fad (a bad fad, but a fad, nonetheless), and it won’t be long before it is replaced by another fad that is the result of new bad theology. What is the bad theology of our day?

Redefined justification.

Nearly 500 years ago, God used Martin Luther to recapture the foundational doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. Every puritan who followed in his wake recognized that justification is the core doctrine of Protestantism.

How did they define it? Man=sin. God=holiness. Consequence=hell. But God chose to demonstrate His kindness by taking the punishment we deserve by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a sinless life and die on a cross, rise from the dead and defeat death. Therefore, if people will repent and trust the Savior, the righteousness of Jesus will be imputed (credited to our account) that we might be made the righteousness of God (see II Cor.5:21) so that God can be glorified for His kindness. That is justification.

But alas, today’s “progressive” theologians have decided we need to take a fresh, new look at our cherished corner stone. Emergent leader, Brian McLaren says he simply wants to have a conversation and re-think long-held evangelical assumptions.

While he acts like he is taking us on a journey whose destination is unknown, Mr. McLaren seems to know exactly where this conversation is headed: a new definition of justification. From the article “Interview with Brian McLaren about ‘A Letter to Friends of Emergent.’”

Interviewer: I think with all the other change going on, one thing we’ve got to hold firm on is the Gospel.

McLaren: What do you mean when you say “the Gospel?

Interviewer: You know, justification by grace through faith in the finished atoning work of Christ on the cross.

McLaren: Are you sure that’s the Gospel?

Interviewer: Of course. Aren’t you?

McLaren: I’m sure that’s a facet of the Gospel, and it’s the facet that modern evangelical Protestants have assumed is the whole Gospel, the heart of the Gospel. But what’s the point of that Gospel?

In part two, we will put on our General William Booth predicting hats to predict where this conversation is headed. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Simple Mission

I’ve got a dream. Its best encapsulated by the phrase ‘Simple Mission.’ Let me explain how I see it.

It is a corps of soldiers and local officers working a geographical area. It is, of course, a ward based corps, so the main teaching, prayer, worship and pastoral care happens in a network of small groups. New converts are also plugged straight into these groups because this corps doesn’t hold conventional meetings…not every week anyway. Now thats a good job, because this corps doesn’t have a very expensive building to maintain because its much more Kingdom efficient to just rent the local school hall when all the wards come together for celebration.

The corps does, however, have a decent sized shop front in the main street of the town. This shop front is the hub of the mission. It has a 24/7 prayer room too.

There might be a couple of offices at the back, but the front is just kitted out with sofas, a few tables and chairs and a coffee machine, and its open as much as possible. Its not a scant building though, it is simple yet attractive, modern. People float in and out all day, the young people gravitate there in the evening. Its the kinda place you want to spend some time.

As well as the ward meeting, the soldiers engage in brigade activity. They all get together at another time in the week and get out into the community. Maybe there is some outdoor worship, maybe some will be out doing prayer ministry door to door, some will be ministering practically to the poor. Others will be using the hub providing a course for new parents. Others will be prayer walking. Some might do an afterschool club at the hub to keep kids busy until bedtime. Others might be leading midweek worship at another church. Others are mingling in the local pub with the regulars. Yet more are befriending elderly folks, encouraging them to come down to the hub and meet a few people. Folk from all the wards get together to have a band practice because they spend their Sundays speading the word at as many public parks and events as possible during the summer and they love to go carolling at Christmas.

Others give free hours to the local Salvation Army hostel to help maintain the important spiritual work of saving men and women from addiction. The whole corps is invovled in mission yet everyone has much more time to be building personal networks of friends to invite to their ward because they are not down the Army doing all manner of stuff every night. At the bare minimum, people are attending their ward and doing a couple of hours brigade activity. Others are so enthused that mission is happening that they just want to give as much time as possible to the corps mission and they love manning the hub and supporting other brigade activity.

The corps officers devote their time to training the soldiers and local leaders. They get stuck in along with the rest of the soldiers with the brigade activity. They make the hub their base for most of the week. They may even be overseeing two or three hubs. The Army now has a less officer-centred ministry because of this dedication to simple mission because the whole Army is mobilised. The officer is now released to lead, direct and oversee…pointing out gaps in the strategy, manouvering troops, providing coherence, overseeing the pastoral work of the Ward Sergeants. The officers aren’t shattered because they aren’t having to carry the whole Army’s mission on their own. They have plenty of time for their mariages and families and there is much less unrealistic expectation thrust on them compared to what it was like before the change.

The Army has come into its finest hour and we’re opening new corps all over the place. Thousands are being saved, resources are plentiful and joy has returned to The Salvation Army.

Do you see it?