I wonder…

I’ve been asking myself this week why I am theologically conservative. That might not have been the question at the top of your list this week, but for some reason its at the top of my mine. By theologically conservative, I mean that I’m a bread and butter theology man…’regular’ evangelical theology does me just fine.

What does that mean? I believe in the absolute authority of the bible and that its the word of God, the trinity, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ both in terms of salvation and his divine and human nature. I believe in good old repentance, faith and generation being necessary for salvation. I believe that we can be holy and that we must. I believe in original sin, including a 6 day creation and a physical Adam. I believe that God’s grace is readily available at all times and in all places and is not restricted to any form. I believe that the power of pentecost is just as powerful today as it was 2000 years ago. I’m your typical evangelical. I believe in a literal Heaven, a literal Hell, a literal Judgement at the end of the world. I believe Jesus will come again and that we’ll reign with him. I firmly believe in the Great Commission and see the church’s role as one of completing that until Jesus declares it finished.

I debated two years through Bible college and a year through Training College for the ‘regular’ position. I’ve debated in almost every other setting you can think of too. I continually get perplexed by those who find it difficult to believe these things. For me, knowing God is not about questioning God, probing God, stretching God, bending God, accommodating God. Its about God questioning, probing, stretching, bending and making no accommodation for me other than being willing to hear my prayer.

I can present pretty much every theology contrary to the ‘regular’ so I’m by no means ignorant or uninformed. I am, however, narrow-minded. I seek to bring down any arguement that sets itself up against the gospel, just like old Paul said he intended to. You see, I’m just not willing to compromise what appears to be very clear from scripture. I’m narrow. I don’t claim to be a know it all, and I certainly don’t do any of my debating from an arrogant stand-point, regardless of what folks may think. I am simply jealous for God and his Word and I’ll defend it ’til the cows come home. If confidence is often mistaken for arrogance in this world, then I’m happy to be arrogant.

But….Why? I cannot think of any other than this: Jesus saved me from sin and Hell, both living and eternal through his obedient death on a Roman cross.

It was for me. By his stripes I am healed. By his blood I am redeemed. By his Spirit, I’m made clean.

Who am I to question that? I’ve only every asked God ‘why?’ once. I’ll don’t believe I’ll do it again.

I know for many its not that clear cut…but here is an invitation…and its an invitation to simple faith and trust: believe Him today.

Advertisements

We all do it….

Whether we like it or not, we wear uniforms all the time. I mean by that, ‘we are what we wear’ so often. Let me give you an example of church uniforms I’ve picked up on:

– go to a new trendy, ’emerging’ church, the uniform for men is smart jeans, shirt, ‘Gap’ style pullover and a scarf round your neck (not forgetting your suede covered bible)
– go to a collection of leaders from a city’s evangelical churches, the uniform is chinos, checked shirt and pullover with the obligatory sensible shoes. The women will be sporting smart trousers, jumper and a sleeveless over jacket
– go to a trendy charismatic shirt and the uniform is smart trousers and a shirt with the church’s logo on the left breast.
– go to a trad baptist church, the men will be in a grey suit with pastel coloured tie and the women will have a long skirt and a turtle neck jumper with smart suit-like jacket
– go to your trad C of E, the men have their slacks and tweed blazers, many of the women will have their loose fitting flowery skirts, jumper and sensible outdoor coat that come down just below the bottom
– go to the neo Salvation Army corps, the hoodie reigns alongside the ’emerging’ uniform as above

But, all these people will tell you that they couldn’t go to a church that wears a uniform :o) Even when we are dressing casually, what we wear speaks a lot about who we are.

Yet, Salvation Army uniform is still hotly debated (there would probably have been more response to this post than the last post about human trafficking if I hadn’t put in this sentence in parentheses!).

I remember General Larsson, speaking in his ‘welcome’ speech as General, talking about the fact that we must be a visible Army…that we have always been a very visible part of the body. But he also went on to say that its not so much the style, but the principle of the thing. The one size fits all (and no, I’m not talking SP&S sizing policies here) clearly doesn’t fit all and the modes of warfare we engage in require different equipment. He says this:

“A force that is visible– We are a gloriously visible part of the Body of Christ. We even witness by what we wear. It is the principle rather than any particular style of uniform that is important. Many young Salvationists of today, even in their informality, are showing their grasp of the principle. The principle of visibility needs every encouragement.”

I’m trying to encourage the flexible principal at Pill. We are totally not trying to promote no uniform, on the contrary, I’m trying to encourage people to be identified as a salvationist Christian more than just the two hours in the week they wear their serge suit.

blessings
Andrew

Slavery

We rejoice that the British Government passed a bill to abolish the slave trade 200 years ago today. We mourn that the illegal slave trade is more active today than it was then.

As the people of God, we turn our hearts towards the disenfranchised, the poor, the abused and we petition the Lord for the change. But then, we ask that the change will be in us, that we will fight to the very end to see justice, mercy, equality, and freedom. Its in our bones, in our DNA, we must fight.

There are many important political battles to be distracted by, but none so shocking, none that should attract greater attention than the reality of slavery, of men, women and children in the 21st Century.

Easter Outreach Idea

I came across a really creative idea tonight over at Lifewords. The link isn’t to Lifewords, but to the linked site from there. Lifewords is the new name for the Scripture Gift Mission who do very attractive (and free) scripture booklets and small tracts.

Anyway, the community Easter meditation idea is fabulous. The link takes you to a page with eight posters with eight thoughts, meditations and scripture readings. The idea is that you put these onto a hard backing, laminate them, and display them in eight seperate people’s gardens (with their permission, of course).

You then prepare a leaflet telling people about the project, the location of the boards, and see if you can get your community going on a little devotional walk! They suggest you display them for the three days of Easter (Fri – Sun).

I’ve discovered this a little late perhaps to do it here in Pill, although we might do something with it….I’ll think about it! Its probably too late for you to do anything with it too, but hey, you’ll have something for next year already!

Thoughts:
– you could try using shop windows instead of gardens…the only downside is if shops have shutters.
– if you have eight churches in your community, you could try a church for each sign.
– if you have a large front garden area, stick them all in there at once, encourage people to come and walk around.
– do duplicates and make sure you have a replacement if one goes missing

If you give it a try, let me know how you get on. If I can think of a way to do it, I’ll post about it.

Blessings

Andrew C

Essentials

Every now and again you get the ‘interesting’ opportunities in a community to speak about the Army at all sorts of places. Today I visited the ladies group at a local baptist church.

On my first visit to these groups, I generally give my testimony, sing a couple of solos and give a gospel message using the flag as a prop. It gives me the opportunity to tell my story again. The second visit, I usually talk about special moments in ministry – usually involving to ministry to the poor and ‘un-desirables’. People can debate scripture and the existence of God all they like, but they cannot deny our stories.

As the years go by I find myself becoming more and more distanced from my past. In many ways that is good, but I am always determined never to forget what it is like to be lost. I am determined never to stop marvelling at the way God has transformed my life. I am determined to sing my salvation song forever.

I came away from my meeting today with £10, a bunch of daffodils for my wife and some valuable thoughts…not just from the meeting, but in reflecting on what I’m about:

1. God has plucked me out of a living hell as well as an eternal one through his Son.
2. I will never understand lack of urgency in mission…from anyone…and I’ll always act to counter it by stripping away apathy. Hell is hot and it gets fuller by the day. I find myself getting angry about this, and I’m not always sure that the anger is misplaced or wrong. Its more what you do with it I suppose.
3. I will be confident in ministry because it is God who has given me it and it is him who has shaped, and continues to shape it, to be what he wants it to be.
4. I must continue to embrace prophetic ministry, even when that is unpopular, when I’m misunderstood, misinterpreted or misrepresented.
5. Although I’ve perhaps not always communicated well or demonstrated as fully as possible where I’m coming from, I’ll continue my ‘crusade’ to transform our concepts of pastoral care, resisting at all times the ‘clericalisation’ of the pastoral ministry in favour of every member ministry.
6. I’ll continue to shout about freedom as an essential part of holiness and discipleship to see believers living as fully Christian lives as possible.
7. I’ll never understand or accept worldly values that creep into the salvationist mindset
8. I’ll continue to advocate gift-oriented ministry and a widening awareness of spiritual gifts in general….but especially the gift of prophesy. Paul said he though it was one worth eagerly desiring!

Every now and then you have to capture these things, write them down and allow them to speak to you afresh.

yours
Andrew

Momentum

The challenge that presents itself to any officer moving in these days when we get to know months in advance that we are moving and months in advance where we are going is the challenge of what to do with the remainder of the time! We’ve got about 4 months in all left at Pill and there is SOOOOOOOOO much that I’d still love to do and see.

I’m being fairly successful in putting Wick to the back of my mind, so much so that it doesn’t seem possible that we will be moving there soon! I’m just so aware of the little time we have and I either slow down in these four months or we go with a bang! The corps might prefer slow down…but I’ve never been a slow down kinda guy when it comes to mission. There is also the issue of ‘has everything been dealt with as much as it possible can…is there anything hanging still?’

Its a challange to a corps too. I can see corps people starting to slow down momentum…I think its one of the downsides of having an Army which is still very much driven by officer leadership instead of local leadership. Having said that, our wards are going great guns…we just need to see mission activity beginning to spring out of them.

Still…we have corps council tomorrow…we’ll see what we can dream up for the next few months! In spite of the difficulties of the winter for the corps and for us personally, I’d love to see us really flourish in enthusiasm, worship, and to have a real sense of joy and thanksgiving for the coming closure of this chapter of corps history. What a better way to celebrate it than in the soul winning? The Lord is inviting us to look up from our recent circumstance and see him n all his glory, to pray, to make heaven on earth and be about our Master’s business.

I’ve been like the Joshua over these last years. We’ve come so far, we’re just landing on the other side. I don’t want to finish off remembering the difficulties we faced crossing the Jordan, we want to rejoice in the new land God has given us!

Lord give us you heart, your passion, your motivation, your love, your holiness, your grace, your victory and help us live on your promise!

Rivers Prophecy and Study

Dream

I had a dream in which I could see a map of a land with several rivers and waterways. The rivers were covered with a sort of green thick liquid which was polluting the streams. I was scraping the green substance off of the rivers of this map. Someone came up and asked what I was doing, and I said ‘just cleaning up these rivers…do you want to help?’ The person said yes.

The Lord has instructed me to do two things. 1) study rivers in the bible. 2) invite people to offer to pray into this vision and work and live to see it happen.

Rivers in the Bible

As I’ve studied the passages concerning rivers in the scripture the Lord has reveal a few things.

a) Judgement
The Lord has, in the past, polluted rivers as a sign of judgement against the oppression of God’s people like he did with the Egyptians. The result of this is that the citizens are unable to drink, the livestock will die and be satisfied from their streams (Exodus 4:9; 7:18; Psalm 74:15).

The Lord has also dried up rivers and this is the more symbolic representation of spiritual drought. God brings judgement upon a spiritually dry church and they don’t enjoy the refreshing of the Lord or understand the hidden depths of God’s word to them. (Job 14:11; 20:17

God dries up rivers for forsaking covenant and selling our birth right and for doubt his power to rescue and deliver, and for failing to be God’s people (Isaiah 50:2) If we had followed in his ways and his commands, if we had kept our covenant, our peace would have been like a river and our righteousness like the waves of the sea. (Isaiah 48:18).

b) Repentance
We are invited to stand in the Jordan. The Jordan River is symbolic of death and moving through Jordan is a necessary spiritual process. In the New Testament, it was the place of John’s baptism of repentance.

It’s a symbol of sin becoming righteousness, it’s a symbol of death to life, captivity to freedom. The Israelites saw the Jordan separate when the Ark of the Covenant was placed with in it. We are invited again to repent of our sin, waywardness and by the strength of covenant to see the water part so that we can move to rivers of plenty. (Joshua 3:8; 4:18; Matthew 3:6)

The hearts of people should cry out to the Lord. O wall of Zion, let your tears flow like a river day and night, give yourself no relief, your eyes no rest. (Lamentations 2:18)

c) Promise
The Lord desires that we would move from polluted streams to rivers of plenty. The Scripture talks of a river of abundance. Its spiritual foundation is from the very throne of God (Revelation 22:1) and in the Old Testament, Ezekiel sees it as coming from the threshold of the temple, the place where God dwelled. This is a river from the Lord that is promised.

The Lord desires that this river should flow freely through the towns and cities of our nation, refreshing everything that comes in its path. By its sides will be an abundance of life and health, much fruit because this river flows from the very presence of God himself and this fruit will become the healing for the nations. The river is a river of justice which will never fail. (Ezekiel 47; Amos 5:24; Revelation 22:1-2).

d) invitation

We are invited, as in the days of Ezekiel, to wade into the river. These prophetic utterances have end-time connotations as well as past and current.

“3As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?” “

Some are only content to get into God’s river ankle-deep…just touching the things of God, staying at the edges of all he is doing.

Some are only content to get in knee-deep, willing to get in further, bit not at the forsaking of their dignity and comfort of getting completely soaked

But the Lord’s invitation is to get in and swim about in this river, to be come immersed in it…not simply pass through it like we do if we are content with a shallow understanding of God and his word. He wants us to plunge beneath the waters and be drenched. Late your feet of the bottom at float.
This river flows from the right (the east) Who is sitting on the right side of the Altar? Who is sitting on the right side of God and who had His side opened with a spear releasing blood (still fresh) and water (still flowing) Revelation 22:1-2? Jesus.
For those who desire it, there are waters to swim in. When you swim in a river, the river has control of you. But if your feet are on the bottom of the river, you have control and not the river.

Make it your determination today to be working for the lifting of the pollution in our nation by being immersed in the water of the Spirit. Live in the awareness of the Jordan, the waters that remind you of repentance and restored covenant. Bring an end to the parched land of the church by becoming a stream in the desert. Around you and the people of God will flow abundant fruit which will bring healing to the nations.

End Note:
I close again with words of the ‘Scottish Prophecy’ that the Lord gave me several months ago:

The Lord desires to move through you like a north wind, quickening, awakening, helping the church to realise that its time to reap a harvest before the winter. Put your boots on, grab your ploughs and head to the fields for the harvest will be plentiful.

The wind will bring floods flowing down from the mountains of the highlands into the lowlands. There will be streams of running water that will make even the cities polluted streams taste sweet. The streets of cities and villages will be blocked with streams.

Some will set barriers around the streams and mark danger, but clansmen will know no fear and follow the flow to the deep water where the invitation is to get in above the waist.

Seeing

I sorta knew on the way down to Exeter for Youth Councils in the car today that the day was going to be an interesting one! I could feel the Holy Spirit doing what I can only describe as ‘quickening’…you know, that sort of electricity feeling that comes when God’s preparing you for a thing? This was most of the way in the car that I’m sensing him doing some sort of work…certianly reminding me he’s very much there! It was certainly all to do with asking God to help me see what he is doing more.

So, I’m still sitting here at 1:41am in a bit of quietness just sifting through stuff. For anti-insomnia purposes, I’m just going to record and number the things that God was saying!:

1) God gave me a word to share for a specific person, especially applicable to her, but to us all. God gave me a picture of this woman’s heart for her daughter, who I believe is quite far away from the Lord at the moment. God showed me how it was painful for her, but that the kind of prayer that the Lord was calling this lady to was going to be like the pains of childbirth…she was going to have to really labour in prayer, as if somehow the daughter need to come to ‘re-birth’ this way. Oh Lord will you increase our passion for the lost that we’d be willing to go to pains to see them saved. Pray for this lady and her daughter…pray also that I can find her email address to give her the details specific to her!

2) God did a few more stages of mop-up after my little struggle last autumn. This was through worship….I love to worship. It always, always, carries healing for me in so many ways and God just restored several things through the worship.

3)Strangers kept saying hello to me! 3 random strangers in the street said ‘hello.’ That doesn’t usually happen in this part of the world….I mean, walking down a street in a city and people you don’t know all decide to say hello in the same day. So, I’m guessing God is doing something here….so I asked Him. He just said he was restoring some of my confidence…last autumn people were a bit difficult to cope with to be honest. Not just those we needed to sort out/help/minister to, but just regular people in shops, the mall, wherever.

4) There were several times in the evening meeting which were quite special in a way. I could sense the Holy Spirit was doing something and I asked him to let me see. I was standing at the side of the hall (usual place for prophetic watchmen!) and can see ‘angels’ sweeping the heads of the young people with feathers. I put angels in inverted commas, because I couldn’t actually see them, just the sense of these large white feathers. It has such a calming effect on the room and there was some special soothing going in broken lives by the Holy Spirit with these feathers.

5)Jesus also reveals a bit my heart to me and he allows it to bleed a bit for a young lad I’ve especially been praying a lot for. God gives me a verse for him, I share it to let him know that God is willing to take his brokenness…in fact, he is turning useless brokeness into holy brokeness, which is, in essence, what I think holiness is. Its you becoming less, and Jesus becoming more. Its the second stage of message the Lord has given me for this young lad, but its also for me. I prayed that if there was one thing to learn about recent months is that I’d be more open with my brokeness because its in recognising brokenness that wholeness comes, fullness. Psalm 51:17.

6)Finally, God said this “yes, I’m really going to do something in these people” Thats confirmation I needed, but a way huge promise for them.

thats just a couple of things….now I’ve got all that out…to bed!