Holy Spirit

God is just so incredibly faithful. Half the time I’m not anywhere near to understanding Him, but He is faithful. In the times where there are questions floating around He comes with his confirmation, speaks a word here and a word there to give you the understanding that He is indeed trustworthy. More than that, He is thoroughly committed to communicating to us, His people, His children, if we develop ears to hear. Our lives, if we chose to place them there, are in God’s hands. We are His for Him to bless, break, send and invest wherever He pleases.

This evening God made himself tangibly present. I was in a worship meeting at the end of an evening’s worth of training tonight at a local church and as we continued in worship I start to feel the right side of my face tingle and go numb. It began to twitch uncontrollably and tight/powerless muscles began to relax and do things they haven’t done for a while.

Some of you will know that a few years ago I lost control of the muscles in the right side of my face due to a condition called Bells Palsy. I got Bells Palsy when I was in training college during a time when I was actively sharing some pretty spiritually potent stuff in bible study with a few cadets. The enemy tried to shut me up. He did it physically for a while at least. I could hardly speak for weeks. I had still been having pain from this although the muscled had greatly improved.

The healing in this area has been gradual over a period of several years. You will have no idea what Holy Spirit communicated through touching my face like that tonight though. Whether I actually eventually see a marked physical change as a result of this Holy Spirit tingling is not as important in a sense what Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. He was communicating something in the way He touched my face.

The content of that is between me and Holy Spirit, but just be encouraged that He is incredibly faithful….’and He will do it!’

McClung on Militant Christianity

Floyd McClung is the great modern day church planter, missioner and apostle. Tracy picked up his book, ‘You see bones, I see an Army’ last week in Wesley Owen. His teaching on the Father Heart of God has started a Jesus revolution in the lives of many, he has trailblazed churches across the world. Now nearing the age where one would normally expect to retire, McClung has recently moved to South Africa to help explode redemptive communites through the entire nation, beginning with the poor. Someone give that man a set of eppaulettes! You just get the impression that this guy has lived out this writing instead of just waxing lyrical about it like many books seem to do when it comes to mission.

His assertion is that the Jesus revolution will come around through five key elements:

1) Simple church – small networks of people seeking to encounter and share Jesus where they are, both among their networks but reaching out to those who are not in their immediate network.

2) Courageous Leadership – those daring to break the church out of the existing mould, destructing the church and setting it free. Strong word, destructing. Its painful, messy and rarely easy in a long established setting of any kind. Just in case any Wickers are reading….no, its not my plan…rest easy! But then, it comes down to measuring how effective we can be in the form we currently are and assessing if that will do the job of winning the lost.

3) Focussed Obedience (sounds a bit like covenant) – about remaining faithful amid distraction and staying the course. Timely. He suggests that spiritual shallowness, plateauing, negative inner vows (‘I will never…’), unclear vision, the myth of financial security, frantic pace of life and conventional churchianity will be the main challenges to obedience.

4) Apostolic Passion – funnily, Captain Stephen Court was talking about apostolic passion over at armybarmy.com this week. Worth a look. Here, McClung absolutely suggests covenant and harnessing our passions into exploding Christianity wherever it can be exploded.

5) Making Disciples – that is, disciples who will be disciples and not just church-goers…the only way to sustain the Jesus revolution.

Classic quote from the opening chapter:

“Without knowing it they [China, India, Central Asia, and South America] are breaking out of small definitions [of church] the rest of us in the West hold dear. The ‘rest’ have a message for the West: church is not an institution but an army.”

Fantastic. The rest of the church want to be an army and The Army wants to be a church. The thing is that McClung could almost be describing the call and pattern of the early, hopefully modern, Salvation Army. We’ve got the opportunity to cause a Jesus breakout in so many places if we’d only dare.

In my own life I’m fundamentally challenged about how this is happening (or not) in my part of the world…and how I, as an officer respond to that need. God gives us a bucket full and over-flowing of grace to comprehend these things.

If you haven’t already sold your bed to buy my other book recommendations, this is one to sell your bed for.

‘You see bones, I see and army’ by Floyd McClung. I’ve only just skim read it, but its well worth diving into!

Get Praying

Started off our door-to-door prayer ministry this afternoon. The basic idea is that we make contact with people in their homes and ask if they want prayer for anything. Tracy did some prep last week and delivered a copy of the War Cry to one of the streets in the town. I followed on today with some more info and with a prayer request card.

This card basically indicates that we want to pray for them, and to feel free to write a request on the inside of the card. We’ll pop back in a few days an pick them up. If they don’t respond, that’s fine. If they do, that’s better. If they don’t want prayer but want something else, that’s good because we’ll end up praying anyway! Its a simple way to connect people’s felt needs with God’s desire to reveal himself to them using us as the catalyst. Maybe even an opportunity to nurture their ‘unfelt need’ – salvation.

People are spiritual, most people have an openness to things. Up here, we have an interesting mix of spirituality. We have ‘folk Christians’, new agers, pagans, out and out atheists, spiritualists, freemasons, and a whole bunch of people into the occult. Christianity gets a bad name in many places because it is often ‘unspiritual.’ I can’t help but see the link between this and God sending a bit of a charismatic nutter to Wick.

The weather up here doesn’t always lend itself to outdoor evangelism, but I’m going to get kitted up for a street prayer booth tomorrow and see how we go!

Aboriginal Apology

I’m sure those of you who are astute have noticed the remarkable apology offered by the Australian Government to the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia. They have finally apologised for years of mistreatment and pretty much total neglect of this peoples needs. Justice rocks.

I’m looking forward to the day when Scotland gets their apology from England for its over 400 years worth of oppression, rape, murder and pillage. The English banned our language, our culture, our societal structure (clan system) and pretty much everything else you can imagine. They encouraged that people be replaced with sheep because they were more profitable. We have entire empty ghost villages up here in this part of Scotland where the highlands were cleared of people and sent abroad to Canada, Australia, the USA.

OK, that was slightly controversial, but what I am hitting at here is the root of prejudice and bitterness that exists in the heart of many Scots. Its a spiritual issue, its an identity issue, its a well-being of the nation issue. Its pretty much the same issue that we’re dealing with in Australia. People wonder why we Scottish have a nationalist government at the present…just take a flick through recent chapters of history and you’ll see…

Friend of Sinners

Tonight in Bible study we got on to considering the accusation that was hurled at Jesus, ‘friend of sinners.’ We managed to move on from the fact that this wasn’t just a regular title, that it wasn’t just a reassurance that he was a friend of ours, as sinners.

We spoke about the fact it was intended as an insult, and as such it must have warranted more. We thought about his friendship with Mary Magdalene, the women at the well, Zacceus (or however you spell it), Judas Iscariot, the Roman Centurion, the lepers, the unclean, the misfits, the down-trodden, the bottom of the heap. We revelled in the fact that he loved the likes of those.

Then we wondered what it would mean for us to inherit the title. I mean, if we want to be like Jesus, we’d want that title too – ‘Friend of Sinners.’ What would the Salvation Army look like in this town if it really was the friend of sinners? We recognised that there exists within us all a prejudice against someone somewhere. We can all be pretty disapproving.

I recalled with pain the fact that I was never quite able to work through my feelings towards the pimps in Glasgow who used to keep those lovely young girls tied up in that lifestyle. Sure, I know God loved them and hated what they did, but its the only situation I can remember that I’ve had trouble distinguishing a person from his sin. Sounds silly, perhaps, but if I am to be a friend of sinners, I must be willing to be like Jesus and refuse to see them anything else than a person Jesus died for.

I remember constantly the challenge that Jackie Pullinger gives out: do you have a soft heart and hard feet that make you willing to go to any extreme to win the lost, or do you have a hard heart and soft feet that won’t take you anywhere?

I know what I want to answer. The question is: can I? can you?

Uprising Thoughts

I’m very much enjoying soaking in ‘The Uprising’ by Captain Stephen Court and Olivia Munn. Its a great read, full of depth, revelation, challenge, teaching, blessing, salvationism…pretty much everything I enjoy in a book. Its interactive, conversational and direct all at the same time. Its written for teens but I know several people in 20s – 90s who’d love it and who need it. Its revolutionary stuff.

More than that, it moves me. I get tired of books which leave me stuck rigid in my chair. I had that experience the other day when I picked up Bill Hybels’ new offering, ‘Just Walk Across the Room.’ Its not a kinda book I normally would pick up…its one of those that put all of the church’s evangelistic eggs in the basket of friendship evangelism. The only reason I picked it up is because there is a little course attached to it that I thought might be helpful for some of the quieter souls in my soldiery by ways of encouraging them that they can do something.

Anyway, as I pick it up, I realise all of a sudden that I’ve read this book before, at least 10 years previously. I remember reading ‘Becoming a Contagious Christian’ by Hybels very early in my Christian life and it was something that was actually full of good stuff…still is really. Because I’d enjoyed BACC so much when I was younger, I read it several times, often dipping into it. So, you’ll understand I was familiar enough with it to spot the same basic plot in his new book. I don’t reckon he figured someone sitting down with the two books and being able to spot the same formula, same pattern but different words approach. If you can plagerise you’re own work he’s done a good job.

Now, of course, its the same author, he’s bound to have similar thinking as himself! Thing is, all he’s pretty much done is said that other methods of evangelism (outlined in his old book) are pretty much useless and sold his hat to go with the friendship evangelism. So, I put the book down feeling disappointed and a bit robbed that I’d just forked out £8 for a book which has had a previous existence in a much better book that has all the good bits still in. It just reminded me so much of the evangelistic fads that come and go and how fickle the church can be.

In contrast to the Uprising, there is a call, not just to holiness, but holiness in action, loving the lost, saving the lost, caring for the poor, resting in Jesus to supply us with what we need and responding in simple obedience as perfect love fills us an moves us with compassion. Court and Munn haven’t come up with a new plan. They’re re-digging old wells and coming up with material which would keep you well fed for a long time!

By the way, I’m not being paid to say these things about the nice book ;o) But still, my recommendation still stands: sell your bed and buy it!