Revolution

Commissioner Joe Noland (blog listed to the right) has a very poignant quote at the head of his blog. It reads:

“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution”

– ( Hannah Arendt, historian and philosopher.)

I’d say thats a fairly solid peice of truth right there. I think of it as true in terms of the church and its history. After the scandal of the Jesus movement within Judaism, after the feirce persecution of the church and its rapid growth, when the revolution was won, it then became the establishment. It also became the persecutor and the inspiration for many a subsequent revolution, which in turn sparked off more.

I think of it in terms of the Army and its history. We read of old Booth, in his great song pleading that ‘the revolution now begin’. His generation kept the flame burning well and…well, you know the history.

Today, revolution is a byword for rebellion or for some other brand of ‘renegadism’. In our 21st century living, there is no place for the upstart to ‘affect our lives’ with the quite seeds of dissatisfaction. However, a reflection on the word itself just give us different light. The implication that springs to me from that word is the simple need to keep the wheels turning, to keep it moving. Moving is better than stop altogether.

I think there are several revolutions we need within The Salvation Army.

We need a discipleship revolution…rediscovering the power and potency of soldiership as an expression of living and active discipleship.

We need a worship revolution…where its not about style or decade, but of heart intention, adoration and sheer awe of our great God.

We need a mission revolution…where corps are at pains to transform more lives, more communities with salvation and all that means, not being content just to keep the house in order.

We need a prayer revolution…storming forts, establishing Kingdom strongholds, releasing Kingdom power and presence in our lives, our corps and our world.

We need a holy revolution…where we become less like the world, yes, but where we have many more people who believe that holiness isn’t maturity but a living reality for all those who would be obedient to the voice of Jesus.

We need a justice revolution…we need to befriend the friendless, clothe for the naked, feed the hungry serve the cause of the widow and the orphan in their many forms.

In short, its a Jesus revolution we need.

Its been said before, in many different ways. I’ve no idea if I’ve the ability or strength to spark more than a match. I’ve no idea if I’m yesterdays revolutionary just settling down, tomorrows revolutionary winding up or today’s conservative kicking against the trend in the eyes of the world.

This one thing I do know, however, is that I love Jesus. That is the one and only way to ensure you don’t stop revolving!

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Incarnation

Today has been one of those days. You know, the kind where the worst you could expect actually happens the way you expected it would, all on the day when you could have done with something much better? Its an occupational hazard for officers to get far too ‘run-ragged’ at Christmas. I’ve really been wondering exactly what is so special about Christmas! It pales into insignificance almost in comparison with Easter, in comparison with Pentecost, yet we’re desperate to feed more, help more, provide more, evangelise more, raise more etc etc than at any other time.

This morning, for the first time in a while, I failed to get my engines running early enough to make sure I had sufficient time for prayer and reading of scripture (it was the case of heading out the door having simply patted the cover of the bible!) to the extent that by the time lunchtime came round, I just found myself standing around shaking my head. I had managed, too, to miss an important hospital appointment because my brain was just elsewhere, on things of relatively little importance in comparion.

Now, its not because of some sort of legalistic lack of formal prayer time that got things off wrong, it was simply about attitude of the heart and mind. Thankfully, the day recovered by around 5pm!

To give my wife a break, I led her little group of ladies in some carols and thoughts this afternoon. It wasn’t planned in advance, but Tracy needed a reprieve. Talking off the top of my head, when it came to giving a little message, I spoke about the real significance of the incarnation of Jesus. Basically, he got invovled with the muck, mess and squalor of our lives and sought to bring about Kingdom presences and reign.

Not sure if the ladies caught on exactly to what I was trying to say, but it was a timely re-revelation to me that the heart of Christmas, incarnation, is one of the principle themes of mission.

This Christmas, I’ve allowed our incarnational presence to be tinselled out of all we’re trying to do here in Torry. If we lose that, we lose Christmas and we lose Jesus in it all. If we lose the strenght or time to allow the incarnation of Jesus to be real to us and to set the tone for our day, we’ve well and truly lost the plot.

Tomorrow is another day. It has to be more about Jesus and following his example as our Cheif Rabbi than it is about what is expected of a Salvation Army officer just short of two weeks before Christmas.

…but He is still here!

I was leading chapel service in our local prison on Sunday morning. Before the service, the other guys from Prison Fellowship who attend worship were setting out the nativity scene. We discovered that someone had “borrowed” the baby Jesus from the set.

Deciding it would be a good opportunity to talk about Christmas without Jesus, I mentioned jokingly that the baby Jesus had been borrowed when a young prisoner piped up: “but He is still here so thats the main thing, isn’t it?”

Too right.

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Talking about ‘the main thing’, how often do we need to reminded that Jesus is the main thing? How often do we need to be reminded that winning the lost to him is the main thing? Too often. If the message of Jesus is the main thing, it works itself out in mission, it shapes mission and ultimately the message we give.

If our frame of reference for mission is shaped by our expression of church, that affects how we do mission and ultimately what we say about Jesus. People often say that ever since God created man in his own image, man has been trying to return the favour. I’m as salvationist as the next, but we just gotta remember that the reason we are who we are is Jesus. How well do we reflect him in our missioning?

The Bronx Blessing!


I don’t know how he does it. They blow my mind. Everytime I see pictures of them they are enrolling another draft of soldiers and junior soldiers.

Surely Capitans Gerardo and Monica Balmori are quite unique in the Western Salvation Army. They are officers at the Bronx Tremont Corps, NY, USA. We’re linked up via Facebook and was just blessed again to see another load of soldiers and junior soldiers enrolled. The growth seemed to be the same in his previous appointment.

The ‘Capitan’ writes the following under his Facebook photo:

Praise the Lord! As we continue to work at the Bronx Tremont Corps, my wife and I have exiting news about the growth and commitment of this congregation. Last year we enrolled 8 new Senior Soldiers, 3 Junior Soldiers and our Sunday attendance increased from 27 to 110-130. This year also the Lord is giving us a new harvest of Soldiers and a wonderful congregation. Here are some of the pictures for our last enrollment on December 7, 2008. We enrolled 15 Senior Soldiers, 12 Junior Soldiers and have 5 soldier transfers from other Corps.

Majors Guy and Henrietta Klemanski were our special guests and it was a wonderful service with over 25 people accepting the challenge of Mayor Guy to follow Jesus as King and Savior. 198 people were in attendance, many for first time.

Let us pray for the new 32 members of our Corps, and for the new enrollment planned for March 22, 2009. Please pray so the Lord bless my wife and I this second year in Tremont.

I just pray that the Lord will continue to bless them with growth. You can hook up with Capitans Balmori via their website radicalsalvation.com

Its into Christmas carolling season. I’m a serial caroller. Would do it every day. Its good ‘presence evangelism’ and its proclamation. Its one of the Army’s prime times for cultural relevance for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Important aspects of evangelism that feed into the over all chance of people giving Jesus a though this Christmas. Make the most of every opportunity.

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There is nothing more important than mobilising and employing soldiery in the fight. Here at Torry, our active soldiers are more like partners in the war, but I know the reality that is that in many places many soldiers feel disatisfied with what ministry opportunities there are. My response to that as a soldier was always to create opportunities for myself, but have to say I’d much rather have been doing it within the set up of my local corps. Soldiers…are you engaged? Officers…are you doing what you can to release every soldier?

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Some of you will want to be keeping a note of Russell Rook’s new organisation, Chapel Street. You can look it up on facebook and at their website due to be launched in January. The idea behind the name is that they want to help take the ‘chapel’ to the ‘street’ by promiting community regeneration. ChapelSt.org

I’m all for it. I think The Salvation Army is for it too…or is it? Of course it is…lets get on with it.

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What is the distinguishing mark of our community service? It has to be Jesus. If Jesus isn’t in it, lets either stop it, or lets realign ourselves around him.

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If you know anyone who is looking to re-locate and plug into a missional setting in a certain disctrict of Scotland’s third city, let me know 🙂

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Andrew

Blog feast

Now, seeing as I’ve been on a forced blog fast, allow me the indulgence of having a blog feast. The main blog for today is the one before this, but let me just chuck in a few bits from recent weeks

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I attended an event (which shall remain nameless) recently which contained a great preach in the AM for folks to be born again…great, powerful, would have responded if I weren’t born again already….only the preacher forgot to tell the audience how to be born again. Oops. Repentance and faith.
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On Spiritual gifts…I used to be a ‘you get one or two and your stuck with them’ man. Not now. Spiritual gifts are an arsenal at our disposal which we can (a) pray for and (b) be given as God determines…ie, gifts of grace. In other words, we’re not limited to one or two or even three. You can heal, prophesy, speak in tongues, interpret, have words or knowledge or wisdom as good as the next man. God wants you ministering in his power, not your own. There are several keys in the scripture to support this view as opposed to the more traditional view on spiritual gifts. If you’re interested, drop me a line.
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Hey…Christmas is a coming. Make the most of it in your outreach and in your opportunites to serve and bless the poor. Hannukah is also almost upon us…friends, please remember to pray for Israel, especially in light of recent attacks against them by those who seek the ruin of all peace.
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Here is a hint…start praying Luke 10:2 everyday at 10.20 – that the Lord would send labourers into the vineyard (especially our corner). Couple of hours later, pray for the General. Not a bad idea at all.
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For those of you in the UK (not sure they do international orders), can I encourage you to ‘google’ ‘Lifewords’? Formerly Scripture Gift Mission, this organisation produce excellent little booklets and scripture portions that can be received free and given away for free. As a charity, they do appreciate donations to keep the ministry alive, but God bless them for placing accessibility of the word of God above profit.
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Do your corps activities/ministries/social events/gatherings exclude the poor among you due to pricey choices of venues/activities? Lets be careful, inclusive and just.
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A William-Boothism: “I must assert in the most unqualified way that it is primarily and mainly for the sake of saving the soul that I seek the salvation of the body.”
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Back! (…..I hope!)

Well, thankfully it seems like internet is behaving if ever so briefly. So, here goes for the first post in about a month…takes a while to get back in the swing of things after such a long gap!

Its been fun adjusting to a new style of ministry again. For example, other than when covering at other corps (twice), I haven’t preached since July; ministry is now very much at the ‘coal face’ and not ‘back at the barracks;’ I’m finding great benefit in having the opportunity to be fed by others (yes, even outside the Army!); I’m engaged again, along with the Street Pastors initiative, in street work which is life and soul to me; I’m back at the ‘easy’ stage of just making mission happen instead of trying to cojoul others to do it…you get the picture. I guess there is enough going on to overshadow the tedium that accompanies some of what has become officership.

Our small team here at Torry seems to be coming together fine and people work so hard. They respond so well to leadership and are just so willing to do what they can to build the kindgom. This is no ‘yes Captain’ mentality though, this is people who see a need, hear a solution, who critically engage with it before giving it a jolly good go. I just have to salute them…good practical salvationism. We’re a motely crew, but I reckon God smiles on us.

When I think over the last year, two years perhaps, I’m looking back at a shaky road. Its has no doubt been a time of much testing. I hope I’m at this end of it much stronger. I apologise to those who have been affected by my ‘testing’. I’d also like to apologise to those who’ve heard words of ‘retreat’ from me with regards to all I’ve taught and spoken in regards to covenant (soldiers and officers). I’m sorry to those who’ve thought of me as someone firm and grounded but have struggled to see me shake a bit. I have struggled, and you no idea how much I’d rather it would have been different, but I’ve seriously struggled to see how I fit into the Army. Yet all along, I know exactly where I should be. I’m in it ’till I die.’ That is as firm as I can get.

There have been some big health things for me, mentally, physically and even spiritually. There have been challenging theological things to work through. There have been loyalty issues, covenant issues, and all sorts. I’ve learnt to thank God for those…we must. They make us who we are.

Having ‘been through the water’ I’m feeling much more on solid ground. You’ve no idea how much I hope that ‘normal service has resumed!’

blessings
Andrew

Internet Issues

Friends,

sincere apologies to regular readers. Internet problems at this end are making regular blogging really difficult. I hope regular ‘service’ will resume very soon.

Meanwhile, keep fighting like a warrior.

Andrew