The Model Officer

I’ve just come back from officers ‘retreat’ which was a good few days. Several things were helpful: the rest, the fellowship, the conversation, the good teaching by Majors Peter & Val Mylechreest. It was also good, like I said before, to reflect on stuff a year on from some pretty serious conversations we had at the last event re calling, officership etc.

One thing that came through strong over the few days was the ‘model’ of officership that was being discussed as if it were pretty much the only one. Officership was defined on several occassions as pastoring, preaching and administration.

Now, my ministry includes all of that, all of that is necessary. I’m better at some of it that I am at others. But as surely as the Lord lives, surely officership is much more than that.

It is, of course. Isn’t it?

The Model Officer is Jesus. And he wasn’t so much a General, as a regular captain who, at every turn, refused any title or position of authority thrust upon him all for the sake of what his Father taught him to do. Jesus was a pastor, preacher, apostle (as in sent), teacher and evangelist. He was the model officer. He came to invite us to follow him, to do as he did and be as he was and is. An Isaiah 61 ministry like he announced in Luke 4.

I don’t have a ministry. Mission is God’s, its part of his character, part of his purpose and as part of that he sends us like he sent Jesus, like Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. When I ‘do’ ministry its rubbish. When I do God’s ministry, I’m a co-worker with him and he does things that I could never imagine.

I am tired, in a sense, of self-introspection when it comes to ‘ministry performance.’ Coming up for my five year review, I’ve filled in a myriad of forms and questionnaires about my ministry. Now, I know that accountability comes in, and I am all for that, 110%. But since when has the mission of God all depended on me? or on you?

To me, officership is about being released from regular employ to seek to emmulate my Rabbi, Jesus, who has called me to follow him and do what he does, to learn from him in listening to what the father is commanding today. That will involve a pastoral conversation, and evangelistic conversation, a fight for justice and standing for the oppressed, it will involve leadership of God’s people in how we engage with the mission of God, it will involve bringing light on the teachings of the Word too.

I’m not the Messiah (you’ll be glad to know), I am not called to give my life as the sacrifice to pay for the sin of Torry, but I AM called to learn from Jesus. I’m called to live for him, like him, through him and with him that the world might see Jesus in me. Its all about doing the will of the Father, empowered by the Spirit in the fashion of Jesus.

Its not just officers who are called to live like Jesus like this, of course, not saying that at all, but what I am simply saying is that those of us who are called into leadership in the Army, this is where I believe we must start.

I’m waiting for someone to ask me how much my ministry looks like the ministry of Jesus.

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Primitive Assertion!

Much of life, at the moment, is about getting on with it, thankfully! I certainly don’t say that in any negative sense. As I head off to officers ‘retreat’ tomorrow I’m very much aware that I am attending as someone in a very different situation than last year, where I was regretably doubting whether I would be able to continue in officership. That all seems somewhat distant although thats not to say that there are not some things I’m working on seeking to influence or change for the better in our movement.

Primitive Salvationism for me is about rediscovering the bold pioneering spirit of this movement. Its about adapting from anyone’s book if it works. Its about passionate and fresh spirituality. Its about pentecostal daring, with full empowering by God and annointing by the Holy Spirit. Its about the empowerment of ‘everyday’ people in the work of God. Its pertaining to the origins, living to our birthright and celebrating our heritage, yet not becoming entrenched in dead traditionalism.

Essentially, the word ‘primitive’ shouldn’t have to appear there at all. Salvationism should be like that, full stop. This is not always a reflection of our state though, especially here in the UK. Thats not to say that people don’t get saved in the myriad of expressions of Salvationism. God has his way of working in spite of us, of course. It is to say though, that we all often (myself included) need to trace ourselves back to our source to rediscover the power and potency and spiritual vibrancy of our salvationism.

A year on, I’m even more convinced of the essential return to primitive salvationism. There may still be some who will ridicule the very idea, but then that is simply big adventures in missing the point!

God bless The Salvation Army! God grant us a double portion of your Spirit than that which you placed upon the hearts and shoulders of our forebears and may we prove ourselves worthy of the calling God has given us by his grace.

Well Done Good and Faithful Soldier

An ‘Army Renewal’ and a very personal salute to Aux-Captain Muriel Sims who was promoted to Glory a few days ago. We had a few special adventures together, some sad times together, and a fair few ‘discussions.’

In retirment she laid foundations for the beginning of The Salvation Army in Romania and lived to see a young but very much growing Army taking shape there. She mentored, supported and fought valiantly in prayer with the early officers appointed there, especially Romania’s first ever Salvation Army officer, Captain Roxanna (pictured holding the flag). The picture is Muriel being given the ‘Others’ Award by Commissioner Barry Pobjie, then TC of the Eastern European Territory for her work. She was given the freedom of one of the cities of Romania and took tonnes and tonnes of aid to Romanian orphans in the 80s and 90s.

Muriel wasn’t always ‘easy’, but I saw parts of her life that maybe the vast majority who knew her didn’t get the opportunity to see and this leaves me with so very much to admire and aspire to.

God bless her family. God bless her Romanian legacy with great abundance. Thank God for Auxilliary-Captain Muriel Sims.

the4points.com

I just came across a great and simple evangelism campaign, suitable as an Easter project perhaps, in the form of the4points.com. Visit their website for greater details, but basically the idea is based around four symbols which summarise the ‘4 Spiritual Laws’.

The Heart = God loves us
The X = we have sinned against God
The Cross = Jesus died for us
The ‘?’ = what are you going to decide.

There is much more info, plus some great resources over at the site. Its great for kids work, but also good for some really clear communication of the basic gospel message to a world that doesn’t always ‘get it.’ Using this alongside your day to day corps ministry can only be a benefit!

We’ll be using it at Torry in the lead up to Easter (and beyond) for sure!

Isaiah 61

Isaiah 61:1-4

Anyone who knows me will realise that when it comes to scripture, Isaiah 61 has always been important to me. I’ve had it on my wall, in my wallet etc for a long time. For me its just a perfect picture of ministry in the power of the Spirit in the name of Jesus for the glory of the Father. Jesus was happy to quote it as his mission statement and its why we’re happy to be doing the same here at Torry.

Poetic, idealistic, romantic, strong, powerful, heroic, passionate, transformational…its all those things and much more. Yet the words on the page are but a shadow of a glimpse at its Author. John the gospel writer tells us that we have in Jesus the fulness of this word as ‘The Word’ incarnate. We want to talk up this ‘Word’ as much as we can…not because he needs the publicity, but because everyone should know him.

Lets be all about Jesus in all that we do. The world needs him, I need Him, and so do you.

Painful Prayer

There is one thing I truly love in life. It won’t come as a surprise to you, perhaps, but its the presence of Jesus by his Spirit. To sense him filling you again and again is a foretaste of heaven and since the very beginning of my Christian life I’ve been so blessed by the way the Holy Spirit has always made his presence known.

There is one thing that really breaks my heart. This might come as a surprise to you, but its the presence of Jesus by his Spirit. I prayed some time ago, really sincerely that God would break my heart with the things that break his. In a way, this is a difficult prayer to pray and I certainly think it is one God delights to answer in the sense of it just being one of those things which shapes and characterises our lives as we follow Jesus.

Since I’ve been praying that kind of stuff, my heart has been softening in so many ways. When people don’t realise that they are trapped in sin but there is a way out, it breaks my heart. When the ‘church’ don’t make room for Jesus in worship, for the Spirit of God to move, it breaks my heart.

God, in answering this prayer, has given me a pretty full experience. You know, joy, peace thats out of this world, but such a heavy heart for so many things. I’m reminded that the trailblazers of revival have often likened this pain to giving birth. Now, to be fair, many of those have been men so I’m not sure how accurate a description that is, but suffice to say that there is a very unique heavy ‘annointing’ (for want of a more accurate word) that comes.

We often equate joy and peace with God’s presence, but there is something altogether different about this ‘birthing’ prayer.

Why do I say all that? I feel that the Spirit of God needs people to feel for the lost. He needs people to mourn the way we shut him out of worship. We need to mourn the poor health of the Bride. We need to feel the plight of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised. We need people to sense in their spirits the desperate need for worship in spirit and truth, and in all these things, to cry out to God as ‘deep cries out to deep.’

I pray that God will annoint you with His glory, His heart, His passion…in Jesus name.