On blogging

Well, I just managed to make my heart race like a high speed train. Having noticed tha armyrenewal blog’s 5th birthday had passed un-noticed by me, I decided to have a look back over the last 5 years.

What can I say? Well, its been a journey! What victories! What defeats! What joys! What heart rending disappointments! And then there has been the One who has been constant in it all, praise his Name. I thank him for the way he’s chipped away, moulded, melted and refilled. I’m better for it, for all of it, the positive and he negative. I look back and see things I’d do very differently…but then thats the blessing of hindsight.

This blog for me has always been about recording and reflecting on things at the heart of Salvationism, the regeneration and revigorisation (if thats a word) of it and sometimes even the proposed re-construction of it. Its also been, in part, a mission journal of things ventured, mountains climbed. It has been sensored, complained about, celebrated, quoted, read and maligned. Its been a crucial part of my reflective approach to ministry regardless of all that.

Meanwhile, as the blogs go up and the posts keep coming, I remind myself that behind it all is little me just desperate to be used by God and to see his Kingdom come, and me with all my imperfections and faults at that.

Its not a medium that I intend giving up very soon. I have thought about it once or twice. Certainly, there are some who wish that it wasn’t in existence. But I hope that in the writing it reflects one important thing…that is, that as we battle on in the salvation war, we battle as humans in need of His grace. We battle as people doing our best for the glorious Kingdom.

Thank you to those who have faithfully read, encouraged, disagreed, engaged and who offer your public and private words of support. You’ve no idea what it means. Thank you.

Affirmations #10 Faith at the margins

10. I believe that we exist primarily for those at the edges and margins of our society, the last, the lost and the least.

I did tell you that I had one to add to the list which I think is crucial. These are our people.

Its interesting to note that when William Booth declared to his wife that he’d found his destiny, he was well established in his ministry, really. He’d been a street preacher…that wasn’t his destiny. He’d been a circuit preacher…that wasn’t his destiny. He’d lead great revival meetings and special prayer meetings…he didn’t declare that was his destiny either.

He declared he found his destiny have shared the gospel with the poor and those at the bottom of the social latter on London’s Whitechapel Road.

Near the end of his life, he said this:
“…the poor are my people. I gave my life to them ever and ever so many years ago. They were my first love, and I shall be true to my bride. It is with the poor that I shall hope to be in the Kingdom, for, although I esteem the rich, it is for their pocketbooks that I care most, because I know that I belong elsewhere”.

The old boy had his head screwed on I think!

But lets go beyond Booth, because we really have to. Biblically, the call to the poor is massive. You can’t read the bible and escape all that Jesus had to say about the gospel for the poor. You can’t just say ‘New Testament’ either, because justice and care for the poor are central to Jewish ethics and sense of community and justice.

Yes, we often spiritualise it as if somehow to get ourselves off the hook and say that ‘well, everyone is spiriually poor.’ Yeah, I don’t disagree, and I certainly don’t think we leave out those who are not poor in our ministry, preaching or outreaching. We take every opportunity to share with anyone. We simply make it our intention to build faith communities amongst the poor, because quite frankly, they are usually the most ‘un-churched’ people and in need of the most redemption (you’ll need to chew on that theologically).

You really need to go to something like biblegateway.com and search for ‘poor’ or ‘widow’ or ‘orphan’ or that term that always cracks my son up ‘alien’ and see the response you get.

The next stage is to take the message on board and be like Jesus. We all can probably agree that Jesus spent time with the poor, lots of time. We can all probably agree that its right that the Church should care for the poor. We’re not all convinced that its our job to do the same. How can we be like Jesus and not do the same??

To borrow a quote out of context from William Booth – “Not called? Not heard the call I should say!!”

24/7 Prayer

Its official. Confirmed. I am very likely mad.

Here at Torry we are due to embark on a 24/7 prayer week at the end of August. I have to say that fundamentally is just being obedient to what I feel God is asking of us at this time. Thing is its a prety huge thing but so is the battle we face here in Torry. Although we suspect that some people will come from other places to support, and thats great and desirable, the challenge for us is to re-introduce a rhythm of prayer into the life and mission of the corps…something that isn’t an obvious part of the fabric of our community here.

We’ll be praying like never before out of sheer necessity. Out of a desire for something to shift in our wider community. Out of the need to seek the Lord of the Harvest to raise up labourers for this corner of the vineyard. Out of a heart felt, empassioned desperation to see this place change and the Kingdom to take a stronger foothold.

We see death at work daily on our streets. On the faces of the people who live here, on the children, the adults, the elderly and the youth. We’re surrounded y prisons of addiction, sin, godlessness, fear and hopelessness. Our local authority are good at making our community look pretty and presenable, but at the heart there is a cancer that is eating the vitality out of everything. Our community doesn’t need plastic surgery, its needs complete transfusion and transformation from death to life.

We might be crazy, but we need God. We won’t stand by and let the enemy have his way any longer. Things must change.

While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight-I’ll fight to the very end!

Prayerful and missional living with a passionate persuit of justice and all that the Kingdom will bring is the answer for Torry.

Affirmations #9 Covenant

9. I believe that covenant is the only hope of avoiding the international fragmentation of The Army within 20 years.

Firstly, let me say that there is a load of good writing on covenant floating around…armybarmy and Journal of Aggressive Christianity in particular. So I’m not going to present a case here.

I’m simply going to testify that its God’s grace that has kept me in covenant with him as a soldier of The Salvation Army and as an officer. I fail at times, but God restores. He loves our turning towards him at every step.

On the international front, its certainly true to say that our common covenant is a glue and a strenghthener. Fragmentation is happening in so many places, not just internationally but internally in each Territory. Voices pulling all over the place.

When you actually look at the nature of our covenants, they’re all about Jesus, his purpose and our response. There is hardly anything about it that we shouldn’t embrace and there is diversity in unity too.

Covenant will halt fragmentation because it will call us back to our covenant making God and to ‘Jesus as Lord’ at the centre of it all. See, you simply can’t be a nominal salvationist if you take your covenant seriously! If its rejected, we’ll get all sorts of splinters.

Check out your soldiers/officers/junior soldier covenant today and by the grace of God seek to live it out.