Affirmations #2: Holiness

2. I believe that we should (and can) be holy

There is much confusion around about holiness, the arguements have been well rehearsed. Our tenth doctrine is a gem, straight out of the pages of scripture. It speaks of a possibility, a promise, a hope, a certainty…both now in our current experience and perfectly when all things come to pass.

How to be holy: ask Holy Spirit to convict of sin, confess and repent of sin, we become dead to self and alive to Jesus. You might have to speak to some people and mend things. We ask to be kept from temptation (as Jesus suggests) and for Holy Spirit to fill us. He will be thorough, you know. Now that all our junk is gone, the fruit of the spirit already in us is free to display itself in our life and we’re a fit vessel for Holy Spirit to inhabit…it is free to blossom simply because the opposites have been hacked down. Holiness is about more than behaviour….this dying to self is about putting to death all that is contrary to the Spirit. Its a truly significant thing. Hatred turns to love, greed to generosity, fear to faith, lust to self-control, etc etc

This experience, this place, can be maintained by God through our co-operation with him, keeping the connection well open. When you get off your knees, its pretty safe to say that sin has been dealt with. When there is no sin, the Spirit has full reign. We are holy, not only in name and calling, but in reality.

What do I do if temptation comes? resist it…take every thought captive and submit it to Christ. You see, God gives us all we need for a life of godliness…he gives us the ability to resist all that comes our way and won’t allow us to be tempted more than we can bear.

What about sin then? Well, sin is when we choose to be disobedient…chances are if you’re enjoying the above experience and then temptation comes along, you’ll be well aware of it. You have the choice then whether to deal with it, resist it, straight away or play with it. We sin because we entertain it long enough for us to give in, NOT because God isn’t able to keep that which we’ve committed to Him.

So, does this holiness mean I’m ‘perfect’? Depends what ya mean by perfect. You have the capcity to sin, we will only be sinlessly perfect in heaven. But Christian perfection (did you know God commands you and me to be perfect?) is refusing to knowingly sin against God. So, God not only commands holiness, he makes it possible. Thats how good he is. And once he’s done, he can maintain it in you.

Personal confession time: I fail. I disobey God way more than I should. But here is the thing…its not because God isn’t able to keep me or that living in a state of holiness is not possible…its because too many times I refuse to let God have his way. I’m not proud of that at all. However, I’m not trapped by an inevitable cycle, I’m free in Christ. I can testify to long periods of time when I’ve been without sin. I thank God for his grace and mercy, but I don’t take it for granted and I certainly don’t want sin with all its short live pleasures and futile indulgence.

Almost impossible to cover all aspects of this in one blog, but covered most of the basic ground points I hope.

The big question we need to ask is ‘Lord, are my hands clean, is my heart pure?’ (cf Psalm 24). Looking for a good place to start? Try Psalm 51…it will help you get praying.

Sanctification Day

Today is the day of salvation, like every other day. And today is the day to get holy like every other day, but today many Salvos around the world will be taking note of the up and rising ‘Salvation Army holiday’ called Sanctification Day. The date comes from a little date when Commissioner Samuel Brengle testfied to God’s powerful moving in his life and filling him with perfect love.

Sanctification is a supernatural thing. Its not about growing up into Jesus – thats maturity. Its not just about our moral behaviour – thats the fruit of our repentance and our desire to obey the Lord. Holiness is God cleansing us from sin by His Holy Spirit, washing us, and filling us afresh with his presence, power and purity.

We’re totally not worthy, but its a blessing to us because of Jesus. Because we are washed in his blood and seen as righteous before God because of the salvation provided on the cross, the Holy Spirit comes along and just applies the full blessing of that salvation as he makes us, supernaturally, vessels for his dwelling and blessing.

I’ve spent this first hour of Sanctification Day enjoying Holy Spirit. I cracked open the Psalms at number 51, David’s wonderful sanctification prayer, and uttered it back to God as if they were my own words. Holy Spirit highlighted areas needing cleansing, he enabled my clear confession and then came with his cleansing balm.

I prayed on and prayed that God would restore to me afresh the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing and steadfast spirit to sustain me and what a blessing to sense Holy Spirit ministering that to me.

Even before I cracked open the psalm, as I began in prayer, God just brought the plight of the lost into my heart and as my heart became heavy it was clear that my first area of repentance needed to be lack of zeal in seeking out and sharing the gospel with the lost. As I proceeded down the psalm, how I prayed those verses that delcare ‘then I will teach transgressers your ways and sinners will turn back to you’ as I sensed that burden as well as the equipping of God for the tast afresh.

As soon as I had prayed ‘open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise’ so my spirit began to sing and pray as he enabled me in the prayer language he has given me.

I want to testify to you today that God is willing, every day and at all times, to make you holy, keep you holy and fill you with all that is good. Friends, don’t settle for less than all your Father wants for you in Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Blessed are you Lord, our God, the King of the universe, who sanctifies us with His Holy Spirit and empowers us for obedient service.

Be Holy. Today.

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!

Yup…still blogging

So, I’ve been at officers councils and been on furlough etc etc…slight pause in he blogging process there! Apologies.

The last months have been a time of ‘intelligence’ gathering. Getting into the community, finding out whats going on, getting the gist of the people and their ways. Our first key development takes place this week.

We’re making a move to begin moving some of the children from our 200 strong kids club into the life of the corps through music and we’re hoping to have a good night on Thursday evening. We’re starting a little music group…teach the kids about the Lord through music. Tried and tested method…we’ll see how it goes. Please pray for the Kids Alive Choir.

I other news, I’ve had a spiritual birthday. I’ve been a Christian for 12 years. Not as long as some of the readers out there, but a testimony to the keeping power of God of someone many thought would run away. They’ve all been deceived, I’m in the fight today (I can hear you humming the tune!) Its always a good principle to take stock of your fruitfulness as a Christian. The only conclusion I can make is that we must work to get more people saved. And, before you say ‘its God that saves’, let me agree with you but he does chose us to be his co-workers, preaching the message faithfully.

We’ve had a few re-dedications at Wick, a few witnessing to sanctification, but not salvations that I know of yet. However, we have had some new people started attending worship, one from my pub round. So we praise God and move forward in hope.

Over and out.

Passion for prayer

I found this image (somewhere) and had to share it here. I don’t know who is in the picture, where it is, of what the exact circumstance of this prayer time is, but it speaks volumes.

Are they seeking holiness? Are they engaging in repentance? Are they praying for souls? Don’t know, maybe all at the same time.

Maybe what they are praying for is irrelevant. The most amazing thing about this picture to me is that these women have clearly so much passion, that they are led to their knees. Maybe we can catch what they’ve got and bottle it…or perhaps, we just pray we’ll experience pentecost afresh in our Army at this time.

The beginning of the end…

The reality of moving appointment is slowly beginning to sink in. Our second appointement as officers in charge of a Salvation Army corps is coming to an end.

I’m not altogether sure I like it, but I know its right. When a place begins to tire you to an extent you don’t feel there is much left you can give, its definitetely time to move on. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be a fly on the wall for the next stage of the developing ministry and witness of this corps. There are, as always for us, exciting prospects.

Unfortunately, there are the same old strongholds too…some which will not give up their grip very easily. Pill is one of the best corps in the territory, but one which has ‘thorns in the flesh’ that need major uprooting…like many places I suppose.

I’ve always had a policy of choosing my battles carefully. There are somethings, that whilst they may seem urgent and pressing, that are actually not worth exerting any breath about at all. I think I’ve fought some pretty major battles here…won some, lost others. I look back at them, and although some of them have been and are difficult, they have all been worth fighting. There has been suffering involved, but no resurrection ever came about except through the other side of suffering.

I came here determined that I wouldn’t leave the corps as I found it. Now, depending on what each persons view is of my ministry will depend on whether they think that is a good thing or a bad thing! Regardless of any of that, I can say, hand on heart, that we’ve been faithful to God in this corps. We’ve tried to follow him whilst leading others. We’ve heard him calling us to deeper waters that we’ve dreaded to even go near, yet he has been faithful.

Its hard to express just how much I will miss the corps, in spite of the ups and downs, but I will.

My prayer is that our successors will continue to shout ‘Freedom’ very loudly. My prayer is that they will shout ‘Salvation’ very loudly and that they will shout ‘holiness’ even louder. As some wise man once said, ‘holiness is the solution to every problem.’

There is a song by the (im)famous Wurzels of ‘I’ve got a brand new combine harvester’ fame which goes: “Pill, Pill! I love thee still…even though I’m leaving.” True.


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!

Holiness Teachers

So, we’re planning a holiness weekend at Pill in October. Problem is, Commissioner Howe, who I was hoping would come and lead it can’t make it.

Sad thing is, other than the nearly-Captain Andrew Bale who will be taking up his new appointment in August, I can’t for the life of me think of an officer in the UK who could lead a good weekend on classic Salvationist holiness.

Anyone got any ideas?


Glimmers of hope

I wish Brengle was wrong. (No, not my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Brengle, I’m on about Commissioner Samual L Brengle). When I look at that quotation it makes me want to weep because I see it. Although there are always glorious exceptions to the staus quo, Brengle’s words are living themselves out today. I’d challenge anyone to write a post about how this isn’t true…I’d dearly love to be writing it myself!

However, I’ve seen this week some beautiful glimmers of hope. I’ve been visiting our wards. Wards are like cells of a cell church, in case you didn’t know.

I’ve been struck by several things:
– competent local leadership..some of whom are new or only recenly re-acquianted with leadership in the church
– spirit-filled worship
– beginnings of true honesty in spiritual things
– deeper fellowship starting to emerge
– nearly 30 people regularly turning up for bible study, prayer, fellowship…something never before known in this corps
– ministry by all members
– the beginnings of missional thinking as wards explore outreach brigades
– young people casting out demons and praying for healing
– people becoming aware of the reality of corps life that they were unaware of before
– people being able to voice their very first ‘public’ prayers in the context of a small group
– being personally ministered to by my own people.
– a particular young person taking so much initiative in one area it blew my mind

If I thought hard enough, there may well be more. If you asked our corps people, you may find more. And this is all happening in the midst of what has been a difficult time of late. This is happening as we’re saying goodbye to things like songster brigades and all the fallout of that. This is happening as we, personally, are gaining strength after being ‘taken out’ by enemy and suposedly ‘friendly’ fire.

We give God the glory. But we do ask for an increase in love…not just blaise love, or tokenism love, false love, or love-because-we-must-love, but deep and authentic love.

But what about that telling phrase he uses at the end:

We shall still recruit our ranks and supply our Training Garrisons with Cadets from among our own Young People, but we shall cease to be saviors of the lost sheep that have no shepherd.”

How true it is that we must increase our effort in saving lost sheep. How important it is that we manage to raise up some officers who don’t come from the ranks. How important it is we raise up officers from within the ranks! I praise God for a few hopefuls in our corps in this area. How important it is that we recruit warriors and don’t ust make members.

Lord, do not cast us from your presence or take your spirit from us. Restore to us the joy of our salvation and then we will teach sinners in your ways.

(Psalm 51 in the bible according to my memory).

What we must do with these prophetic words of warning is to pray the opposite in. We must ensure that we always labour against being what we have become. We don’t see the words as doom, but see them as hope from God who was able to see the potential danger. We take them to heart, accept them, repent and begin living in the opposite spirit to that which prevails amongst us. Lord help us!

Amen! Blood and Fire!