Affirmations #8: Salvo Identity

8. I believe that The Salvation Army is a revolutionary movement of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus.

This is the dream.

revolutionary = world changing
movement = not static or declinging, holding light to structure that limits and forging on
covenanted = trust…we trust God, he trusts us, he releases the Kingdom
exercising = doing the stuff
holy passion = take a look at Jesus and follow him
win the world = we set our aims high…118 countries and counting.
Jesus = the point of it all.

There is a lot of rediscovering, praying, educating that needs to take place for this to begin to happen, its a tough climb, and as I said in my last post, the key to becoming this is to look to Jesus.

I’d say that anything other than this affirmation is not really salvationism, so we’ve no option but to press on and make the vision a reality.

Affirmations #7 New Army


7. I believe that God can do something unprecedented with The Salvation Army.

I believe God can, but will we let him? Where does the future of the Army lie, how will God do his new thing? What will it look like?

I believe God will be able to do something withus when we get a fresh glimpse of Jesus, when we take our eyes off of ourselves and look to the author and perfector of our faith, the beginning and the end, our Commander-in-Cheif.

Unsurprisingly, there was a quote that caught my eye in Alan Hirsch/Michael Frost’s new book “ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church”. He says this:

“For Salvationists to rediscover the fire and fight within William Booth…is valuable. But, when there is something fundamentally wrong in the basic equation of faith, then it is time to recover a vital and active sense of Jesus: who he is, what he has done for us, the way of life he laid down for us to follow. His passions must become ours.”

Primitive Salvationism (read Booths salvationism) was empassioned by Jesus. Read any work of any Booth and you’ll see how much Jesus was Lord of The Salvation Army. He must indeed become this again. I don’t currently believe every aspect of our Army today is under His lordship. He will do something new in us when we rediscover Jesus.

Going back to what I said a few posts agi, our Christology (our understanding of Jesus from the scripture) should shape our missiology (what we do) and our mission should inform our ecclesiology (what shape we are as an Army).

The extent to which we are a Jesus Army (not The Jesus Army) is the extent to which God will do something new amongst us.

Just a few things…

Had opportunity to share the ‘4 points’ at the prison this morning, where I’m a chaplain. Great simple tool to get hold of for your witnessing. Gives you just enough of a prompt to enable you to share from your heart. Like I said, they have some good resources to help you at the site

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I’m reading ‘ReJesus’ by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. Eminantly more readable that Hirch’s previous offering, but equally as powerful. The main thrust of the book is how we so often manage to cage Jesus up and build a whole lot of stuff around him that he gets squashed out. The book claims we need to re-Jesus the church..put him back at the centre. Absolutely. Do it.

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I recently attended an award ceremony as part of the Street Pastor initiative where we were awarded a ‘Good Samaritan’ award from the charity ‘Diced Cap’, which is a police charity (our police officers were a checked band on their caps, thus ‘diced cap’). Great to see the police not only recognising the work of Street Pastors, but also of many Christians across the city involved in some great ministry.

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I was speaking to a comrade in charge of the work in the Belgian Command yesterday. He was speaking of the challenge of doing mission in places such as Belgium where their is neither a strong Christian ethos or heritage and where people are caught up in secularism, materialism and indifference. This aren’t easy for the Army either…the major is driving as much as 300 miles every Sunday to preach here and there and encourage a strong sense of mission for his officers and soldiers. Pray for them, Majors Jacques and Yvonne Rouffet.

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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.

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!

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?

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