Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas.

God Bless you,

Carol & Alan

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Personal Appearance
We have had lots of Christmas cards and I love them all but one from some good friends of ours had the following verse on the front of it.

"But when the kindness and love of God appeared he saved us....." (Titus 3:4)

I don't know if you approve of the Vicar of Dibley but I thought of a particular scene in it when I read this. The village fete was coming up and someone said that they knew a certain Reg Dwight. Everyone got very excited because Reg Dwight is the real name of the rock star Elton John. Reg Dwight was invited to come and open the proceedings. News spread far and wide that Elton John was coming to Dibley and the crowds were the biggest the village had ever seen. There was one problem. The man who appeared with his guitar wasn't the famous rock star but just plain, Reg Dwight. The crowd were not happy and the whole thing looked as if it was a complete disaster, when amazingly Kylie Minogue calls at the Vicarage and she steps in and saves the day.

On Sunday Alan reminded us in his sermon that Jesus was no last resort Saviour, but God's best choice. When he appeared he was the authentic Word of God. We need no substitute.

Jesus did much more than saving the day by sparing us embarrassment but saves us from hell itself.

These days if you want a A list celeb to make a personal appearance it will cost you. But the appearing of our Saviour cost him, not us.

Jesus makes a personal appearance but if we welcome him into our hearts he comes to live with us by his Spirit.

And what is more, he will appear again. "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command...." (1Thess 4:16)

Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing
O come let us adore him
Christ the Lord!

God bless


Thursday, 11 December 2008

Pausing for breath

Apologies for the lack of blogs. Christmas. It has been a mad few days. All great stuff. Carolling, (I love it) sermon, meetings, Christmas party to organise, shop for, bake for, Carol Services, hospital visiting, Christmas letters and cards, sort out our house which looked like a bombsite...........

Pray, ah there's the rub. I have been praying and I have been reading my Bible, worshipping in the midst of the madness but its the lingering in his presence that's so difficult, it's being still enough not just in body but in mind to hear him speak.

Today, there is still a lot to do but not quite as pressured so sorry if this is not a long blog but I'm off to see Jesus for a minute of two.

God bless


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Be a hero

Back in 1951 my uncle Edgar Evans, whilst doing National Service met a remarkable Arab Christian lady called May Ladah in Bethlehem. Her eyes had been blown out at the age of 8 and she had been brought up in a Christian orphanage where she gained an education and impeccable English grammar! By the time my uncle met her, May was running a home and school for blind and handicapped children.

For the last 60 years Edgar has continued to support the work, as a major fund raiser of what is known today as the House of Hope. I never did get to go on one of the "trips" to Bethlehem that he organised but as a child I was privileged to meet Aunty May Ladah, when she came to our house for tea. She was an inspirational lady.

Aunty May has long since gone to glory but the House of Hope continues to be a work of faith and labour of Christian love amongst the blind, mentally and physically disabled who come from all sectors of the local community. There are currently 57 day and residential students. It also runs a small workshop for ex -pupils and blind adults making floor brushes. No fees are requested and many of the young people come from remote villages around Jerusalem where conditons are still very primitive.

Circumstances in Bethlehem in 2008 are still difficult, for example the speech therapist who visits HOH three times a week faces a tortuous 2 hour journey even though he only lives a couple of miles away because of the number of times he is stopped for security purposes. Unemployment is widespread since the construction of the Security Wall which has devestated tourism and consequently the livelehood of the producers of carved olive wood and mother of pearl products.

A few years ago my uncle managed to organise and fund members of the Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society to have a stall at the Bath Christmas Market to give much need support to people who are struggling against poverty, hardship and community breakdown.

In 2004 Steve Court and Wesley Campbell brought out a book called Be a Hero which encouraged ordinary people to mobilise and become heroes to broken humanity. Since he first met May Ladah, Edgar Evans has never been able to get away from the calling to do something and be a hero to all the children who have passed through the doors of the House of Hope.

To whom has God called you to be a hero?

God bless


PS Visit the Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society webside

Thursday, 27 November 2008


The people who were coming to view the quarters, which is for sale have cancelled.

I have a temperature, my nose would not look out of place on Rudolph, I speak a couple of words and sound like I have been on the Woodbines and I'm running out of clean hankies. I should be at Quest Group (Youth Cell) which I love but Alan says I'm not fit to be seen out.

I've just had a call from Alan to say the central heating is not working at the hall and kids have been playing up outside the hall.

But am I downhearted????? Well I'm not exactly jumping for joy, jumping would make my nose run but if those are all my woes then they are not many are they?
Even when life has been really tough and not just mildly annoying like now I have found that as the saying goes God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Also it has been a really postive day in other ways. I managed to complete an important report in between sneezing. I have been able to get the ball rolling on my involvement in Peace Patrol, which aims to keep our cities safe through visible Christian presence and prayer.

Alan has had a really good morning in Portishead, where he sells the War Cry each week.
There is a man in the town who Alan often saw out and about and who is a bit of a character. The first prayer Alan prayed was that he would have a chance to talk to the him. He now stops regularly to talk and share his philosophy on life. However last week he just ranted about all the things he was angry about and seemed really disturbed and distant. So we pray harder.

This week he stopped to talk for over 20 minutes, Jesus was brought into the conversation and he accepted an invitation to come to the Carol Service we are holding in the town. Thank you Lord! Also the response to invitations to War Cry customers to that same Carol Service have just been amazing.

Thank you Lord

God bless


Thursday, 20 November 2008

Core Values: Sacrificial Love

One of the core values of Pill Corps is that we demonstrate the sacrificial love of Christ.
I found this quote from an old book called Passion for Souls.

"Here then is a principle. The gospel of a broken heart demands the ministry of bleeding hearts. If that succession be broken we lose our fellowship with the King. As soon as we cease to bleed we cease to bless."

J.H Jowett

God bless

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Called to be God's people
We had a great time over Friday and Saturday with an intense season of prayer. The theme of the prayer room was Called to be God's people, loosely on the themes of the International Spiritual Life Commission from a few years ago. Alan and I had used this when we were at Northallerton and found it a useful base for engagement in prayer.

Our prayer room, at present is a reminder of the following crucial aspects of what a Salvationists life must include:

Called to Worship

Called to God's word

Called to the Mercy Seat

Called to Holiness

Called to Battle

Called to Service

Called to the World (to the lost)

If you look closely you will notice that Pill Corps is no 911. Mention that number these days and most people will think of either of two things, 9/11, a disaster or 911 the number of the emergency and rescue services in the USA. Well I don't believe Pill Corps is a disaster and I pray that we might live up to our calling to save and rescue the lost!

God bless


Friday, 14 November 2008

We're on our knees again

We are now a good few hours into our 36 hours of non-stop prayer. Alan asked for prayer requests of all who have an army e mail address and we now have had over a hundred responses, which we are delighted about. Many have said that they will also pray for us.

And no one was surprised that we asked or that we are doing this. Things have changed so much since we became officers in 1982.

About 18 years ago we introduced half nights of prayer and prayer walking into the programme of the Corps we were at. We had some wonderful times but people were at first quite daunted by the idea of praying for more than the usual 15 minutes before the salvation meeting interspersed with choruses from the back of the songbook to break up the silence. Back then the older comrades of the corps talked about the fact that this kind of thing hadn't happened since they were children and some said nights of prayer were events their parents spoke about with nostalgia from the early days of the Army.

But in 2008 no one thinks we are doing anything unusual by going prayer walking every week, praying in small groups and holding prayer events. They are happening somewhere in the terrirtory all the time.

Now that has to be encouraging doesn't it?

God bless


Monday, 10 November 2008

Fighting Qualities

More advice from O& R 1942

"An officer must possess the spirit of the Salvation Army, that is he must devote himself to the purpose of the army - the Salvation of souls as the end for which he exists; choosing of his own accord to give himself up to a life of warfare as the means of accomplishing that great purpose.

Without this spirit an officer will be out of place in the Army and will soon feel that the sacrifices it calls for are more than he can make.
An officer with this spirit accepts not only the Army's aim but also the means by which alone that aim can be accomplished. That is he chooses not only to toil for the salvation of souls but to make self sacrifice, without which souls will not be saved. He sees that as his Master could accomplish the salvation of the world only through the cross so he can be a means of saving souls only by endruing when necessary, shame, loss and suffering and he is willing that it should be so.

The officer with this spirit will not need to be driven to labour by arguments or by the consideration of advantages and disadvantages. He will prefer a life of salvation warfare to any other; yea it will be his delight! He would rather go out and fight than stay at home at ease."

I say Amen to that.

God bless


Thursday, 6 November 2008

Back to basics

Both the present and older orders and regulations for officers point out the essential qualities of a Salvation Army officer.

Unless an officer is converted, however acceptable his abilities or however strong his desire to continue as such he/she will not be equal to the requirements of their calling."

An officer should possess this experience because:

he/she was commissioned as such upon profession of faith in this doctrine and their personal life must exemplify the initial pledge;

they can hardly lead their people into this experience unless they enjoy it themselves;
the most powerful argument in his/her platform ministry in a holiness meeting will be their own clear testimony.

The officer who is a man or woman of God will also be a man or woman of prayer. It will enrich an officers own spiritual life, it will exercise influence upon the lives of their people and the officer will become more and more senstive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I know that this is basic stuff but if we don't get this basis right we don't get anything right. So hopefully to reassure my leaders and those for whom I'm responsible I thank God for my salvation. I thank God because I can point to a day when the power of sin was broken in me so that my desire is to live wholly for God. I thank God because along the way I have discovered more and more the joy and necessity of prayer.

Yet I need to know it all more and more.

"Not that I have already attained all this, or have already been made perfect but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of me." (Ph 3:12)

God bless


Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The unread pages of Orders and Regulations

Alright I admit it, I have never read Orders and Regulations for officers from cover to cover. In 26 years of officership I have dipped into them from time to time usually as a last resort and I don't usually give them much thought.

However the other day I was given a big box of books by our retired Home League Secretary who was moving away to a smaller house. Among some really good old gems was Orders and Regulations for Officers of the Salvation Army 1942.

It contains all kinds of advice on all kinds of matters.

"An officer who has a reasonably strong constitution may take a cold bath every morning; one who is delicate will find it helpful to sponge with cold and tepid water, have a wet towel rub or apply a cold or tepid dripping sheet."

"The officer should wear a flannel or woven woollen garment next to the skin all the year round. Only in this way can he pass from hot meetings into the open air without risk of catching cold."


It is highly important that every officer shall cultivate self control in his eating and drinking avoiding costly and luxurious diet and taking food which both in character and quantity he knows to be conducive to health.

He will gain an influence for good over those who sit at table with him or who are acquainted with his habits of life. If an officer is unable to deny himself pickles and sauces or other things which he knows are injurious to him, in short, if he does not practice the self denial which he preaches his influence will be impaired."

Except in extraordinary circumstances an officer should be in bed by eleven and up by seven. If in a locality where earlier hours are generally observed his hours should be earlier also.

Fresh Air
"Everyone should as a rule, sleep with the window open at the top all the year around. In fact it is usually advantageous to have it open both top and bottom provided that the bedstead is our of the draught."

"Exercise which brings the greatest benefit is that which is taken regularly and not in fits and starts in the open air which is interesting to the individual which brings into use as many parts of the body as possible and which is not too violent." (that's kick boxing out then!)

These days we probably find such detailed regulations a little funny and if issued today we might even be a bit insulted by them. We have to remember that these were pre-NHS day, when TB was rife and before many of anti-biotics we take for granted today existed.

But sometimes I wonder if we don't need a bit more straight talking about our lifestyle as leaders. What would yesterday's officers make of the amount of take away food we consume, never mind sauces and pickles, the number of lattes consumed at Starbucks, the time we crawl into bed after watching a film on TV, and how many times we get in the car when it isn't that far to walk.

As they say in Yorkshire, Think on.

More tomorrow

God bless


Friday, 17 October 2008

The beauty of holiness

1 Chron 16:29

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name. Bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

When we worship we are worshipping a God who is holy. He is God and we are not. He is separate from us, above us in everyway. I read on the internet somewhere, "When we worship we must take conscious steps to recognise the vast difference between God and ourselves."

The Bible links holiness with beauty. That is not something that we naturally do. Our hearts are easily deceived into believing that God's holiness is pure but sterile, righteous but joyless, just but merciless. I also read this,
"God must remove the scales from the eyes of our heart before we can percieve that holiness is beautiful."

But it also seems to me that this instruction to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness is also about our own holiness. Does this verse not mean that we are told to bring an offering it is only acceptable when it blends in with the holiness of the one to whom we are giving it? To give an offering to God and harbour sin in our hearts is surely to mark our worship with an ugly stain.

However God delights when we worship him with a "sincere heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us form a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." " (Heb 10:21) This is holiness and that is beautiful.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness
Bow down before him his glory proclaim
With gold of obedienc and incense of lowliness
Kneel and adore him the Lord is his name.

(John Samuel Bewley Monsell)

God bless


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Praying People

Sir Ian Botham is walking to raise money for Leukemia Research at the moment. As he walks he is being joined by members of the public who get into step with him and walk with him, helping him to reach his goal. The more he walks the more people seem to join him.

In Pill Corps at the moment we are on a prayer journey, and as we proceed people are joining in and we've got a rhythm going.

We kicked off last Tuesday with early morning prayer, three people got together. Two of us prayer walked in the evening. There were about 15 of us at Prayer Concert on Sunday evening. There were four this morning at the prayer room and three of us prayer walked for an hour tonight. The cell groups meeting fortnightly spend valuable time praying.

Our prayer room is due a revamp and a 24/2 event is being planned for November at which we believe more people will get on board.

It is easy to plan these things, start well and then get weary and well doing so let's not forget to
keep encouraging one another to keep going. And if you haven't joined in yet, what are you waiting for?

God bless


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Partners in the gospel

We have just got back from conducting the wedding of Retired HLS Greta Nichols and Major Jack Shakespeare. It was a privilege to witness these two lovely people pledge what years they have left to a "partnership in the gospel" (Phil 1:3) as a married couple.

The wedding concluded with Albert Orsborne's song, "I know thee who thou art." We had this at our own wedding day, at our Covenant Day and at family funerals and I rarely manage to sing it dry-eyed.

Today the second and third verses are also particularly significant as our eldest daughter Katie was setting off with a team from Christian Solidarity Worldwide to walk the Great Wall of China. As well as raising funds for the charity, which campaigns on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world, they will be meeting up with Chinese Christians to support them in their sometimes difficult and dangerous walk with Christ. I know that Katie walks with Christ daily and I know that he will be with her during this trip.

Thy name is joined with mine
By every human tie
And my new name is thine
A child of God am I
And never more alone since thou
Art on the road beside me now.

Beside thee as I walk
I will delight in thee
In sweet communion talk
Of all thou art to me
The beauty of thy face behold
And know thy mercies manifold.

God bless


Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Upholding his holiness

I am continuing to study the word holiness in the Bible.

Moses is about to die. He has had an amazing life. The book of Deuteronomy ends with the words, "No prophet has risen in Isreal like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt to Pharoah and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the might power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did." (Dt 32:10)

Yet despite all of this achievement as he makes his way up a mountain in Moab where he knows he will die it is not his exploits that Moses is reminded of but his sin. He is told again why it is that he cannot enter the Promised Land.

"You broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel."

Back in Numbers 20:12 he is told why he cannot lead the people of God into the Promised Land "Because you did not trust me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites you will not bring this community into the land I give them."

It is tempting to think that God is being a bit unfair on Moses, after all he had had to put up with, in leading the people of Israel through the desert, not to let him take them into the Promised Land because he made one slip up.

However there is a crucial issue here. Moses represents the law. It was through him that God revealed to his people the way that they should live holy lives in order to honour the holy God they were dependent upon and whom they were called to serve.

Moses gave the law but even he did not keep it. He was probably one of the most righteous men that have ever lived but he failed to do the very thing that the law said he should do, honour God's holiness by complete obedience. Moses did not and could not do that.

What does this say to me? It says to me that it is complete obedience to a holy God that is required of me as a servant of God and as a leader of God's people. It is a necessary reminder in these days of celebrity Christians and mega ministries. Any amazing exploits for God mean very little if I am compromised somewhere in my obedience to God. If Moses one of the most righteous and powerful leaders that ever lived could not make it, then I am not likely to either.

This would be a very sad story, if becasue of the failure of Moses and the Law the Promised Land was never entered by the people of God. It is a very sad thing for me if holy living is required for me to enter into all that God has promised in the Bible but there is no way that it can be achieved.

But this story does not have a sad ending. The people of God did enter the land. They didn't do it through Moses but through Joshua, whose name means "God saves." In other words, they didn't get there because they passed the grade but because God sent a Saviour!

We enter our spiritual inheritance through a Saviour, by whose Spirit we are enabled live a life of obedience which is honouring to a holy God.

"Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance but just as he who called you is holy so be holy in all you do for it is written; "Be holy for I am holy."

God bless


Thursday, 2 October 2008

Holiness is the word

I have completed the Bible in One Year reading plan and I have now decided to study all the references in the Bible using the word holiness.

Here is the first one:

Exodus 15: 11
Who among the gods is like you O Lord?
Who is like you?
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory
working wonders?

The AV uses the phrase "glorious in holiness" and the GNB "wonderful in holiness"

Holiness means separateness, the old mystics talked about the "otherness" of God.

I like the word glorious associated with God's holiness. My understanding is that the word glory is connected with the idea of heaviness or weight. When we talk about someone's opinion carrying weight we mean that they are influential and important.

Anyway my immediate interpretation of this phrase "glorious in holiness is that we cannot view God's holiness as a slight thing, inconsequential thing. When I am dealing with God I am not dealing with someone who is a little bit more important than current world leaders or heroes of history.

If God is glroious in holiness then I need more than me to understand him and I need more than man made processes of investigation to know how to approach him.

And is God's holiness is glorious then how overwhelming is it that God both commands and promises this:

"You shall be holy for I the Lord am holy." (Exodus 22:31)

God bless


Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Heaven and Hell

We have been doing a series called "This we believe." on Sunday evenings at the Corps. On Sunday night we got to doctrine 11 which states:

"We believe in the immortality of the soul, in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgement at the edn of the world; in the eternal happiness of the wicked and in the endless punishment of the wicked."

My hopes for this evening were that we would rejoice in the hope of eternal life that Jesus has won for us, that in these uncertain times we hold on to the truth that "evil shall perish and righteouness will reign, that those who had recently lost loved ones in Christ would be reassured again that their loved ones were at rest and that the wind of the Spirit might continue to stir up our passion to reach the lost.

I don't know how far those aims were achieved but I had an interesting follow up to it yesterday.

Alan's father is 83 and has been in hospital since early July. The family are in the process of sorting out what his future care needs are and where he will lived following his discharge from hospital. He is not a Christian and leans more toward astrology than to any faith in a living God and it has not always been easy to cope with his viewpoint and attitudes to life.

Yesterday, whilst Alan was talking to the staff about his progress he asked me if there was any hope of him going to heaven!

What followed was a rare opportunity for me to tell him that God loved him, that he was special and that the best way to be sure about heaven was to have a relationship with God. He has always struggled with God loving him because of so much tragedy in his early life but I shared with him the verse from Scripture, "All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

I only had a few moments to share all this because his mind now wanders and soon we were off on a ramble about something else but I can only pray that I spoke to his spirit and that somehow he will discover God is real and cares.

God bless


Friday, 19 September 2008

Words in season

I continue to be thankful for the daily reading of the word of God which is so relevant to life today. I am in Isaiah and Galatians at the moment.

In the light of the uncertainties of ecomonic crisis around the world the word of God says

"He will be a sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge." (Isaiah 33:6)

To the people in our care who are going through difficult and hard times the word of God says,
"I have heard your prayer and seen your tears." (Isaiah 38:5)

When there are issues to be resolved that humanly speaking it is hard to find a solution to when we ask the Lord to help, he says,
"I have not said to Jacob's descendents "Seek me in vain."

In the midst of the busyness of Corps programme and Annual Appeal the word of God says,
"It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good."

But when we start congratulating ourselves for all our good works the word of God says,
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

And finally from the Psalm 107 :43 "Whoever is wise let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord."

God bless


Thursday, 4 September 2008

Getting into gear and putting the armour on.

We have been back from holiday for about a week and half now and we have been getting into gear for the Autumn battle offensive to build the kingdom in Pill. We are going to be busy.

The preaching plan is in place, the cell groups are ready for a new season and the youth progamme is kicking off next week with the addition of a new cell group called Quest,which will include music making, mission training as well as interactive Bible study. Toddler group starts again on Monday and relaunches a cradle roll type initiative. The Jam Club team are all keen to get going following the brilliant holiday club in the holidays. And of course in the midst of it all there is Annual Appeal, which the human part of me sees as getting in the way of all that I have mentioned above. However past experience has proved to me that if I see it as part of the mission then it makes all the difference to how we manage the busyness.

I don't know if you agree but I think that the period between September and December is probably the period in the year that has the most opportunity for outreach and is our busiest time of year. So as well as gearing up for it with Corps Council meetings, planning meetings and preparing facilities and programmes we also need to be aware of the need to put on our spiritual armour and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

God bless


Thursday, 28 August 2008

Ancient Words

I use several different ways of daily Bible reading that I enter into at various times. For the most part I choose to study a book at a time, in depth, with the help of commentary and devotional reading. Last year I was really enjoyed studying the book of Hebrews, with the help of Andrew Murray. Sometimes it will take me a whole week to get through a chapter.
At other times I like to study a subject and trace a theme through the Bible, again with study helps and these days the internet.

But every few years of so I read the whole Bible in one year, using a NIV Bible that divides up the passages fro you into an OT reading, a NT reading and either a Psalm or some verses from Proverbs. Because it is so easy to get behind when I do this I rarely use commentaries to explain what the passages mean. It's not that I switch off my mind but this is a time when I just love it to immerse myself in the great Redemption story, let my heart be touched and allow God to speak to my Spirit.

And as I have done this again in this last year I have been really blessed by the way God has drawn my attention to certain verses and I believe the Spirit whispered to me, this is for you. Sometimes it has been an encouragement, sometimes good advice and sometimes it has simply been that I have identified with the writer and used his words to express my own feelings towards the Lord.

Anyway after all that preamble here are some of the verses that leapt from the pages during the last two weeks in Portugal.

Eccles 5:1-2 "Guard you steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen to him rather than offer the sacrifice of fools who do not know that they do wrong. God is in heaven and you are on earth so let your words be few."

Eccles 9:4 "Calmness can lay great errors to rest."

Song of Solomon 7:10 "I belong to my lover and his desire is for me."

Song of Solomon 8:6 Place a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm for love is as strong as death."

Psalm 101:6 "My eyes will be on the faithful in the land that they may dwell with me, he whose walk is blameless will minister to me."

2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those hearts that are fully committed to him."

1 Corinthians 15:10 "By the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect."

Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
Holy words of faith handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
O heed the faithful words of Christ
Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God's own heart
O let the ancient words impart

(by Lynn DeShazo)

God bless


Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Lisbon 2008
Arrived back from a great holiday in Portugal on Monday. We stayed in Lisbon and did the whole tourist thing of lazy mornings, sight seeing and sunbathing on the beach. This in itself gave us the break we needed after a few tiring weeks. But the holiday gave us far more than that because we also experienced once again the special priviledge of being part of a world-wide Salvation Army family.

Our good friends Alberto and Maria Jose Serem are the leaders of the Portugal Command and it was great to meet up with them and we were also taken out and about on a number of occasions by Major Mendes and Arlette who were just wonderful and so kind.

(Mendes and Alan in Sintra)
In between going to tourist sites Mendes took us to the social service centres, corps halls, headquarters and to the final meeting of the first European Music Camp which was in the Algarve. I know that some of our colleague officers would think we were mad to go the Army so much on our holidays but we found it such an enriching experience to fellowship with people who are passionate for Christ and dedicated to the mission of the Army.

(The gospel choir from the Music Camp)
Pray for the Salvation Army in Portugal. It is very small. There are only 5 Corps in the country plus a number of social service and community centres, with 17 officers leading it all. There are lots of challenges but also a lot of enthusiasm, dedication and a good spirit. Pray especially for the most recent corps plant in Evora.

More stuff about the stuff I read and Bible passages that spoke whilst away over the next few days.

God bless

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Yo ho me hearties!
We just had a great pirate-themed Churches Together holiday club headed up by Pill Corps. We had 40 children attending each day and they were amazing. Families all turned up for our evening celebration too. As well as a wonderful evangelistic opportunity to share the truth that Jesus Christ is the greatest treasure of all the fellowship and teamwork was the body of Christ at its best. Below are some photos from the week.

(L-R Captain Heave Ho, Admiral Alan and Captain Yoho (Abi Roach)

Pirate Pete aka CSM Peter Brewer!

Can't wait for next year but absolutely shattered! Off on holiday tomorrow for two weeks.
God bless

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Up front and behind the scenes

One thing you cannot say about a Corps officers life is that it is boring. If blogs have been a bit thin on the ground lately its not that nothing is happening in my life to reflect upon but that there is so much.

Up front, these days have been full of activity. As well as the usual stuff, last week was the last week of the school term so it was the Annual Toddler Party, the Jam Club party and the Youth Drop in Pizza Night. I just about managed to avoid being buried under a mountain of sausage rolls!
Saturday was Lucy (our youth worker) and Dave's wedding conducted by Captain Andrew Clark, which was a lovely day. Everything went really well and it was great to meet up again with Dave's family, most of whom we have known since YP Band days in Bath. In between all this we have been going over to Bath as much as possible to visit Alan's Dad who is in hospital and causing concern at the moment.

But there is always a lot more going on than what can be seen up front. Also during last week there have been those moments when people have faced a crisis and come to me to pray with them. There has been news that lifts your spirits and news that stabs you in the heart. And of course there have been those things that irritate and annoy, an issue or two to sort out. I have also been exploring a new area of ministry and continuing to try to listen to what God is saying about the next season of ministry the Corps is moving into. And there have been those secret kindnesses that people do for you that are a real blessing.

Anyway this is a bit of a ramble but I am just so grateful that God has a handle on it all even if I only have a little glimpse of what is really going on in the world, in the people around me and even within myself.

One thing that is a constant for me is the word of God. These are just some of the verses that have reached my heart in these busy days.

Psalm 87:6 "The Lord will write in the register of the peoples,"this one was born in Zion."

Romans 6:14 "For you are not under law but under grace."

Psalm 88:13 "But I cry to you for help, O Lord. In the mornign my prayer comes before you."

Romans 22:35 "Who has ever given to God that God should repay him."

Psalm 89:35 "Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness."

God bless


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

In and Out

Moving from planting back to traditional Corps has not been as difficult as I imagined as there is a flexibility and openess here. We love our Corps and although it has taken us time to adjust to moving to a village from a town we do love Pill.

Even so I still rebel a bit about the fact that most of the mission stuff I do at the moment involves people coming to a programme in our building. We have a great building so we should use it and we do. It is an asset not only to us but to the village.

I just miss the extra opporutnity that doing outreach in a secular environment had. The difference is this. If we hold an activity for 5-11 years olds in our hall, that is who comes, athough there is also a limited number of parents and carers with whom we can engage when they pick up their kids. However I am used to going to the local infant school three times a week, sometimes to do our own programmes and sometimes just to support a school project. Even if only a small number of parents and kids turned up to our actual programme, there was always an opportunity to talk to the children who did not come as they wandered through the hall, opportunity to chat with parents as they waited at the school gate or those moments to listen to a member of staff off load. I also spent as much time doing pastoral care and home visits with people who never "went to Church" as I did with the people who came to our meetings on Sunday.

If I went to do Chaplaincy duties at the Prison I met the lads who needed me that day but also worked alongside the staff. This continued outside of the prison as a lot of staff lived locally and we would meet them in shops and cafes around town.

Now of course the ideal is to be able to do both. Use our hall wisely and well but also get out and get into secular establishments. To do that we have to have a holy and mobilised congregation, well functioning pastoral care for the saints, a good discipleship programme and most of all the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

We are not there yet but thank you Lord you are on the move.

God bless


Thursday, 3 July 2008

Holiness Famine

I called into Wesley Owen, (chain of Christian bookstores in UK).

Hundreds of books.

How many on holiness?


Enough said

God bless


Wednesday, 2 July 2008


I visit a women's refuge from time to time. Yesterday it was great to meet up with a girl whom had joined in really enthusiastically at the Carol Service we held there. She is expecting a baby in a couple of months and I had been given a cot and other stuff for her. She is a lovely kid, full of fun and grateful for the help. It was great to see her and to be greeted so warmly. I just pray that she gets all the help she needs once she leaves the refuge and has to cope with a baby. She looks far too young and vulnerable.

However the visit was also a sad one as I learned that another lady, an alcoholic who had been off the drink for 6 months had started drinking agains and tragically had committed suicide. If only she had found a refuge in a real faith in Christ. Things could have been so different.

Yesterday was just another confirmation of the need to be more urgent witht he gospel and that I must follow up my decision to reach out to women trapped in addictive lifestyles and the sex trade.

God bless


Sunday, 29 June 2008

Giving the Devil more than a tickle.

I flicked on the God channel last night to Pastor Cho from Korea preaching in France. I'd missed most of the sermon but I did hear the bit when he said, that many Christians, even Pastors pray for less than 15 minutes a day. This is not enough, said Pastor Cho, 15 minutes only gives the devil a tickle! He then went on to refer to Jesus rebuking the disciples for falling asleep in Gethsemene, "Could you not give even one hour?"

Here's to digging into prayer and kicking the devil into touch!

God bless


Saturday, 28 June 2008


I have been hungry today, well slightly peckish really. This morning I really wanted one of the baked potatoes we were cooking at the hall for a Churches Together event. The lunch was so popular that we had to go out and get more food and even then it was touch and go whether there would be a potato left for me. I eventually shared the last one with the Corps Treasurer and it was very nice.

I have been hungry today, not slightly peckish but really hungry, Trish Morgan's song expresses my cry to God.

Lord we long for you to move in power
There's a hunger deep within our hearts
To see healing in our nation
Send your Spirit to revive us

Heal our nation
Pour out your Spirit on this land.

God bless


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Still My Heart

Still My Heart and The Message of the Cross are two CD's by my great friend Becky. The songs apart from one on each of the CD's are original and all are inspirational. I find they are particularly helpful for use in my personal prayer times and I have given them to a number of people who have needed encouragement through difficult times.

The great thing is that all the proceeds of the CD go to support the work of Prison Fellowship Ethiopia. Becky has already been able to transform the lives of women prisoners and their children through funds raised by her music. In the picture below my friends and I are asking the women what their needs are and what they would like us to pray for. This group were worried about their children who live with them in the prison and are not able to go to school and have nothing to play with. Prison Fellowship fund a scheme to set up education programmes for children in prison, which is vital as they are released at the age of 12 to fend for themselves.

The CD's are £10.00 each + postage and packing. If you are interested please e mail me at

I will try and upload a sample track from one of the CD's, but still unsure at the moment how to do it. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

God bless


Sunday, 22 June 2008

Over Jordan for the double portion

We're in the middle of a series on the life of Elisha at Pill Corps.

On the way to the Jordan, Elisha had the choice of staying at various places to work for God but he knew that if he did, he would be self appointed rather than Spirit anointed. There is an awful lot of stuff done in the Church, by the Church and for the Church but not all of it can be called ministry. Something is only ministry if it imparts spiritual life to another.

Crossing the Jordan speaks of dying to the old life. It speaks of leaving behind self resourced activity for Spirit empowered ministry. Thee is an awful lot of stuff done in the Church, by the Church and for the Church but not all of it can be called minsitry. Something is only minisry if it imparts spiritual life to another.

If we want to see ministry happen, miracles happen, a move of God happen we have got to go through Jordan. God give us the courage to get in the river rather than be like the prophets of Jericho who just watched at a distance.

When Elisha crossed the Jordan he is immediately offered equipping for ministry. He asks boldly for a double portion. He wasn't being greedy he was just asking to inherit what an eldest son would receive from his Father. He wasn't being rude or impolite. Our English culture deems it necessary for us to wait to be asked before taking. But God has asked us what we want and expects us to submit our claim for our inheritance in Christ. God save us from our English reserve!

And suddenly for Elisha, what he asked for was there for the taking. He picked up the mantle of Elijah and there he was doing the things of God by the power of God.

Jesus crossed the Jordan and the Spirit rested upon him like a dove.
Joshua crossed the Jordan and claimed the land of promise
Elisha crossed the Jordan and received a double portion

Come on Salvation Army. It's time for us to cross the Jordan, for the double portion and once again pick up the mantle of ministry that God has called us wear for his glory.

And this morning as we sang "Come Great Spirit come, make each heart thy home" a seeker crossed the Jordan and I believe in their hearts others did too. Hallelujah!

God bless


Saturday, 21 June 2008

All through the night
It is 1. 15 am

I have just returned to Dartford Salvation Army hall with four other prayer warriors having just prayer walked the town.

It just confirmed for me again that the strongholds of this nation of alcohol, prostitution and gambling continue to have a firm grip on our nation. But tonight we have taken a stand and prayed with passion and conviction that the light of Jesus might drive out the darkness.

I believe we shall win
If we fight in the strength of the King

God bless


Tuesday, 17 June 2008


It's my birthday today and I learned this morning that I share it with none other than the great John Wesley so here are a few of his words of wisdom.

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

“Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”

“The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.”

"The best is yet to be"

"You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work."

"Though I am always in a haste," I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit."

"God is so great that He communicates greatness to the least thing that is done for His service."

"The neglect of prayer is a grand hindrance to holiness."

God bless

Carol (now 2 years away from the big 50!)

Tuesday, 10 June 2008


We have a meeting tonight at the Corps to discuss our future plans for our children's and youth outreach and discipleship in Pill. Our youth leader is getting married in July and moving away which has mobilised us to look at our whole provision for young people.

We spent time on Sunday evening praying about a way forward and we believe that we can move forward positively. The temptation when you lose leadership is to think that everything must diminish but we believe that God will help us to move forward.

Recently we were asked by our DYO to outline our hopes and dreams for youth work in our Corps. We felt the Spirit say we need to reach a WIDER number of young people. Our current activities for children and youth are good but under used. We long to have a BIGGER impact on their lives and their families. We are not just interested in keeping kids off the streets but want them to discover a faith for life. Finally we want to help those who are committed to Christ to go DEEPER into him.

Your prayers will be appreciated.

God bless


Saturday, 7 June 2008

It will not do

We had a great time today at the Divisional Prayer Focus Day. There was a very powerful moment for me when we were invited to allow God to speak to us personally and I felt his affirmnation and anointing.

There was also challenge. Isaiah 58 has been used in recent days by a number of friends as a prophetic call to the Salvation Army. The second part of verse 4 came to me very forcefully again today "You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high."

And this message came to the people who had given up a Summer Saturday to pray for our division. We might have thought God would be grateful. Well I am sure that God is always pleased when his people turn to him and pray but the challenge was clear even to those of us who at least see prayer as a priority that we have not got to the place we need to be in praying for revival.

If we want God to move then something has to change in the way we pray and the way we live. The level of prayer on which we operate is not cutting it. The lifestyle most of us lead does not match our words but we blame God and ask "Why have we fasted and you have not seen it."

Kingsley whom I ministered with in the Ivory Coast is telling Christians all over the world that this year is a year when God's people must arise. We must get up from where we are and go to the place that God is calling us. Nothing else will do. (See

Arise shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

God bless


Friday, 6 June 2008

Changing the world

We buy all the fair trade goods we can and I know that Cote'D'Ivoire is the biggest exporter of cocoa in the world. There have been many reports of the the trafficking of children on the plantations, particulaly in the interior but my tentative enquiries about this were dismissed as exaggeration. I just don't know. I didn't see any evidence of it but that is not to say it is not happening.

All I do know is that when we went for a drive into the countryside we bought a fresh pineapple for less than 5p and the cocoa I am holding in the picture for a few pence. If we were buying it retail for that, then the farmers would be getting even less than that when they were selling wholesale. There are an awful lot of middle men between the pineapple at source and the price I pay at Tesco's. Something is not right somewhere.

Well I didn't expect to change the world on a weeks visit but I did pray that I would make a tiny difference some how. I just couldn't see how.
Then on Sunday the mayor who is the equivalent of an MP was invited to the Church anniversary. He has put himself forward as a candidate for President, when elections are held later in the year. He is a man of influence and has the opportunity to address the issues of trade, justice, peace and poverty.

At the end Solomon invited him to the front so that the church could pray for him. Kingsley and I were asked to lay hands on him and I was given the privilege of praying on behalf of everyone for him. I believe I prayed prophetically and I trust that God will answer my prayer that this man may be someone through whom justice flows and righteousness like a never ending stream.

I will continue to pray for this man because I believe we can change the world through prayer.

God bless

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The haunts of sin and shame

Princess Ave is the Soho of Abidjan. Bars, nightclubs and casinos blast loud music out on to the street full of cars and hoards of pleasure seekers from all over west Africa. At the end of the working, with their weeks wages in the pocket the young people of the city take to the streets for a "good time" Alcohol is sold on market stalls and the prostitutes blatently parade themselves and aggressively pursue a potential client. It was a souless and godless place to drive through on a Friday night.

But it was not to my mind quite so depressing as the area we had visited in the afternoon. Off a main highway we pulled into a layby, where there were a few market stalls and then set off down a dusty alleyway into a rabbit warren of shacks. Immediately I was wishing I had worn proper shoes, not flip flops as I tried to avoid the puddles from the recent downpour, the piles of rubbish, the children playing in the dirt and falling on the uneven paths. It was stifling hot and smelly due to lack of adequate sanitation. Out on the main street the sun was bright but down the maze of closely packed homes it seemed dark and gloomy. Goodness knows what it is like when the rains come. We were in another world and in seconds I had lost all sense of direction.

In front of quite a lot of the houses there were wooden stalls from which some people were selling food, or other goods. But at night time those same stalls sold a very different commodity as the prositutes put themselves up for sale. These girls are cheap, they need a lot of clients in order to make a living. On Friday afternoon many of them were fast asleep, resting before they engaged in their night time activities.

It is a desperate place but this was the day time. Solomon and Kingsley had come here with a visiting team last year at night and they said the atmosphere was indescribable and had been very frightening as a white man in that environment was an inevitable target for competition. Some of them had become quite aggressive.

We somehow found our way out and crossed the main road and down another alleyway we were in another very similar place. The difference here was that this was where mainly Nigerian girls worked whilst the other side had been mainly Ivorian. I was told that of the two sides, the Ivorian girls were less pushy but more depressed whilst the Nigerians were more up beat but much more aggressive. My guess is that the Nigerian girls are probably trafficked and must put on a show. They must secure more clients because they must pay their masters.

White people in this area draw enough attention and I didn't feel it was right to treat people like exhibits in a zoo so we didn't take many photos so I have to rely on words to try to relay the sadness of this place. I hope I have done that but my feelings were beyond words.

All I can say is that this place breaks your heart. When I got back to the hotel I read Albert Osbornes song and wept.

The Saviour of men came to seek and to save
The souls that were lost to the good
His Spirit was moved for the world which he loved
With the boundless compassion of God
And still there are fields where the labourers are few
And still there are souls without bread
And still eyes that weep where the darkness is deep
And still straying sheep to be led
Except I am moved with compassion
How dwelleth thy Spirit in me?
In word and in deed
Burning love is my need
I know I can find this in thee.

God bless


Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Let it rain

It's the rainy season and the weather is extremely hot and humid. On Wednesday the heavens opened and down came torrents of rain on the tin roof of the the church where I was being introduced to the girls whom the church is trying to help.

You couldn't ignore the rain. It was deafening! And when we came out of the church the reasonably dry mud road we had travelled in on had completely changed shape!

But to me the rain came in more ways than one. For four evenings the church gathered for worship and to hear preaching. On Sunday they met from 9.00am - 4.00pm. Every night there were at least 100 people gathered together. These are a people who are thirsty for God and they plead with him for the Spirit to rain down on them. And guess what? He sends the rain and the people, like the road are transformed.

These people know how to worship, they know how to pray and when the altar call is given, they all come with a desperate willingness to receive.

In the UK we are experiencing a spiritual drought and my goodness how we need the rain.

We have prayed that you would have mercy
We believe from heaven you've heard
Heal our land so dry and so thirsty
We have strayed so far from you Lord
Your cloud appeared on the horizon
Small as a man's hand
But now you're near
Filling our vision
Pour out your Spirit again
I feel the touch of your wind on my face
I feel the first drops of rain

Let it rain, let it rain
I will not be the same
Let it rain, rain on me
Let it pour down on me
Let it rain

(Paul Oakley Thank you music 1994)

God bless

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

A rescue shop within a yard of hell

This is the view from my hotel window in Abidjan. It doesn't look much like hell does it? And the truth is that it is a beautiful city, with many fine buildings and compared with many African countries is prosperous. It is rich with natural resources and was once known as the Paris of Africa. A coup d'etat a few years ago rocked its stabilty and recovery has been difficult but now it is peaceful and confidence has grown.

However the view from my window does not tell the story of the poor or of the spiritual strongholds over the city. There are prosperous people in Cote d'Ivoire but for the poor the cost of living is high and wages are low. The fact that this country is the second most expensive place to live in Africa means that it is hard to get out of the poverty trap.

I was accompanying Reverend Kingsley Armstrong on a visit to the Living Foundation International Church led by Pastor Solomon Kwasi Ansah. The church was started 8 years ago and is situated in one of the poorest areas of Abidjan. It has a membership of about 300.
Despite being advised by some other pastors that if he moved to a better area he would get better collections and be better paid Solomon and his wife Armande pictured below are passionately committed to the poor and to the broken.
This is a church that combines revivalist preaching with practical action and lives are being transformed. The church supports about 30 women who were previously prostitutes, or who were in immoral relationships to give them financial support. Others were rescued just in time to save them from going down that route. Some trafficked women from Nigeria have also been able to return home with the churches help. The girls who haven't got their own homes are housed with church members and the church pays for them to go to a local training centre to learn skills that will give them employment. A number of young men are also supported in this way and live in the church.

But it is not just material help that is offered. New converts have been freed from the bondage of immorality, sexual perversion and a background of Animism. It is Jesus who has changed their lives.

This is a Pentecostal church but in reality feels like primitive Salvationism. Who is doing this work? It is the local church. They are not paying non Christian professionals to do social work they are operating a rescue shop within yard of hell and they are relying on the power of the Spirit to do it.
It is a very special place that has the hand of God upon it.
More tomorrow
God bless

Monday, 2 June 2008

I'm Back

Landed home this morning from Cote D'Ivoire. I've had an amazing week.

God spoke to me
God touched me
God I believe used me

Pictures and reports, thoughts and challenges from tomorrow, Right now I'm tired.

God bless


Thursday, 22 May 2008

Prayers answered.

Thank You everyone who prayed about my visa for the Ivory Coast. I got it yesterday from the Embassy.

It was a bit of nuisance to have to take time out when we had other things planned, which now have to be put on hold. Nevertheless it gave us opportunity to be taken out to lunch by a friend, (thank you very much) see our daughter Katie, Chris her boyfriend and our daughter Hayley. It was great to see them.

I'm praying that the trip will prove not only to be enjoyable but that what I learn will help fomulate my vision to somehow serve women, who are trapped in the sex trade or addictions in my own culture.

God bless


Saturday, 17 May 2008

Prayer Please!

I am due to fly out to Ivory Coast on Monday 27th May. The intention is to gain an insight into the work among prostitutes that a local church is engaged in, in Abidjan.

The opportunity arose out of my trip last year to Ethiopia, when God spoke to me very clearly about modern day slavery, in partcular the issue of sexual trafficking. I happened to be with Rev Kingsley Armstrong who is president of an organisation called International Gospel Outreach, which supports missions around the world. On hearing of my interest in this issue I was invited to accompany him on his next trip to Abidjan.

A problem has arisen however over our visas. Our applications submitted in ample time were returned only on Friday with the instruction that we need to apply in person for the visas at the Embassy in London. With a week to go we are praying that we can just turn up and they will issue them on the same day. It has proved impossible to get through to speak to anyone on the phone and Kingsley is in the USA until Tuesday so time is really tight.

Please could you pray that this difficulty will be overcome. I sense that the trip will be a very significant one for me if I can get there. In addition it would be a dreadful if all the resources already expended were wasted.

Thank you

God bless


Friday, 16 May 2008

While there is one lost girl......

The more I look into it the more I am convinced that the national strongholds of the devil over the UK that were prevalent when the Army was raised up are still the prevailing strongholds of our own day.

I touched on the issue of alcohol yesterday. John Dawson also cited prostitution as a stronghold over the UK that the early SA tackled. No doubt he had in mind the Army’s Maiden Tribute campaign which resulted in the raising of the age of consent to 16. As a teenager selling the War Cry in the pubs I well remember that a common jibe was “Does the Salvation Army save fallen women? Save one for me!” Although designed to cause embarrassment and make fun the comment revealed the connection that was still made in the minds of the public with the Army and the rescue of women from vice in the late 1970’s.

If we thought that prostitution was in decline in our nation recent reports on sexual trafficking has blown that idea out of the water. There is a great demand for trafficked persons in brothels and massage parlours because they are considered to be cheaper and can often be exploited in even more horrific ways than those involved with prostitution that are of UK origin.

The UK’s cultural attitudes towards prostitution and the sex-industry mean that traffickers have found a ready-made market for their trade. A survey in Scotland discovered that nearly half of men who pay for sex are in a relationship with the majority saying only the threat of jail would stop them. Many believed women entered prostitution as a career choice and only jail, a letter to their partner from the police or being placed on the sex offenders' register was a deterrent. One in 10 said rape did not apply to prostitutes and they would commit a rape if it went undetected.

A Panorama investigation has uncovered how girls, sometimes as young as 12, are being groomed for prostitution by gangs on the streets of Britain. See

With the additional rise in pornography available through the internet it is obvious that our nation has a significant problem to deal with. I think it is wider than just organised prostitution however. In contrast to Victorian Britain the average age for losing virginity is 17 and is usually outside of marriage. Teenage pregnancy rates are the highest in Europe. The pressure on young people to have sex as a rite of passage is immense. Interestingly Christians who promote sexual abstinence as a way of tackling this have been vilified in the press as far right extremists. It seems that an attitude prevails among many “experts” that as long a teenage pregnancy is avoided through contraception, sexual activity among the very young although not desirable is inevitable.

Come on Salvation Army, we were born to fight this!

God bless


Thursday, 15 May 2008

Prevailing national strongholds

National Strongholds
The UK has had a a binge drinking culture for hundreds of years. In the 1730’s there was a ‘gin craze’ when consumption levels rocketed. In Victorian times it was possible to get drunk for a penny and dead drunk for tuppence.
Thinking about all of this I remembered something I read a while back in Taking our Cities for God by John Dawson.
“The early days of the Salvation Army are a graphic example of the power of the gospel transforming the life of the city. General Booth and his followers had clearly identified the prevailing satanic bondages of their day (alcoholism and prostitution) and they employed city wide strategies which result in city wide victories.”
My thoughts ran on a bit to think about the idea that if he is right and there is such a thing as prevailing satanic bondages over nations and the Salvation Army correctly identified them in Victorian times as alcohol and prostitution, what are they today?
Well I have first of all to say that I do think there Satan does use culture to keep nations in his grip. Whilst excessive alcohol consumption by the masses may have started out as a means of escapism from grinding poverty it could become, under Satan’s influence a stronghold which gripped a nations psyche.
I think I do agree with John Dawson’s statement that the Salvation Army in its early days recognised that their fight against alcohol abuse, prostitution and probably gambling as well was a spiritual battle that they were raised up to fight. Their strategy was not just to rant against the evils but to free those who were in bondage to their evils. It was not a kill joy spirit that motivated them but compassion.
The question for me is whether this nation is still under those same prevailing satanic bondages? If we are then the Salvation Army which had an original mandate from God to fight them head on, still has a purpose to fulfil and a mission to complete.
Is their any doubt that these three things are still the prevailing satanic bondages on our nation? I don’t think so. I haven’t done the research on the other two but the following statistics from the internet about alcohol abuse tell their own story.
In the UK more than 7m people drink more than the recommended daily amounts of alcohol.
One in three men and one in five women fail to drink sensibly.
There has been a 40% jump in female drinking in recent years and this morning the news contains the information that there has been an increase in crime among young women, some of which has been attributed to the increase in drunkenness among them.
7 million working days are lost to hangovers and drink-related illness each year
They found that there are 1.2 million incidents of alcohol-related violence a year.
The UK’s binge-drinking culture is said to cost £20bn a year
Alcohol-related problems are responsible for 22,000 premature deaths each year
Around 40% of A&E admissions are alcohol-related. Between midnight and 5am that figure rises to 70%.
Alcohol-related accidents and illnesses land around 150,000 people in hospital each year.
Up to 1.3 million children are affected by parents with drink problems
Young people are starting to binge-drink at an earlier age.
Last week a British couple allegedly got so drunk while on holiday in Portugal that their three children had to be taken into temporary care.
How will such strongholds be brought down?
Well my feeling is that the Salvation Army in recent years has simply used schemes and programmes and had limited success. Perhaps we need to get back to seeing the alcohol problem as a spiritual issue and use spiritual means to tackle it!
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Cor 10:4-5)

God bless


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Aggressive Christianity Revisted

If you are ever feeling just the tiniest bit complacent, or losing sight of what your service as a Christian is all about then I recommend a dip into Catherine Booth's Aggressive Christianity. It might have been written a long time ago but her arguments still stand and still stir the soul.

How about this on the qualifications for service in the Church?

"This is the way the Lord is going to gather out his great and glorious kingdom in these latter days by the power of testimony in the Holy Ghost. He only wants witnesses to be able to go and say, "We speak that we do know" that is the qualification."

I have heard of highly qualified Salvation Army officers admit that they have never actually won a soul for Christ. How tragic is that? I have a friend who missed so much school through truancy and being in young offenders institutions that he can just about read and write. Filled with the Spirit he snatches sinners from the brink of hell every day.

We do not need to get rid of education, that is not the issue. We need to find the the power of testimony in the Holy Ghost.

God bless


Saturday, 10 May 2008

All quiet on the western blog front.

Apologies everyone for the lack of blogs from me down here in the west country. I can only plead busyness. There is just a lot to do and the majority of it purposeful building kingdom stuff so blogging slipped down the agenda. We also seem to be going through a period when both members of corps and people closely connected with us have been seriously ill. We seem to be keeping Southmead Hospital in business at the moment.

Part of my busyness has also been preparing for meetings and it has been good to get into God's word. It's always great when the message that you believe God is giving you for your people really challenges and blesses you too.

Last week I was convicted about the need to draw attention to the fact that although Jesus completed the work of redemption on earth, his ascension into heaven didn't mean that he was now in heaven for a "nice sit down" (at the right hand of the Father) and a cup of tea. It was reading good old Andrew Murray that stirred me up to look at the work of Jesus in heaven. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father in a position of honour, he is in heaven actively ruling the earth, sustaining life with his word, preparing a place for us so that we can enjoy the privileges of heavenly citizenship on earth, he is constanly praying for us and mediates for us with the Father and much more. How good is that?

The challenge however is this quote from Andrew Murray

" All the feebleness of our Christian life is owing to one thing: We do not know Jesus in heaven. We do not know that Jesus has entered in and that this secures to us boldness and the power of entrance into a heavenly state of life that he sits there upon the throne as our High Priest in power, maintaining in us his own heavenly life and keeping up in personal fellowship with the living Father so that in him we too may enter the rest of God.”

I'm also excited by the fact that we just had 24 hour prayer at Pill Corps yesterday and today. We engaged in some intense, heartfelt and I believe Spirit led prayer. If God does half of what we prayed for we will be truly blessed.

God bless


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

It started in a tent.
71 years ago Alice Keeling (pictured above when she was in her 60's) and Envoy Terry started a Sunday School outreach for the children in the growing suburb of Bath called Odd Down. They held the meetings in a tent, until it blew down and then transferred their activities to a hut, affectionally known as the milky way because this was where free milk was distributed. A year later the work had grown so much that the foundations for a building were laid and the new work given corps status.

This week we have been leading the 70th Anniversary celebrations of what is now known as Bath Temple Corps. We had a great time meeting up with people connected with the corps who we had not seen for a long time and it was a special privilege to kneel again at the mercy seat where I made my committment to follow Jesus, aged 7.

I know I am biased because Alice Keeling was my Auntie but I think I grew up in one of the best Corps in the Army. I say this not because we had brilliant musical sections or any kind of celebrity status in the army world but because the foundations were right. The corps started as a mission and remained one. God's word was believed and taught well. The Holy Spirit was allowed freedom to move and grace rather than legalism abounded. All of those attributes are still in evidence but the mission field has grown enormously and the labourers are few.

I know that there are hundreds of places and people to pray for but just as you read this, would you pray for Bath Temple, for more workers to bring in the harvest?

God bless

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Praying for the forgotten

I wake every morning to the Today programme on Radio 4 and whilst I read my daily Bible reading before getting up, try to pray for the needs of the world as they are reported.

This morning there was an update about a mother from Eastern Congo, whose story was first told one year ago. I remember her because her story was so appalling. But although I had been shocked and deeply moved by what was and is happening in that part of the world I forgot again as Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Madeleine McCann filled the headlines.

I don't mean to forget but I do. It is impossible to remember everyone every da. That is why it was good to be reminded again this morning and to be inspired by the trust this brave woman has in the ultimate justice of God.

Zawadi in about 30 years old. Last year Hutu Militia came to her village and bayonetted her husband, all her relatives, including two of her children whilst she watched. She was then raped repeatedly the men, who then forced her to hang her own baby. Her only surviving relative is her eldest daughter who was visiting another village that day. When asked what she wants done to the people who did this to her, she says she only wants them stopped. She does not want revenge, judgement is in the hands of God.

A year on and Zawadi is no longer in the hospital and is living in temporary accommodation with her daughter, provided by the church. The funding for this runs out soon and she does not know where she will go or how she will manage. She is too frightened to go back to her village in case the militia come back and rape her daugther. In any case, she has no family there now.

I may forget again tomorrow because there will be other stories and other issues that fill my eyes and ears but for today I remember her and pray with passion and hope for her. And for all those other victims in her part of the world whose stories never make the headlines, Father God, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

God Bless


Thursday, 27 March 2008

True Colours

We had a colourful Easter here in Pill this year. During Holy Week, as in previous years, we met together each evening for meditations on Christ's passion, led by our cell groups and the prayer room was redecorated for the season.

Each day the hall was decorated with the colour of the day. Silver for Monday, to remind us of Judas' betrayal for 30 pieces of silver, green as we reflected on Jesus' battle in the garden, purple for the kingship of Jesus and the mockery of the soldiers. On Thursday the Jam Club childred presented the gospel using different coloured flags, each one reminding them of an aspect of the gospel. Black for sin, white for purity, red for the blood of Christ. It was great to welcome their unchurched parents into the hall and remind everyone that Easter is more than chocolate and bunnies.
On Good Friday morning we considered our suffering Saviour, through the words of Isaiah, abandoned, sentenced, oppressed, afflicted and crushed for us, depicted for us by the dismantling and destruction of a red rose. It was powerful time and the singing of Man of Sorrows had to be a foretaste of heaven.
This was followed by the united Churches march of witness and in the evening the colour had to be red, as we thought about how the new covenant, is signed and sealed with the blood of Christ, written in red.

And then Easter Sunday!

The hall was a blaze of colour as we sang our hearts out, declared our joy at Christ's triumph and celebrated the fact that the the resurrection is the dawning of a new day.

Colours of day dawn into the mind
The sun has come up the night is behind
Go down to the city, into the street
And let's give the message to the people we meet.

God bless

Monday, 10 March 2008

Obedient to the heavenly vision

Read more Oswald Chambers which affirms what God has been saying to me.

"Thank God for the sight of all you have never yet been. The vision is not an ecstasy or a dream but a perfect understanding of what God wants, it is the divine light making manifest but calling of God. You may call the vision an emotion or a desire but it is something that absorbs you. Learn to thank God for making known his demands. You have seem what God wants you to be but what you are not yet........... God is using the anvil to bring us into the shape of the vision. The length of time it takes God to do it depends upon us.
We have not to live always in ecstasy and conscious contemplation of God but to live in reliance on what we saw in the vision when we are in the midst of actualities."

God bless


Sunday, 9 March 2008

Challenging times

I read this earlier today.

"God judges us entirely by what we have seen................This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light." We are not judged by the light we have but by the light we have refused to accept. God holds us responsible for what we will not look at. A man is never the same after he has seen Jesus." Oswald Chambers

A few years ago I was engaged with a friend in an all night of prayer. During the early hours of the morning I had what I can only describe as a vision of the glory of God and the loveliness of holiness that was mine in Christ if I would take it. It was overwhelming beautiful and I cannot think about it or write about it without a sense of awe.

In recent days this vision has been brought back to me several times. I was reading as part of my routine Bible reading and I came across a verse in Exodus 24:9 which I had never noticed before. "Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and the seventy elders saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself."

As I read the vision came back. That "sapphire blue" is what I saw.

The reason I was able be open enough and ready enough to have a glimpse of heaven that night was because I "climbed the stair" as it were. You can only see the view from the top of a mountain if you climb it. Don't get me wrong I pray regularly but I know there is a whole level of prayer that I don't reach very often because I know it is quicker and easier to stay on the ground floor. But now I am challenged profoundly by Oswald Chambers words "God holds us responsible for what we will not look at."

The vision conveyed to me vividly the beauty of holiness. What the Holy Spirit is challenging me about is not that I didn't accept that this beauty was real but that I have not embraced what is on offer. I have tucked away the truth of it in a memory and fail to live in its light. I know what is possible but I have held back from going there.

Does this make any kind of sense?

God bless


Tuesday, 26 February 2008


Well did my husband give it some on Sunday night or what! He was rattling!

Now I have to be careful here because rattling was term used in the prison service for someone coming off hard drugs and I want to assure you that it was not that kind of rattle!

He was preaching on Exekiel 37. It is a stark reality that in the UK at this times the majoirty of the popluation are as spiritually dead as those bleached old bones in Ezekiel's vision. That's my neighbours, people in my family, people I meet in the supermarket, at the library and at parent and toddlers.

But we were also encouaged to listen out for sound of dry bones coming together and to pray that the breathe of God might bring new life and to raise a mighty army.

OK so everyone preaches on Ezekiel 37 when they want to talk about revival. Well why not. We need rattling when "God has been banished from our national thinking and we are not paying the price." (

God bless


Thursday, 21 February 2008

One Step Beyond

This is our good mate Gram Seen and One Step Beyond is a new book that tells the story of his journey from near death to new life. I first met Gram when I invited him to come and talk to a group of young offenders, whilst I was doing Prison Chaplaincy. The lads sat in the chapel and listened to him, open mouthed for an hour and a half! Since that first meeting I worked with Gram many times and his testimony of the miraculous way Jesus changed his life and continues to impact his life always had an effect on those who listened to him. He is a very precious brother in Christ

Read this book.

Read it if you are not a Christian and you want to know if Jesus can really change lives.

Read it if you are a Christian and you have stopped believing that God changes sinners into saints.

Read it if you are an evangelist and you need to understand what drives people to live the way Gram lived and how to reach them with the gospel.

Give this book or the DVD to people who don't know Jesus and to awaken Christians to believe again that God still performs miracles.

God bless


Wednesday, 20 February 2008


We've just got back from a few days away in London, staying with Katie. Hayley also joined us, Katie's boyfriend Chris came over for a couple of evenings and we spend Sunday with Andrew and Tracy Bale at Dartford.

It was good to meet up and just be with family and friends but there is that special fellowship that exists between us all because of our shared love for Jesus and our passion for mission. We are loving our work in Pill. There are just not enough hours in the day to do all that is on our hearts. Katie and Chris are praying and exploring new ideas about how to reach out to the lost at the heart of the capital, through their service at Regent Hall corps. Hayley is excited about being part of the SA in Colchester and witnessing to her uni friends. Andrew and Tracy are living and breathing salvation and holiness in Dartford.

Whilst away I read a biography of George Whitefield, who spent a lot of time preaching and seeing thousands comes to faith in Bristol. The book is, of course full of tales of revival. It made me cry, it made me hungry and it's increased the intensity of my prayers.

Send a new touch of power Lord, to Regent Hall Corps, Colchester, Pill, Dartford and wherever you are.

God bless


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

New friends

I skipped Home League today and had another ladies meeting in a womens refuge in the city. Well actually it wasn't exactly a meeting, more of a getting to know you chat, by the open door, whilst they smoked their roll ups. The conversation about the week they had just spent wasn't quite the same as the conversation I might have had with the HL ladies!! One of my new friends had just got back from a new AA group and is celebrating because she hasn't had any alcohol for 5 weeks, another is kicking herself because she had just had a crazy binge on smack and another I heard is pregnant. All this, of course laced with colourful language and details that if my home league ladies were present would mean they wouldn't need to go and get their hair permed ever again! These are very needy women with very messy lives.

Somethings were just the same. I witnessed their acts of kindness to one another, we talked about our children and we talked about prayer.

And you know something else, our Home League ladies probably won't get to meet my new friends but I know that if I ask them they will pray for them. They are good like that.

God bless


Thursday, 31 January 2008

And finally.........

And finally from A Paget Wilkes:

What I give God takes.
What he takes he cleanses
What he cleanses he fills
What he fills he seals.
What he seals he uses

God bless