Monday, 26 January 2009

A week in the life of.................

Whilst last week saw the momentous inauguration of Presiden Obama, whilst the whole world watch last week for us was one of those weeks that would be good to do as "a typical week in the life of a Salvation Army officer. It was just the usual stuff with the exception of a "real Army" funeral of one of our soldiers.

In this week between us we preached, led worship, we met with officers in fellowship, did books, visited Toddler group, attended a community forum, pastoral phone calls and visits, met in prayer, led a cell group, did the Home League, sorted out some building issues and averted a crisis. Kid's Club, youth cell and youth drop in, selling the War Cry, Coffee Morning, preparation for a lot of the above and a day off.

I write all this not to prove that we have been busy and earning our crust. I learned a long time ago the danger of being driven by activity, that is why our day off is in the weekly announcements. A good friend reminded me a long time ago that Sabbath Rest is a command not an option, if we have time. What I want to say is that this list of activities could have be exhilaerating, exhausting, enjoyable or an endurance test to get through and it wouldn't have mattered a jot if God wasn't in the midst.

However I want to praise God because in this typical week there were just so many times when a a song expressed true worship, when an action became ministry, a conversation became witness and a funny little prayer room became holy ground. And it is the gracious Holy Spirit who did it. I get the feeling that what is sown and tended in ordinary weeks like this are what contribute most to those exciting times of harvest.

Having said all that this coming week isn't typical at all. We're off to Officers Retreat followed by specially at Colchester.

God bless


Thursday, 15 January 2009

Holiness and the Songbook

Breathe in this could be a long one.

Also before you read any further this is not a blog about worship songs versus songbook songs. I am fed up with that discussion. This is a blog about changing attitudes towards holiness as revealed in the reprints of the SA songbook.

Under the title The life of holiness, the current SA songbook (1986) has the following contents listed,
Consecration and service
Praise and thanksgiving

The previous songbook (1955) under the same title lists the contents as:
The call to holiness
Seeking holiness
Consecration and service
Holiness enjoyed.

We have the 1930 edition and an even earlier edition than that and under the life of holiness the following contents are listed
The call to holiness
Seeking holiness
Faith and trust
The Holy Spirit
Holiness enjoyed.

Somewhere over the years the direct call to be holy has become just a challenge for the adventurous. We no longer seek holiness as an experience to claim. Crisis has become process rather than crisis and process. Consecration is still there with the addition of service. That's Ok I suppose but there is a danger here. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that service is consecration. I believe it is impossible to be fully consecrated to God and not serve him and others but it is perfectly possible to serve without our hearts and lives belonging totally to God.

What about faith and trust? There is still a section in the songbook with this title but it now comes under the Salvation Soldier section which gives the idea that faith and trust are needed in order to keep going in the battle. That is absolutely true but faith and trust are also bound up with living the life of holiness. The old songbooks put faith and trust under holiness, and the ability to stay firm and true in the fight under comfort and guidance.

FB Meyer, gets it right when he says, "There are three steps to this blessed state, wholeness of the soul. First we must believe that it is attainable, for we will never feel morally bound to do, attempt or choose what we do not believe to be within our reach, Second we must consecrate our selves to God. We must resolve to break off from every known sin and we must believe that God does accept the consecration we have made and will do what he has promised by infilling us with the Holy Spirit and working in us that which is pleasing in his sight."

As for holiness enjoyed? Well we do have praise and thanksgiving and actually most of the songs are the same. So am I going to complain? Well yes I am because the songs express a holiness enjoyed and if they do why not say so? Giving the title praise and thanksgiving could cover a million subjects and I feel that the title reveals a nervousness about declaring an experience of the blessing of holiness. Either that or we kept the songs in for nostalgia sake.

What to do?

Well the old songbooks reflected what God was doing in their day. They were songs written in response to preaching, teaching and experience. So I am not advocating a petition to re-instate the 1900 edition of the Songbook but praying for the day when God's people are hearing a clear call to holiness, are seeking it, consecrating themselves, believing for it and enjoying it. Then I believe the Salvation Army, Kingsway, Mayhew and the rest will all have to include holiness sections in their musical publications for the new songs that will be written out of the expectation and the experience that is all around.

God bless


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

No offence

"Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." Matthew 11:6

FB Meyer has this to say about this verse,

John the Baptist was tempted to take offence with Christ first because of his long delay in asserting himself as the promised Messiah and secondly because of his apparent indifference to his own welfare. .......................
But the Lord made no attempt to emancipate his servant (John) and he seems to be unmindful of our sore straits. All he did for John was to send him materials on which his faith should feed and rise to a stronger, nobler growth. Jesus does not attempt to apologise or to explain he only asks our trust and promises blessedness to those who do not stumble at life's mysteries."

Wise words

God bless


Friday, 9 January 2009

Pray for a Day

No, we are not advocating that we only pray for a day as a novelty but we have put aside a number of days when Pill Corps Prayer Room will be open for prayer from 9 am -9pm. Today is the first one of 2009. It is an opportunity to simply spend time with the Lord but we have decided to focus our intercession on the needs of our local community and the persecuted church. However we will need to be ready to be led by the Spirit throughout the day.

I am reading daily from the writings of FB Meyer. Here is what he has to say about prayer which is very good advice.

" We can only believe for a thing when we are in such union with God that his thought and purpose can freely flow into us, suggesting what we should pray for, and leading us ot that point in which there is perfect sympathy and understanding between us and the Divine mind. Faith is always the product of such a frame as this. Be sure that you are on the line of God's purpose. Wait for him until the impulses of nature have subsided, and the soul is hushed and still. Then the Spirit will lead you to ask what is in the will of God to give and you will know instantly that the Spirit intercedes within, according to the will of God."

God bless


Thursday, 8 January 2009

In the secret of his presence

I am using a little volume of daily readings by FB Meyer. In the hectic and often public life of Christian service I need his reminder of Christ's words from Matthew 6:18

"And your FAther who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

Meyer goes on to say,

"It is impossible to perform our religious duties before men without insensibly considering what impression we are producing and how far their estimation of us is being enhanced. And in so far as we seek these things the stream is contaminated with mud and silt and becomes turbid. We have just as much religious life as we show to God in secret, just that, no less, no more. Whatever is not wrought between you and God with no record but his eyes is chaff which the wind drives away."

God bless


Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Playing Catch Up

I feel a bit as if I am playing catch up. December was really full on. It was a great time but we ended the year exhausted ready for a good rest, which we got and really enjoyed. But then because we had a rest, there seems to have been so little time to tidy up the old year and prepare for the new season. Hence there has been little time to blog so I'm sorry its late but


I am trusting that this is going to be a great year of reaching out and growing the kingdom. We've had encouraging signs already.

In our cell groups we encourage all members to make a prayer list of people with whom they have regular contact who they are going to pray for to become Christians and actively seek to win for the kingdom. I have been praying for a lady who comes to Toddlers and another lady who comes to our Coffee Morning. They are both unchurched but they both came to our Carol Service!! Wheyhey!!

But what I really love about this is how God works. The lady who comes to the coffee morning used to go to Church but her husband is completely non-religious to the point where he is antagonistic towards any mention of God. Anyway I prayed and my cell group prayed. The week before Christmas she came to me and said that she couldn't really believe it or understand it but her husband had asked her find out when our Carol Service was, because he wanted to come. And come they did. Last Saturday at Coffee Morning she said that it had been the highlight of her Christmas celebrations and was on a real high. I am going to pray some more and see what happens!

God bless