Friday, 30 October 2009


I have just been over on where sanctification is being discussed.

Whilst preparing for some teaching on Spiritual Growth I was led to the life of Samuel, which seemed to me to compare to the link between sanctification and growing in grace.

Samuel was born to Hannah through the grace of God, just as we have been born again spiritually through his grace.
Hannah had made a promise that if she could have a baby she would give him over to God totally for his service. It was a promise she made but she held on to the baby for a while but there came a moment when she knew she must in all conscience completely surrender him to God and take him to the temple. It was to be part of Samuel’s development, as he grew and was weaned but it involved a crisis, a moment of surrender so that Samuel was in the right place to grow as God wanted him to. Samuel was not just born of God, he was promised to God, but there was a moment when he was actually wholly set apart for God. In Christian life many promise God their total commitment, they even intend that it should be so but human ties can hold us back just as they could have Samuel, if Hannah had not let him go. However one day Hannah actually took her son and left him at the temple. He may have gone with her many times before to visit but this was different. On this day she once and for all relinquished her rights over her child and entrusted him to the priest. In the story of Samuel, it is Hannah who has to make the surrender as Samuel had no say in the matter. In our lives it is we ourselves who are called upon to relinquish the right to run our own lives and entrust them entirely to God.
The debate about who is in charge of our life is over. For Samuel it was no longer Hannah and Elkannah but Eli the Priest. For us it is no longer the world or self but Christ. Now that is settled it is time to concentrate on growing in this new life. It is our priority.
Samuel now lived at the temple but he didn’t stay two years old. Each year his mother brought him new clothes because he grew. He grew not only physically but emotionally and spiritually too. This did not mean he was immune from temptation. For Samuel even though he was in the place God wanted him to be, there was still a battle to fight as the influence of the world infiltrated the temple through Eli's sons. Samuel however, because he kept listening to God, was able to stay pure.

This experience of total surrender, continual growth and constant overcoming can be ours.

"We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

God bless


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Higgins on Promises and Faithfulness

"It has been said that we make too many promises in the Salvation Army. To which I reply: No, not one too many! The more promises we enter into with God, the better will it be for us all. Such promises are a great strength in hours of temptation. They become bulwarks to protect us from both the assaults of the Evil One and those which arise within ourselves."

Higgins cites the following things to which he believes the Salvationist should be faithful

1. To Army principles

Our methods may change because times alter and conditions become different but our principles remain the same for ever. What is truth today will be truth in a hundred years to come. What is pure today will be pure then.

2. To anti-worldliness

Worldliness is not seen in the choise of our attire only it manifests itself in a thousand and one ways. Everything that is contrary to the spirit and purpose and character of Jesus Christ we must resist with all our might.

3. To fighting for the Salvation of the world

I am afraid the idea has sometimes got abroad that Officers are intended to be like parsons and preach sermons whole the people they are supposed to lead in fighting do nothing. What sort of military warfare would that be in which the fighting was left entirely to the officers, the very persons who are on the spot to lead their soldiers in fighting?

4. To the penitent form

We must be true to the principles of demanding from sinners a public acknowledgement of their need of salvation and urging them to come out and declare before all men their determination to give up sin and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

5. To the government of the Army

That government has proved itself to be strong and effective by securing and developing great forces of thousands of men and women who are willing to be directed by those place in authority over them.

6. To the Gospel

I urge you to be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In your hands are to a great extent the eternal destinies of men and women.

7. To our duties

Bear in mind that the Army has given us opportunities we should never have had elsewhere. It has place us on a platform where we can influence men and women for God. Surely then it has a claim upon our service and devotion which must take first place. If we are going to have satisfaction at the end of life's journey, we must so live that we shall be ab le to look back with full assurance that all our duty has been faithfully performed.

Is he right?

What do you think?

More tomorrow

God bless


Monday, 26 October 2009

Storm Pilot
Whilst at Officers Councils a few days ago I bought the book 1929 by John Larsson. What a fascinating read. I have been in the Army all my life and although I had of course heard about how Bramwell Booth had been removed from office I had no idea of the intrigue or the drama involved.
One of the central figures during this whole episode of SA history is Edward Higgins, a person I knew nothing about, before I read this book and was known as the Storm- Pilot. He comes across in the book as a man of integrity and wisdom. On returning home I have fished out a book by him that I have never read called Stewards of God, which is a collection of papers specially compiled for the help and guidance of Corps Officers of the Salvation Army.
So I will include some gems of wisdom from the Storm Pilot over the next few blogs, which I think are good advice for all Christians, not just officers.
Higgins on Opportunity

"Our opportunities like time itself are forever on the wing and unless we are alert to the fact we shall become conscious of most of them only when they are gone forever. Therefore look out for them! Try to meet them! Strive for them!
All opportunities are not alike, nor are all equally productive. Yet all Salvation Army officers have many wonderful opportunities presented to them. The important thing is to cultivate that clearness of vision which will enable you to see them. What is seen by some officers as a great opporutnity appears as nothing to others whose perspective is wrong.

Somebody has said, "Failure is blindness to the strategic element in time; success depends upon readiness and instant action hwen the opportune moment arrives." James Watt was not the first man who had seen steam lift the lid of a kettle but he was the first to see the possibilities latent in the fact and to allow his mind to develop the idea until he evolved an engine which improved upon later by George Stephenson was the beginning of transportation by the power of steam. When we realise that we are stewards of every opportunity placed in our hands and for which we shall be held eternally responsible we shall look on this matter with more serious eyes."

More tomorrow
God bless

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Ask the Lord of the Harvest

I have been to see my good friend Dawnecia (the Rev) who is the leader of Peacemakers Prayer Patrol. ( )

Pill Corps is starting out as a Prayer Shield for this great ministry and personally I hope to go out on some more Prayer Patrol's very soon. In the meantime Dawnecia was sharing with me how she is avoiding the Police at the moment, not because she has done anything wrong but because they keep asking her to take Prayer Patrol into more and more areas. However she is stretched to the limit as even some of the existing prayer patrols are struggling to recruit more team members. I felt really saddened that the growing acceptance that prayer makes a difference to communities among secular agencies is not being met by an army of intercessors from the Church. It is almost as if the unchurched believe in prayer more that the Christians.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that many people don't get involved in the particular ministries that I think are priority because they are already heavily involved in the ministry that God has called them into. We are not great advocates of a corps having a huge programme but I understand the heart behind an article William Booth wrote called "buried forces"

He wrote, "Is it any wonder that the interests of the Kingdom of Heaven should make such slow progress, in view of the small amount of energy, time, ability, wealth and other forces expended upon them compared with the enormous attention that is given to earthly enterprises?"

So what should we do? Well we can advertise, we can preach sermons to make people feel guilty enough to help out, we can as William advised, "study how you can roll the old chariot along faster" or we could first take the advice of Jesus. "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

So we're going to take the Lord at his word and we're going to ask him. It sort of dawned on me that God is not going to honour our recruitment drives, our attempts to motivate people to mobilise if we don't first obey his command to ask him for workers.

So we are going to start now individually but will come together with others at the end of November for a intense prayer night

What about you? Will you pray for harvesters where you are? It will be interesting to see who God sends our way.

God bless


Thursday, 15 October 2009


I have just walked back from the hall along the path by the river having to avoid piles of for want of a better word "dog pooh"
I hope you know that I am annoyed and irritated. I am thinking of writing to the council, to my MP and Gordon Brown. Woe betide any dog owner I see who isn't armed with a poop scoop and a plastic bag. Do I sound like "outraged from Tunbridge Wells"?

What a subject for what you thought was a spiritual blog, that is supposed to encourage you in your Christian walk! Well I am coming to that, just give me a minute before you turn to someone's more pleasant deliberations.

I have noticed that the above problem gets much worse at this time of year, as the nights get darker earlier. Speaking to one responsible dog owner I was reliably informed that this has always been the case because there are less people around on a dark evening to see the offenders. Although the mess will be evident in the morning as the children walk to school, the culprits will be long gone and no one will know who was responsible.

Now that is a problem that is much wider that this subject. I have heard Laurance Singlehurst say on many occasions that "everything in this fallen world has a tendency to swing to rot." and he says can never assume that once we have taught or educated people in true Christian values that they will not revert to worldly ones. There is a need to constantly shine light on our attitudes and values because without the light, like irresponsible dog owners we will let good attutides and good practice go.

Paul knew this and wrote, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed to the light becomes visible for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said "Wake up O Sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you." (Eph 5:11-14)

And John wrote, "
God is light in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness we lie and od not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:6-7

As usual when we get angry about other people's misdeeds the Holy Spirit turns the tables. Why do we not get outraged about some of our own attitudes that we allow to flourish because we think no one sees? The truth is of course that God sees the attitude and other people have to live with the offending behaviour that results from them.

I still might write to the council though!

God bless


Friday, 9 October 2009

What are we hoping for?

The introduction to the book the Cloud of Unknowing, which I mentioned in my last blog suggests that meditation should have the purpose of:

Instructing the mind

Moving the will

Warming the heart.

It occurred to me that these three tests would be good to apply to a lot of areas of our spiritual life. What are we hoping for when we have our "quiet time"? How do we judge whether a meeting has been a "good" one or not? Often we make our assessment upon whether we were entertained, felt comfortable, liked the songs and were able to see the people we wanted to see.

I will never forget listening to a tape by Father Ian Petit, who cautioned people listening to him not to judge whether what he had to say was good or not on the basis on whether they enjoyed it but on the basis of whether they went away changed into better people.

It seems to me that we would cover a lot of ground if we come away from our gatherings together knowing that we understand God's word more and how to apply it to our lives. However there is always the danger of our experience becoming clinical head knowledge if our hearts are not inspired and stirred up with love for God. Yet even this is incomplete is we do not also determined to put into practice what we have heard. If we only ever think and feel and don't act we will continue to go around in circles, living with the same old habits, fears and issues.

I reckon sometimes I need one more than the others but my prayer is that I will be open for the Holy Spirit to sort that out. As a leader I want to be aware of the need to help people to come away from anything I might have a hand in delivering or facilitating experience those things in some measure.

What do you think?

God bless


PS Sorry to those who have heard me going on about this all week !!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Back to my books

I have a lot of books and I didn't realise how much I missed their availability until they had to be packed away in boxes for 4 months. Well now they are all neatly back on their shelves and there to hand to delve into any time I want to. Bliss.

On Saturday I picked up the Cloud of Unknowing, which is by an unknown 14th century writer. It's a work of its time and pre-reformation but it still has some golden nuggets of wisdom in it regarding a deeper relationship with God.

"Look forward, not backward. See what you still lack, not what you have already; for that is the quickest way of getting and keeping humility. Your whole life now must be one of longing, if your are to achieve perfection. And this longing must be in the depth of your will, put there by God, with your consent. But a word of warning, he is a jealous lover, and will brook no rival; he will not work in your will if he has not sole charge; he does not ask for help, he asks for you. His will is that you should look at him and let him have his way. You must however guard your spiritual windows and doorways against the enemy's attackes. If you are willing to do this, you need only lay hold upon God humbly in prayer and he will soon help you. Lay hold of him then and see how you fare. God is ready when you are and is waiting for you."

God bless