Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Manger Scene


Children are always delightful at Carol Services and those who came to ours from the Toddler Group were no different. They had the ability to really enter into the story of Christmas and believe themselves part of it, rocking the baby Jesus to sleep whilst the inevitable "Away in a manger" was being sung.

During the meeting we had given out battery operated tea lights which we invited the congregation to switch on during the singing of Silent Night, when they sang what they felt was a signficant line in the carol. This was obviously a bit above the heads of 3 year olds but they found their own way to respond. Spontaneously as the carol progressed and more lights came on, one by one the Toddlers brought their lights forward and placed them in front of the manger.

It was one of those "Ah" moments but in another a case of "and a little child shall lead them" Having received light from Christ, what better thing to do with it than to give it back to him, so that others might see him? What better thing to do with the new life we are given in Christ than to give it back to him for him to use for his glory and his kingdom.

Not without can I remain,
Nor my heart's deep urge restrain,
Trembling 'neath my love and pain,
I come, dear Son of God.
Now I bow me at thy stall,
Giftless, yet I give thee all;
Thou art Lord, and I am thrall
To thee, O Son of God!

(Arch Wiggins)

God bless

Carol

Sunday, 19 December 2010

What the judge says

For the last few months TV viewing on Saturday evenings for many has either been the X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing. When we have been in on a Saturday night, I have to say that I cannot bear the X Factor but my husband quite likes Strictly.

For weeks the former MP Ann Widdicombe was a contestant and a truly awful dancer. However the public kept voting for her, because in their view she was so entertaining. Fortunately by the time the contest was hotting up and all the other dancers in the competition were seriously good, Ann was voted off. The judges had always been pretty scathing about her abilities as a dancer even though they may have thought she was a good sport and liked her as a person. But in their eyes what matters in a dancing competition is the quality of the dancing and they as expert ballroom dancers themselves know what the standard is.

Many people have lots to say about Jesus Christ. In his earthly life he was accused of being a blasphemer, a traitor, a drunk and more than a bit barmy. That was public opinion and eventually the public voted him off and chose Barabbas. But the person that is perfectly qualified to judge who Jesus is, the validity of his claims and the quality of his life is God himself.

The writer to the Hebrews writes about God's judgement on Jesus.

"For which of the angels did God every say, "You are my Son; today I have become your father." Or again, "I will be his Fatehr and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his fristborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever and righteousness will be the sceptre of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; there God, your God has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." (Hebrews 1:5-9)

God has declared Jesus the winner, the one to be acclaimed as Lord of above all and invites us to worship him.

God bless

Carol

Friday, 17 December 2010

Appearances

We have been carolling today in our local service station. One of the people who had to appear through the door was the actress and comedienne Dawn French and yes she did put something in the box! My husband's claim to fame will now be that he has met Dawn French, albeit that the only words shared were, "Thank you very much, Happy Christmas.

Actually Dawn did not make an appearance, she was probably just answering the call of nature and trying to avoid too much attention. However she will be officially appearing I am sure on TV over Christmas, even if it is just in re-runs of Vicar of Dibley Christmas specials.

When Jesus made his appearance on earth, it wasn't in a grand debut on a West End Stage but in a backwater town, which could barely find room for him. Not many people recognised him as a celebrity or someone worth taking any notice of.

Yet this was a deliberate appearance. Titus 2:11 says "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."

In the world of showbusiness the plea is always for something new, something different. In the world of faith, when Jesus appeared, something unique and amazing was displayed to the world.

When asked what made Christianity unique and different to all other world religions, CS Lewis, replied, "That's easy. It's grace."

He left his father's throne above
So free, so infinite his grace
Emptied himself of all but love
And bled for Adam's helpless race
Tis mercy all immense and free
For O my God, it found out me.

God bless

Carol

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Upstairs Downstairs

One of my Christmas presents last year was the DVD set of the original series of Upstairs Downstairs. This year the series is to be revised, this time set in the 1930's.

The drama contrasts the lives of the rich and priviledged family who live upstairs and their servants who work in relative poverty downstairs. The lines of demarkation between the classes were clearly defined. Some characters accepted this divide, whilst others like Thomas the chauffer longed to escape his humble lot and had ambition to rise in wealth and status. Rarely was there any idea that those upstairs might choose to go "downstairs" There was an episode where one of the upstairs characters got involved in helping at a soup kitchen and became instrumental in rescuing a former maid from starvation but there was no suggestion that this character exchange places with the unfortunate maid or that the family would volutarily give up their wealth and position in order for others to become rich. It was unthinkable.

And in many ways who could blame them. My mother was born in 1920 and grew up in a family where times were extremely hard. I learned from her, that there is nothing romantic about being poor. I remember her telling me that it was not so much going without things that was so tough, but the humiliation of having to go to the shop and beg for charity, of being ridiculed by teachers at school for her clothes and the assumption that because she was poor she would be a servant or a factory worker until she was married. As it happened she became a Salvation Army officer, which didn't improve her bank balance but widened her horizons beyond all expectations.

At Christmas we celebrate the unthinkable. We acknowledge the sacrifice of our Lord, who for our sakes made the journey from Upstairs to Downstairs. Paul says,"For you know that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." What Christ did was not a romantic gesture. Jesus gave up more than the comfort of heaven when he came to earth, he knew the humiliation of poverty and the understanding of a persons true potential that poverty often cloaks.

Warren Wiersbe writes, "He united himself to mankind and took on himself a human body, left a throne to become a servant and laid aside all possessions. His ultimate experience of poverty was when he was made sin for us on the cross. Hell is eternal poverty and on the cross Jesus Christ became the poorest of the poor."

God bless

Carol

Monday, 13 December 2010

Dirty work?

A few years ago whilst I was still involved in a Prison Chaplaincy team, one of the lads in our discussion group asked, “Why did God send an angel to tell Joseph to marry Mary? Why didn’t he do his own dirty work?”

It immediately occurred to us that rather than seeing the responsibility of telling Joseph the good news that it was OK to marry Mary and that Jesus was the Saviour as “dirty work” they would possibly have been as eager as children wanting to be chosen for a special part in the nativity play.

God does not always reveal the truth of the gospel directly to people. In fact he mainly relinquishes the task of telling the good news to us. He could retain the pleasure for himself but instead allows us the joy of passing on the news.

God bless

Carol

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Brengle: The Angels Song of Peace

"The first note of their song was “Glory to God in the highest. They put heavenly things first. God was foremost in their thought, then his glory; afterwards they sang, “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men……. The Christmas song of the angels, sung over the sleepy little town of Bethlehem, becomes a guide to us in these days. Our chief business is to give glory to God, to put him first in our lives, to have a divine jealousy for his honour. This spirit of seeking God’s glory first will make us fight sin. We will hate sin because it robs God of his own, of his right and his glory in man…….
This spirit will lead us out to warfare for God. He who possesses it cannot sit still while the Devil has his own way and while God is robbed and wronged. It leads him to go out and plead with men, exhort men, command men, compel men to turn from their evil ways to give up sin, to yield their hearts to God and to love and serve him.
This spirit makes sacrifice a joy and service a delight. Everything that man with this spirit has is at God’s disposal; he gives his whole life for the glory of his Lord. He only wishes he had a thousand lives and could live a thousand years to fight God’s battles.
O blessed is the man that is so filled with this spirit of heaven that he puts heavenly things first and sings on earth while the angels sing in heaven; Glory to God in the highest.” Samuel Logan Brengle (Love Slaves Ch5 pg 43-44)

God bless

Carol

Friday, 10 December 2010

Learning from angels

Hebrews 1:6 says “And when God brings his firstborn into the world he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

The angels therefore worshipped Jesus when he came, as the God-man into the world. They worship him though they do not know the joy of redemption. They know nothing of the shed blood of the cross being applied to them. How much more ought we to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, we, who were lost, hell-bound and hell-deserving, but who have been rescued because Jesus took upon himself the punishment that we deserve, and died on a cross? How much more should we fall on our faces and adore him?”
(RT Kendall Worshipping God pg 123-124)

The angels sing a glorious song
But not a song like mine
For I am washed in Jesus’ blood
And singing all the time

Singing glory, glory, glory
Glory be to God on high

(Edward Payson Hammond SASB 326)


God bless

Carol

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Have yourself a merry little Christmas and pick yourself a sentimental Bible verse!

I am always interested to hear what Christians quote as their favourite Bible verse. I have observed that most people quote verses that comfort them and they are often related to God being a source of strength during difficult circumstances. There is nothing wrong with that as such and like everyone else I have my favourite comfort blanket texts that I pull out when I am feeling a bit vulnerable.

Yet something niggles at me a bit about this because even people who do not profess to be born again often quote those same verses,for example, "The Lord is my Shepherd" or the love chapter from 1 Corinthians. I recently asked a Salvationist why they loved Jesus and their reply was that it was because he was always there for them. That is true but so is the NHS when we are sick and 24 hour Tesco's when we need a pint of milk! Do we not love Jesus for more than the fact that he is a reliable friend to whom we can off load our worries and whom we hope will solve our problems?

Sometimes whilst we're having ourselves a merry little Christmas, celebrating what a nice person Jesus is to have around, I worry that the relationship many people in the Church have with Jesus seems to by pass the whole point of the incarnation. How can we forget the fact that Jesus saved us from hell by going through hell for us?

Paul never did. Years after his conversion, his salvation was still at the forefront of his mind. He still couldn't get over the fact that the grace of the Lord was "poured out on me abundantly" If he had a favourite saying I wonder if it was this, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst."
(1 Timothy 1:15)

And whilst I am in full flow, it also concerns me that the favourite verses often quoted are those that help us feel safe and secure rather than ones which express our aspirations after holiness or the ones which urge us towards fulfilling our divine calling to reach the lost. I haven't heard many people say their favourite verse is "I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus." (Ph 1:14) or "Therefore since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves with the same attitude." (1 Pet 4:1)

I am sure that I am over stating my case but this is a plea to leave behind sentimentality. There is plenty that is sentimental about Christmas, there is nothing at all sentimental about the incarnation. Jesus did not come so we could quote gooey verses about him. He came into the world to save sinners and make them holy.

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

What if?

What if the incarnation hadn't happened?

“If the babe had not been laid in a manger, then the Man would not have been nailed to the tree, and the Lamb that was slain would not have taken his place on the everlasting throne.”

Bramwell Booth (Trumpets of the Lord p 360)


God bless

Carol

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Who?

Luke 2:11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.

Who is he in yonder stall
At whose feet the shepherds fall

Tis the Lord, O wondrous story
This the Lord the king of glory
At his feet we humbly fall
Crown him, crown him Lord of all


God bless

Carol

Monday, 6 December 2010

What?

What did Jesus come to do?

"Jesus Christ came to make the great laws of God incarnate in human life; that is the miracle of God’s grace. We are to be written epistles “known and read by all men.” There is no allowance whatever in the New Testament for the man who says he is saved by grace but who does not produce the graceful goods. Jesus Christ by his Redemption can make our actual life in keeping with our religious profession."

(Oswald Chambers Daily Thoughts for disciples Dec 27th)


God bless

Carol

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Why?

Ephesians 2:4 “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

As little children we would dream of Christmas morn
And all the gifts and toys we knew we’d find
But we never realised a baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We are the reason that he gave his life
We were the reason that he suffered and died
To a world that was lost he gave all he could give
To show us a reason to live

As the years went by we learned more about gifts
And giving of ourselves and what that means
On a dark and cloudy day a man hung crying in the rain
Because of love, because of love

I’ve finally found a reason for living
It’s in giving, every part of my heart to him,
In all that I do, in all that I say
I’ll be giving my all just for him
For him.

(by David Meece)


God bless

Carol

Friday, 3 December 2010

Where?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea….. (Matthew 2:1)

This year, weather permitting there will be people making Christmas journeys, travelling to see friends or for many going home for the celebration.

Christmas journey's also took place the first time around. Joseph and Mary left home and security, the shepherds did not have far to travel but they left their sheep without care and protection on the hillside. The wise men left their work in the hands of others and the comfort of their own culture.

But they all came to Bethlehem.

Bethlehem became the central point. It was where the Son of God was born, where he first chose the reveal himself to the world. At first it seems a strange place and we might think God didn't get his logistics right. But God had had Bethlehem in mind for a long time.

Micah 5:2 “But you Bethlehem Ephrathah though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

The connection of Bethlehem with King David link it with promises of the Messiah and the name literally means "house of bread" How applicable for a baby who grew to describe himself as the bread of life to be born there.

Had the Son of God been born in the temple, he could have grown up as a Pharisee. There may have been room at a palace but that would have opened him up to the accusation that it is all very well for him to be spiritual he doesn't have to work for a living. The wise men could visit a humble house but a shepherd would not have been allowed anywhere near a palace. Neither were truly welcome at the temple.
As it was the place where Jesus was born was open to all. It wasn't just the location, shepherds belonged to the hills and wise men to universities but they were drawn together into a common bond by the child who they believed to be a king.

I have always loved this quote, “Bethlehem, the place where God was homeless but where all people are at home.”

E Stanely Jones wrote, “When the prodigal son was in the far country he “joined himself to a citizen of that country”; but he himself never became a citizen, he was never naturalized. He knew that it was not his homeland. He was out of joint, orphaned, estranged, starved and homesick. Only when he was in his Father’s arms, a member of his father’s household did he feel he was where he belonged. The only sickness is homesickness. A strange nostalgia is upon humanity and homesickness for God is responsible for most of our other sicknesses, mental, spiritual, physical corporate. God is my home. When I am in him I am at home. When I am out of him I am away from home. I am homesick.”

Let's use the Christmas time to pray again for the many prodigals who need to come home to God through Christ.

God bless

Carol

Thursday, 2 December 2010

When?

Galatians 4:4 “When the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under law.”

"When we flow in the Spirit we reflect God’s timing: never too late, never too early, but always right on time."(RT Kendall)

“In our day, with family planning clinics offering convenient ways to correct “mistakes” that might disgrace a family name it is a point of fact, extremely improbable under existing conditions that Jesus would have been permitted to be born at all. Mary’s pregnancy, in poor circumstances and with the father unknown, would have been an obvious case for an abortion; and her talk of having conceived as a result of the intervention of the Holy Ghost would have pointed to the need for psychiatric treatment, and made the case for terminating her pregnancy even stronger. Thus our generation, needing a Saviour more, perhaps than any that has ever existed, would be too humane to allow one to be born.”

(Malcolm Muggeridge, quoted by Philip Yancy in The Jesus I never knew pg 30)

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Advent Blogs

It is my hope to post each day during Advent. To kick off I would like to look for a few days at different questions concerning the coming of Christ with quotes from some of my favourite writers and preachers.
So here goes with
How?

"How will this be, “Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

The birth of Jesus came about through supernatural means. His conception was miraculous. Mary was “found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1v 18)
The relationship of his mother and earthly father was saved through an angel of the Lord becoming a miraculous marriage counsellor to Joseph. “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20)The child will bring about the miracle of salvation. “You are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
This would be a miraculous fulfilment of Bible prophecy as recorded in Isaiah 7:14“The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

(From “The Supernatural power of Christ’s birth” by Ray Ellis Sermon Central)

God bless

Carol

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Age in general and the General's age

According to an article my husband Alan tore out of a magazine at his sisters house, the middle aged brain is smarter that you'd expect. For years it was believed that our brains peaked in our mid 20's but now it is believed by experts that we are cleverest between the ages of 40 and 65!

They also say the mid-life crisis is a myth and that our sense of well being increases with age and we become more optimistic. By the time we reach this age our brains tend to focus more on what can be done rather than learning what we should be afraid of.

If all this is true, and being 50 myself I of course would love to think it is so, is it a good case for the Salvation Army to consider re-evaluating the age at which a candidate is most suitable to be elected General?

What do you think?

God bless

Carol

Monday, 15 November 2010

Tingling ears and streams in the wasteland

We had a blessed day at our recent Pray for a Day. I was led to several scriptures during the day and with them a real sense that we are on the brink of something new that the Lord will do among us.

Samuel said to the Lord, "Speak Lord you servant is listening, and God replies, "See I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle." (1 Samuel 3:11)

It is probably just me but I found the image quite funny. I thought that what makes someone ears tingle is a clip around the ear or being out in extremely cold weather. In my imagination then, there are loads of people with bright red ears, jumping up and down shouting "Ow, what was that? I wish I'd worn me ear muffs!"

But I think the message really was that God was going to do something that people will not be able to ignore. In fact when I looked up the verse in The Message it said, "I'm getting ready to do something in Israel that is going to shake everyone up and get their attention."

Two others verses that leapt out at me when I was looking for something else were Isaiah 43:18-19 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." The other one was Joshua 3:5 "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you."

I do pray that God will move among us in a powerful way. That is an exciting thought, whilst at the same time a challenging one, because when God moves, he shakes us out of our comfort zones. The key is to consecrate ourselves and to be ready.

Just for interest here are some pictures of Pill Corps Prayer Room and various prayer stations around the hall.



God bless
Carol



















Thursday, 11 November 2010

Pray for a Day Pill Corps

Pray for a Day is a bi-monthly event held at Pill Corps where we have the hall and prayer room open from 9am -9pm. Our folks call drop in during those hours and simply pray.

The next Pray for a Day is:

FRIDAY 12th NOVEMBER 2010

Usually we recieve more than 100 requests for prayer from all over the UK Salvation Army. Our usual means of communicating our day is no longer available to us so we are using every other means possible to let the people know that we are willing to pray for them.

So if you are reading this blog and would like prayer, get in touch, either through a comment, me on facebook or contact alan.young@salvationarmy.org.uk via email.

Every request is prayed for on the day, followed up in Sunday worship where everyonde attending is given a prayer request to pray for in the meeting and later at home.

We have had great feedback and our folk love doing this. As a small village community we feel in the worlds of Wesley Duewel that we are "touching the world through prayer."

God bless

Carol

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

It's like that because of Jesus

We have have recently returned from a short holiday in the Yorkshire Dales and a brief visit on the way home to the Peak District. I don't think I have ever seen such stunning Autumn colours as we saw there this year. Apparently the trees are particularly sensational this year because the UK had a long drought last spring and then a wet, cool late summer. I just know that
it is brilliant. By the way the photo is from the internet but what we saw was equally spectacular.

Before we went away it was my turn to preach on Colossians 1:15- 20 which is all about the supremacy of Christ. V16 says of him, “For by him all things were created; all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers of rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him."

Now of course creation involves the work of the whole Trinity. Pastor Ray Stedman, says that “It is proper to say that the Father willed there should be a creation. All the initiatory movements of history begin with the Father. He willed it. The Son, then, planned it. He programmed it and designed it, even to its slightest detail as its Architect and Designer and the Holy Spirit is the executor: He carried it out. He made it actually appear, according to the plan and program of the Son.”
What he is saying here is that when we see the beauty, the order and the wonder of the world we have Jesus to thank. The world is powerful and beautiful and wonderful because he made it that way. Bishop Tom Wright writes, “When the lavish and generous beauty of the world makes you catch your breathe, remember it is like that because of Jesus.”

God bless

Carol

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Shamgar, who is he?

I reckon not many people would even hazzard a guess about who this guy, Shamgar is. If they are of a certain age and live in the Uk they probably would say he was a dead racehorse! I've read the Bible through a good few times and I'll admit that I might have read his name but who or what he did has escaped me until my recent read through Judges.

There are only two references to him. Judges 5:6 tells us that he lived at the time of Deborah during a period when Israel was in a weak position and her enemies had confiscated all the weapons in the land. "War came to the city gates and not a shield or a spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel ."

This however did not deter Shamgar. With the spirit of the British Home Guard in WW2, he used what he had to hand and turned it into a weapon to defend his home and family. Chapter 3:31 says Shamgar struck down 600 Philistines with an ox-goad. An ox goad was a strong pole, about 8ft long with a sharp metal prod at one end and a spade at the other for cleaning dirt off a plough.

Warren Wiersbe says, "Instead of complaining about not possessing a sword or spear Shamgar gave what he had to the Lord and the Lord used it. Joseph Parker said, " What is a feeble instrument in the hands of one man is a mighty instrument in the hands of another, simply because the spirit of that other burns with holy determination to accomplish the work that has to be done."

There are a lot of excuses made among God's people that they cannot do the work for God they want to do because they don't have the resources of people, money, buildings, technology, talent or experience and they give up. Now there certainly should have been some questions asked as to why the people of God had got themselves into the position where their enemies had so much control over them. Judges 5:8 tells us that the situation arose because of idol worship among the people "When they chose new gods war came to the city gates." It is important to examine the reasons for lack of success and oppression of God's people by the world around it. But I also thank God for faithful people who carry on fighting whilst others have given up and investigations is taking place. For example, I got saved as a child, despite the fact that there was not widescale revival where I lived and at a time when the Church in the UK was declining rapidly. How did that happen? People around me didn't give up, they used what they had to hand to teach and preach the gospel.

And whilst Shamgar held on and fought with what he had, at the same time God was raising up Deborah, who did not just hold on but took back what the enemy had stolen.

Keep fighting and keep on believing for greater things.

God bless

Carol

Friday, 24 September 2010

Left handed hero

Being one of the minority of the population who is left handed I was delighted to find the Bible has a left handed hero, called Ehud. His fascinating story is found in Judges 3:12-30. It has all the hall marks of a spy thriller or a murder mystery.

Apart from it taking me a while to learn to peel potatoes and a tendency to smudge my work if I am writing with ink being left handed has never really been a problem for me. It does irritate my husband sometimes that if he uses the computer after me he has to move the mouse to the right side.

However in history left handed people have often been the target of prejudice. In most European languages, including English, "right" is used not only to signify direction but also a sense of what is "correct", "authority" and "justice". In German, "links" means "left" as well as "sly" and "devious". In China the left side is the bad side.
Perhaps the most palpable modern example of prejudice came with the famous 1960s BBC TV test card which showed a girl playing noughts and crosses with her toy clown. When it was realised that she was holding the piece of chalk with her left hand, the story goes that BBC executives had the picture reversed to make her right-handed.
Until relatively recently, such was the prejudice against left-handers that children who displayed this trait were often forced to use their right hand and punished by having their left hand tied to their chair to stop them from using it.

It is unclear from the reading of Judges whether Ehud was simply left handed or that he was maimed in is right hand. Either way the writer seems to suggest that Ehud was perceived to be a person with a disability, who was not much of a threat and who was not much use. However whilst the enemies of Israel at that time completely under-estimated him God had no such prejudice and he chose Ehud to lead his nation to a glorious victory.

I love the fact that the lables, the stigma, the limitations that society puts upon people, do not affect God's willingness to choose them or his ability to use them.

I'm off to do my ironing, ambidextrously!

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Oh no Judges!

I have to admit that I have never been that excited about the book of Judges. It's all a bit bloodthirsty for me but as I finished Joshua and Judges is on the next page I decided to tackle it again.
And rather than skim quickly over them I am taking a bit of time to look at some characters I had never given much attention to before. And the first one is Othniel.

He is overlooked in the list of famous leaders of Israel. Maybe that was because his brother was the great man of faith, Caleb and he lived in his shadow. He could have resented this but instead Othniel seemed to value the heritage of faith in the promises and power of God that he had witnessed in his famous relative. Other people of his generation, sat back and didn't go on claiming the inheritance of the Promised Land but Othniel responded readily to that challenge and in faith took Kiriath Sepher on his own.

Other people of his generation compromised but Othniel stayed focussed on God's commands and didn't intermarry. He reminds of the need to stay true to our God given inheritance of faith, even if it seems we are going against the tide.

Thus it was when at last the people of God realised their desperate need for deliverance God used Othniel to save the day. I like the fact that when he could have just manned the defences and made Israel secure again, we are told that the Spirit of God came upon Othniel so that he became Israel's judge and he went to war. The role of the Judge meant that he rescued the people from their enemies and he also addressed the domestic affairs of the people. But Othniel did not just settle for keeping Israel's enemies at bay or sorting out the people's problems we are told he also "went to war" In other words he went on the offensive in order to fulfill God's command to claim the Promised Land. He never lost his pioneering spirit.

We need God to raise an Othniel in our day. Someone who will not say, all we can do is hold on. Someone who won't be so caught up in dealing with the saints that they cave in under the weight of their problems and concerns. We need the Spirit of God to come upon an "Othniel" who will go to war!

Warren Wiersbe says that in Judges the key to new leadership being raised up is that the people cried out to the Lord and the key to that leaderships effectiveness was none other than the Spirit of God.

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Home and Abroad

We have been abroad.
We've been to cities, towns and seasides,
We've visited castles, churches, museums, shops, parks and zoos,
We've walked till our feet were sore and sat on the beach until our skin went pink
We've read lots of books, ate lots of food and got up really late.

And in case you are wondering we did all this in Portugal in the last two weeks. It has been great to do all the above but the blessing of being Christians and Salvationists is that we have had the added joy of that unique thing called fellowship. We met up with old friends but also felt at home in Lisbon Corps with people we had only just met, sharing something more than interests or experiences but having a bond of faith, purpose and hope.

Now we are back home. We won't be doing very much gadding about castles and museums for a while. It's back to work today and it felt good to be back in harness after a lovely break. We have returned home to a different situation than usual, in that the damage caused by the arson attack on our SA hall has been quite substantial. There is a lot of sorting out and cleaning to do. Credit must go to Pete, our CSM for his hard work and for manfully holding the fort whilst we have been away. The Corps are supporting one another during this diffcult time, fellow Christians have been right by our side and the village community have also been very gracious and helpful.

So fellowship and community have really been highlighted for me in recent days, both at home and abroad. Perhaps I have noticed this more because I have just finished reading Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen, a book about solitude and hospitality. He writes "When hostility is converted into hospitality then fearful strangers can become guests revealing to their hosts the promise they are carrying with them, Then, in fact the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognitio of the new found unity."
"It belongs to the core of a Christians spirituality to reach out to strangers and invite them into our lives."

God bless

Carol

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Business as usual

At approximately 4.30am this morning an arsonist set fire to Pill Corps worship hall causing quite extensive damage. Thankfully there was no-one in the building and no one was hurt. Fire doors prevented the blaze extending into the community hall, kitchen and upstairs area.
We are particularly thankful that this did not happen earlier in the week when the hall was full of children.
At 10.30am the Corps met for worship in good Army style in the open-air, to declare that we will rejoice in the Lord always and that it is business as usual in terms of our determination to lift the name of Jesus high in our community.

There was something quite moving about singing "I believe we shall win if we fight in the strength of the king" and seeing our folk gathering in small groups to pray with one another and to pray for the families of the medics killed in Afghanistan, who are known personally to our local Baptist minister and which puts our property problems into perspective.
We are now going on holiday but judging by the support we have already received from our brothers and sisters in Christ, we know that our folks will "keep calm and carry on!"

God bless

Carol








Thursday, 5 August 2010

Light Factory

(Interviewing Lazarus!)
We're all exhausted but yet again we have had a brilliant week doing Pill Churches Together Holiday Club, hosted by the Salvation Army. Approximately 50 children enjoyed 4 mornings of fun filled activity whilst learning about how Jesus is the light of the world. And tonight we had a packed hall for the final celebration as the families came together to see their children get their certificates and prizes.

I'm sure the families will be hoping that the children will soon stop singing "Let your light shine Whoa, Let your light shine Whoa and let Jesus shine through you, but we are praying they will never forget who Jesus is and that he will shine in their hearts forever.
God bless
Carol

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Quiet times

My life is filled with activity. Toddler groups, cell meetings, visits, planning meetings, holiday club preparation, study, reports and chores (why is the ironing basket never empty?) My life is busy with doing but hopefully not consumed by it. There are quiet times.

We have been looking recently at the spiritual discipline of solitude and one of our soldiers has loaned me Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen. It is a blessing. Here is one quote,

"Without the solitude of heart, the initmacy of friendship, marriage and community life cannot be creative. Without the solitude of heart, our relationships with others easily become needy and greedy, sticky and clinging, dependent and sentimental, expolitative and parasitic, because without the solitud of heart we cannot experience others as different from ourselves but only as people who can be used for the fulfillment of our own, often hidden needs."

And now I have finished Deuteronomy it's Joshua, here we go!

It is a bit ironic that perhaps I am studying solitude on the one hand and the action packed life of Joshua on the other. But maybe its not so ironic after all. Maybe Joshua relfects very well the need to take care of the inner life in the midst of working out a demanding call. He was commissioned to lead the people, defeat his enemies and claim territory for God. I can see some parallels there with Christian leadership.

Yet we actually meet Joshua in chapter 1 of his book having his quiet time with God. God is talking and Joshua is listening. I suppose Joshua 1:9 is one of the more quoted promises of the Bible but if we look back at v 8 we find a warning that success depends upon spending time absorbing the word of God that he had given to Moses.
"Do not let this Book of Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night , so that you may be careful to do everything written in it."

Warren Wiersbe makes this comment, " It wasn't enough for the priests to carry and guard this precious book (the Book of the Law) Joshua had to take time to read it daily and make it part of his inner person by meditating on it. The Hebrew word for "meditate" is "mutter" It was the practice of the Jews to read the scripture aloud and talk about it to themselves and to one another. This explains why God warned Joshua that the Book of the Law was not to depart from his mouth."

I think I'm going to love doing Joshua almost as much as Deuteronomy!

God bless

Carol

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Timeless truth

A rock like no other
I love the word of God and the way in which it is always relevant to our day and our times.
Some of you will be glad to know that I have finished reading Deuteronomy!! But before I leave
In recent days we have had a number of bereavements in the Corps. There is a sense of loss but we have cause to rejoice as well as grieve because of the glorious hope of the Resurrection.

In Deuteronomy 32:31 Moses reminds the people of God have a sure and reliable foundation that those without faith in him do not have.
"For their rock is not like our Rock."

He goes on to say in v 39
"See not that I myself am he! There is no god beside me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal and no one can deliver our of my hand,"

Strength for the day
We have all been very busy with all the usual activities, family committments and holiday club looming large on the horizon. Life has been full, rewarding but physically tiring.

What great promises to read in the light of that from Deuteronomy 33:25 and 27!
"Your strength will equal your days." (NIV) or "As thy days so your strength shall be." (AV)
"The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms."

God bless

Carol

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Carol Young reading.

Contestants on University Challenge always introduce themselves by name followed by what subject they are studying. My name is Percival Boddington Smythe reading Physics, Higher Maths or Ancient Greek or something equally mystifying.

It is not one of my ambitions to appear on the programme as I am a realist. I only ever answer about three questions in the whole contest. However on this blog I would like to introduce myself as:

Carol Young reading.

Reading what? Well all kinds of things but I am always reading something. Carol Young reading sums up a big part of my existence. Not that I am one to boast of course but I have actually read War and Peace! However don't test me on it. I can't remember any of the Russian names!

Anyway apart from drone on about the joys of reading I wanted to pass on some gems of wisdom from the books I am reading today.

"We have to treat the body as the servant of Jesus Christ: when the body says "Sit" and He says "Go" go! When the body says "Eat and He says "Fast, fast! When the body says Yawn and He says, "Pray", pray!" (Oswald Chambers Daily Thoughts for Disciples)

"As I complete this book we have lived 8 years without our boy. I think of him every day. I miss him. I still have moments where I sit and shed a tear. Instead of being overcome with grief, I have overcome grief with the comfort God gives me. Rocky will not come back to me but I will go to him. In the meantime, life is enriched in beauty and opportunity because of the comfort of God." ( Steve Redman "At least it's not raining" The story of one family's fight with childhood cancer)

"I've learned that whenever you need to change something, start small but start now!"
(Wayne Cordeiro The Divine Mentor)

"Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth." Deuteronomy 23:23

God bless

Carol

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

England Won

England won on Sunday! They beat Australia at a proper sport- Cricket!

I really don't like football. I find it soooo boring. You can watch a whole game for 90 minutes + all the added on time for the theatrics when the players have pretended to be injured and there be no points scored at all! I can never remember that happening in a game of rugby. There is always something on the board! I love Rugby. All this nonsense about England not having won the World Cup since 1966. Yes they did! In 2003 - in Sydney at Rubgy!

I would like to say that now that England are out of the football world cup, that this means that we don't have to have it on in the house anymore but I live with a husband who likes every sport from motor racing to carpet bowls! ( Well he doesn't really like horse racing or sycronised swimming but most other things)

OK rant over!

Well except to say that generally speaking we do have a tendency to overlook some victories. Our English cricketers won against the Aussies! How great is that?

How many times do we fail to thank God for victories won and blessings received because we have focussed on something that has not gone the way we wanted it to.

I will admit that sometimes I have come home from the meeting and the preaching was good, the worship uplifting, the prayers fervent and the fellowship supportive but I can only think, there were not so many there today and nobody put the Bibles away!

So I'm thanking God today for some victories won over the enemy that I have seen in the past few days.

Some kids turned up for our new Quest group and listened to a short message about God being real.

Late night Prayer Patrol in Bristol on Friday was strategic and we heard God speak through his Spirit. Told a drunk God loved him and prayed with a volunteer ambulance man.

One of our soldiers trusted God and obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do something very difficult.

Prayer School- What a joy. Testimony of a spiritual breakthrough, freedom in sharing and lovely prayer time, This was especially good as some who said they found it difficult to pray freely in front of others did great.

Personally disciplined myself to leave work behind and sit on a beach for two hours and relaxed!

On a really hot day, when we didn't expect kids to turn up for our Lunch time Drop in, we had a bunch of kids turn up and stay. We were able to come alongside an offer support to one girl in particular.

We're a band that shall conquer the foe
If we fight in the strength of the King
With the sword of the Spirit we know
We sinners to Jesus shall bring

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


God bless

Carol

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Evangeline Booth on the scourge of alcohol

I was reading a book on holiness called Go and Sin no More by Micheal L. Brown (Regal Books) which I picked up at a second hand book shop when I surprisingly came across a quote by Evangeline Booth expressing her views on alcohol.

She says, "Drink has drained more blood, hung more crepes, sold more homes, plunged more people into bankruptcy, armed more villains, slain more children, snapped more wedding rings, defiled more innocence, blinded more eyes, twisted more limbs, dethroned more reason, wrecked more manhood, dishonoured more womanhood, broken more hearts, driven more to suicide and dug more graves than any other poisonous scourge that ever swept its death-dealing waves across the world."
(Cited in Albert M Wells, Jr Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary and Classical (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988)

I don't think she likes the stuff!

Anyway it was one more confirmation for me to keep going in supporting the campaign to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol in the UK. And if I needed more confirmation I returned from holiday to find out that there were several violent disturbances in our village last Saturday during the Annual Rag Day Festival. This was fuelled by alcohol and sadly involved a lot of under-age drinking. It spoiled what had been a lovely community event.

Since my last posting I have received an email back from Tesco's thanking me for supporting their policy on alcohol pricing. However in response to my suggestion that they take the lead and setting their own controls they pointed out that they would fall foul of competition laws and if only one supermarket raised their prices unilaterally, people would just buy their alcohol elsewhere. Well I'm not really surprised by their response but at least I had a reply, which is more than can be said for the Co.Op.

Anyway I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep writing to other supermarkets and talk to local politicians. And pray. I would love to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved.

God bless

Carol

Friday, 21 May 2010

Alcohol price limits

Alcohol price limits

I am not exactly crazy about our new coalition government but I will definitely be urging them to keep their promised to introduce a minimum price per unit for alcohol. At present it is possible to obtain alcohol in some places for just 10 pence per unit - less than a bottle of water .

Today the biggest retailer in the UK, Tesco has backed the plans and is also looking to take other measures to address the issue of binge drinking in the Britain. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8696097.stm

This will not solve the problem of binge drinking or deal with the mindset of drunkeness being a badge of honour in our country but it has to help. Please take action by letting Tesco's and the government know you support this measure and lobby other supermarkets to follow.

Personally I believe that we also need to restrict the availability of alcohol in supermarkets. Alcohol is a dangerous drug, selling it alongside the baked beans and the biscuits makes it appear to be just another commodity that is a normal part of the weekly shop. In the UK we restrict the amount of headached tablets a person can buy in one go but not the amount of alcohol.

Please let's also get on our knees and pray that our nation might be released from the curse of alcohol abuse. I am also praying that the Salvation Army rises up to the challenge of its historic mandate of campaigning for reform in this area.

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Pray for Souls

It's a busy week for us, prayer wise at Pill Corps. As well as the usual early bird Prayer Meeting on Tuesday, Prayer walking tonight and cell groups, this Friday it's Pray for a Day. We set aside a day (9am-9 pm) to pray for the many prayer requests that come in from around the UK Territory and also from further afield. We have already had a whole pile of emails. What is encouraging are the folk who tell us about the answered prayers.

I recently signed up to the Praying for Souls group over on the iSalvo's site (http://www.isalvos.net/group/prayforsouls) and discovered that we are praying at the same time as a prayer event in Western Australia. We have promised to pray for their evangelism conference, Go for Souls which is on Saturday. It really is true, you can touch the world through prayer.

On Saturday I am leading the Bristol Prayer School. We have already had one session and it went really well. There are 5 of us going from Pill. This weeks teaching is "How does God speak?"


God bless

Carol

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Wholly Holy Roots 2010

1. Relief

The Roots Conference came back to it own roots. There cannot be a more fundamental root of the Salvation Army than holiness and our own Salvation Army speakers were particularly good at bringing out the essential core truths.

2. Prayer Power

As a member of the Prayer Team I did not get to many aspects of the programme but the prayer room was an amazing place to be. It was I believe the power house of the week-end. We prayed for the Roots event in the prayer room but the prayer room itself is also very much part of the event as delegates visited for prayer and ministry. In addition prayer team members visited the venues and prayed for those ministering in them. For me it was amazing to stand right in the middle of the theatre in the last session and pray for the leaders and delegates as they were sent out to be wholly holy in the every day world.

3. Revelation

For my part I love to not only to talk to God but to hear what he is saying. I am so grateful that in these days I am allowed to operate in my prophetic gifting, speak into peoples lives and watch God set them free or embrace his call.

One of the things that God spoke to me about was about brokeness. In Christian circles today we hear a lot about God wanting to heal the brokeness of people. I endorse that entirely. We are called to be agents of reconciliation. The need for there to be reconciliation at all points to something being broken. There are broken lives, broken relationships, broken communities all around us.
But I think we get a bit imbalanced if we only think of brokeness as something negative. Being broken is an essential element of holiness. In fact I believe that so much of the brokeness we see in people is due to an unwillingness to be broken where it matters. If china bangs against steel, the china will inevitably break and no matter how much you repair it or replace it, whilst it keeps hitting steel it will keep on breaking. In human beings the steel wall of self must be brought down and broken. Sadly some of our Christian counselling instead of advising people to deny themselves and die to self , comforts it and placates it.

In the Calvary Road, Roy Hession writes, "To be broken is the beginning of Revival. It is painful, it is humiliating but it is the only way. It is being "Not I but Christ." and the "C" is a bent "I" The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal himself through us until the proud self within us is broken."

I am delighted to say that I met people at Roots who came for prayer who came with that willingness to be be broken and I am excited about what will be able to do with them and through them as he fills them with his power and glory.

4. Personal
As for me. Well I didn't get let off the hook either. I spent a lot of time praying for others and with others but God also talked to me about what I need to do for him. Danielle Strickland spoke very powerfully on Sunday evening about our holy calling to be the people through whom others see God.
When I knew I was moving to Bristol, the Holy Spirit asked me, "Are there still slaves in Bristol?" I knew the answer was yes and the outcome of a whole process of exploration of what I should do about that meant I joined Peacemakers Prayer Patrol . Whenever I can I join a team and walk the city streets praying with people. The initial connection I made with all this was prostitution and human trafficking and I think there is still an element of that but what I have encountered on the late night city streets is the curse of alcohol abuse. The Holy Spirit challenged me through Danielle to take more action. I am going to begin or join in some kind of campaign to address the issue of cheap alcohol being sold in supermarkets.
Pray for me in this. My immediate reaction was "Come on Lord, don't I have enough on my plate already!" However I have learned that if this is of God, he will find me room to do it.

God bless

Carol

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Don't panic Mr Mainwaring

It feels a bit like something out of Dad's Army. The council have found what looks like a WW2 bomb in the part of the River Avon which is right by our quarters! It is officially going to be removed next Wednesday and we might have to evacuate for two-three days. Ironically this time last year this area looked like a bomb had gone off as major rennovation work was in full swing on the flats opposite our house which itself has just had a complete refurbishment.

I'm thinking there has to be some spiritual application that can be got out of all this. How about the idea that in our personal lives many of us have issues that lie buried and even forgotten about? However if not dealt with they can threaten to destroy all our carefully constructed lives, which we rennovate on the surface time and time again. I have lost count of the times when I have dealt with someone going through a spiritual crisis and discovered that the underlying cause has been an unresolved loss, wound or sin. They are a bombs waiting to go off and when they do lots of people suffer in the blast. Time in such circumstances does not heal. The only thing that helps is bringing them to the light and letting the expertise of the Holy Spirit diffuse them

Of course, this so called bomb, could acutally be an old oil drum and all this fuss is for nothing. In which case I will have to think of another spiritual application.

Just off to get my tin helmet.

God bless

Carol

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Committed to the whole message.

A few more extracts from A W Tozer for you.

"To many observing persons today it appears that conversion does not do for people as much as it once did. Too often the experience passes, leaving the seeker unsatisfied and deeply disappointed. Some who are thus affected and who are too sincere to play with religion walk out on the whole thing and turn back to the old life..............................Something is wrong somewhere."

"Could it be that the cause behind this undeniable failure of the gospel to effect moral change is a further back failure of the messenger to grasp the real meaning of his message?
To allow the gospel only in its etymological meaning of good news is to restrict it so radically as acutally to make it something it is not. That "Christ died for our sins" according to the scriptures is good news indeed. But to limit the Christian message to this one truth alone is to rob it of much of its meaning and create a bad misunderstanding among those who hear the resultant preaching."

"It is a message of pardon and for that God be praised; but it is also a message of repentance. It is a message of atonement but it is also a message of temperance and righteousness and godliness in this present world. It tells us to accept a Saviour but it tells us also that we must deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. The gospel message includes the idea of amendment, of separation for the world, of cross carrying and loyalty to the kingdom of God even unto death."

The heart that has felt the weight of its own sin and along with this has seen the dread whiteness of the Most High God will never believe that a message of forgiveness without transformation is a message of good news."

Tozer was writing in the 1950/60's. Do we still make the mistake he talks about and give a limited version of the gospel? I think it is an ever present danger. In fact I think the present church gets even further away from the whole truth because very often Christ is presented only as a person who is available to satisfy our emptiness and little is spoken about the need for pardon, let alone purity.

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A bit of AW Tozer

"The most effective argument for Christianity is still the good lives of those who profess it. A company of pure-living cheerful Christians in the community is stronger proof that Christ is risen than any learned treatise could ever be."

"When the Church in America rejected the example of good men and women and chose for her pattern the celebrity of the hour, she suffered the greater loss that she has since discovered. Human greatness cannot be determined by popularity polls and not by the number of lines any man rates in the public press."

The Christian who is zealous to promote the cause of Christ can begin by living in the power of the Spirit and so reproducing the life of Christ in the sight of men. The world may pretend not to see but it will see, nevertheless and more than likely it will get into serious trouble with its conscience over what it sees."

(taken from the Set of the Sail)

God bless

Carol

Friday, 16 April 2010


Hallelujah!
We just received our copy of All the world and the report of the new work in Sierra Leone. Alan and I have a particular affinity with people planting new work and I just love the comment made by pioneer Captain John Bundu:
"The light is on, the flag is up. We are moving forward. To God be the Glory!"
I say a loud hallelujah to that and pray we might all make that our motto in these days.
God bless
Carol

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


The Drama of Easter
Pill Corps 2010

The Upper Room The Garden




The Judgement Hall Calvary

Sunrise


Easter Glory!


God bless

Carol
















































































Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Experience Easter
We had a good time celebrating Easter at Pill Corps, meeting each evening during Holy Week to consider its events scene by scene. Good Friday we met in the morning as well and like many Christians around the UK all got completely soaked as we followed a cross around our community on the Walk of witness. Easter Sunday some of us were up early ( I was certainly not bright - that time of day) for a Sunrise Service and it was great to have the band out playing Christ the Lord is risen today around the the cross that Alan had organised to be put up in the centre of our village. A good number turned out for Easter Sunday worship too.

I love Easter and there were many inspiring moments during our meditations and festivities. Such times are important because they keep our hearts tender and our fuel our passion and love for Christ. I have a burden though that much of our focus was upon our own response to what Jesus did. As Churches we made valiant attempts to get outside of our buildings but I feel we have to find even more effective ways of using the Easter celebration to communidate its glory and its meaning.

Also as I have blogged before I also have this thing about the way it is so easy to tick off events in the Christian calendar and then quickly move on to the next thing. We can end up only talking about the cross on Good Friday, the resurrection on Easter Sunday and the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. So with that in mind this Sunday at Pill we are celebrating Easter again because the resurrection is too exciting to only say thank you for once a year and because Easter can be more that a date in the calander but a life changing experience.

Lo a new creation dawning
Lo I rise to life divine
In my soul an Easter morning
I am Christ's and Christ is mine.


God bless

Carol

Monday, 29 March 2010

The village and the city

On Palm Sunday, Jesus has to trust the people given the task of supplying and securing the animals for his use. They didn't fail him. Luke tells us that the donkey and her colt have more than one owner. A part share in a donkey as your list of assets isn't much to boast about. It is doubtful that these people had much influence or prestige. However their actions in the village that day made a difference to what happened in the city the next.

It may be a bit presumptuous but this encourages me to believe that when our village Corps prays for people in towns and cities across the UK it makes a difference to what happens there. We hold on to the promise that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

On Friday I went out with the Peacemakers Prayer Patrol in Bristol once again. As it turned out there was just Rev Palmer and me. Starting at 9pm and staying out for just about an hour we had an eventful time.

As we set off three young men were coming towards us, shouting and arguing but when asked by Rev Palmer if they were Ok they calmed down immediately and assured us that they were fine. We moved towards the area around the SA Social Services Centre. We stopped and prayed with a lady and her daughter before being approached by a man who said he had just had his bike and all his possessions stolen in the park by a gang of 2o youths. We flagged down a passing police car and they went off to the scene of the crime.

It was Friday night and there were more than a few people out on the streets who even at 9pm had had too much to drink. One of them, beer can in hand stopped and we prayed with him for healing for his broken arm and that he would be kept safe that night. After he went we went into the housing area and prayed about the problem that alcohol abuse is in this area, from the damage done to the drinkers themselves to elderly residents being afraid to go out.

Turning the corner we met a man outside a pub who knew Rev Palmer and we stopped and offered prayer for him and the other man who had also come out for a smoke. Within minutes the whole pub seemed to be outside, and a man started shouting about God being wicked for letting his son die on a cross. He wasn't sober enough to debate with but we did manage to tell the whole crowd that Jesus wasn't dead any longer but alive.

We finished the evening by walking through an area which in the last two years has been taken over by gay nightclubs and then further on to a road with lap dancing clubs, bars and sex shops. Prayer and the action of residents has made a difference in both these areas and some places have been closed down or been forced to take offensive art work out of their windows. We added our prayers to theirs as we walked.

Last night a small group of us at the Corps in the village prayed again for the city. Village or city, Lord may your kingdom come.

God bless

Carol

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Holiness and Prayer Week-end

Despite having to change a few plans due to circumstances beyond our control, our Holiness and Prayer week-end went ahead. Our guest Andrew Bale was unable to come on Friday evening so it was down to Alan and I to lead and preach. We felt strongly that we should keep to the planned theme, All you need is love and we used 1 John 4:7 as a base text.

We began by saying that our starting point should not be "How much do I love God?" but "How much does God love us?"

"This is love: not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." Love has been poured out.

It is only when we understand that we are his beloved, see how his love is demonstrated at the cross and recieve it that we have any hope of being truly loving people. The promise of the word of God is that not only are we loved and given an example of love but also that we can receive that same love within us, through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 "And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts. Love has been poured in. The love received from God will always be more than we can contain so it will then become love that is poured out through us.

We were unable to pray the whole night as planned but we did pray until midnight. During our time together we shared our particular "heart cry" prayers with each other. The promise that God gave us through verses given to different people was that our righteousness will shine like the dawn.
Psalm 37:6
Isaiah 60:3
Isaiah 62:1

A big sigh of relief when we got news that Andrew was able to come for the Sunday. We had a blessed day when the Lord continued to affirm all that he had been saying and also giving us fresh bread to feed upon. For an outline of Andrews teaching you can go to his blog, http://www.beyondthebrook.blogspot.com

We would fully reccommend combining strong holiness teaching with prayer meetings. Prayer prepares the heart to receive the word of God and then the word of God informs the prayer. The results are stronger and bolder saints.

God bless

Carol

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A halleujah meeting followed by an all night of prayer

On January 15th 1878 in Whitechapel a meeting was held where most of the evangelists of the Christian Mission were present. Bramwell Booth's quotes from his diary in Echoes and Memories:
"At night Corbridge led a Hallelujah meeting until 10 0'clock. Then we commenced an all night of prayer. Two hundred and fifty were present until 1a.m; two hundred of so after. A tremendous time. From the very first Jehovah was passing by, searching and softening, subduing every heart."

We are looking forward with faith and anticipation to our Prayer and Holiness week-end. Andrew Bale is joining us to preach the word on holiness at our Holiness meetings on Friday evening and Sunday morning. The theme is "All you need is love"

Following the Friday Holiness meeting we will be praying through the night into Saturday morning. We have no agenda for the night of prayer except to lay ourselves before God and make ourselves available to him. I am praying and believing that although there will be nowhere near 250 gathering in our hall, Jehovah will nevertheless pass by searching and softening and subduing every heart.

I assume that by searching, softening and subduing Bramwell means that the Spirit of God gently, yet powerfully leads people to the place where they yield to him and submit to his will. The Spirit is the Spirit of love and it is his love that wins us over.

I have a sense that what God wants to do this week-end is deal with love starved hearts, repair broken hearts, strengthen weak hearts and set cold hearts on fire with a passion for God and his kingdom.

"And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5)

God bless

Carol

Saturday, 13 March 2010

A name for yourself

Pill is a funny name for a place. We have heard every joke about our need to keep taking the tablets and does our CSM write the announcements on tablets of stone. It all washes over us. My home Corps before it was renamed Bath Temple was called Bath Odd Down, (where incidentally we are leading some sessions on Prayer Walking today.) so I grew up with wisecracks about God's peculiar people!

One advantage of the name Pill is that it is memorable and it is my hope that once they get past the very obvious and usually tedious jokes people will then immediatly make the association, "Oh that's the Corps that prays!"

Since we have been holding our Pray for a Day events that is happening more and more. We are delighted, not because we want to make a name for ourselves particularly but so that people can come and then say, "somebody prayed for me"

We are now in the place where when the prayer requests come in by email, that many people include thanks for answers, which is so encouraging for our faithful pray-ers.

One interesting development is that each Pray for a Day seems to have a theme. There is no consultation between the people who sent us requests but each time we hold one of these events there is an issue that is highlighted. The time before last the majority of requests came in from people in SA social services asking prayer for their work. Last time we had loads of requests that we pray for people with cancer. This time was marked by the number of people asking for prayer about mental health issues, such as depression. This co-incided with news reports in the UK yesterday that the numbers of young people attending Accident and Emergency with injuries relating to self harm had risen by 50%.

God bless

Carol

Friday, 5 March 2010

Authentic Christian Community

This week in our Cell Groups we looked at our Core Value that we want to be an Authentic Christian Community.

As part of our time around the word of God we looked at 1 John 3:16-24 and spent some time asking the Lord to speak to our hearts through the Message translation, which is both encouraging and hard hitting. We underlined the phrases that stood out for us. I have put in bold what they were for me.

"This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother of sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

My dear children, let's not just talk about love; lets practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condeming ourselves, we're bold and free before God! We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again this is God's command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us."

For me this passage is all about possibilities. Very often we do have the means to meet another's need. I love the phrase "living in God's reality" What the world tells us is the truth about ourselves and what our circumstances tell us is real is so often a lie or a fantasy. God deals in truth. I take great encouragement from the phrase, "once that's taken care of" I once lived with paralysing fear but God dealt with it. It's taken care of. God doesn't give impossible commands. We can do what he says and what pleases him. Our relationship with him and others does not have to be shallow or superficial but deep.

One of the questions we asked was:

What does it mean to lay down our lives for our brothers?

I'd love to hear what some of the other cells came up with in answer to this or anyone else's response.

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Cell Groups.

About a month ago Cell Groups at our Corps were re-structured and we now have 5 cells operating which includes a youth cell. The adult cells gather for a meeting fortnightly but of course we encourage people to interact with one another outside of the specified session.

I don't know about anyone else but I'm already enjoying my new cell and I am excited about what God is going to do among us and through us all.

At this time we are using the times when we gather cell meetings to look at our Core Values. The first session was all about Jesus being the centre of everything.

Anyway I thought that whilst we are doing this I would put some of the questions we are looking at on my blog.
Jesus at the Centre
There are times when:
1. Jesus is missing and we don’t notice. Luke 2:41-52

What should we do when we realise that we are not the place with Jesus that we thought we were?

2. Jesus is present but we are too busy to give him time Luke 10:38-42

Has there ever been a time in your life when you realised that your service for Jesus was taking over from knowing him personally? How do we resolve that situation?

3. Jesus is present but there is a mixed response to him. Luke 7:36-50

How much does the approval/disapproval of others affect how you express your love for Jesus?

God bless

Carol

Sunday, 28 February 2010

A Sunday in the life of us.

As I drank my early morning tea (courtesy of my husband, who brings me tea every morning. What a star!) I began reading the day to day diary of the Army at work in Haiti The following comment by Cedric Hills for the 6th February was a thought provoking start to another Sunday. He writes:

"As I worked at the distribution this afternoon I found myself next to the first part of the sewage channel. I wore a face mask to stop myself breathing in toxic fumes and to keep the smell away. At the corps behind me a cornetist ran through the hymn tunes- I became aware he was playing the tune we associate with the words "This is my Father's world" (SASB 42)
Comptemplating these words we tend to focus on mountain views, picturesque waterfalls or rippling lakes. Yet the world of the rubbish dump, sewage channel and excreta-covered camp is just as much God's world. Those who inhabit those toxic-fumed streets are just as much his children as any other. As the music wafted over the air it seemed surreal but I thanked God for a timely reminder of his love for his creation." (Salvationist 20th February 2010)

Before we left for the meeting Alan and I sat on the bed and read Psalm 73. We have decided to read a psalm together everyday. It was a good one as Alan admitted to particularly feeling the weight of responsibility for leading worship and preaching today.

"I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel and afterwards you will take into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever."

Worship at the Army was a real blessing this morning. There was a good number in and a buzz of happy chatter as folks greeted each other. As usual there was a bit of banter as everyone was welcomed and laughter at my expense!! I don't mind. It was all about the family of God enjoying being together and it led so well into I am so glad that Jesus loves me. I had to smile at 3 year old Jemima so enthusiastically banging her tambourine in the opening song. Moments of reflection were followed by freedom in prayer and there was a passion in our singing, Alan's preaching was challenging and I felt the Spirit was near as we asked the Lord, "Let me love me Saviour, Take my heart forever. Nothing but they favour my soul can satisfy."

I'll skip quickly over the part recorded Rugby match between England and Ireland which we watched after lunch. Just to say to anyone who doesn't know England lost!

Tonight's blessing in our evening gathering was the testimony time. We do not do this enough. It is so encouraging to one another and so important to voice our acknowledgement of what God is doing among us.

And then it was home to Pancakes for Supper!!

Last week was busy and demanding and the coming week will be just the same but worship with God's people today has restored and renewed me. Thank you Lord.

God bless

Carol

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Keep on caring and Keep on Praying
Sitting in the dark in the big top watching the powerful images, blown away by the appalling statistics and completely shocked by the fact that this crime against humanity was probably happening in a town or a city that I visited every week, the issue of human trafficking was suddenly in my face, calling for my prayers, my voice in protest and a change in the way I did my shopping. Trips to Ethiopia and Ivory Cross re-inforced my passion to keep on praying and keep on speaking out and not to compromise on ethical shopping.

But I have grown used to the stories, the statistics and the memories of women sleeping on the market stalls in Abijan where they would sell their bodies for sex as night are fading? We have all heard about it now. The TV has covered the issue in it drama's. It's been done, move on, we're bored now. Let's have a new passion, a new campaign. Shock me with something else.

But the victims of modern day slavery do not have the luxury of moving one. They need us to keep on caring and to keep on praying.

God of the poor
Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come change our love
From a spark to a flame.

Join us tomorrow evening, 6.00pm to pray

God bless

Carol

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Heart Cry

I have just returned from The Gathering, a prayer and retreat week-end run by 24-7SA Prayer Network. It's been good to spend time in personal and corporate prayer.

In one of the session we were asked to identify our heart cry prayer. In other words, if you could pray only one prayer what would it be?

For me at this time it is this: THAT THE SALVATION ARMY FINDS ITS VOICE.

I continually find myself stirred and desperate for Salvationists to be released from their often tongue-tied state. O for prayer to flow freely instead of embarrassed silence, for a rush to testify when the opportunity is given, the hallelujah's and amen's to resound through the rafters during worship, for the gossipping of the gospel and more and more of us to speak up about social justice and moral issues.

What about you?

What is the cry of your heart when you come to God in prayer?

God bless

Carol

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Taking care of relationships

I happened to be at our DHQ for prayers this week. Major Jean Bradbury commented on how she had met up with a friend whom she had not seen for many years. She went on to talk about the need to value and treasure our relationships.

Funny that, moments earlier I had been on the website of officer friends and had said in my head, "I should ring them. We haven't talked for ages." So when I got back I did and had a really long catch up with one of them. So now I know what to pray for her and her family, I was reminded of a prophecy we had shared a few years ago and that's given me an idea for where to go with prayer ministry. It's good to talk.

In our last appointment I ran a drop in for parents at a local school. Although the group continues (although it now has no Christian input) the people that were part of it when I was there have moved on now that their children are older. However I have been amazed that some of the women continue to email and send cards from time to time. In the light of the challenge to take care of our relationships I emailed one of them back this morning. I think for some of them I might be the only Christian that they know. I remember them often in my prayers.

And finally. I did a bit of family tracing this morning. This is of course our Katie's field of expertise as she works for that department at THQ but this did not really fit their remit. To cut a long story short I was able to be a link between family members who find it difficult to manage their relationship. At the same time it was one of those occasions when the Body of Christ worked together in the ministry of reconciliation. The local vicar I contacted was just lovely and obviously reaches out into her community with the love of Christ. We are going to liase as we seek to support this family in our two different areas.

If only we would take care of our relationships as much as we take care of our appearance, our gardens and our cars, life would be so much more whole.

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:18)

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Drink Problem


In the UK Alcohol is in the headlines. On Monday I picked up the local Bristol paper which gave statistics of the effect alcohol abuse is having on the stretched resources of the NHS.(www.thisbristol.co.uk) In Bristol alone it costs the NHS in the city up to £4 million a year and hospitals admit 9,000 people with alcohol related illnesses or injuries. The numbers of people admitted to accident and emergency departments in 2008/09 with drink related causes in the city have risen by 22 per cent on the previous year. The alcohol-related problems occur in all sections of society and all ages.

What needs to be done and what does the Salvation Army need to do?

PROTEST
At the moment there is a growing protest about the low price of supermarket alcohol that is causing the rise in drunkeness. I have to agree that there must be something wrong when it is possible to buy two litres of cider for £1.29, which is less than the price of the same amount of fresh fruit juice. When four cans of lager can be bought for £3, two bottles of white wine for £6, a litre of vodka for less than £8 and a 70cl of whisky for less than £10.00, it is much cheaper to get drunk than it once was.

In the 18th century it was gin that was causing the problem. Gin had become the poor man's drink and it was advertised 'Drunk for 1 penny, Dead drunk for tuppence, Straw for nothing'!!
It could be bought from pedlars, at the grocers and even sold on market stalls.
The government of the day became alarmed when it was found that the average Londoner drank 14 gallons of spirit each year! Several measures were taken including raising the tax on gin, forbidding its sale without a license, costing. Unfortunately this just created a black market but the Gin Act raised the duty on drink and forbade the distillers, grocers, chandlers, jails and workhouses from selling gin. Gin consumption fell dramatically through the rest of the eighteenth century. In 2010 forbidding the sale of alcohol in supermarkets might just have the same effect!

PROMOTE
Read the newspapers, listen to the debates on TV or radio or eavesdrop to a conversation on the bus and a lot of people have an opinion about what should be done about binge drinking and drunken louts on a Saturday night. Our prevailing culture seems to have convinced succeeding generations that it is impossible to celebrate, socialise or be "cool" without the assistance of alcohol. Surely, as Salvationists there has to be a way of promoting tee-totalism as a positive lifestyle choice without being judgmental or apologetic for our views. Our stance might be unusual even among Christians but we have valid arguments and personal testimony about the merits of living without alcohol.

PRAY
I have blogged this before so forgive me for repeating myself but I firmly believe that changes in legislation and the current publicity about alcohol won't be wholly effective because the UK's attitude to alcohol is a demonic stronghold over this nation. Connecting celebration, manhood, maturity and status with alcohol is common among many cultures but the UK seems to lead the world in making drunkeness a badge of honour! Maybe it has something to do with our British inhibitism and self-consciousness but we seem bound by it. And Satan uses it to ruin so many lives. Spiritual strongholds need spiritual weapons to bring them down. Let's pray now!

God bless

Carol

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

January Pray for a Day and Committment Sunday

Pill Corps Pray for a Day went ahead despite the terrible weather. The Prayer Room was used all day but some people who were not able to attend faithfully prayed at home or during meal breaks at work. The Prayer Room focussed on different covenants in the Bible.

God's Covenant with Noah


God's Covenant with Abraham and Moses


The New Covenant
Prayer requests poured in as usual and each one was brought before the Lord.
We hold a Pray for a Day event every two months and each time it has been strange that despite the requests coming in from all over the UK each time there seems to be a recurring theme. A few months back the majority of our requests were about the work of social services, another time it seemed to be Corps concerns. This time a great proportion of people were asking us to pray for people with cancer.

The Committment Sunday meeting was a blessed time, although our numbers were depleted because of the snow. Nevertheless there was a lovely spirit in the meeting and many of those who gathered signed their committment cards at the mercy seat.
It's a good way to start the year.
God bless
Carol