Sunday, 31 May 2015

Confession - Is vital to the Soul!

Following on from my previous blog, the next phase Lyndall led us through at the prayer day was confession, for ourselves, for our movement and for the nation.

This was deeply powerful.

I have no doubt that confession is a healthy practise of discipleship, and indeed we read throughout the whole scripture of its place.

There was a real sense of togetherness as we cried out to God for renewal across our nation, and for God in His Eternal Plan to bless the life and ministry of His Church.

I am sure that I regularly try to follow Gods leading in my life and I am also sure I mess up far to often.

I am convinced that Gods hand is upon His Church and the SA's part in that, but I am also convinced, because its full of people that we also get things from.  Therefore we all together embarked on seeking Gods face through confession.

In the spirit of transparency and openness which I believe marks out healthy leadership, we were all encouraged to write our prayers and then share them together.

It feels right to me so share with those dear and trusted friends who read my blog, and who know me what was laid on my heart.


Lord I cry to you in mercy, hear my prayer......

Like Nehemiah and the prophets of old, not just for myself but for the people of Your Church, The Salvation Army

forgive me....forgive us

For the times when I have been more worried what people will think of me than for being true to my calling.  I state often with my mouth I will be a part of a spirit filled radical....movement, but more often than not I am about as radical as a limp lettuce, my heart does not match up with my mouth.


I all to often am WORRIED about what people think of me even though I say im not...
I all to often SOLICIT the plaudits, rather than seeking your favour
I all to often ENJOY being known as a radical, when Lord you know Im nowhere near the radical disciple of Jesus you desire me to be!

I know i need to pray more
I know I need to be closer to You, more often
I know there are areas of myself, and sin that are not yet submitted to you
I know I need to be more reliant on Your Spirits leading


BUT Lord, you know that all to often you are the last option rather than the first, in my life in our lives.


Lord have mercy and forgive me when Ive made my ministry about me, and not about YOU!

Lord I confess I know what You require of me.
I confess that Im not always comfortable with the calling or my gifts, to be an apostle, a prophet, to the movement, to the nation. I do not choose this path Lord, but I KNOW its the way you would have me go, and so Lord, i need to submit more of my will to your will


I believe that you have by your grace and mercy led my steps
I believe you have protected me over these last years
I believe that I have to stand in the gap, as you word says in Ezekiel 22:30 which Lyndall has shared MSG 


30-31 “I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I couldn’t find anyone.


So Lord I ask would  in your mercy forgive our weaknesses, our lack of faith and reliance upon you.  I ask Lord would you graciously continue to walk with us hand in hand along the path that you are leading us to a radical spirit filled life.  The life of full adventure.

Lord in your mercy hear my prayer.

I pray these words may stir something in your own being and a call to a deeper place with Him?

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Lament

I woke post election two weeks ago, with, it seemed many of my friends and Christian connexions feeling a real sadness,  a real heaviness for and upon the nation.

It seemed, without being party political, that the future for the poor and for social justice had received a massive kick by the people of this same nation.

Had people been scared into how they should vote?
Or had they really chosen the position of looking after themselves and forgetting others?



I read, the church needs to Lament, to cry before God on behalf of the poor but more importantly the choices which people had made.


Austerity it seemed was the 'in word', and not a popular word at that.


Yes.  I did sense in my spirit this heaviness.  I wrote, i prayed and cried out to God.  

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.


Last night I gathered with a number of people linked to the Territorial Prayer Network, for 24 hours of prayer and fasting.


It was good to be present.  But more than that it was good to be present, with people who wanted to be with one another and with God, to cry out to Him and share our hearts for renewal and revival within and across the SA.

We praised God and blessed Him for what He is doing in these days.
We honoured Him for who He is.
We sang to Him.



It was well with my soul......at this point and then Lyndall did something, inspired?  Yes. Painful definitely!


She said we were going to Lament for the SA., using Lamentations 3:26, we were going to sit with the sadness.   Clearly im not going to share the details of what and how but people shared their sorrows, their heart aches, their pains.


Interestingly this was not in a critical or cynical way, but in a deep heartfelt sadness.  Yes a Lament!



It was a blessed night, a tiring, a painful night.  


We were left in no doubt that God was hearing our hearts.


Today we continue in our prayer and fasting, believing that as we seek the Lord, with all our hearts, and minds and spirits, as we have humbled ourselves before God, He will 

Hear our prayers and
Heal our land and
Release new and countless blessings upon the movement which is His movement and which He still directs.


Lord we long for you to move in power, theres a hunger deep within our hearts, to see healing, in our nation, Lord we cry to you revive us......

Monday, 25 May 2015

Witnesses for Jesus (25 years on)

25 years ago to the day, Andrea and myself were commissioned from the Witnesses for Jesus session to be officers in the Salvation Army. 


I remember it well, a beautiful day which was filled with excitement and deep emotion, as well as fear of the unknown.  Proud families looked on and offered their support as we, with dear friends from the session set  out from the Royal Albert Hall to win the world for Jesus.


As I look back today I cannot help but give thanks to God, for allowing us the privilege of serving Him in this way.


Never did I imagine the many varied blessings and experiences we would encounter in the years to come. Yes there have been many highs and lows. Times of great heartache times of great joy.


To be honest, Im not sure we really were prepared for what we were about to face.  Within weeks we were dealing with a child's funeral and a babys to, indeed 40plus more funerals in the next two years. 


Over the last 23 years we have been busily planting Wetherby and new expressions of the Salvation Army. We have had the amazing experience of leading many young people to an experience of the Saviour.  Another great part of that journey has been in fact sending young adults to train to be officers at WBC, who now are serving God all over this country.

Officership is a most honoured calling.  Its not an easy path, but it is a blessed path. Blessings that are beyond number. 

Above all I still count it a privilege to serve God as an officer. Yes I get very frustrated by our systems and the pace of change. But I still have no doubt I am just where God wants me. 

Im blessed to be known as a Witness For Jesus.  

To all those dear friends who shared two special years wherever you are today, I bless you in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

More Questions

Questions
Questions
Questions......

I'm being bombarded with questions.....


Do you hear what Im saying?

Just what are the answers?


In a world where the place of the Church has been eroded over these last years, and where maybe the Church has forgotten to ask the searching questions, we find ourselves being confronted by a stark reality.  Our reality  is that there appears to be (i dont believe this) a massive chasm of the secular and sacred.


Just how do we respond to the worlds questions and needs?  Especially post election and the massive feelings that have arisen through this.


I sense we face many challenges about church. Its mission effectiveness and even fruitfulness in the days, months and years ahead.

We would do well to just stop.


Stop what you are doing and listen.

Do we know the questions that are being asked?  Or do we suppose that we already know the answers!


Before Im accused of being a heretic, or anti SA and worse anti Church.  Do we dare to assume we are the answer?  To a question, that we may not even have been asked?


Heres what Ive been thinking......

When Jesus listened to the crowd and heard they were hungry, he responded to their questions and needs.
Even though he seemingly had nothing, and he was faced by 5000 he sought to provide the answer.
He used what he had, loaves and a few fish
He asked His Father to honour his faith and provide for the need
And there was more than enough.


We can learn must from what Jesus didnt do also.

He didnt say go away we have nothing
He didnt panic, about not be able to meet the need
He didnt seek to do it on his own (he asked for help, the little)


So...

We need to listen, to the real questions that are being asked.

We need to be brave and courageous in our faith and mission
We must not allow fear to 'paralyse us'


The Church is on earth to proclaim the eternal nature of God and his transforming work of redemption on the earth. 

The question is......is that what its/we are busy doing right now?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Travel Light

Just how much stuff can a family gather over the years?

Im realising many of my colleague officers have done this regularly, we havent!  That has had massive plusses, but right now......well..

Whoever said the best principle in life if to travel light, got it right!


Ironically whilst we still await our next home too be confirmed, Ive been busy packing up the house. Well probably best to say started packing.

There was a great moment at the end of last week.

The new officers, Kelston and Cindy came up to visit their new home and community.  They made me smile, Is this all ours, as they arrived at our front door?   They were a bit aghast as they looked about the four bedrooms, and then the garden.  Kelston made me smile as he said wow that garden should get me fit!  I smiled, I knew exactly what he was thinking. They spent the whole of the night and next day being shown around by Andrea and introduced to key people and shown the town.  They are good people, with a massive heart for God and community, and just so friendly, they will be great.  


They made me smile again when they said we dont have enough stuff to fill this house!  his made me think!  


Why are we carrying so much?


So we have embarked on 'packing up' with military precision,over 22 years of our lives.  The list of boxes is on the computer, all numbered and itemised, and with the destination of where each box should be placed when it arrives and its destination.

But first, we need to get rid, strip right down what we are carrying.


So there are four heaps starting to form,
to take with us,
charity shop,
car boot
dump.


We have got to take this opportunity to redesign our travel.  We need to travel far lighter than we have been.


As I reflect on this obvious connection, Im mindful of how much stuff im carrying physically, emotionally and spiritually that I do not need to hold onto or take with me.

Its time to create a spiritual heap, a recycling heap and a get rid of heap.


So Lord, what do you require of me today....
What do I need for the journey to follow.

Mark 4 18-20 Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed. 

Friday, 8 May 2015

A Wake Up CALL.

Im mindful that people read my blog and in doing so it can prompt personal debate, questions and even sometimes disagreement.


I hope that as I express a sincere desire to communicate the passions of my faith, and seek to live this out in the world today you are left in no doubt where I stand.  


One of the things I love about the Salvation Army throughout history has been its prophetic voice.  I love the way the those early soldiers and officers brought about a radical social reform agenda, because they could not keep silent.


Friends of this I am sure you agree, we cannot keep quiet today!


 



In the UK Grey has become the new colour of the church today!  


The Church has for all to long in this country sat quietly, almost apologetically silent as we have seen society become more and more fragmented and as our social institutions have been systematically dismantled.  The Church as agents of the Kingdom are called to speak out!  To live what they believe.  


Today, my heart is heavy.  I fear for the poor, the broken the marginalised on the back of the nations votes over night.  Im fearful for the next generations, for my children and their childrens children.  Im proud to serve and be part of a prophetic social action movement, like the SA was created to be.



It feels to me like people were fearful of change, and to some extent driven by their own desire for security, or at worst selfishness. 


I am proud that I have grown up in a country where yes we all have the right to express our personal opinions but more than this where we have a social justice history and where the needs of others are thought about and provided for.  Where free health care and education are provided for all.  Each of which are systematically being dismantled at present before our eyes and yet we do not see it?  Speak to the nurses, the teachers, and other vocational professions.


So as i read many christian friends and leaders from across the whole spectrum of Christendom in the UK this morning expressing their views.  I pray that the Church will on mass wake up!  Speak with one voice and actively get engaged within the local and national issues to bring about community transformation through active citizenship that demonstrates love in action.

I pray that the Church will with one voice state its message of hope and transformation in Christ.


(William Booths In Darkest England and The Way Out - Social Reform Agenda of 150 years ago)

As I pray I can only really think of this scripture to reflect on today:


Isaiah 61 The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.
“For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
    that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Possible/Impossible?

In the business of life…..how do you keep Christ crucified first?

I know I think, probably far to much.  But is it really possible to live every moment for Christ?  Or is this an unreal expectation? 
After all we are only human!

Ive chosen to follow Christ crucified.
Ive chosen to live in a covenant relationship with Him
Ive chosen to abandon ‘myself’ and to seek first the Kingdom of God in my words and actions.
But is this realistic?

YES I BELIEVE IT IS!  

But that doesn’t mean its an easy pursuit, indeed i fear the church in the west has made the gospel 'soft', 'palatable' because of our decline over Christendom.  Instead of being brave and declaring the benefits of an abandoned life

In college, as Ive said before I had regular ‘disagreement’ with those officers charged with preparing me for mission and ministry, one would always quote John 21 ‘what is that to you, you follow me’.  Man this officer used to wind me up!!!!!!
Now I quote this so often, daily even, because the primary focus of my life and ministry has to be, needs to be Christ.

The challenge is however people, so often Christian people, and yes to be totally honest the organisation that I serve within, frustrates me beyond belief at times!  (that doesn’t mean I am not supposed to be serving within it).

Annoyingly, yes annoyingly, ive had this confirmed and confirmed in recent months and at present the prophetic voices which have surrounded me keep bombarding me with this reality. That being I have to stay close to Christ, not man.

Im called to be true to the call of Christ…..and if this is in conflict with the vehicle through which I serve then I believe God stirs up within our beings to proclaim this reality.  We are called to live as citizens of the kingdom on earth, distinct and 'salty'.

How do I keep this calling and awareness fresh, in the Present of the Everywhere Present, God!
The question I need to be constantly asking is ‘what do you require of me today, this moment Lord?’  It is so liberating when we live in this reality.  I guess in my language these are the moments when we let God be God, instead of ourselves being god of our life.


So friends, what is God saying to you?  Have you asked him?  Or are you just following the way you are told to go?

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Do you hear?

I sense in my Spirit, God is on the move.....

I sense His Spirit speaking, it seems loud and clear... 

I sense a real excitement at present in the seeming chaos of my life and ministry....

Im reminded of the word CHAORDIC (bringing order out of chaos) as I make those statements above.


This weekend I have been surrounded by the prophetic voice of God.  Then I heard in church this morning this illustration.

When people say they do not hear God speaking its like having  your mobile switched off and you are still expecting to get a call.


God delights to speak to those he loves, borne out of a loving relationship, that needs to be switched on.  Alive!

Yesterday I was at national YWAM  Family Gathering.  It was so good, and I was able to sit in on the main sessions on Saturday morning and listen to the speaker, and boy did I hear from God!

God confirmed so many things.

1. It all starts with love.  Are we still in love with Jesus or have we forgotten our motivation.

2.To many people in church are orphans.  They have forgotten about their Father, and more than that Orphans will multiple orphans because they have forgotten what it feels like to live in relationship

3.That discipleship is all about multiplication not addition.  And that this is a slower way to grow the Kingdom but its the right way and in the long term will bring about greater growth.

eg.1+1=2, 1x1=1, 2+2=4, 2x2= 4 but 3+3=6, 3x3=9......

4, The Body of Christ works at its best when there is Interdependence rather than independence.  The days ahead have to all be about partnering in the gospel

5. That God has called us to be a family based on the love of God and love for each other. If we do not love God and each other we are just a club, not the body of Christ

6. That training of staff is not discipleship.  I can train someone to do a job and yet not love them!


There is a sense of being on the cusp of something new. The unexpected, the not yet experienced.  As such we need to be 'Present in the Presence'.  Listening to the voice of God and then allowing Him to lead us.


As I listened to this, this morning, I smiled.  God is speaking loud and clear.  The challenge if that I need to trust that I hear his voice clearly and then rest in His leading.  I may well need to speak out what Ive heard as a  sign of this trust in Him!



So just what is the Spirit saying to The Church!
We have to rediscover what it is to be in love with Jesus and convey the message of the family of love, rather than living as and creating orphans, people who feel unloved.  
Our primary focus is to the God of love, lived out in the world demonstrated in words and service, to the WHOSOEVER.  Not to just those, who are already in the sheep pen, but to those who need to hear the message of hope and love.

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