Sunday, June 22, 2008


What a Sunday! I feel like I came away having experienced every emotion under the sun! Well not quite but you know what I mean. It was such a joy to share with Ruth and Chris as they publicly declared their faith and their commitment to God and to our Church by becomming Salvation Army soldiers.

Every time I witness a new enrolment, I come away feeling challenged. The articles of war Salvation Army soldiers commit to are big and tough to live by. Richard got it right today when he said its about being sold out for God. Literally, if I took those articles of war as seriously as I should, would my life look the same? I will let them speak for themselves:

Having accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord, and desiring to fulfil my membership of His Church on earth as a soldier of The Salvation Army, I now by God's grace enter into a sacred covenant.

I believe and will live by the truths of the word of God expressed in The Salvation Army's eleven articles of faith.

I will be responsive to the Holy Spirit's work and obedient to His leading in my life, growing in grace through worship, prayer, service and the reading of the Bible.

I will make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world the standard for my life.

I will uphold Christian integrity in every area of my life, allowing nothing in thought, word or deed that is unworthy, unclean, untrue, profane, dishonest or immoral.

I will maintain Christian ideals in all my relationships with others; my family and neighbours, my colleagues and fellow salvationists, those to whom and for whom I am responsible, and the wider community.

I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life.

I will be a faithful steward of my time and gifts, my money and possessions, my body, my mind and my spirit, knowing that I am accountable to God.

I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.

I will be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavouring to win others to Him, and in His name caring for the needy and the disadvantaged.

I will be actively involved, as I am able, in the life, work, worship and witness of the corps, giving as large a proportion of my income as possible to support its ministries and the worldwide work of the Army.

I will be true to the principles and practices of The Salvation Army, loyal to its leaders, and I will show the spirit of salvationism whether in times of popularity or persecution.
I now call upon all present to witness that I enter into this covenant and sign these articles of war of my own free will, convinced that the love of Christ, who died and now lives to save me, requires from me this devotion of my life to His service for the salvation of the whole world; and therefore do here declare my full determination, by God's help, to be a true soldier of The Salvation Army.

Its very easy to read these through and think yep, yep, and yep to them all. But when I really read them and think about my own life as supposedly mirroring these standards, I have to question my commitment as a Salvation Army soldier. In all honesty, I don't do all these things. I don't try hard enough to live a sold out life for God. Whats more, I don't often see that as a big problem - why? Because they are hard to live by so its ok if I fail a bit. Take for instance, 'I will make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world the standard for my life.' What a bold statement that is. Another; 'I will be a faithful steward of my time and gifts, my money and possessions, my body, my mind and my spirit, knowing that I am accountable to God.' I find it so easy to think of some of these things as almost seperate to my faith. I can have God, and still do the things I want to do with my time, or let my mind wander away from God or treat my body however I want and not consider God, or let my spirit become focussed more on what the world thinks than what God thinks. It so easy to make excuses for these things because we live in that sort of culture. But we were also reminded ... 'So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.' Romans 12: 1-2

The point is, have I really been keeping my commitment to soldiership in the Salvation Army? I may be in the minority, but I actually like the military terminology we have in the Army. Why? Because the term 'soldier' suggests a battle - a war - a fight. That is what we are part of, like it or not. When I think of myself as a soldier, it reminds me that I am part of a mission, that there is a purpose to my life beyond that which is right in front of me. But that mission needs me to be committed, to not let other stuff crowd it out. It needs me to take these articles of war seriously. Actually take them seriously - like making it my mission to live them out. I am convinced that if I did this - the passion and motivation in my life would show other people that I am serious about my faith. That my faith is worth being serious about. That it is more than just something I choose to do, or an added extra - it is all my life and it is purposeful.

The response I should have to all this is to repent and start to purposefully make it my mission to live out the articles of war. It would be so easy for me to say I want to and I try to live these out, its just hard, and then I could get away with it. But in all honesty, sometimes I don't try to, or even want to. I feel disappointed in myself that when I go to the enrolment of some good friends, I can't stand with them and say - yes I am fully commited to this too. I feel like a hypocrite - I am a soldier, and yet I am shocked by the articles of war - I have forgotten what they say and what I am meant to be trying to live up to.

I want to say this is a turning point - that I will now be purposeful about living out these articles of war - but will I? I don't want to just say it and then not do it. I want to mean it - but I know that tomorrow I am going to wake up and want something different. That I am going to want to live by the standards of the world. That I am going to want to become all that they ask me to be - and that it is likely that I will be more scared of not meeting the worlds standards that I am of not meeting God's.

Um - to post this or not to post this...that is the question. I guess it looks like I need some lovely friends to pray for me. Sorry for the bleeuurrgghh! I just needed to be honest and get it out. Thanks for reading. Love you all.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What a disappointment!

Don't you hate it when you watch a brilliant advert, and then are disappointed with the product being advertised, or when the product being advertised doesn't quite seem to match the advert itself! Well I just found a new frustrating one!...

There was this great advert - which showed a scene of a woman walking around her bedroom at night holding a baby, whilst a man was asleep in the bed. A man's voice stated "I promise not to pretend I'm asleep when our baby wakes up at 3am or 4am or 5am. I promise never to say 'My Mum thinks you're holding the baby wrong'. I promise not to mention that sometimes when I kiss your beautiful neck it smells of perfume and baby sick. I promise not to join in if my mates sing the theme tune from the Omen, although it is quite funny. I promise to do at least my fair share of nappy changing and night feeding. I promise to tell you often how proud I am of you and how you've made me the happiest dad on the planet. All this I pledge without any pressure from you, my lovely, lovely missus".... Then a voice-over stated "Understanding parents, understanding babies. For infant nutrition trust the experts. SMA, we know."

...And there was me waiting for them to tell me where to find a man like that!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I am asking you as a friend!

I went to Shirley Salvation Army today in Southampton to visit my little bro and some old friends. The young people led the meeting in the morning, and the theme was about Jesus calling us friends - based on the passage of scripture John 15:13-15 which says:

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

That small phrase, "You are my friends if you do what I command" really caught my attention today. In the past I have read this and almost sucked in my breath whilst reading it because it sounds very much like it is saying, I will call you my friend IF you do what I command. For the first time today I heard this completely differently. Nobody re-parahrased it for me, it wasn't read from a different version, nothing was different, except what I heard. Today I heard, "When I ask you to do things, I ask you as a friend." I know that's not what the passage says, and I don't claim that that is what it means either. Usually I would dismiss these thoughts straight away because they are not accurately reflecting what was written. However, today I couldn't stop thinking about it.

It turned my mind to that phrase that people often use when they want something from someone or if they are desperate for something from someone, and when they are refused they say, 'please, I am asking you as a friend.' The addition of that little phrase (correct me if I'm wrong) sometimes softens peoples hearts to the request being made of them - because it turns it into something more than just a simple 'cold' request. It becomes a matter of friendship and need - it adds 'warmth' to the request.

I wondered if sometimes we can treat things that God asks us to do as cold commands. I wonder if sometimes He asks us things 'as a friend' that we treat as commands and therefore feel less willing to do. It made me contemplate the difference between a command God gives and a request a friend makes. Usually if a friend makes a request of us using that phrase, it would be because there is something we can give to them or do for them that they don't have or can't do for themselves. With God - this is not the case. God does not need us like a friend might. If we say no it won't mean that God goes without, or is left at a loss or is left broken in any way. In fact, is it not often the case that the requests God makes of us, end up being for us, or at least for the world, rather than for Him? Therefore, can we really consider Him 'a friend'? Is friendship not a mixture of give and take? But what can we truly give to God? I know we say we can give Him our worship, our praise, our lives and so on, but not doing so doesn't make Him a lesser being. Basically He doesn't need us in the same way that we need him or we need our friends because, simply, God is God. Can we call Him friend - or is it just that He is a friend to us, though we aren't friends to Him?

I know this seems complicated, and unnecessary, and I guess I just need to let it go and not worry about the detail (Liz), but this cropped up because there is something I know God is asking of me, and I am having a really hard time obeying. I wondered if thinking about it in the sense of God saying, "look Kirsty, I am asking as a friend, please would you..." would make a difference. Would I find it easier to do it if I felt that it meant something to God, rather than it just being a command. But I don't want to assume that is how it is being said if its not, and I just don't get it. God is The Almighty. How dare I assume my obedience means something to Him personally - other than that He is God and therefore I should obey.

I don't really know how to finish this post off - Umm, the post is now over?!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do you ever feel like someone is trying to tell you something?

Seriously, this is the fourth time in less than a week that I have heard some sort of message based around Esther. Has the world suddenly gone Esther crazy? Has anyone else noticed an increase in Esther phenomenon recently?

I've been Esthered! And I am still not sure why!

Ok, in honesty, I do know why..."God has called each of us to a purpose greater than ourselves. Know that it will require death before life can be given to this purpose. It must be His life that lives, not ours."

But its SOOOO HARD!!!!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Quiet Reassurance

I absolutely love it when this happens: I have been praying for something for a while, (not like every day, but occasionally over the course of almost a year) which I found out last night had been answered very very specifically about two months ago without me even knowing it. I love it when God works stuff out behind the scenes - when He answers a prayer almost exactly in the way you asked it - except it was quietly - and I didn't even need to do anything. God just took care of it. (I especially love it when that happens!)

Something I find amazing about God is the little surprises he throws in every now and then that kind of keep you going. In all honsety the 'faith thing' is kind of tough sometimes - not just within myself - but I find it difficult when I see other people struggling with their faith too. I love these little confirmations that we get every now and then that are quietly reassuring. God is in control.

Thanks God.