26 November 2009

Fight the good fight!

Fight the good fight with all thy might,
Christ is thy strength and Christ thy right;
lay hold on life, and it shall be
thy joy and crown eternally.
John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-1875)

Having just been reminded that it's been a while since I have blogged, I thought I'd kick off again with a few thoughts about Soldiership that have been at the back of my mind for a while. It's always interesting to see how often military symbolism crops up in discussions about the Christian life and walk. I remember singing 'Fight The Good Fight' at my earliest days at school, never dreaming I would be signed up to serve in the ranks of The Salvation Army two decades later...

It's now 21 years since I signed my Soldier's Covenant (Articles Of War) ... a long time! However, there's quite a few folk I could name from my years of service who aren't to be found in our ranks any more, preferring to attend other Christian churches... So why is it that I'm still here - why do I feel that the Army is the place for me?

There's more to follow on Soldiership - and what it represents in the 21st Century ...

2 Timothy 2:3 (New International Version)
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

17 November 2009

Accentuate the positive

"You've got to accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
And latch on to the affirmative,
Don't mess with Mister In-Between..."

(Johnny Mercer)

It's been one of those days today. One where I've really struggled to keep positive... I've put on a brave face but it's wearing a bit thin tonight. You know, sometimes folk don't realise how a throwaway comment can really hit a raw nerve; how it can really hurt someone deep down. I could have expected such a low point I suppose, after such a high at the weekend.

Perhaps tomorrow will see a turning point. I'm praying very hard for such a change. Or at least the strength to stay positive. God is good.

16 November 2009

The Way Of Holiness

Isaiah 35 (New International Version)
1-2 The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendour of our God.
3-4 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you."
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it
9-10 No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Footnote: (a) or 'the simple will not stray from it'

(Bible verses from the Prayer Room at Territorial Congress this year).

14 November 2009

Stray thoughts from the Territorial Congress

I am pleased to be in Bristol this weekend for The Salvation Army's Territorial Congress. Although it's a long weekend it's one I really enjoy... meeting loads of people I know! One high spot is when people encourage and challenge you. Here's just a few of the things said to me today that I need to note and unpack later:

"...it's not what you know it's who you know..."
"...is the way you have chosen easy?"
"...are you the only one who does this?"
"...whatever you do, stay close to Him".

More later...

8 November 2009

Being Me

Do I attract you? Do I repulse you with my queasy smile?
Am I too dirty? Am I too flirty?
Do I like what you like?

I got to be wholesome, I could be loathsome
Guess I'm a little bit shy
Why don't you like me?
Why don't you like me without making me try?

I tried to be like Grace Kelly (mmmm)
But all her looks were too sad (ahhh ahhh)
So I tried a little Freddie (mmm)
I've gone identity mad!

I could be brown, I could be blue
I could be violet sky
I could be hurtful, I could be purple
I could be anything you like
Gotta be green, Gotta be mean
Gotta be everything more
Why don't you like me?
Why don't you like me?
Why don't you walk out the door!
(lyrics from 'Grace Kelly' by Mika - written by Mika (Mica Penniman), Jodi Marr, John Merchant, Dan Warner)

The problem with trying to be me is sometimes confused by the fact that other people tell you how you should feel - they won't let you be yourself. I used to find it easier to go along with their way of thinking - to 'go with the flow' rather than to take a stand and be true to yourself. Recently I've tried to take that stand and do what I feel is right - it happened twice this weekend. I feel that what I did was right. It just wasn't that easy... does it get easier with time? I can see myself becoming more and more unpopular!

The use of the Mika song lyric was because that was the song playing on the car CD when we pulled up at home this afternoon. The song is satirical, about musicians who try to reinvent themselves to be popular. "Why don't you like me?"

John 15:17-19 (New International Version)
17 This is my command: Love each other.
18 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

2 November 2009

Heading towards year end

2009 has almost run its course, and this is a time of the year when everybody's thoughts focus on Christmas and New Year. Well, most of us... Where does the time go?

Well, looking back on a busy 2009 I am pleased to report that I have achieved so many of my personal goals for this year. A few major ones have eluded me - but not for the want of trying. However, I am further reminded that the year is not yet over. There is still time... One final push may see us to further victory!

No retreating, Hell defeating, Shoulder to shoulder we stand;
God look down. with glory crown our conquering band.
Victory for me
Through the blood of Christ, my Saviour;
Victory for me
Through the precious blood.

chorus of SASB 702 (Herbert Howard Booth)