Rocking Back and Forth

I came across this in the daily paper:  “Rail instructions for a Yorkshire Charter day trip to Leeds: Each passenger travels forward on one leg and backwards on the other”!  Seems they must be standing still, or rocking on the spot. That’s what I hope I never do. It’s usually grandad who rocks in his chair, sitting quietly on the veranda in the evening of his life and of the day. Or, people under great stress issue nonverbal clues as to what is going on in their lives. Such repetitive behaviour like a metronome is calming as a person zones out, oblivious to the world and its anxiety. Apparently it stimulates the vestibular senses and is soothing.

Thankfully, for me, life still stretches ahead with prospect, and the sunset hasn’t arrived.  Unfortunately, there are many people and churches who have already reached this stage and have decided that twilight is imminent. Once HICC starts rocking on the spot, it’s time for me to move on to another challenge. Someone said to me recently, “We have noticed tension in your preaching.” There is no tension or stress in the aged, they have reached contentment.  This must mean I’ve still got life!

But, let’s get serious.  I analysed that statement — did I have tension? — Possibly, but could it not be passion? What’s the difference? — Tension is stress, and stress is necessary for life.  Passion is a life aflame with feeling, and that is also necessary — combine the two — and you’ve got me. The tension of delivering God’s words in an understandable manner and a passion for God that dims not. I once asked a new person to the church, why they came, what had attracted them to the service? Their reply was interesting, it was “because of the passion in the preaching.”

We all have dreams, expectations and desires.  Many people never fulfil them.  We all look forward to inhabit the perfect life designed by God and don’t want to miss anything.  Time is getting short, days are racing ahead, there’s a hint, just a hint of dusk, and the Promised Land has many hills, rivers, coastlands and mountains to traverse.  Dusk is undefinable for there is no measure for when darkness has come. Half-light is confusing. In the apprehension of that discernment is a problem of perception and definition.

Sometimes I think that people and churches lose their positive outlook and the thankful spirit evaporates. In our own case we started at St. Cuthbert’s, a borrowed Anglican building, gained a lovely home at 205 Station Road — a four storey Victorian house built 1908, and then onwards to the Safari Cinema and eventually the new build at the 205 site. What a blessing that was and is. We may have forgotten the progress God has given us, and long for the leeks and the onions of Egypt’s thraldom. Whilst I’m reaching for the glory there are some who grumble at the present blessing.  They don’t want bigness, preferring smallness, content to rock on the veranda, watching the sun set on the whitened fields of harvest — it causes tension and arouses passion.

Peter, James and John were rocking backwards and forwards on Transfiguration Mount as they saw the glory in Christ, and wanted to build tabernacles — but glory must be also shrouded in humanity and be underwritten by mission – broken lives need divine intervention and improvement.  There are too many rocking starts in the modern church, back and forwards, all it achieves is a groove and the only difference between a groove and a grave is the depth! We must always be onward, for God said to Joshua “There is very much land yet to possess,” and so there is. We have no time to rock back and forth and induce soothing feelings of contentment, the fields are white unto harvest. There will come a time when physically we can do little more than rock back and forth, but now we have strength and should have purpose – the night commeth; watchman what of the night?

 

FIGHTING FEAR

Fear is the black spot on the rose leaf of joy, the slag tip on the horizon of expectation and the limp in the onward march of life.  Fear blights, scars and cripples people’s lives to such an extent that they only live to half their full potential.  As the world approaches the end time when God will wrap up the ages like a folded garment, fear will increase: “men’s hearts failing them for fear…” [Luke 21:26] ‑ It is a sign of the times. But an angel appeared at advent season and said “Fear not”

It all began in Eden [Genesis 3:10] when Adam, sought by God, replied to his exposure with these words “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”  Sin is the root cause of fear and when it grips us it exposes us. The Bible tells us not to fear 365 times, one for each day of the year, so it must be commonplace in the routine of living.  It also implies that if a command is given then there must be an enabling power to perform.

Where FAITH is operative fear is bound to fail and it is one of several answers to this perennial problem.  Let us therefore consider the different types of fear and how we can deal effectively with them, so that we can live an overcoming Christian life. The normal Christian can cope with sorrow, a mild touch of depression and will battle with sin daily, yet in fear is an enemy that threatens peace and security.  It gnaws away at the inward man and erodes or rusts [Psalm 37:8] his life support down to dangerous limits.

Built into every person is a self-preservation mechanism that ensures that they avoid foolish actions which would cause premature death. It is this God‑given safety device that helps us live out our natural life in a right kind of fear.   It is based on death, which underlies many of our fears.  This is a moderated anxiety that cautions us to behave in a manner which will assure our longevity.  Properly handled this type of fear can bring release and establish patterns of behaviour which will render living less hazardous.

Carelessness is a problem that can soon be rectified by an accident, and if a person were to fear the consequence of a road accident they would drive with more than a modicum of caution.  Natural fear if used rightly is not oppressive or dominating, but a necessary part of humanity.

 Although the Christian does not fear death, he does fear the process of death ‑ the pain of disease.  Where natural fear becomes a phobia it needs casting out in God’s name [1 John 4:18] the words mean to “throw out:” see [Rev.12:9; Mark 16:17].   It has become unbalanced and it is possible that demonic spirits are affecting it.

Thus, fear of sickness can produce symptoms that appear authentic and can also open a door for sickness to commence.  A slight pain is magnified and what was at first innocent becomes exaggerated into something terminal in our thought realm, and it is there where many of our fears have to be controlled, and as we put on the “mind of Christ” [Phil. 2:5; Rom. 12:1; Phil. 4:7,8] we will have victory over this enemy.

Unbalanced fears result in many side effects, which destroy and dissipate strength and ability and result in unhappiness. We feel a failure because we cannot cope, we become stressed coming under severe tension, losing our judgment and we cannot think properly. We also suffer from insomnia in varying degrees and become incapable of making decisions — our body begins to suffer.

Therefore we need to fight fear supplanting our natural fear with the fear of the Lord.  “The FEAR of the Lord is CLEAN enduring forever” [Psalm 19:9] “He encampeth round about them that FEAR Him” [Psalm 34:7]. “The fear of the Lord is a FOUNTAIN of life” [Prov.14:27]. Keeping the cup full [1 John 4:18; Psalm 23:5]; full of Jesus, full of love! [Phil.7, 8]. Cultivating God’s presence [Psalm 23:4; Isa. 43:5; Matthew 14:22‑35]. Nothing bad can live in His presence.

We need to dress in the amour of God [Eph. 6:13] especially the “helmet of Salvation” [Rom. 13. 12‑14; Eph. 5:18; 6:10] and set the alarm system [1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:16] to detect the intruding thoughts that are trespassing.

Lastly, we need to praise positively in all circumstances [Psalm 34:1, 4; 103:1; Heb.13:15; Hosea 14:2], remembering that God’s will is perfect and any circumstance in His will is always for our good [Rom. 8:31‑39].