Brexit and Trump

We live in an age where Brexit and Trump have occurred in one year. It is a seemingly impossible situation and caused by ageing middle class whites who voted in exasperation at the muddled, ignorant and incompetent political classes, who were ill-informed of the feelings of their fellow men. The MPs were out of touch with reality; blind to the rising fury that seethed under the surface of apparent quietude and compliance.

Those who passed through the last great war, are now dying normally in their eighties and nineties, and their middle-aged children are recalling tales of the privation and hardship of their parents’ generation and realise the adversity they suffered, and perceive the deprivation that ensued. Now, they see the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer and immigration changing the nature and composition of society; many parts of the country is no longer English or in America – American. Enough is enough. Both Brexit and Trump are the result of protest voting. The seeds are now growing in many more countries. The last days are coming. Rebellion and anarchy are not too far distant. If Brexit is delayed or overthrown by political and judicial manipulation there could be riots in our beloved land.

This spirit has now entered the church in protest to modern worship, as the older people crave for hymns and songs with tunes they can sing. Many congregations now watch the platform party in a kind of vicarious worship before dimmed lights in the wider auditorium and spot lights on the platform, as the entertainment begins. Thankfully HICC has retained its policy of spiritual songs and hymns with vibrant tunes that all can sing. I had the privilege of preaching there on 6th November and I would say that 80/90% of the congregation were active in worship, in some churches I have been in, I would say that number is sadly reversed.  About 10/20% were worshipping the rest watching the platform. I can well understand that latter number voting with their feet.

I have built my ministry on worship, from the time an attendee in my first pioneer church left after the morning service and, shaking hands with my first wife said, “I thought the organ was particularly beautiful today,”  to which my wife agreed, but then realised we didn’t have an organ. God’s angels had come down to play for us! I perceived then that worship is not for God, but for us, for He existed before man was created and he could well do without us. Worship is a transforming process; we are being changed imperceptibly from glory to glory daily as we wait on and love God in adoration. Prayer is the articulation of human need, praise the acclamation of divine deeds and worship the adoration of divine worth. They mingle and hold together. Someone said: We have become so desensitised by the brutality of life, that we have lost the wonder of worship. So very sad.

“A self-conscious holiness is a contradiction in terms,” (Washington Gladden) for true worship eyes but God. I never think of holiness, I just walk with God, He can convict me any time He wishes, and I’ll just exalt His matchless name. It was J. C. Ryle who said: “The best public worship is that which produces the best private Christianity.” But, for many people it is metamorphosis verses masquerade – you cannot form a butterfly by pinning wings on a worm. True worship will change us, it deals with private motives and physical urges. Nevertheless, praise and worship supplies energy or power to life, it is like being connected to the national grid, internally.

After one beautiful time of worship in Kensington Temple, where I was the associate minister, something happened that inspired me, and I have never forgotten it. There was a violent storm and the roof, being pitched at 50 degrees shed the water so fast the gutters could not contain it and it not only overflowed them but also dripped inside and fell on the congregation in microscopic particles pervading everywhere and the internal lights illuminated it as a yellow mist – like glorious light, and God whispered to me “I have put my glory here.” That’s the result of true worship; heaven awaits our presence, our hearts long for such an atmosphere. I think the problem with some modern worship is that the platform party love their ministry more than the congregation.

 

 

Divine Tsunami

It seems that in medieval times lent was observed with fasting but not on Sundays, for this was a day of feasting. I do not enforce fasting, [as if I could!] but do encourage any kind which appeals to the individual, for there are many ways of fasting. I remember one such Lenten period in HICC, it was a special prayer meeting midweek.  My usual intention, when senior minister, was to let the whole congregation pray together, then the men and women would separate and the come together towards the end of the hour. I suggested an hour because Jesus said “Could you not watch with me one hour.” The men were to pray not only for God’s presence amongst us but additionally for the establishment of the men’s work; thus the division. However God had other ideas. We worshipped and then broke into mixed groups and prayed for the enhancement of the vision and for His overwhelming power to invade the church.

We then came together to worship again, there it stayed as God turned up, and we were overtaken by His awe-inspiring presence amongst us. A crescendo of noise erupted as our hearts were made alive to His glorious love that was spread abroad animating our souls and stirring our spirits in response.  Such times cannot be manufactured, it is of God who quickens our spirit together.

As I was glorifying God and speaking in tongues I prayed for the interpretation and this is what God gave me. “We often long for matters and happenings in the physical realm to be paralleled in the spiritual realm, thus a Tsunami that invades a country would be echoed in its spiritual life with God’s harbour wave sweeping all before it.  Not with disaster, destruction and death but with divine energy, brushing aside all sin and sorrow, leaving purity and peace. The similarity is possible to understand, as that forceful wave is unstoppable. And God, if he decided to move, can do what he wants, when he wants to whom he wants. Nothing can stop him. But, before a Tsunami there must be an earthquake, an eruption of severe magnitude, with trembling and shaking.

Thus, we as a people, might have to pass through unmitigated trouble before the wave strikes, knowing the misfortune of loss and death to self. Experience a place where we are left with the bare necessities realising that value in life does not consist of possessions. An oft sung song in the assembly is “he gives and takes away” and this indeed may be so, for to have the one there must be the other.

In such a Tsunami we lose our history, as birth and marriage certificates are swallowed up, and icons of past memories are destroyed. Although we may lament such loss we must also realise that God can write a new history that can exceed anything that has gone before. Even as the church can look back with warmth of feeling at what God has already done, we must not depend on that memory, but in looking forward learn that it can be swept away in the new surge of life and a new one can be written that will amaze our faith and belief.”   

There was an inward urge to stay on past the allotted hour, but the folk had started their day early, as Londoners do. They had come straight from work to the church, and needed to go home, so I closed the meeting. The ecstatic utterance had covered much and needed meditation, “He gives and takes away” is fundamental to our personal individual history, to consider that would take a lifetime.  If a divine tsunami struck us what would or could we lose, and how would we react to the Lord’s will? What clutter has been piled against our spiritual life that constitutes the “cares of this world” which spoils the seed?

In a practical parable, when I moved to Solihull I took much of my furniture I had in Hampton, it was in good condition, I was used to it, and it suited my aesthetic and design needs. Later, I married my second wife and she sold her flat and now we had other furniture and personal possessions that needed sorting; life has become a process of throwing or giving things away. We keep the local charity shop well stocked! I downsized and that is a good lesson to learn, what can we do without so that God’s Spirit can take possession?   If we don’t, perhaps God will!

Tall Enough

Many years ago whilst working in a drawing office I found that my boss was slightly taller than me standing exactly 6’3” [1.905] and I was one eighth shorter than him [I’m talking imperial measure for that is what we used at that time]. To prove this we stood back to back and a ruler was placed across our heads. It sloped downwards just marginally in my direction which proved he was a tad taller. It’s good that I was not affected by this or else I would have a major mental issue over that discovery!  A modern sociologist could argue my life was blighted by such a revelation. Just one-eighth or about 3mm made the difference.  I came up short.  No amount of stretching would increase my height; it was 1.902 and his 1.905 metres. Perhaps if I had been put on a medieval rack it might have made a difference!

My grandfather was 6’2.5” [1,882] and the smallest in his family of seven boys. The tallest was 6’7.” I clearly follow Grandad.  I have twin grandsons who are both six feet at just 16, and might exceed me in stature – we shall see. They clearly follow me as I followed Grandad. I have one son who is six feet, and my other grandsons have not fully grown. However, research has concluded that mankind is shrinking. I have just read an article that explains we are getting smaller and that includes our brains.  Cambridge University experts believe mankind is now past its peak, and that modern-day people are ten percent smaller and shorter than their hunter-gatherer ancestors who also had larger brains.  This concept now reverses perceived wisdom that we are taller and larger.

This change has occurred over the last 10,000 years and is due, say scientists, to agriculture with restricted diets and urbanisation compromising health and leading to the spread of disease.  Fossils found in Israeli caves dating back 120,000 to 200,000 years reveal a people who were tall and muscular and this continued until relatively recent times.  An average person 10,000 years ago weighed between 12st 8lb and 13st 6lb – today the average is 11st and 12st 8lb. They say this change started about 9,000 years ago for, whilst farming would have made more food available, it was restricted in its vitamins. In China for instance the early farmers relied on cereals such as buckwheat, rice and maize, all of which lack niacin, a B vitamin vital for growth.

The brains of those men who lived 20,000 years ago measured 1,500 cubic centimetres but now they measure 1,350 cubic centimetres a decrease the size of a tennis ball; female brains have decreased proportionately.  This has not made us less intelligent, but helped to use our resources better.  However current levels of intelligence can never be measured against past levels; they could have been less intelligent but may have been wiser, and had a better God consciousness.

This leads me to say “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? [Matt 6:27]. You can’t, so stop worrying, and it further says in context “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing.”  [Matt 6:25-26]. People fret about time-restricted things, but unfortunately not about eternal things.

People have over the generations struggled with who they are, endeavouring to change their shape and size, and clothe their frame with garments that enhance their figures and accentuate their beauty.  This vain stab at personal glamour and glory tends to consume their time and money inordinately as they fritter life away on non-essentials.  I am sure hunter-gatherers were not interested in fashion parades; perhaps they were too intelligent for that!

We may be smaller today than in previous generations, but let us not forget it’s how big we are inside that counts. Let the Bible speak: “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” [Eph 4:13]. He fills eternity, he can fill you.  You can be like a Tardis, bigger inside than outside.

AN ANCHOR, SURE AND STEADFAST

I am delighted to welcome you to HICC today and pray that you will feel the warmth and acceptance of the family of God in this international fellowship. May the presence and peace of the Lord surround you as we worship together. Allow your heart and mind to be enriched as the glory of the Lord is revealed in word, prayer and song. May the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit minister into the depth of your inner being and may you leave this place having been healed, restored and equipped to live the life God has called you to live.

IN TIMES LIKE THESE WE NEED AN ANCHOR

Growing up in a seaside town meant I could see the fishing boats returning to the safety of the harbour on a morning. I could watch with fascination as the night’s catch was hauled up onto the rough cobbled walkway next to the shed on the pier where the auction of the catch would take place. Men with sea-weathered faces were so thankful to be back in the safety of the harbour especially in the winter months when the seas could be so treacherous.

In later years, as a singer, I would share the stage with a male voice choir made up of fishermen who sang from experience the words of the old hymn “will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their wings of strife? When the strong tides lift, and cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain. We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.”

In times of uncertainty the Christian has a sure and firm foundation for life and a future that rests upon the sovereignty of Almighty God. Our God is eternal and unchanging, He is the same yesterday, today and forever and He can be fully trusted with your life today, tomorrow and forever. He is all knowing, all powerful and everywhere present. He sustains all things by His powerful Word. We are so prone to limit God by our finite knowledge and understanding. Our natural thinking causes us to measure ourselves and life by the temporary and immediate, however, the Word teaches us to measure ourselves and life in the light of who God is and His eternal work accomplished for us in Christ Jesus.

God has established his eternal purpose and set it in place for you. Christ, who is the Word, is the foundation for you. He is your anchor. Your God is Almighty and holds you in the palm of His hand. While we use human description to describe God who is spirit, the fact is, He is not limited by our frailty or the weakness of our humanity. Although God became man in Jesus and we must recognise He was fully man and fully God, the fact is, He is unrestricted and unlimited by flesh. The impartation of this revelation transforms our view of the Almighty and enables us to see from an eternal perspective for ‘no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit’.

The things of God can only be understood by the Spirit because they are spiritual and not natural. Natural man can never arrive at spiritual truth through his own understanding. Only through revelation of the Word by Holy Spirit can eternal knowledge be given to man.

I communicate these truths to help us to grasp how immense and almighty our God truly is. Let this knowledge lift up your heart and mind today because no work is too hard for him. No weapon formed against you can defeat our God because if God is for us who can be against us. ANCHOR YOUR LIFE TO THE GOD WHO IS YOUR SURE AND FIRM FOUNDATION.