Saturday, November 24, 2018

Project Fear Throttles Hope and Peace

There's not much fun in British politics at the moment. Was there ever? No surprises there then! But Brexit is like two toddlers riding towards an unknown future with terror on their faces. Maybe one really wanted to be there - like the Brexiteers - but the other wanted to stay safe with Mummy - "comme les Remainers" (pardon my French!) - but now they are careering together towards who knows what! When the whole debate about Brexit first arose in 2016 and the nation faced the now infamous referendum, the term "Project Fear" was coined. It was used to describe attempts by the government to head off Brexit and get people to vote remain. Did it fail?  Not really, because now FEAR is the watchword of both sides! If Britain goes with the deal Mrs May has negotiated, or leaves without a deal, the people are being fed a diet of fear. As Christians, we really need to make sure that "Fear doesn't Make the Decisions Around here!"

People are very afraid today. Fear is endemic in our society, as Jesus prophesied it would be in the last days. ‘Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world’ (Lk. 21:26). Fear is a powerful force in its own right, whether the thing feared comes to pass or not. It can grip our hearts and minds and make it impossible to enjoy life - like those toddlers unable to see the fun they could be having on the roundabout! You may have heard it said that New Testament says 'don't be afraid' 366 times - one for every day of the year and one for a leap year!

Whatever happens in Westminster or Brussels God is still on his throne and is not wringing his hands in fear that the wrong decision will be made. Extremists on both sides may accuse me of sitting on the fence or failing to discern real dangers, but I prefer to trust the God who says that he loves us and has an exciting plan for our lives.

In my book Braving the Storm I offer a list of 10 fear-fighting Bible texts and I will include them here. Go on - choose to trust God and don't be afraid to enjoy the ride!

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Deuteronomy 20:3b,4
Do not be faint-hearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before [your enemies], for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.
1 Chronicles 28:20
…Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you ...
Isaiah 43:1,2
But now, this is what the LORD says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’
Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 118:6
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Proverbs 29:25
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
Hebrews 13:5,6
…because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’
2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
Psalm 56:3,4.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Brexit-bruised Premier finds Comfort Close at Home!

I don't think the British Prime Minister has much to laugh about this weekend! After the kind of week she has endured at the hands of her Conservative Party colleagues - never mind the Opposition - Mrs May is probably quite bruised. You have to admire her, though, for her tough-minded determination to push through with what she believes to be the best for the country, whether or not she turns out to have been right. It remains to be seen whether she will survive in office for very much longer, but I think she probably will do so, and yet confound the ranks of snorting behemoths that confront her.

In a Daily Mail interview Mrs May puts her ability to withstand criticism and opposition down to the sterling support of her husband, Philip May. His cooking, encouragement and unflappable belief in her, combined with his quiet and loving support of her, have got the Prime minister this far, and may well see her through. If this proves to be the case, then the first couple of the UK are to be commended for offering a role model of marriage in a period of intense activity and crisis.

I know how much Diane's support has meant to me throughout our life together over these last 46 years of marriage, and especially through the two decades of acute and chronic pain from which we are just emerging. I would wish that kind of support for you and for all I know that are passing through high pressure circumstances right now. The bible says that two are better than one and asks "how can one be warm alone?" If you are on your own, seek out company with others who share your faith and perhaps your loneliness, as we simply weren't made to face this difficult thing called life alone.

Well done Mr May!  But I don't think your work is over yet!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Uprising in a Great Cause

It was great to be in Vazon Church and hear the stories of some of a group of young people and their leaders who went to the national gathering of young people run by the Elim churches in UK last weekend. They obviously had a really great time and were deeply moved by the large crowd of young people from all over the country who were worshipping, receiving Christian teaching and having fun together. One after another told of the impact that it made on them to feel the love and sense the dynamics of so many young folk sharing their enthusiasm for Jesus.

This comes against the backdrop of rising levels of crime amongst young people, especially in our large cities. It also sets into stark relief the statistics about youth suicide which are far too high in our Western society and reflect the hopelessness and alienation that some youngsters feel. Even this week a couple of older teens made a suicide pact and decided to throw themselves from the roof of a Spanish shopping centre. The young man went first and died but his girlfriend hesitated and was grabbed by security guards, but she had to wrestled to the roof level to prevent her also killing herself. Our children are in desperate need of the love of God and the life-changing message of the good news about Jesus.

I became a Christian in my mid-teens and children and young people are open to choosing for themselves at an age when sadly some churches write them off as irrelevant to their worship or way of doing things. They are not the church of tomorrow - they are very much part of the church of today - and we need to make provision for them before it's too late. Thank God, the Uprising did just that, and we must pray that every young person, and older leader, who made a decision there to follow Christ more closely, will not only stick to that commitment but share the good news with others so that they too can be spared the hopelessness that seems so obvious in a lost generation.