It takes effort to prepare and preach. Part of that effort is applying God’s Word to the preacher’s own life. For me I write it out. Often the bedrock of the public message is found in these private reflections. Almost always they stay private.
On Sunday lots of people asked for prayer – thank you. Anxiety is all our struggle. Paralysed and sad because of a heart-turmoil is everyone’s struggle.
Below is part of my own application of the message from John 14, written last week during preparations. The talk is here: http://www.thebeaconchurch.com/2013/10/15/john-1333-1431-confronting-anxiety-with-confidence-in-christ-alex-harris-13-10-13/
“I worry. I am anxious about things – some I should be. But most I shouldn’t. Jesus where are you? My courage is half of what it should be. Courage to bear the cost? Courage to sacrifice my comfort? Courage to fight for the things worth fighting for – Hannah; the boys; joy in God; marriages that are marvellous and parenting that has legacy and a church that impacts; truths that are hard and beautiful like diamonds.
The stark reality of tens of thousands of people in Stafford; 10s millions in the UK; incalculable multitudes globally unreached is an escalating disturbance for me. More and more it troubles me. I am convicted and ashamed and motivated. If I love the lost, I will seek to save them from perishing. If I love the glory of God, I will work to overcome it being side-lined. There is an unseen war of terrible destruction, and I am inactive. I worry.
Is this a slow-freeze, tactical victory of Satan—the result of a kind of nerve gas that puts the soldiers of Christ into an anxious stupor, paralysed and seemingly asleep? It makes us sound strident or be silent. It makes us accept sins that our deemed acceptable. Its means a momentary glance at the Bible satisfies our shrunken appetites.
Gloriously it is not us all – there are mighty figures of men and woman courageous and committed. Sentinels. They call me forward.
Gloriously it does not need to be any of others. Jesus has the solution. Thank you! John 14 is so hopeful. O that your Word would work and unleash us from anxious inactivity to courageous, battle-hard combat.
How can I get myself awake to a wartime mentality? Is there some way to break the spell? Rid myself of the paralysing worry – which Jesus says we all suffer from. The normal experience of a world where ‘Jesus is not here!’ A great army asleep with mighty weapons in their limp hands and armour rusting in their tents. Sleeping in the fields all around one of Satan’s strongholds. Can an eyelid blink open? A head lift and look around? Then another and another. O that a strange awakening would spread through the field – a relieving of anxiety; a strengthening of those who are called to live with troubled-hearts. Muscles flexed. Armour fitted. Swords sharpened. Shields polished. Can eyes meet with silent excitement and steel-hard resolution? The generals gather to strategise for the attack? ‘Awake O sleeper, arise and let Christ shine on you.’ O Lord would you do this wonderful work through your Word this week.
How it would affect our:
· Prayer: if we were frontline soldiers gripping the radio that will unleash the saving air strike?
· Church: if we saw ourselves as an equipped and charged, liberating army? Our central gathering the moment to be re-armed and re-fuelled and re-commissioned?
· Family: if we saw our parenting as the spearhead of this battle, raising tomorrow’s generals and warriors and lancers and artillery.
· Money: if we saw our money as unleashing the very hosts of heaven into this war.
· Marriage: if we saw our partner as the unique comrade Christ has united us with – the one who will fight hell and high-waters to pull our damaged, wounded body back to the great healer; the one who will stand tall beside you under the most furious bombardment; the one who will first share the victory with you.
Image a church and a denomination and a movement that functioned more like an England united, resolute, and angered by the Nazi blitz than an England causally quarrelling about reality show stars and celebrity clothes and football scores. John 14 unleashes that kind of person. May it unleash me, Lord.”
Wanting to be a soldier,