Tag Archive: God


Mainstay

Reading through the Psalms in the New English Bible of 1970, I came across this phrase: “The Lord: the mainstay of my life” – and though perhaps not a literal ‘translation’ the nautical imagery nevertheless conveys the truth that God is the Chief Support of human life – that apart from Him human beings tend to fall apart, become vulnerable in the storms of life, and are prone to instability & ultimate shipwreck – not glorious prospects.

A stay (on a sailing ship) is part of the standard rigging used to support or stabilize the mast, taking the form of a large strong rope or steel wire/rod extending from the upper end of each mast and running down towards the deck of the vessel. Wikipedia states: “The object … is to prevent the masts from falling down, but the stays also prevent springing, when the ship is pitching deep.” – that is, providing stability in an otherwise unstable environment. Here’s a visual of a typical ship’s ‘stay’:

In general usage, the Cambridge Dictionary defines mainstay as, “the most important part of something, providing support for everything else“, while the Collins Dictionary states: “if you describe something as the mainstay of a particular thing, you mean that it is the most basic part of it.

Therefore, we can infer that the NEB ‘translators’ wished to emphasize, and that Scripture intends us to understand, by this paraphrase: “The Lord: the mainstay of my life” precisely that the Lord is INTEGRAL to humanity – that He’s not an add-on – like some app. to be downloaded, according to our personal whims, in order to make life that bit easier. No, He is to life what hydrogen is to water, and what blood is to the body. He is essential to us being whole, human beings – and we were never designed for life apart from Him. To live our lives without such awareness results in diminishing us to living far below our potential, of being incapable of living human life to the full … so that like a car with spark-plugs removed we’re incapable of firing on all cylinders, and life becomes such a strain, rather than a joy.

Our ‘deadly disconnect’ from God has the most dire consequences: for ourselves, our families, our environment, our world – in fact everything is affected detrimentally. This is the reason why God worked proactively in Jesus to redeem the situation – when Jesus announced, “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness” He proclaimed the good news that through restored relationship with Him, disconnected and disorientated humanity may be restored to the original and live a fully human life.

Writing much later than the Psalms, St Paul in one of his letters wrote concerning Jesus Christ: “…Who is our life…” This revelation, of Christ as our LIFE – giving and sustaining us in life – is so revolutionary, and raises faith in Christ far beyond mere man-made religion, with its absurd practices, into an all-absorbing, full-time relationship with the Creator, as the very essence of human life, and without Whom we are considerably less than we were ever created for.

There’s an old hymn, which expresses this magnificently, albeit in language that may seem strange in the 21st century. It goes:

I need Thee ev’ry hour

Most gracious Lord

No tender voice like Thine

Can peace afford

~~~

Chorus: I need Thee, oh, I need Thee

Ev’ry hour I need Thee

Oh, bless me now, my Saviour

I come to Thee

~~~

I need Thee ev’ry hour

Stay Thou nearby

Temptations lose their pow’r

When Thou art nigh

~~~

I need Thee ev’ry hour

In joy or pain

Come quickly and abide

Or life is vain

~~~

I need Thee ev’ry hour

Most Holy One

Oh, make me Thine indeed

Thou blessed Son

~~~

Words by Annie S. Hawks, 1835–1918

“I need Thee, Oh I need Thee” – that’s the cry of an awakened human spirit, equivalent to the lung’s cry for air, or the parched tongue’s thirst for refreshment. In the cacophony of life it’s common, even as followers of Christ, to miss and ignore that cry, resulting in our impoverishment and a sense of spiritual lost-ness. Alternatively, starting each day with a recognition of our need, and asking that we may acknowledge our Mainstay throughout the day, in whatever appropriate way, will set us up for a more enriching, joy-filled life.

I hope you may benefit from this recommendation.

 

Shaddai’s Shadow

Here may hearts delight

sheltered dwelling

safe abode, strong refuge

eternally secure

~~~

Divine covering

impenetrable shield

‘gainst ills innumerable

as: flying arrow

deadly pestilence

Abaddon’s snare.

Midday to midnight

thro’ darkness or light

~~~

Protective pinions

heavenly aid assure

tranquil resting place

here may hearts trust

******

https://stryka66.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/0ae10-img_9985copy.jpg?w=652&h=435

“Shaddai” is a Hebrew word translated “Almighty” in

many English versions of Psalm 91:1

ID Theft

Credit for the ‘title’ goes to my wife, Sue – with special thanks !

Seems to me that many modern ideas of God fall lamentably below His awesome reality. Rather than the all-glorious One, worshiped by angelic hosts and revealed in Holy Writ, we have witnessed the emergence of a pathetic creation of the human mind, utterly unworthy of the title “God”, and yet unblushingly paraded and patronized as god … in my view a monstrous idol – a psychological, but unreal, rival to the True and Living God.

How come this travesty ? One answer could be that we have pandered to those who remonstrate that our faith should be more palatable, and consequently we have set about removing anything that is deemed offensive or politically incorrect about the ‘biblical’ revelation of the Deity.

“Our God is an awesome God” goes the lyric of a well-known worship song. “Awesome” – a much over-worked, and greatly trivialized word – actually meaning inspiring reverential wonder or fear. Question is – does this new-fangled god manage to inspire reverential wonder or fear in anyone, or is it no more than a ‘chum’ who everyone gets along with, and who is overly tolerant of the intolerable behaviour of many of its ‘so-called’ worshippers.

Hear the prophetic words of A. W. Tozer:  “Among the sins to which the human heart is prone hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is … The heaviest obligation upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him” – cited from his book “The Knowledge Of The Holy” (recommended reading)

A powerful phrase hit me the other day, as  St Paul quotes from a Jewish psalm in his epic letter to the beleaguered believers in Rome. Most English translations have it: “There is no fear of God before their eyes”.

Now, I wonder, does this go some way in further explaining the present morass – ‘no fear of God’.

What can we expect to see when the ‘fear of God IS before our eyes’. Well, perhaps a fresh study of the subject within the biblical book of Proverbs will assist, and is duly recommended, replete as it is with references to this distinctive characteristic, which, sadly, is conspicuous by its absence.

Go on I dare you !

Perhaps we might then return to the Majestic One His true identity.

Spirit Athirst

Faintest of stirring

in fathomless depths

scarcely impressing

cluttered consciousness.

~~~

‘Til thirst’s imperious demand,

slowly, assertively, awakens –

ardently pouring forth

inexpressible longings

to drink in Holy Presence

to soak in Divine Essence

until completely satiated.

~~~

For desperately parched in

sun-scorched, water-less

thirst-inducing, howling

Sahara-like waste – human spirit,

like braying deer of psalmody,

urgently seeks relief

at River of life-giving water.


Speaking Personally

My story of becoming a ‘Christ follower’ & my first steps in that ‘new life’ …

I was apprehended by Jesus at the age of 15.

Life before that was pretty good – stable home, wonderful parents, pestilent brother (!), decent school, fine mates, brilliant era (1960’s). A typical teenager (minus drugs & booze) – chased girls, loved soccer, enjoyed the Rolling Stones music, played truant, told naughty jokes – with a few non-typical quirks: e.g. reading the Morning Star (UK’s Communist newspaper), running a protection racket for weak kids, attending church (hate to admit this, but assure you it WAS under protest), and occasionally losing sleep wondering what life was all about !!

NO DOUBT about it – I was PRAYED for – oh yes, grandparents, parents, uncles & aunts, pastors & church members – had me on top of their hit-lists. Regretfully, I could do little about people like Mrs H – an elderly intercessor, who just wouldn’t let go. Now, much to my shame, I must confess that knowing of her regular sorties into God’s throne-room on my behalf, made me feel quite angry, even hateful, towards her !!

BUT … I was apprehended, and capitulated, one February evening, after sensing God’s Presence, knowing I wasn’t part of His Family, breaking down in tears, and ended up making a commitment which has held over 44 years. I’ll never forget when understanding of a particular Bible verse first hit home. It says: “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to FORGIVE our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” – and it was like turning a light on in a darkened room. My youthful ‘sins’ suddenly seemed so enormous, yet God’s offer of forgiveness was so much bigger … and as I poured my young heart out, with sobbing, there came such a relief, a sense of peace which I just cannot describe in words, along with an amazing sense of ‘belonging’.

I didn’t know much theology – BUT I knew then and there that my sins were forgiven, because God was true to His Word. Later I was to understand that such forgiveness was possible because Jesus had died as my Substitute, taking my place under God’s wrath, so that mercy could reach and pardon me.  (Heavy duty stuff – but so accessible)

Amazingly, as I travelled home that night back in February 1967 it was as though my feet didn’t touch the ground. In addition to the sense of peace, already described, there was a feeling of utter joy, of lightness of spirit…the world suddenly seemed a different place, and I knew that I’d now been accepted into the family of God.

New birth brings new life, and I’m so grateful I was shown, very early on, what were the essentials for that new life to grow … interaction with God (known also as ‘prayer’), feeding heart and mind on Scripture (the Bible), regular fellowship with other believers, and sharing my faith with non-believers (also known as ‘witnessing’).  I soon discovered that applying myself to these four things did in fact bring a lot of personal growth, enjoyment and fulfilment:

  • I found that God really does answer prayer … occasionally in remarkable ways – physical healing when I’ve been ill, provision of material needs, and ordering my affairs with a precision that often left me astonished.
  • I found that reading and studying the Bible, and meditating in its pages, fed both mind & spirit in a manner that no other literature  could – and I love reading!
  • I found that sharing in church with real ‘believers’ through expressions of worship, prayer, communion, and teaching were incredibly challenging, stimulating and uplifting (although I’ve never attended a perfect church, or met a perfect ‘Christian’ yet)
  • I found that sharing my personal faith with non-believers was like exercising my physical muscles – it helped shape & strengthen that faith. And what a remarkable privilege to lead another person into a personal relationship with God, which happened more than once.

SO, that’s how it all got started – a journey of more than 40 years … and today, as I reflect, I’m so grateful to God for His kindness, patience & love which have kept me through all that time, in my faltering attempts to follow.  Thank you, Lord Jesus !