World Cup, Father’s Day and Victory in Christ Jesus

Which team you’re bringing? Brazil #1. Brazil #2 and Brazil #3. I am not a ‘waggonist’. Win, lose or draw, Brazil will always be my team. Ever since the days of Pele, Bellinni, the Santos brothers, Didi, Vava and the peerless Garrincha took the beautiful game to a different level. And won Brazil’s first World Cup in 1958 in Sweden, Brazil has been the team to beat over the years. Will Neymar Jnr lift the Jules Rimet trophy in Russia? Or will the best footballer on planet earth, Lionel Messi, finally get his just reward?

Or will France or Spain or Belgium come to “spoil the party”! Germany? Not this time, based on recent form. But who knows! Always leave room for surprises and heartbreak at any World Cup – the greatest show on earth.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate Father’s Day. Always a low profile event when compared to Mother’s Day. A time of mixed emotions. And heartbreak. As some fathers have been ‘ the greatest ‘ dad on planet earth. Thank God for them. While others have been simply, “missing in action”. Leaving huge emotional gaps in their children’s lives. Especially daughters. Who often, unconsciously, try to fill the void, by entering into unhealthy relationships with both older and younger men.

So while we ‘ bring ‘ our favourite team to the greatest show on planet earth, and celebrate the life of the greatest dad, more than anything else this day, we thank God for Jesus that through Him, we have come to know ” Our Father who art in Heaven”. And as the songwriter claims, and we agree, ” There is none like Him”.

For even during the excitement of the World Cup in Russia, and on Father’s Day, life goes on for the women who lose control of the remote for an entire month. And the children who never knew a father!
Tragedies like what happened at a school in Anchovy this week continue to cause heartbreak; for both the parents and the unfortunate teacher.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20180614/anguish-anchovy-student-killed-freak-accident-primary-school

And when these things happen only God can comfort those directly affected; and the wider family in the community and at school. Nobody else! Not Neymar Jnr. Not Messi. Not even the greatest dad on earth.
A reality brought into sharp focus by the words of the songwriter in one of my favourite hymns. Words on which I have been led to consider deeply, for years, before going to church on a Sunday morning:

THE HYMN

I have no other help but thine; nor do I need
another arm save thine to lean upon:
it is enough, my Lord, enough indeed,
my strength is thy might, thy might alone.

The Third Verse of the Communion Hymn: ” Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face……”

Finally, as we continue to live in a world of heartbreak and tragedy, of sickness and death, of disappointments and grief, the words of the Psalm appointed in the worldwide Anglican Church for tomorrow’s worship service, provided so much comfort for my soul.

This as I ‘owned’ the prayer. Memorizing it. Repeating certain verses, in it time and time again throughout the day. And at night!
Sharing it with others. And thanking my Father ‘ who art in heaven’ for this special gift.

A gift which is ultimately fulfilled in the Life, Death, Ressurection and Ascension to a Life of Glory by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Which team will win the World Cup? I cannot tell. But this I know, in Christ, not in my wonderful Dad, now gone to glory, I have the Victory over Sin and Death unto Everlasting Life #BetterthanaChampsticket or #WorldCupVictory.

THE PSALM

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.

May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests. Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord , give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!
Psalm 20:1‭-‬9 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.20.1-9.NIV

Advertisements

Death in Toronto: PM Holness and G7, on a Mission: The Church and Mission

Went to bed late last night. No, not because of the NBA finals between Golden State Warriors and Le Bron James’ Cavaliers; the less said about that ‘blowout’, the better. For I am a Cavs fan, and my dear wife is GSW fanatic.

I am here in Toronto staying with one of my cousin’s closest friends. Death caused to make the trip.

The late Dr. Emerson Douglas Jones

The Lord brought me here to give a tribute to ‘a gentleman with few words ‘. And to comfort and spend time with his family. My family! As he was more a brother than cousin.

The Lord also provided me with an opportunity to read again, one of the most important books in my Library, during the flight from Jamaica to Canada.

But before we can fully understand Church and Mission, we need to appreciate the key reason why God has been reaching out to mankind throughout history. A far greater issue than the reason why my Prime Minister is also in Canada, ‘ on a mission’.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20180606/holness-make-historic-presentation-g7-summit

For the reality is that ” self-love” lies at the root of all problems in the world. Including the phenomenon of Global Warming and its effects on Coastal States; the kind of issue which my PM is expected raise at the G7 conference.

And so as I opened my Classics Devotional Bible just now, searching for my #Earlymorningprayers ….Living Lord you have watched over me…..I ‘ happened upon’ this opening sentence, and a couple other quotes that ‘ jumped out at me, of a profound meditation by Francois Fenelon, entitled:

The Problem of Self-Love.

” Self-love must be uprooted, and the love of God take its place in our hearts before we can see ourselves as we are…..When the light of truth has risen us, then we are clearly what is there…..the less we love ourselves the more considerate we are of others”.

For murder, the huge and socially untenable gap between the rich and the poor, the destruction of family life and its many and varied consequences, at a local level, and global warming, at another level, all profound issues which affect all societies, including mine and my late cousin’s, are all located in Fenelon’s, divinely inspired meditation.

And so, ever since The Fall, when Sin entered a ” very good creation “, because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve ( and self-love played a role), and which Sin, fractured the relationship between God and Man, and between man and his neighbor, God has been reaching out, in Mission, to a ‘ dying world’. A world where rich and poor, strangers or relatives, die; by natural causes, by suicide, by accidents, by disasters, by neglect, by disease, and by individual or collective wickedness.

This is the context then, in which we can understand and appreciate a merciful God reaching out to those whom He created in His own, image, to rescue us from self-love, and Sin and Death, to Eternal Life in Christ Jesus.

So let us understand, very clearly, a profound truth; that the same self-love, which provokes much of what Donald Trump does or says, is alive and well within each one of us, in one form or another. And so Fenelon continues:

The more self-love we have, the more severe are our censures. There is nothing so vexatious as the collisions between one excessive self-love and another still more violent and sensitive”.

So what did John Stott write about, that held my attention for almost four hours during my flight in the ‘ heavens’?

He examined five words, Mission, Evangelism, Dialogue, Salvation and Conversion, and reviwed their context and meaning and application to a Modern World.

This morning as I prepare to pay tribute to cousin, one who, above all, was a faithful witness for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I share part of what John Stott wrote about Mission and the connection between Evangelism and Social Action. Without any comment. For now!

CHRISTIAN MISSION IN THE MODERN WORLD

” So he sent forth Abraham, commanding him to go from his country and kindred into the great unknown, and promising to bless him and bless the world through him…… Next, he sent Joseph…in order to preserve a godly remnant on earth during the famine. Then he sent Moses to his oppressed people in Egypt… Then he sent a continuous succession of prophets with words of warning and of promise to his people…. Then at last ‘ when the time has fully come, God sent forth his Son’; and after that the Father and the Son sent forth the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost…..

Evangelism and Social Action

‘ I am among you’ he said on another occasion, as one who serves’. Luke 22: 27. So he gave himself in selfless service for others, and his service took on a wide variety of forms according to men’s needs. Certainly he preached, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God and teaching about the coming and nature of the coming, how to enter it and how it would spread. But he served in deed as well as in word, and it would be impossible in the ministry of Jesus to separate his works from his words. He fed hungry mouths and washed dirty feet, he healed the sick, comforted the sad, and even restored to dead to life.

Now he sends us, he says, as the Father had sent him……

To sum up, we are sent into the world, like Jesus, to serve. For this is the natural expression of our love for our neighbours. We love. We go. We serve……the reason for our acceptance of social responsibility is not primarily in order to give the gospel either visibility or a credibility it would otherwise lack, but rather simple uncomplicated compassion. Love has no need to justify itself. It merely expressed itself in service wherever it sees need.

Gino Jennings, Church Dress Code, and Living by the Spirit of Christ and not by the Law

The Lord knew why He led me to reflect deeply on the words of my favourite hymn as I began my #earlymorningdevotions this week. Instead of the usual prayers which begin like this:

” Living Lord you have watched over me, and put your hand on my head, during the long, dark hours of night…….”

THE HYMN

O Jesus, I have promised
to serve thee to the end;
be thou for ever near me,
my master and my friend;
I shall not fear the battle
if thou art by my side,
not wander from the pathway,
if thou wilt be my guide.

O let me feel thee near me:
the world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
the tempting sounds I hear;
my foes are ever near me,
around me and within;
but, Jesus, draw thou nearer,
and shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear thee speaking
in accents clear and still,
above the storms of passion,
the murmurs of self-will:
O speak to reassure me,
to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen,
thou guardian of my soul.. …

For if ever I needed, and by extension, all disciples of Christ, needed to be reminded of the words of Bishop Friday preaching at the Healing Conference 2018, that “those who decide to follow Christ, will come face to face with evil”, this week provided ample evidence.

So on the Monday after that Sunday morning service, ” evil visited my office posing as a patient”. And of far greater import a ” strange voice” claiming to be of God, ” visited” Jamaica, and provoked a firestorm of controversy in both on social media and on the radio and in the newspapers. Even being elevated to the subject of comments in the Editorial of the Daily Gleaner.

http://images.jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20180530/editorial-little-men-gino-jennings

So an American preacher, whose existence had escaped my attention, but not that of a popular dancehall artiste Mr. Vegas, whilst engaging in a debate about how women ought to dress in church, likened those who disobeyed the ” dress code” to prostitutes. And the reaction of both women and men in Jamaica caused the story to ” go viral”.

Clearly this preacher had, ” wandered from the pathway ” of serving Jesus to the end, as the songwriter reminded us. But why?
And God who sees and knows all, provided an answer which I posted on Facebook.

FACEBOOK

You foolish Galatians ( and Jamaicans, and American pastors, who try to live by the letter of the law and condemn women who dress in a particular way or place too great a focus on keeping the Sabbath) ! Who has bewitched you?

Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you : Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish?

After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing – if it really was for nothing. Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:1-5.

This passage of Scripture came into my head as I woke up this morning, giving thanks to God in Christ for another day; and thought about the conversation on #BeyondTheHeadlines yesterday between Earl Moxam and the pastor who represented Pastor Jennings who reportedly likened women who did not observe the dress code ( the law of the Bible) in his church to whores. Comments which have apparently provoked a firestorm of protest on Social media. But which views enjoyed some support in a box pop sample on #RJRFM94

Clearly the foundation of the Christian Faith, to live by the Spirit of the Resurrected Christ and not by the law ( Mosaic or otherwise, which no one can keep, and which non observance leads to death), for the ‘ letter kills“, but the Spirit leads to eternal life and freedom, has been seriously eroded in my country. And perhaps the reason why the ” Church ” has become less relevant and less engaged than in a previous era, when the ” miracles of emancipation, free villages, education and health care for the newly freed slaves”, were being performed in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Something for us as Church, the Media and a nation, to seriously consider and discuss. Who and what is the Church? Certainly not every fly by night pastor who acts as if he is bewitched ! And gains public attention by outrageous claims.

Then later in the week, in fact two nights ago, I received one of those dreadful 1:30 am telephone calls, announcing the death of a beloved cousin, almost like a brother. This after praying all week for another close relative who was desperately ill. But who, thank God, is now past that critical stage!

In all of this the Lord who ” speaks to reassure us”, sent a comforting Word for me and family. Words which came as I opened a devotional guide ramdomly:

My grace is sufficient for you “. And there nestled in the words of that Scripture found in 2 Cor. 12, was this quote which I posted on Facebook.

FACEBOOK

My grace is sufficient for you – Jesus.
God is sufficient for all our needs, for every problem, and for every difficulty, for every broken heart, and for every human sorrow – Peter Marshall.

So as we cry for our beloved country, caught up in quite unnecessary controversy, because so many Christians “have wandered from the pathway”, and so do not live by the Spirit but by the flesh and by the Law, we continue to pray for our beleaguered nation.

And weep with those who weep as death comes knocking on our doors, and sickness causes so much anxiety and pain. For like the songwriter we know that in this life we are in a constant battle: ” I shall not fear the battle of thou art by my side”. Against evil, temptation, ignorance of God’s way in Christ Jesus, sickness and the final ‘ enemy ‘ to be faced. Death!
But thank God for Jesus, in all things, ” My grace is sufficient for you“, says the One who died, and with mighty Power, was raised from the dead. So that we may have Eternal Life. If we commit, through Baptism, and a surrendered life to Christ Jesus, to live by the Spirit, and not by the flesh or by the Law.
” ….and Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow,
my master and my friend.
Peace.

#HealingConference2018 and Murder in May Pen and Montego Bay

The parish of Clarendon, in general, and the capital ( town, not yet a city), May Pen, where I work, is ‘under the gun’. Literally and metaphorically! As crime and violence is a major problem in that part of central Jamaica.

I left there last evening and headed over to the western, tourist area, Montego Bay in St. James. And was greeted on the outskirts by a joint police military checkpoint! Why? This part of my country is under a State of Public Emergency consequent on the mayhem caused by gunmen.

This is the context in which I am led to write, the Lord having woken me up early this Saturday morning, about The Annual Anglican #HealingConference2018. #HealingandDiscipleship
For my #CryTheBelovedCountry is desperately in need of healing.

On Labour Day, Wednesday 23rd, ” The Church ” invaded Clarendon, with Prayer and Fasting, and stormed the home of the ” Strongman”. This according to the discussion I heard on #TBCFM as I drove to work yesterday. And released the parish from the stronghold of forces which had held the minds of the people captive. The main reason for the shedding of so much blood in the parish. So declared a Bishop who was the main force behind this move.

Check out @tbcradio885’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/tbcradio885/status/999019752260554753?s=09

Fast forward to last night at #HealingConference2018 where Internationally acclaimed Gospel Artiste Jermaine Edwards along with half of the famous Ity and Fancy Cat performed to the glory of God. As ” The Church ” invaded St. James with Prayer and Fasting and Teaching and Worship and Fellowship.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10157676096019129&id=521649128

And shortly before I woke up this morning this Scrpiture was ‘ leading the prayers’ in my sleep:

“Love mercy, act justly and walk humbly with thy God. From the book of Micah. Prefaced by a question: And what does the Lord require of thee?

And in my sleep I recalled hearing on TBCFM a pastor declaring thst the reason why the Lord did not allow his angels to remove Lot and his family the same night, was because of Mercy. For the Lord was giving the city another chance to repent. Such is the mercy of God.

Then, because I am now going through the book of Romans, ” For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God “, came to mind. In my sleep! And that, therefore, we miss the real message of mercy in the Sodom and Gomorrah story.
Recall the conversation between Abraham ( Lot’s uncle) andvGod.

If I find ten righteous men in the city I will not destroy it”.

Go back then to the awesome revelation of Romans: ” There is none righteous. Not one “. Except in Christ Jesus! Thank God.

Same story in Genesis. God had in mind to destroy all humanity on account of wickedness. Sin. But for Noah. A righteous man.

So the real story and warning of S&G is that but for the mercy of God, in Christ Jesus, destruction can come ” like a thief in the night”.
In Clarendon. In Montego Bay.
For the judgement of the wicked like #Kartel is not just that he is in prison, but what an extended reading of the Gospel for Sunday declares:

THE WORD OF GOD

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 3:16‭-‬21 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.3.16-21.NIV

It means that ‘ judgment’ has already been pronounced on those who fueled the violence in May Pen and in Montego Bay. And on all who have rejected the offer of salvation from God’s only Son.

It therefore means that we, the baptised people of God, have an awesome responsibility to share the Good News with a ” dying world”. And thus according to the words of the Benedictus, ” sit in the shadow of death.”

And the ‘ blood of the disobedient’ will be on our heads, according to the prophet Ezekiel and St. Paul, if we fail to warn all those we know, and call on them to repent.

Ultimately then, to be, and to announce the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, is what #HealingandDiscipleship is all about. The Message and Ministry of Reconciliation.

Pouring out what God has poured into us in and through Jesus Christ. Restoring our souls. Inviting us to be part of God’s Kingdom. So that, together, in Clarendon and Montego Bay, we can declare, like St. Paul, that we were not, “ disobedient to the heavenly vision”.

I pray that God’s mercy may flow into and out of this place, and not only into the lives of those who attend, and those for whom we are praying. But also for the surrounding community of St. James ” Under the Gun “. And into May Pen where wickedness abounds.
This as, more and more, we grow in Christ to “ love mercy, act justly and walk humbly with our Lord”. Amen.

A Royal Wedding and the God of Creation

Because I write a weekly message, by God’s grace, on a Saturday morning, I wasn’t planning to watch Meghan and Harry’s wedding. At least, not live. But I decided to take a ‘ peep’ when my wife got up and turned on the TV, which I could hear in my study.

And that was it! So a couple hours later, here I am writing and reflecting how, were it not for providence, we would not have witnessed, together, such a beautiful act of love and charm, flowing from the source of all love, Almighty God. The main point made by the homilist, The Primate of the USA, Bishop Curry. The only kind of love that can rescue this ‘ old world ‘, and set it afire again.

https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2018/05/19/bishop-michael-curry-full-remarks-royal-wedding.cnn?utm_term=link&utm_content=2018-05-19T12%3A03%3A50&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twCNN

I would have missed hearing, together, a revised and so beautifully performed, and energetically directed, version of Ben.E. King’s ” Stand By Me”. A signature tune of our era, and one to which we used to ‘ dance the night away’,  as the soulful culture of Black America invaded the hallowed halls of The Church of England’s most famous Chapel.

Check out @keithboykin’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/keithboykin/status/997806027532840962?s=09

And I would have missed, watching together, as two baptised children of God, listening to the Name of Jesus being lifted up, as millions from across the world tuned in, to a Christian wedding. Where ” every knee “, Royal and ‘Commoner’, bowed literally and metaphorically, to the precious Name of my God and my Redeemer.

What a joy! What a reason to celebrate in a world where so many have become so ‘ wise and powerful’,  that they have elected to ‘ do their own thing ‘, and ignore the will of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The One who gives life, and takes life; Blessed by the Name of the Lord.

But if in the highly controversial issue of Abortion, a very topical issue in my country, they would ignore the Word of God, contrary to the acceptance and public recommendation of it by Harry and Meghan, it would be bad. But to add insult to injury, some have become so inflamed and aggrieved by those with a contrary and ‘ religious’, viewpoint, that, they not only heap derision on the ‘ offending ‘ party, but, in my view, descend into the gutter by adding expletives. Censored and uncensored! In a rage, especially provoked, they claim, by insensitive religious zealots who suggest that, even in the case of rape, abortion is ‘ murder’.

Such was my experience on Facebook this week, as I attempted to ‘ temper’ the rage of a colleague who is very popular on Social Media. And having drawn his ire, some of those who follow him, employed the most foul and  completely uncensored language to describe the Lord Jesus.

The point is that, were it not for my faith in a Creator and Redeemer God, it would be difficult to mount a credible defense against a deeply held view that, ‘ It is the right of a woman’, to carry or not carry an unborn child to term. And in fact, in my early developing years as a physician and Christian, I referred several women to a ‘ specialist ‘ for abortion after ‘ careful ‘ consideration of their circumstances. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa! But thank God for Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit who, as promised, leads us into all Truth, my position gradually shifted. To a point where I do not refer anyone for abortion, even after the most careful and compassionate time of listening and counselling.

Do I believe in Therapeutic abortions? Yes. In principle! What about rape? That one is a serious challenge? And the fact that I have seen more than one woman who elected to carry that child to term, does not make it easy. Nor that so many ‘ brownings’ are products of violation of slave women by their ‘ Masters ‘. Nor the famous story in the Bible about Joseph, ” You meant it for evil, but God used it for good”. To save Israel from starvation! For the truth is that the great majority of victims cannot bear the thought of carrying such a public and permanent manifestation of wickedness being visited upon them. And God in His Mercy will decide how to deal with them. And those who facilitate their desire for an abortion. Not me! But since I did not create life, only God, even in the midst of evil, at this time in my walk with God, though sensitive to the situation that these ladies, I cannot recommend death for that which I did not create. Nor begin to understand the mind of the Creator. Except what He reveals through the Holy Spirit; the giver of all Truth. And whose coming on all the Baptised, we will celebrate tomorrow on the Day of Pentecost. And wear the #FireRed about which Bishop preached.

REV. JOHN STOTT

 

As I contemplated these issues last night, my eyes caught hold of a book written many years ago by one of my favorite theologians. John Stott!

I share with you his opening,  and very profound comments,  on this issue. Words that challenge us to ” come off the fence”, to stop ‘ drinking tepid lukewarm tea”,  as in the famous movie ” The War Room”,  and join the battle.

 

DECISIVE ISSUES FACING CHRISTIANS TODAY : THE ABORTION DILEMMA

The debate over abortion is admittedly complex. It has medical, legal, theological, ethical, social and personal aspects. It is also a highly emotional subject, for it touches on the mysteries of human sexuality and reproduction, and often involves acutely painful dilemmas.

Yet Christians cannot opt out of personal decision-making or public discussion regarding this topic merely because of its complexity. Instead, two factors should bring it to the top of our agenda.

First, what is involved in the abortion issue is nothing less than our Christian doctrines of both God and humanity, or, more precisely, the Sovereignty of God and the sanctity of human life. All Christian people believe that Almighty God is the only, giver, sustainer and taker-away of life. On the one hand ” he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else “, and ” in him we live and move and have our being”.

On the other, as the Psalmist says to God, ” When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust”…...To the Christian then, both life-giving and life-taking are divine prerogatives………

Hence Mother Teresa’s strong feeling about the evil of abortion:

……only God can decide life or death…..That is why abortion is such a terrible sin. You are not only killing life, but putting ( your) self before before God; yet people decide who has to live and who has to die. They want to take the power of God into their hands. They want to say, ” I can do without God. I can decide.” That is the most devilish thing that a human can do…..

Later in the chapter Stott shared this experience:

“…….a group of women started chanting – Not the Church, not the State, Let a woman decide her fate.

I went over to talk to them, and quietly remonstrated that it was not the woman’s fate we were concerned about in our rally and march, so much as her unborn child’s. Their only reply was to shout unprintable obscenities at me, and make the point that I would not be able to give birth to a child on a million years. I am not saying that they were wholly wrong. For I recognize abortion is more a woman’s issue than a man’s. It is she who has been made pregnant, perhaps without her consent…

It is all too easy for men to forget these facts. But we should remember them. …….Once she has conceived, her child has independent rights both before and after birth, and it was those rights which those young women in Whitehall ( the seat of British government) did not acknowledge”.

Final Comment: As with Stott and his experience in 1984, so too the Christian experience with those who would elevate the ” rights of women” over the Sovereignty of Almighty God. So this very emotional charges issue, which provokes even seemingly civilised people to wrath and the use of gutter language to defend women’s rights, is never going to solved in my lifetime. Nor I would suggest in the next century. For the Holy Spirit of God, sent by the Risen and Ascended and Glorified Christ, and whose coming we will celebrate tomorrow, has already warned us in Holy Scriptures that : ” If they hate me ( Jesus) they will hate you too”.

Therefore the vitriol and abuse which is being directed at the Church in general, because we take a stand for the Almighty God, and really provide the only resistance to those who would place self above God, as observed by Mother Teresa has to be met with love and mercy and peace.

It’s a challenge to the World and its culture that the late Ian Boyne warned about regularly. And the World will never accept that God in Christ is Sovereign. As Harry and Meghan publicly declared today as they got married according to the commands of a loving and faithful God who loves the World in Christ and Him Crucified. The challenge for the Christian community is to continue to preach Christ and Him Crucified through the power of the Holy Spirit. And He will as promised convict the World of Sin, Righteousness and Judgement. And lead us, and the Royal family and all people into all Truth. That in all things, whether life or death, God is Sovereign and full of mercy and love to all He has made. And this we know in and through Jesus Christ.

Judgement or Mercy in Jamaica and the World.

Many Jamaicans believe that our country is so far gone, that the level of indiscipline is so embedded in national psyche, ” this ship has sailed”, offered one cynic on Twitter, that we will never return to any semblance of civility and public order.

Others hold a different view! that, if we toss overboard our political differences, overcome our class distinctions, promote human rights, and let go of our religiosity, ‘ too much talk about God and prayer’, we can become a peaceful and progressive and democratic country.

The Christian ‘fundamentalists’ agree with my Twitter cynic. But that’s where it ends. As, in their view, we are now living in ” end times”. And Bible prophecy says that ” people’s hearts will grow more wicked “. So no amount of #ZOSO or #SOE or improving parenting skills or growing the economy, or beefing up the Police Force, is going to help! For Judgement is close!

Perhaps ” Judgement ” , in the form of the new Road Traffic Act, which the Senate passed yesterday, is really at hand for those motorists who break the law with such impunity. Overtaking a long line of traffic. Regularly! Creating a third lane, and ‘undertaking’, the other motorists, patiently waiting. Regularly! Going right through the Red, Red, Stop Light. Regularly! Breaking the speed limit ( flying low). Regularly!

Perhaps ” Judgement “, has already arrived for those men who are ” three and four burners”, and have a ” trailer load of girls”. And who, having reached middle and old age, can find no peace. As wife, girlfriend, matey, deputy, baby mother and children, are no longer in their lives. Only kully kully rum, better located in a more graphic turn of phrase, cigarettes and distant memories. With the celebration of Mother’s Day a painful reminder of what could have been!

Perhaps ” Judgement ” has already arrived for those who have been scamming ‘ little old ladies ” for years. Who have used their ill gotten and filthy lucre to finance a hype and bling life. To finance the purchasing of weapons of death and mayhem! But, who now find themselves, or are found by others, in prison, at best, or lying on the ground dead, at worst, having confronted the security forces. For the last time!

Perhaps ” Judgement ” has already arrived for politicians et al, who have fostered and instigated the distribution of guns, ” A wha dat “, into the hands of ” unattached youths “. Thus opening a Pandora’ s box of murder and chaos and mayhem, hitherto never experienced in this fair isle. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s cannot put Jamaica together again. Who knows what torment is afflicting the souls and hearts of men and women, who are guilty of this egregious act of wickedness.

Perhaps ” Judgement ” has already arrived for the high and mighty and well heeled. Including members of the Security Forces. Those who swear to protect the society and uphold the Law. Those whose connections have allowed them to flout, and escape, the long arm of the law. Repeatedly! But inevitably now find themselves in a ” spot of bother “. In prison! Or in the full glare of public scrutiny. With more to come!

Perhaps ” Judgement ” is arriving for those who have used the privilege of being entertainers, columnists and journalists and talk show hosts, along with those possessed of creative skills, and shapers of public opinion to fashion a culture of crassness, low moral standards, anything goes, popularity, and profit, is what counts, and ‘ to hell’ with anyone who objects. As in the case of one female Gleaner columnist writing in a ‘family newspaper ‘, the Daily Gleaner, and, ‘sailing way past the wind’ of linguistic ” indecent exposure “, my ( but clearly not in the editor’s) view, countered with ‘ the children are seeing it on google anyhow ‘. Or words to that effect.

But though ” Judgement ” in various forms, may be attending those who have lived carelessly and without ‘ the fear of God’, thank God for Jesus. That for both individuals, societies, nations and civilizations, judgement, destruction and condemnation, abandonment and destruction are part of God’s Plan B.

And not the Sovereign preference of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Who so loved the entire world, that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross of Calvary, that whosoever believes in Him, turns and repents and become baptized and receives the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, should not perish but have eternal life. Plan A.

A God of love and mercy and compassion who has the power to make all things new!

This aspect of God, making all things new, is what I was led to read , opened Chris Tiegreen’s ‘ The Wonder of The Cross’, Devotional book randomly, this week. And offer it to a ‘ dying world’.

HOPE

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. Isaiah 65:17

Many religions aim at improving this world. Others aim at escaping it. Christianity does neither. A fallen world enslaved by corruption cannot be ‘improved’; it needs a re-creation.

And a world created ” very good” by a God with a strong sense of purpose cannot be abandoned. In between both extremes is the truth. God’s plan is create new heavens and a new earth. The rebellion’ s effects will be burned up, and the original purposes will be fulfilled. God makes all things new.

Isn’t that exciting? Every time you find yourself dreading the to-do-list of the day or lamenting the futility of the world around you, think about what it will be like to live in new heavens and earth. In this new creation there will be no frustrations, no unsatisfied desires, no aimlessness, no corruption, no personal insults, no tedious tasks, no wondering if it is worth all the trouble.

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis describes the curse as ” always winter and never Christmas.”. In the new heavens and new earth, it will be always spring and never Good Friday. Mourning will be a thing of the past, and celebration will be the cultural norm.

Comment: As I read the meditation, one verse of Scripture in particular came to mind:

If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away. And behold all things are made new.

It’s time, in fact way past time, for the children of God, to recapture the Joy that God in Christ is doing a new thing in this world. And be of (very) good courage!

Spreading the Good News that there is Hope for all who have sinned. Hope in the love and mercy of God in and through Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. Even though the news of the day, and the ‘ wisdom of the age’, conspire to paint a different picture. That wickedness and infamy and rebellion against previously held moral values are the new norm. So we ought to ‘ get over it’. And ‘ get with the program ‘. For we ‘ run tings’. Not God.

So they think. Until real Judgement comes. Destruction! And not just death, or imprisonment or loneliness or torment. Plan B. All because we ignored Plan A. Christ our Redeemer! The full and complete manifestation of the love of the Sovereign God for all mankind and all creation!

War ( in the west) and Peace ( in Christ Jesus)

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim
And spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of the name

Jesus! the name that charms our fears
And bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life and health and peace.

No matter which headline you read, whether the Daily Gleaner:

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20180502/update-schools-closed-due-murderous-rampage-westmoreland

Or The Jamaica Observer ;

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/front-page/massacre-seven-dead-10-wounded-in-westmoreland-attacks_132160

after murder most foul was caŕried out by men with evil in their hearts, this week in my #CryTheBelovedCountry #Jamaica we can come to only one conclusion; #ThisIslandneedsJesus. Like so badly. Like right now dear God!

And so I tweeted:

A State of Emergency can only stop evil hearts from carrying out wicked acts in one area. But ‘all the king’s horses and all the king’s men’ cannot cure evil #ThisIslandneedsJesus @AndrewHolnessJM
@PDPhillipsJa #sykes
@GGSirPAllen @The_PSOJ @BishopRobertKgn
https://t.co/sxkkn9gUxs

Then after the madness in Westmoreland, there was further madness in Kingston, as an liscened firearm holder ” select him gun”, fired at a windscreen street cleaner, missed the intended target, and hit an innocent bystander.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20180503/woman-accidentally-shot-licensed-firearm-holder-liguanea

And a few days earlier I was moved to post this message on:

FACEBOOK

Mohammed couldn’t do it….Buddha couldn’t do it….Marijuna couldn’t do it ….Cocaine couldn’t do it. Do what? Grant me peace, sings Helen Baylor. And hopefully Bill Cosby now realizes that profound Truth.
State of Public Emergency can’t do it…..My favourite Politician #Followdeleader can’t do it…..My Denomination ( Sabbath or Sunday) can’t do it. Only Jesus!
So declares the hymnwriter…..the essence of the Gospel in a few verses

” Jesus sought me when a stranger
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let the goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee”

Turn up the volume and help Helen Baylor to ” Lift up the Name of Jesus”.
#Earlymorningdevotions

But ” Lifting up the name of Jesus ” in this challenging world of murder, and scamming, and gang feuds, and political tribalism, and widespread poverty and human rights abuses, and human trafficking and poor parenting skills and absent fathers and teenage mothers, and child abuse and domestic abuse, is no ” walk in the park”. Preparation and understanding is key.

Listen again to what the Word of God said to us last week. Or perhaps the week before:

If you abide in me, and my word abides in you, then you shall ask what you will, and it shall be given unto you. John 15.

The challenge therefore is to allow God’s Word to abide in our hearts. Not lyrics from #Kartel or even #Chronixx as conscious as he is: not the words of our politicians #Followdeleader however well meaning they may be, at best…. : not the advice of the most celebrated philosopher, whether Socrates, Plato or Aristotle: and certainly not the words of our favourite talk show host, however useful they may be, at best ……for at another level, like the one that comes to mind readily, they sometimes come pretty close to the infamous ” Pied Piper” leading us over the precipice….like sheep.

So what did the Word of God say to me this week:

” I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name”.

Acts 9:16 – After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, Jesus spoke these words to Annanias.

A reminder to all who would seek to rid this island of madness of various forms, whether crime and violence or road traffic injuries, that first we are called to suffer for Christ’s sake. As we follow the path of the ” Suffering Servant ” of God, who Himself first suffered on Calvary.

Further, as it is not only a matter of suffering, but daily dying to self, the ultimate goal, and living by the Spirit, Galatians 2:20 awaits us.

” I have been crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ who lives in me”.

And nestled among these an other important messages in my Classics Devotional Bible is this very useful quote and explanation:

” It is through accepting the circumstances that come to us in life that self is crucified ” – Hannah Hurnard.

A position which ought to accepted only after critical review, as somethings are to be resisted. But the point is that the God who allowed them to come our way – excluding those which arrive because of disobedience – sends them for a reason. So that we may be truly ” Crucified in Christ”, and allow Him alone to become our Lord and Savior.

Finally, in this journey of dying to self through hardship, it is hard to match any other word of scripture with the one that came to me yesterday during my #Earlymorningdevotions. This as I pondered how to make a difference in Westmoreland and elsewhere.

THE WORD OF GOD

.or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7‭-‬10 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/2co.12.7-10.NIV

Then, and only then, and not by ” sowing seeds “, and preaching a #Prosperitygospel which is no Gospel at all, will we have peace and be able to collectively smile like these children in caught by the photographer of the Daily Gleaner. In this life and the next! As when we are weak we are strong in and through Christ who lives in the weak and of no account on this ” hype world”.

http://images.jamaica-gleaner.com/sites/default/files/styles/jg_article_image/public/media/article_images/2015/05/15/JamaicaDayD20150515RM.jpg?itok=2EgBJiIT