Jerusalem, Tivoli, Gun seizure and Christ’s Coming

GM: Who Colt The Game! In St. James, in Jerusalem and in Tivoli. Thank God for Jesus we have a solution for all our deepest fears! A Balm in Gilead indeed.

1. UPDATE: Barrels repackaged, shipped to Jamaica after massive gun bust – https://t.co/I3oZFTBjac

This news rocked the entire nation! Setting off a virtual firestorm of questions. Are we at war ? Is this the first time? Who is really responsible. One person, or is that just the tip of the iceberg? What kind of ‘ dog hearted ‘ people are these who would import weapons to kill and main and intimidate?

Is scamming at the root of it all? Or are there much deeper links to the criminal underworld? Are the Americans finally going to get serious and help us prevent killer weapons from entering our island?
Is this conduit the main source through which guns have come to be used to cause so much bloodshed and mayhem in St. James.

Is there a political link? Or just badness and wickedness at play here?
May God have mercy on us!

2. In 2 years of covering @UN, never seen all 14 members of #UNSC unanimously condemn the actions/decisions of another member as they are doing w/#US #Jerusalem today.

The decision by Donald Trump to reverse years of US policy of not recognising Jerusalem, as the capital of Israel, has set off virtual firestorm of protests in Palestine.
Questions abound!

Does he want to start a war there? Why break ranks with so many other world leaders; and former Presidents? What’s the end game? Can this controversial act really make for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians ? Can peace really be brokered between these two ‘ biblical enemies’ ? Is there a connection between Trump’s reversal of US policy and #NIDS…. yes I am serious. Watched it on #CVMTV tonight. During a discussion about #NIDS and the ‘ mark of the beast’; so said Bishop Roan…

Forgetting that in Christ we have a new and unique identity, that no #NIDS and no Mark of the Beast can disturb.

3. Moments ago I made an official apology in parliament for the Tivoli Gardens incursion. #Tivoliapology https://t.co/iIlJPuw6oA

And set off a firestorm of questions and comments on Facebook and Twitter :

‘Apology accepted’ – Tivoli resident says statement of regret from PM brings closure to loss of son https://t.co/gdVYLb71jA
kemetu @kemetuhg

The apology is good, Holness isn’t to blame for the incursion, however, until US Embassy JA’s involvement in the actions in Tivoli are shown to J’cans, it’s a hollow apology. https://t.co/Ug9vsrAnp4
Noel Richards @enr102562

Reneto Valentino DeCordova Adams said Tivoli would cost Jamaica dearly, dearly, dearly and we have made this vilified cop a prophet. First of all, the lives of civilians and security forces that have been lost. The shed and unshed blood caused by this small radius in Kingston. The political dishonesty over decades, the prisoners it has taken, the careers it has taken. Broken families, lives and hearts because of this community. And here we are again. Doling out more money. The cost of Manatt Phelps and Phillips commission. The cost to rebuild the police station destroyed. The cost of the Simmonds Commission. The hundreds of millions doled out in the aftermath of the offensive. The millions now to be paid. And millions more, because some of the individuals may have civil cases again the state. Only for this to happen again in 30 years, if so long, mark my words.
We are destined to repeat history, because we continue to breed criminality. Lest we forget, when we start immortalising the conceptuliser. A legacy of evil.

….Erica Virtue ( Facebook) a highly respected journalist who ‘ takes no prisoners’…of whatever stripe, colour, religious or social status.

All of us created Tivoli.

All of us created Spanish Town, parts of Clarendon …

Our silence fosters criminality in its worse forms in those areas….

Emily Crooks….another no nonsense journalist and popular talk show host @emilyshields

See @cliffnationwide I have an issue with #RonnieThwaites saying ONLY the @jlpjamaica was responsible for what happened in #Tivoli. Isn’t it @PDPhillipsJa who signed the #SecretMOU, no-one knew of it and so admin had to investigate when extradition request was made?
Wilson@yasdmekl

Why would the Gleaner list the names of persons getting payout from Tivoli incursion, including the amounts to be received?? What the hell!!
Ketchy Shuby @astrolopicticcus

That lady from tivoli made a serious point, whilst she’s grateful for the apology by the PM she doesn’t believe that our current PM should be the one apologizing.
Remote @YPWhitely

So as Jamaicans say, ” Who colt the game”? Who started all of this madness that ended up with Dudus becoming #ThePresident, #Presi; and whose extradition and resistance to it, by the state, led to The Incursion, to mayhem and Death, and extrajudicial killing and Apology, and controversy in the land?

Did the ‘ madness’, begin with Tivoli alone? Or were there other political actors? And other war zones! How far back did the ‘ rot’ start? Who will apologise to the Jamaican people for starting the madness of giving out guns to secure political gain; and in the process started the ‘ original war’ .
I would suggest that it is that context, that must locate the seizure of 115 guns as the latest revelation of a historic malady.

May God have mercy on us all. In Jamaica and the world!

Thank God He has! Has mercy. In the Life, death, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
But most of all through the great Redemption wrought of Calvary.
The definning moment in the beginning and the sustaining of The Christian faith!

A gift to all mankind. Jews and Gentiles! Israelis and Palestinians! People in Tivoli and people in the Parliament! Bishops and journalists! Scammers and importers of weapons of death! JLP and PNP! Afro girls and Brazilian hair girls! Bleachers and natural! Man U supporters and Gunners supporters! Trump and Trump! Must be two of them. Can’t be one!

And when The Church and its Bishops and people lose touch with the Cross, according to St. Paul writing to the Church in Collosae, we ” lose touch with the head”, and therefore get carried away with all kinds controversies. Including associating #NIDS with The infamous Mark of the Beast. And get excited and over concerned with #Endtimes; when our Lord clearly told us only to ” keep watch “…..as no one knows the time nor the hour, not even the Son. Only the Father”.

And so I was led to post this message during the week:

A TIME OF HEALING : AND ALL WHO CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST ARE WELCOME

As I read the Collect ( prayer for the week) and Old Testament Reading ( a section) for the worldwide Anglican Church in my #earlymorningdevotions just now, I thought of the Prayer and Repentance meeting in Half-Way-Tree over the weekend.

And felt the assurance that in Christ, on Whom ” we wait ” during Advent, the prayer, The Collect, and the Prophetic Word from Isaiah, has been answered and fulfilled. ” Call Him by His Name” says the chief organizer on TBCFM, Rev. Shuttleworth. Let us call His Name, Jesus, a lot today, and scatter the darkness which has enveloped our beloved country

The Collect

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament
Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Therefore as we welcome the season of Advent, a time of ‘ waiting upon the Lord’, let us accept the comforting words of prophecy that Isaiah offers once again, after thousands of years. And find Comfort in the fact that:

In Christ, all unanswered questions are made known. All fears calmed. All anxious hearts are stilled. All sins forgiven. All tears dried up. All apologies given and accepted. All capital cities become of no relevance. Only the New Jerusalem, coming from above, will matter. All issues of the Mark of the Beast put to bed. All rulers will have to bow. All secrets will be known. And all things become new.

As one fine day, in God’s own time, there will be a new earth and a new heaven. And a new Jerusalem. The city of God. Where no more Trump can cause mayhem. No more weapons of death. And no need for apologies. What a day that shall be. But only those whose sins are ‘ covered by the precious Blood of The Lamb ‘ shall enter.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of wicked, or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of lockers, but his delight in in the law of the Lord….. Psalm 1:1-2.

“O Blessed be The Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and Redeemed His people. And raised up for us a Mighty Salvation, in the house of His servant David ” sang Zechariah when his Son John the Baptist was born. A song ( The Benedictus) in my heart this week.

Let us therefore, in Christ, sing a new song in Jamaica, in Palestine and in America, this new morning. For Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead. And thank God so are we in Him, raised to a new life. Free from Controversies and Evil. And empowered to love one another. In Jerusalem. In Tivoli. In St. James.
Peace.

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Of #Davina, Murder and The National Pledge

On #Davinanight this week Twitter exploded. Like this!

No man! Davina Afro wake me up likkle while! All a mi ancestors tump me one time. 😍😍😍😍😍😍 And that sunshine yellow on stage! Come through Queen! #MissUniverse #DavinaBennett #MissJamaica
Krystal Tomlinson : social media -youth advocate – strong links to the entertainment industry.

I am supporting #DavinaBennett for #MisssUniverse2017

Let us all throw our tweets behind this true Jamaican Queen. https://t.co/OpGffZzuy6
Andrew Holness : Prime Minister and prime cheer leader #DavinaBennett

Afro ever reach so far a #MissUniverse? It might have but me never see it yet and to know say me see it pon Jamaica #DavinaBennett mek a pride swell inna me chest til it buck. Anything can nice like being a Jamaican? Not a damn ting!
Dahlia Harris: well known actress, producer and media personality

To say that Jamaicans were happy this week when #DavinaBennett reached the top three in the Miss World finals in Las Vegas this past week, would be the understatement of the year. They went absolutely went ‘ maad’, as they were certain that she was going to win.

And so deep in the country the family and friends of this #Clarendongirl oops, sorry #Clarendonlady, gotta be politically correct, began banging ‘ pot cova ‘.
Just like when #Realshellyann won her first gold medal at the Olympics!

Ecstatic is the word. Euphoric is the word. The right language to describe how Jamaicans, and indeed the world, responded to this Afro- centric beauty. This confident-in -her -own -skin regal, royal, could-have-been-she-engaged-to-a-prince strikingly well poised and beautiful woman.

Every country needs moments like this. Another Bolt to de werl moment. Well almost!
Another #Reggaeboyz moment. Well almost!.
Another #Sunshinegirls #FastFive moment. Yeah!

And then reality set in. Another headless corpse found. Three more murdered in St. James. Moravian pastor pleads guilty of having sex with underage girls. The #SplicedTape kass kass: #Fake or #Reality; and #Chronixx show is ‘ sold off’, as after welcoming #Davina back home, ‘ life goes on in Jamaica ‘. Without missing a beat!

In the midst of this reality, Joy and Angst, national celebrations and national confusion and grief, I opened Chris Tiegreen’s The One Year Wonder of the Cross Devotional book, randomly, during my #earlymorningdevotions this week, and found a gripping story about Hope. In the midst of the storms of life.

For ultimately, we look not to #Davina, with or without her Afro, not to PM Holness, the passionate one, nor to Chronixx, #Substanceoverhype for our #Hope. But to Christ The Crucified One!

NOT HOPELESS

While they were shining him, Stephen prayed, ” Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.

Acts 7:59

“The invisible war that is integral to the Christian life can be brutal. There are spiritual attacks of doubt, deception, temptations, and condemnation, and every godly act and attitude is challenged.

There are psychological attacks of emotional distress, discouragement, and despair, and sanity isn’t always as easy as it looks.

There are relational attacks of conflict, misunderstandings, bitterness, betrayal and persecution, and peace is often a distant ideal.

And there can be even physical attacks of fatigue, disease, and injury.

On every front in our battles against the world, the flesh and the devil, we can be awfully beaten down.

It is impossible to live this new life in Christ without hope. Christians who spend little time thinking about The Kingdom will fall helplessly into despair.

Life in this fallen world can be beautiful, but it is never easy. It is not as it was first created, and it is not as it will be when Jesus comes again. Without a firm gaze on eternity, our temporal trials will consume us.

We have to invest our hopes in the coming Kingdom; otherwise, we are most pitiable among humanity ( 1 Corinthians 15:19). If we don’t see beyond the grave we despair.

Stephen prayed to Jesus essentially the same prayer that Jesus prayed to the Father: ” Receive my spirit”.
Both knew that the war against evil in this world is deadly in the flesh but alive in the Spirit. Both had abandoned all hope in setting up their lives and their treasures in this visible world for the greater glory of setting up life in the invisible world.”

The challenge we face as a Nation, and as a world, in a word is not only ” Disobedience “. A problem which according to the Bible is ” worse than divination”…..worse than obeah and sorcery and ‘ setting up tables ‘. But depending on people and circumstances like #Davina ( not Davina herself) on which to find meaning and purpose in life. This tendency to depend on things of this world is what got us into trouble when we were mesmerized by Michael Manley’s charisma and oratorical skills, or Uncle Eddie’s ( Edward Seaga) management skills and pragmatism . For despite some wobderful and lasting work done by both, we ended up being a politically, and socially, ” warring tribes “, deeply divided nation. As they both, not being gods, had ” feet of clay “; and thus were decidedly, if not spectacularly, imperfect and controversial.

The same scenario is being played out in the USA, with many yearning for the Obama days to ‘come back’, while others see Trump as their ‘ salvation’ in a new and confusingly multi-racial and multi-ethnic America.

This disobedience, rebelling against the Word of God, and seeking to find our own ‘ Salvation ‘, is what is responsible for our high murder rate. The scamming. The proliferation of gangs. The reason for INDECOM. The ill treatment of our women #Notosexualharassment. The spread of #HIV/AIDS ( for the most part). The proliferation of pregnant teenagers! The creation of garrison communities. Corruption in high places. ” For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God “. Even #DavinaBennett.

And because a careful reading of the Bible reveals that the opposite of disobedience is not, civility, but rather holiness, according to the book of Hebrews, training in holiness requires ‘ discipline ‘. Sometimes ‘ painful discipline ‘.

That’s why the authentic Christian life is often punctuated with trials and tribulations; and even persecutions like Stephen. And yet, because we follow a ‘ suffering Savior’, we have a Hope.
Which is the key lesson revealed during my #earlymorningdevotions yesterday, by being led to this passage of Scripture:

THE WORD OF GOD

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:3‭-‬11 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.12.3-11.NIV

It is in this context, that elements of the Church has called for a National time of repentance, fasting and prayer; this weekend in Half-Way-Tree square ( at another time pot cova banging #Beijing #Usain Bolt) and next week in Sam Sharpe Square in Montero-Bay ( ground zero for murder and mayhem). But better known because of the ultimate sacrifice paid by Baptist Deacon Sam Sharpe ( you won’t hear that from atheists who are very active on social media demonizing the Church) in the struggle for emancipation from slavery).

For as I was led to write about and to consider again this week #earlymorningdevotions, our National Pledge has become a National Indictment! On the one hand but a ” Call to Repentance “, on the other hand, as without the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a gift to those who believe in the Atonement wrought by Christ The Crucified One, on Calvary, we cannot be true to this Pledge that we all take time and time again.

Question is, if not before God….then to whom shall we look? #Dudus? #Kartel ? Reneto Adams? Andrew? Peter? Our ability to think critically? Our bank account? Packing a ‘9’?
King Alarm? The U.N. conventions? Seriously ! Until a Cat 5 Hurricane approaches…..

Time to celebrate #Davina. But more importantly, time to think again, seriously, about our National Pledge and our responsibility, under the God of Abraham, to ” the whole human race”. Lest we perish for a lack of a shared vision.
Peace.

National Pledge

Before God and All mankind.
I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart
The wisdom and courage of my mind,
The strength and vigour of my body
in the service of my fellow citizens.

I promise to stand up for justice,
Brotherhood and Peace, to work diligently and creatively,
To think generously and honestly, so that,
Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship
and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare
of the whole human race.

As Murder continue to stalk the land, what shall we do: Follow Bustamante or Christ ?

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20171124/twelve-shot-st-james-four-fatally

It’s hard, very hard, to live in a country where murder has become so common place. And where guns are so freely available, and used to shoot people with such heartlessness! “Puppa Jesus tek de case”! An ejaculatory prayer of many older folks who trusted in the power and goodness of our Savior.

Yes, there are other problems, as this week torrential rain aided and abetted by poor drainage and people intent on ‘ duttying up Jamaica’, caused massive flooding in the, capital city of the West, and tourist mecca, Montego Bay.

This week also saw the continued saga of, The people vs The Government, being played out in the introduction of the National Identification Sytem ( NIDS).
With most in favor, but many unimpressed with the need to pass the bill right away! Especially as they see the possibility of fundamental rights being placed at risk.

But my God, how long shall we have to put up with these murderous gunmen, who fear neither God nor man. Men who have no heart. Men who pump bullets mercilessly into women and children. How long Lord? How long!

That’s the question residing deep in the hearts of our people. Not #NIDS. Not #Mobayflooding.
As our people are living in absolute terror. Afraid of every shadow. Afraid to sleep too soundly. Can’t sleep at all as the guns sometimes ‘bark’ for hours.

Where do they get all these high powered, ‘ bigger than police’, guns?
Where do they get so much ammunition? Are some police ‘ mixed up’ ? Are some politicians ‘ mixed up ‘ ? Are some businessmen ‘ mixed up’?

This madness cannot continue. No civilized country ought to tolerate this kind of brutality being unleashed on its people. Day after day. Night after night! What’s to be done?

Then I recalled thst in the wee hours of the morning this
week, the Lord woke me up to read this:

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord .
It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young…

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.

Lamentations 3:19-33

The historical, and even existential challenge that has confronted civilizations ever since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, is that:

Unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain “, a Word ( Psalm 127) to which I was led to read and ponder in last night.

And so, intent on ‘ doing their own thing ‘, the great Roman and Greek civilizations perished; one, from which ashes, Europe and the West rose, got sacked by ‘ barbarians’. So too the famed British Empire on whose lands, the sun, ” would never set”, is now struggling to find a place in world affairs outside the orbit of the EU, The USA, Russia and China. The great Napolean, Ghengis Khan, Alexander the Great, and pretty soon Apartheid South Africa, and racist Rhodesia, will only be names in a history book.
Unlike #FreeNelsonMandela who will live on in the hearts of millions forever.

The current Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the one in waiting Peter Phillips, would do well to reflect on history as they and their colleagues, seek to rescue Jamaica from marauding gunmen.

They ought not to be fooled by the ‘ shiny object ‘, that the lives of ‘ successful and developed ‘, countries portray. For really ‘ all that glitters is not gold’. For those who have eyes to see, understand that many of these countries are a ‘ time bomb ‘, ticking away, imploding, like a quiet storm. For history has taught us, that a nation, and leaders, without a moral foundation will fall one day.

That’s the lesson that Mugabe’s life teaches us. And so many others in the ‘ kleptocratic states’ of Africa!
That’s the lesson that’s emerging as the opioid addiction epidemic sweeps across the land of ‘ anything goes’, and the home of comfortable Christianity, which is what America is fast becoming. Thus sowing the seeds of its own destruction. And don’t forget to probe deeply into the highly touted Scandinavian countries where things appear to be perfect without any overwhelming presence of the God of Abraham. Where, in one country, God is no longer to be addressed as He, or She, but gender neutral. Really!

As a country we have for far too long flirted, with disastrous consequences, with ” isms and schisms”, as our Rastafarian brethren would say. With Democratic Socialism! With unbridled Capitalism! And now the political and economic, and even in some churches, Holy Grail is, ‘ Prosperity ‘. With ‘ Progress ‘, being consigned, for the time being, to subtext in the conversation.

But then the nagging historical reality confronts us once again; ” Except the Lord builds the house we build in vain.”

Have we really not learnt anything, as one by one our ‘idols’, like Ninjaman, and Kartel are jailed for murder. As one by one, people like Mutty Perkins, who became a veritable ‘ god ‘, for many Jamaicans, disappear, without a trace, like the proverbial grass, while the Word of God lasts forever.
As the hype associated with the lifestyle of scamming comes back to haunt us with a veritable explosion of murder and mayhem.

All because we have, in large part, as decision makers and shapers of our culture, appearing on Page Two or E-Prime, holding sway on social media or in Hotline, Beyond the Headlines and Nationwide , chosen Barabbas over Jesus. Even in the Church. Have mercy! The hype of being enlightened over the substance and only life giving and heart changing reality of the Cross of Christ.

So what’s to be done? The same question posed to Peter when he preached the first sermon after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit of God descended with Power on the Disciples of Christ, the Crucified One. ” What shall we do”?

And the same answer ought to come from the collective Church, following the example of the one to whom Jesus said: ” If you love me feed my sheep”.

Repent and be Baptised and save yourself from this corrupt generation”.

It is really time we ceased ‘ following Bustamante til we die’! Or Andrew! Or Peter! Or Kartel! Or Dudas! Or the latest ‘ flavor of the month’, in the media, in business or in entertainment industry. For we are dying off like flies – Gleaner headlines this morning:

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20171125/three-killed-st-james-murder-count-nears-300

Yes we must ‘ give to Ceasar what belongs to Caesar’, and pay our taxes ( and not keep two books); join together to improve parenting skills and not brutalize our children; advocate for better living conditions in inner cities and unplanned settlements; work to reduce teenage pregnancies and help to find jobs for our youth in particular; join up with people like Diana Macaulay ( retired after doing a really great job) in protecting the environment; do our part in helping to reduce crime and support the government’s crime plans #ZOSO; work with Civil Society Leaders like Carol Narcisse and the ‘ born again ‘ Dr. Trevor Munroe, to help mobilize the ordinary citizen to play his or role in the shaping a society.

But more importantly we must commit as a nation, and as individuals, to ‘ give to God what belongs to God; which essentially is our lives, our talents, our children ( the next generation) and the environment in which live and breath; all we have. And worship Him and give Him all the glory in and through Jesus Christ The Crucified One.

Otherwise we will continue to wake up with the kind of news the Gleaner headlines reports. Day after Day! And continue to lament. For we have not accepted and believed that, “The Eternal God is our ( only ) Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms “.
And that the mercies of this God are new every morning. Just waiting for us to enjoy. Forever ! In and through Jesus Christ.
Peace.

Murder, Sexual abuse of Women and The Cross of Christ

Usually I have an idea about what I going to write on a Saturday morning. And I thought I did, for this week I was moved to write a letter to The Church, but the Lord changed up everything.

So on a morning after the Police High Command called a press conference, or briefing, in response to the continued bloodletting, over 1400 murders, and up 25% over last year, to tell us what they plan to about it, the Lord led me back to Oswald Chambers for Christian Education.

At the end of a week, when the #Metoo campaign continues to reveal the sordid details of powerful men’s sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior towards women, ‘ out of the hearts of man comes all kinds of evil’, the Lord reminded me of two messages He inspired me to post on Twitter this week concerning Christian Education:

Twitter

The outstanding value of the bible is that it makes shameful things appear shameful because it never analyses them – Oswald Chambers

The discovery of the desperate recesses in the human heart is the greatest evidence of the need for the Redemption – Oswald Chambers

So the Police, inter alia, among other things, wish to educate us about the chief ‘ violent producers’, in our country. The really bad men responsible for much of the homicides in Jamaica! And also to allay our fears by telling us about human strategies to reduce murders.

And the #Metoo campaigners, quite rightly, seek to expose, and hopefully , to rid a society of, the evil and the presumptuousness of sexual abuse. At all levels! Thus helping to create former President George Bush’s ‘ more gentle ( and caring and respectful) society’. And protect the rights of women.

In the midst these national and international calumnies, always, the God of Abraham, reminds a broken world, through the ‘ body of Christ’, The Church, of Christ’s death and resurrection. For the sins of all mankind! Through the revelation of His Holy Word.

Oswald Chambers – Facing Reality

WHICH

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

God or Sin

God or Sin must die in me. The one elementary Bible truth that we are in danger of forgetting is that the Gospel of God is addressed to men ( and women) as sinners, and nothing else…..

Christ or Barabbas
And they crucified Him. Matthew 27: 35.

Christ vs. Barabbas – we have to choose. For a long while we can ignore sin and dwell in the fact that God is our Father, but if we mean by that, that He forgives our sin because He is loving, we make the Atonement a huge blunder and Calvary a mistake.

What does Barabbas represent? The expedient to Jesus Christ, something less radical, less emphatic, less against what we want……

Christ or the Old Man
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him.…. Romans 6:6

What is our “old man”? The disposition of sin in us discovered by the incoming Spirit of God when we are born from above. A Christian experiences the first work of God’s regenerating grace begins to discern this disposition, and the issue is clear that the old disposition must be crucified or the Sprit of Christ must be crucified, the two cannot remain long with each other…..

Christ or I
I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, and no longer I, but Christ liveth in me. Galatians 2:20.

Christ or “I”? I means the religious ” I”, the spiritual ” I”, the pride of spiritual possession. Have we learned the glorious, unmistakable privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that is left is Christ’s flesh and Christ’s blood in our flesh and in our blood where once the world, the flesh and the devil had their way?
These are tremendous things to say in light of the way the modern mind looks at things, but not too tremendous in the light of the Gospel.

Christ and the World
...by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

What is the world? The set of people with the ambitions, religious or otherwise, that are not identified with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul says, ” I am crucified to that world, and that world is crucified to me”.

When the world comes before us with its fascination and its power, it finds us dead to it, if we have agreed with God on His judgement about sin and the world….

A final word from Chambers on the Bible; for ultimately the Bible is the Word of God. Not Chambers’. Although in my journey the Lord has led me to read Chambers and so through his inspired writings gain deeper insight into God’s Word.

THE FACTS OF THE BIBLE AND THE THEORY OF INSPIRATION

The Bible is a world of revelation facts, and when you explain the Bible, take into account all the record of it.
The Bible nowhere says that we have to believe it is the Word of God
before we can become Christians. The Bible is not the Word of God to me unless I come at it through what Jesus says, it is of no use to me unless I know Him ( hmm?…corporal punishment….spare the rod and spoil the child ).
The key to my understanding of the Bible is not my intelligence, but personal relationship to Jesus Christ. I begin my theories after I have got on the inside. You may believe the Bible is the Word of God from Genesis to Revelations and not be a Christian at all.

Comment: So it’s all the work of the Holy Spirit that will change the hearts of violent producers and men who sexually abuse women. The church therefore, being part of the world must play its part in ridding the society of both evils.
But more importantly, the Church, being not of this world, but a manifestation of the supernatural power of God, must choose carefully if it intends to be what God has, in Christ Jesus, called us to be; ministers of the message of reconciliation of sinful man to God.

For ultimately, only God has the power to change the hearts of murderers and abusers. And all others sinners, a category in which we all fall. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That’s why Christ came at Christmas and died. And once again it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas again. At least the need for Redemption. Not the glitter. The substance. Not the hype.

That’s what the Bible teaches. A far greater and more important lesson than what the head of the IMF left with us this week!
That ” all of my help cometh from the Lord”. Psalm 121.

Whose Report should we believe? The United Nations or God!

As part of Western Civilization, The Americas and Western Europe, Jamaica faces a serious problem; to whom do we report. Who ultimately, ‘run tings’ in this world? It’s a question that is not necessarily on the minds of our politicians, especially the younger ones, University professors, civil society leaders or the ‘ fourth estate ‘, the media, but it nonetheless a very real issue.

And one that was brought into very sharp focus in my country recently with the reopening of the debate on whether or not abortions should be made legal. Also the issue of corporal punishment; should it be banned not just in schools but in homes as well.

The challenge for the Western Civilization is that, democracy, in its pure sense a full package of freedom of the press, separation of powers – the executive and the judiciary – and universal adult suffrage, flourishes only on a Christian foundation of individual freedom; because we are all made equal in the image and likeness of God. And set free from any kind of ‘enslavement’ by the death and resurrection of Christ! ( Freedom in the making of Western Culture by Professor H. Orlando Patterson)

That’s why Christmas, although, the cultural, but never the spiritual, part of it has been hijacked by the marketeers, is celebrated in the Western World. That’s why politicians end their induction ceremonies with the words ” so help me God”. That’s why, until recently, when filling out a form, your ‘ Christian’ name was requested. So too people still, or used to, give testimonies in court by swearing on a Bible, ‘ to tell the truth……so help me God’.

That’s why, perhaps one of the very few in the world, Jamaica’s National Anthem really a prayer to the Eternal Father ( reminiscent of one of the most comforting verses of Scripture: The Eternal God is my refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms).
That’s why, although not surprisingly, they are trying to change it in the UK, history, in the West, is divided into BC, before Christ. And AD. Anno Domini ( in the year of our Lord).

But we now have a new ‘ Master ‘; the United Nations! An organization, the need for which was rooted in the horrors of World War 11. A time of genocide. A time when the rights of man were trampled upon by Hitler. A time of evil. A time when a free world sought to institutionally, say ‘ never again’.

It’s against that background that we must understand the U.N. and its many bodies, all in pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals for the world, becoming, if we allow them, the ultimate arbiter in the affairs of man.

For it is this body and its work that the Jamaican Prime Minister and other highly regarded officials, referenced recently, in the hot debate about the banning corporal punishment. Even in homes! So too the need to revise the abortion laws. So too the very controversial, in Jamaica, the repeal of the Buggery law. So too the issue of Capital punishment.

And when you combine with new ‘ authority, with the age of ‘ enlightenment ‘, purportedly supported by science, of a diminished, if not, no role for God in this modern world, you have a recipe, in my view, supported by The Word of God, for disaster:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” Psalm 127:1 .

Which, for good reason, is one of the most popular verses in the Bible; with both believers and nonbelievers.

No doubt for the same reason, early this morning, I was half asleep, the Lord reminded me of these two verses. One I believe triggered by a conversation, a most distressing one, with a patient who related how a young man, a ‘ bad man’, in the area, ‘ everybody fraid of him ‘, even his own mother, abusive to his mother, was cut down in a hail bullets recently. A tragic reminder of how violence, practised by a ‘ few, has become so endemic in our society. And which issue poses such a huge problem to sustainable national development!

” How could one man chase a thousand or two put ten thousand to flight, unless the Rock had sold them, unless the Lord had given them up”. Deuteronomy 32:30.

And the other one, no doubt triggered by the corporal punishment issue, and how do we effectively discipline our children.

” Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me, and keep all.my commands always, so that it may go well with them and their children forever”. Deuteronomy 5:29.

It can’t be a coincidence, then, that the Lord placed on my heart two passages from His Holy Word from a book that is a ‘ reminder’ of His Laws!

So this life changing and life giving matter of the fear of God, and who is this God, by whom we swear ‘ so help me God’, and not ‘ by the instructions of the United Nations’, no doubt led the Holy Spirit to inspire me to post the following message of Facebook yesterday.

FACEBOOK

Last night the Lord turned my regular #bedtimedevotions upside down, and led me to read John 15 -16. What Jesus told His disciples on the night before He died. A number of these revelations touched my heart; including His assurance that, after His death and resurrection and Ascension to heaven, He would not leave us as orphans, but He would ask the Father to send another Counsellor, the Spirit of Truth who would real all things to us.
A promise which has reinforced in my mind that which has ‘Haunting’ me for this week; that the main request that we should place before the Lord consistently, is for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then I went to bed, and before awakening this morning, the Lord placed this passage below in my mind. Reinforcing Oswald Chambers’ profound observation that, “Christianity is not this I do, but this happened.”

THE WORD OF GOD

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Then if people are reconciled to God, our nation would not find itself in such a difficult place where young politicians, as reported in the newspapers yesterday, who, like Norman Dunn recently, end their swearing in with the words ‘ so help me God’, then turn, with no doubt great compassion and with a determination to do good, seek to revise the abortion law, and in the end, if they are not careful, commit the sin of murder of the child, who the Word of God, says, ” For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb”. Psalm 139:13.

And, this is the same God, who, in our National Anthem we call, and pray to, Eternal Father bless our land.
I wonder really, if the writer of the recent Gleaner editorial, and others who have a similar view, on this very complex, long standing – going back a long time in history – challenging, intensely personal, yet at the same time national, issue, considered to Whom this nation prays collectively, when we sing the National Anthem. If they did not, hopefully this post, as instructed by the Lord, might serve to enlighten. Lest we end up like Pharaoh and his men at the Red Sea, “fighting against the Lord”. Whilst ‘ bloodshed follows blodshed’ in St. James and May Pen and all over Jamaica. And Category Five Hurricanes threaten. To Whom then shall we turn for mercy and rescue!
In obedience.

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:11-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

And I write this’ conversation, written by one of the great Russian writers Dostoyevsky, came to mind;

…….” It’s God that’s worrying me. That’s the only thing that’s worrying me. What if he doesn’t exist. What if Rakitin’s right – that it’s idea made up by men? Then, if he doesn’t exist, man is the chief of the earth ( through the U.N. my words), of the universe. Magnificent!
Only how is he going to be good without God? That’s the question. I always come back to that. For whom is man going to love then? To whom will he sing the hymn?….. ”

Serous question for PM Holness, Opposition Leader Peter Phillips, and Civil Society Leaders!

But if Western Civilization has a problem, the Church, the body of Christ, has bigger problem! For the U.N. and its goals for mankind, are driven by altruism, a desire to protect human rights as it understand it, and just plain common sense. A combination of which qualities and goals, is appealing to governments and people alike. Especially in this world of uncertainty and injustice! The U.N. provides us with a certain kind of stability and collective response to humanity’s growing and diverse problems.
Why the need for Church! And, listening to a conversation on Nationwide last night, hosted by the well respected journalist Cliff Hughes, on the decline in numbers and leadership in the traditional church, I didn’t hear a New Testament defense of the need for Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

I didn’t hear, well articulated, that the church is not another part of the social sector, but a supernatural body, empowered by the supernatural power of The Holy Spirit; the Third member of the Blessed Triune God.
I didn’t hear, well articulated, that ‘ all have sinned ( Prime Minister, President, Cliff Hughes, Usain Bolt, Bill Maier, and even Pope Francis) and fallen short of the glory of God’.
And that ‘ the wages of sin is death, and the gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus’.

I did not hear, what the theologian Oswald Chambers declares that every time we, as believers, preach the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection, new life is created.

For the problem the church, and consequently, sinful unbelieving society faces, why ‘ one man can chase a thousand’, in #Jamaicableeding, is that far too many churches have ‘ graduated’ from preaching and teaching as led by the Holy Spirit. And so ‘ because of a lack of knowledge’, Jamaica, and America, ‘ mourns ‘. Repeatedly!

The key lesson that we can never forget, and the Lord led me back to John 14, last night, is that when Jesus was about to die, and be raised again with Power, He promised not to leave us as orphans. But instead He would send the Holy Spirit to be with us who believe – that He was the Son of God, and that He was sent by His Father, so that men would not perish…John 3:16. By far, the most well known verse in the Bible.

So, why we need the church? To preach, and live out, the Gospel of the Good News that Jesus Christ The Crucified One, died for our Sins, and was raised from the dead so that we may have new life. All, as empowered by the supernatural power of The Holy Spirit.

For the reality is that unless unbelieving sinful mankind, humble themselves, and in faith repent of our sins, in response to the preaching of the Church then, Jamaica and the world, regardless of the best efforts of the U.N. and its agencies, will continue to mourn.

Mourn the presence of HIV/AIDS and other STI’s. Extrajudicial killing by the police. Genital female mutilation in Africa, The trafficking ( into prostitution) of Muslim girls expelled from Myanmar and now living in the refuge camps in Sri Lanka ( News from RJRs Beyond the Headlines yesterday). The wickedness of the raping of women in India and in ISIS held territories. 1300 murdered in Jamaica and counting. 26 dead in Texas. People arrested in Europe for child pornography, and the list goes on.

For at the heart of the Gospel is the existential reality, that ” out of the heart of man ( not just Hitler and Bin Laden and Dudus and Timothy McVeigh and Bill Cosby) comes all kind of evil”. And only the Blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, manifesting the Love and Mercy and Grace of a Good and Just God, can Atone for it. And grant us new and unending life by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Not the U.N. !

So let us ‘ give to the U.N. what belongs to the U.N. – a listening ear; and to God, what belongs to God’ – reverence, fear, love and obedience. Because we ‘ were bought by the price of Blood ‘.

Record numbers of Murders in a Land with record numbers of Churches! Why?

1300 murdered in 10 months in country with a population of around 2.7 million people is no small matter. That’s averaging 130 per month; and a shade over 4 per day. Day after day after day. Month after month. Year after year.
And if you use international ratios that’s 48/100,000.

But it gets worse, as Jamaica is no ordinary country in Christendom; with reputedly more churches per square mile than any other country.

The challenge we face as a nation where the Christian ethic ( a way of life and not just a philosophy preached from a pulpit) is pervasive, is that things were not always like this.
In fact, writing a few years ago shortly after the Tivoli Incursion, former UWI Professor Don Robotham observed:

” When Jamaica gained political independence in 1962, the murder rate was 3.9 per 100,000 inhabitants —among the lowest in the world. In the last 10 years, homicide rates averaged 55 per 100,000 inhabitants, soaring to 62 in 2009, or the astonishing figure of 1,680 murders in a population of just under 2.7 million. In comparison, in 2009 drug violent Mexico had a homicide rate of 14 per 100,000 inhabitants while Brazil had one of 25 and South Africa of 37; Canada, for its part, had a rate of 1.8.”

So what has gone dreadfully wrong? Many things! And the historians and social scientists have highlighted issues over the years; including a stagnant economy, huge gaps between rich and poor, political tribalism, gang warfare, erosion of the family unit, increasingly violent musical lyrics and television/movies content….

But all of this happening in country with so many Christian people who are supposed to be ‘ salt and light’ in any society. So, why have we not been a powerful force engaging in spiritual warfare against this evil which has permeated our land?

In a word. Prophesy! As this week, whilst processing the fact that one of my patient’s sons was brutally murdered last year, and last Sunday evening her daughter was shot dead by marauding gummen, the Lord led me to read and write about prophesy.

First from the Old Testament and then from the New. Prophetic words to use to destroy myths and false doctrines which have taken root, not only in the Jamaican psyche, but in the very church of Jesus Christ.

Thus, the ‘ salt ‘ goes bad, and the ‘ light ‘ flickers, because unless we believe that all Power comes from Christ and Him Crucified, the Church becomes just like any other useful social group; with good and laudable intentions but no power.

And which emasculation of the Power of God’s church is the goal of enlightened people, New Age people, Atheists, and others who are working night and day to undermine the work of the Church. On social, and in traditional, media

Therefore unless we believe, and commit to, and urgently and systemstically, engage in Christian Education about Basic Christianity, captured in one of the most important verses of scripture, and to which I was led to read last night:
” I am crucified in Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ who lives in me ” ( Galatians 2:20):
we will not accept Jesus’ sole condition to follow Him, ” Deny self, and take up your cross”. And remain captive to the greatest socially and morally destructive philosophy of every age, self-love.
One profound meditation by Francois Fenelon with which I’ve been trying to understand for years begins like this:

Self-love must be uprooted, and the love of God take its place in our hearts before we can see ourselves as we are”.

And towards the end observes that:

” The less we love ourselves, the more considerate we are of others. “

For self-love, vs. complete abandonment to the love of God, who died for us, sinners ( for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God) a cruel death on Calvary, so that in Christ we may become a ‘ new creation’, is where the battle is well and truly joined in our hearts.

And it is the effects of this cosmic and spiritual warfare which produces teenage pregnancy, transactional sex in various forms, in all kinds of relationships, and in high and low places, ‘ four burner lifestyle ‘, all of which have destroyed family life in too many homes ; which crowns Kartel a convicted murderer as Dancehall King, and excuses the highly socially destructive yet lucrative for some, practice of Scamming; which validates in the minds of some politicians the creation of Garrison Communities with its attendant social and criminal problems; which maintains the status quo, despite the sophisticated labels of socialism, capitalism and market driven economies, of a huge gap between rich and poor, the marginalized and the powerful.
And which self-love, ultimately blinds us to having a healthy fear of God, and love for our neighbor. The lack of which is the root cause of our problems; this, as we are busy treating, largely unsuccessfully, with the effects.

Thank God then for the remnant that has not ‘ bowed down to Baal’; and that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail. Prophetic words.

FACEBOOK

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for inequities;
the punishment that brought us peace.was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6 #earlymorningdevotions

And yesterday in my #Lunchtimedevotions

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:2-4.

And what is the season? Terror in #NewYork where they are, on social media, blaming Obama for allowing Muslims to come into the USA and commit acts of terror.

Murder in Jamaica, and our solution is more effective policing, establishing #ZOSO and effecting social and economic change including better parenting, and promoting better values and attitudes.

The age of ‘ enlightenment’ which tells us, inter alia, that God is love, and we are to love everybody unconditionally; be courageous, set human rights as our highest goal, don’t focus too much on Sin and Calvary and suffering, and all will be well.

All of this happening because we, like sheep, have gone astray. And gotten caught up with the ‘ hype’, that we run tings, and that appealing for Divine Intervention is evidence that we are intellectually bankrupt and brainwashed. Rather than accept the ‘ substance ‘, the reality that it is Sin, in New York, in London, in Syria, and in Jamaica which is the root of all our problems.
And only the Blood of the Lamb can bring us Peace. So we thank God for His Love and Mercy fully manifested on the Cross of Calvary.

And Thank God that some Jamaicans still sing and believe that: There is power, power, wonder working power in the precious Blood of the Lamb. And are therefore not ‘ ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

May God’s Grace, Mercy and Peace abide with all who believe that ‘ by the wounds of Christ we are healed’, from Sin, Death and Evil. For that’s the Gospel truth now, was 500 years ago in the season of Martin Luther and will be forevermore.

The second posting taken from my Facebook page features a message from the noted theologian Oswald Chambers ( author of the celebrated devotional guide ” My Utmost for His Highest). And continues in the same vein the prophetic word that it is God in Christ, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, who ” works in us” to do His good and perfect will.

FACEBOOK TWO

CHAMBERS CONTD.

.…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. Philippians 2: 12-13

……If you are trying to be a Christian is a sure sign that you are not one. Fancy trying to be the daughter of your mother! you cannot help being her daughter. But try being the daughter of someone else’s mother!
Unless God has worked in us we shall hinder Him all the time by trying to be His children; we cannot, we have to be born from above by the will of God first, be regenerated; then our working is not working to help God, it is working to let God express through us what He has done in us so that we can prove that we are the children of our Father in heaven ( see Matthew 5: 43-48).

So many of us put prayer and work and consecration in place of the working of God; we make ourselves the workers. God is the Worker, we work out what He works in. Spirituality is what God is after, not religiosity.

Comments: As I write and reflect at the same time, the following thoughts enter my mind.

1. The absolutely critical need for authentic Bible based Christian education. A reality that the Minister of Education ought to take on board , himself a Christian, as he positions the ministry to assume the lead role ( no longer the ministry of National Security) in the fight against crime as reported in the Gleaner today.

2. A nation which is agonising over the evil of 1300 murders so far for 2017, is desperately in need of the Transforming Power of The Holy Spirit flowing out of the hearts of born again Christians, who believe that Christ Died for the sins of all mankind; and was raised from the dead with Power, so that those believe in Him, having died with Him, are also raised to a new and unending life. And not the puny efforts of forever busy people trying to live a Christian life!

3. Belief in Christ and Him Crucified is the starting point, and that Christ is sufficient for all our needs, for Rev. Devon Dick’ s call for Unity in the Church in today’s Gleaner. A prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Fittingly this morning I was led to post my ‘ song in the night’, last night. The first verse of a hymn which has haunted my soul in recent years:

THE HYMN

Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay!
Mould me and make me after thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

The reality then is that unless the Churches in Jamaica accept the teachings of the entire Bible, that, The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power, and that power comes only through Christ and Him Crucified, living in and through us, murder most foul will continue like a plague on the land.

Time then to repent of our foolish belief that we can fight against evil; powers and principalities that have invaded the souls of our people with our own wisdom and strength.

And just like how we have learned well the key lesson, that all politics is local, so too we need to learn that, in our relationship with God, repentance is key. To be genuinely sorry that “against you, you only O Lord have we sinned and done evil”.
And then and only then will we be able to :
” Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.”
Thus be ‘ salt and light’, and help to rescue our nation from murder.

Elections, Crime and The Cross of Christ

Next Monday, October 30th, 2017, will be ‘ Election Day, in Jamaica. Not a General Election, but important Bye-Elections. In three constituencies voting will take place. The Opposition PNP is heavily favoured to win two, while the third is ‘up for grabs’; with the governing JLP having the edge, according to recent polls. Predictably the accuracy of those has been challenged by the PNP.

The question is, after all the excitement and ‘ barefoot in the park’, helicopter rides, pictures, together with full page ads in the newspapers, and frenzied campaigning, by the party leaders, will victory for either side ‘ affect the price of cheese’? Will the results be a ‘ game changer’ for the nation in respect of crime and violence; issues which are causing many to wonder if Jamaica can ever become a civilized country again!

For this week, once again, the premier tourist parish, St. James, was rocked by a series of murders; ’13 dead in six days’, blared the headlines. One on a busy street! Including ‘King Evil’, a reputed gang leader! Thus prompting the business leaders to ‘ cry out for help’. And so our nation is on track to having yet another ‘ bloody year’. Just like the one before. And the one before that! For many years now.

So while many are caught up with the elections, some even ‘ calling it’, for the JLP, Cliff Hughes on Nationwide Radio, not one us knows whether or not we will be alive tomorrow, much less next Monday! Or Christmas! Or for the New Year!

Which of course raises the question of what really is the key function of any government? I would suggest that, despite the many advances we have made as a nation, with government and people working together, since Independence, we have failed, some would argue spectacularly, in keeping our people safe. And if a government, of any political party, cannot come up with policies and programs to prevent over 1000 people dying year after year, in a country with a population of a shade under three million, of what use is it?

Yes, we give thanks for the new highways; yes we give thanks for new life saving equipment at some hospitals; yes we give thanks for the availability of potable water and electricity and the wonderful advances in communications; yes we give thanks for the partnership between church and state in the quality of education provided for our children (although some might beg to differ) ; and so much more.

But God have mercy, when will our various governments, become as skilled in reducing the horrible murder rate, as they collectively are, in gaining state power!

Perhaps there is a link between this real and present secular issue, and in my view, a matter of far greater importance, the spiritual issue of the critical role of what took place on the Cross of Christ in the advancement of the Kingdom of God, and the spreading of the Gospel. For according to one wise man, ‘ those who are unwilling to have God rule over them are unfit to rule over people ‘.

So this week, I was led to write to leaders in my church about a ‘ game changing event’. An event which ultimately gave birth to the Christian Community which is now over 2 Billion strong ( roughly a third of mankind are Christian believers).

THE LETTER

I write in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Early this morning, about an hour before sunrise, the prayer for the decade of evangelism, which is a foundation prayer for the inspired Internet Ministry, kept on reverberating in my mind. And that something was missing!

So during my #earlymorningdevotions when I arrived at ” Put your Word In my mind” ( The Threefold Morning Watch prayer by Jacob Boehme), in obedience, I opened by Bible randomly and found this passage:

THE WORD OF GOD

Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.

Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!” Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’ ”

Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”

When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.) There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Acts 23:1‭-‬11 NIV

http://bible.com/111/act.23.1-11.NIV

Having read the passage, the following thoughts came into my mind. In addition to others which emerged as I began writing.

1. Are we as Christians, ‘ on trial ‘ for ‘ hope in the Ressurection from the dead?

Is that what we are known for, and thus elicited the opprobrium of Satan? Or have we been guilty of not ‘ ruffling anyone’s feathers’, in spreading the Good News, The Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Have we, as Church, experienced the Lord’s Presence, yesterday’s OT reading, encouraging us to be of good courage, because of opposition to the ‘ Hope of the Ressurection ‘

2. The profoundly important warning from Paul in 2. Cor.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:8‭-‬9 NIV

http://bible.com/111/2co.1.8-9.NIV

3. In this context, of ‘ not relying on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead’, how do we view the headlines calling for the Government to ‘ place a focus on family life’; in pursuit of ridding the nation certain social ills. As if Christian values can be taught without placing a focus on Christ and Him Crucified.

4. Do we, as Church, stand accused of St. Paul’s great concern, ‘ less the Cross be emptied of its power ‘.

5. Yesterday, I was led to share from words from the Epistle at St. Clements. That the Gospel did not come to us by Word alone, but with Power and full conviction. I don’t believe that there is any element of coincidence in my being led to write, respectfully, this morning, essentially about where the Power of the Gospel lies; that we should not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. The Hope of the Ressurection!

And who knows, if we consider these things in response to deep prayer about the Renewal of our Church, beginning with me, all of us, so that the Church may renew the nation(s), who knows how the Lord may send times of refreshing on us, and our nation. And the devil send his agents to attack us; but always we are aware of God’s Presence, saying ” Be of good courage, as you have testified in this place, so will you testify elsewhere”.

In obedience.

Peace.

LWJ

THE FOLLOW UP LETTER NEXT DAY

Part 11 – lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power

This morning on arriving at :

Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (OT reading for this Sunday):

I pondered on this great revelation, and wondered how much, what happened on Calvary, has added to this revelation. Then a hymn, on which I meditate every Sunday morning, before taking Holy Communion, came to mind:

“Here O my Lord I see thee face to face…….”

And so did that teaching passage, on the ‘transition’ from Moses to Jesus and Him Crucified, 2 Cor.

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us with unveiled faces seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for the comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

2 Cor 3:12-18 NRSV

As I wrote a couple of thoughts entered my mind:

1. Can the church’s ministry in Jamaica be accurately described as ‘acting with great boldness’?

2. If not, why?

I believe, that the Word on which I shared on Sunday, given to us at this time for a reason, words from the Epistle, that the Gospel came not only by word, but with Power and full conviction, has much to teach us, about ” seeing God face to face in Jesus Christ; and thus acting boldly as ministers of justification, vs ministers of condemnation.

Could it be, that we, as church, have not been fully convicted of Sin. That, what transpired on the Cross of Calvary, with great power and love and mercy, has not yet been fully received in our hearts. ” Against you, you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight”, said David! The challenge for us as leaders and as teachers, I believe, is to lovingly and humbly lead people to accept, as we have accepted, for as Bishop Herman of blessed memory, said often, ” You can’t give what you don’t have”, that even though we might not have walked the road that David walked, we were “born and shaped in iniquity”, and at one time, according to St. Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus: ” we were without God, and without hope”, until the Gospel came to us Gentiles.

There may be more, but I don’t believe that it is coincidence, that last night, in my bedtime devotions, now going through Luke, I was led to read, again, with some deeper insight, the cry of the common man, vs the prayer of the Pharisee, ” Lord have mercy on me a sinner”.

Perhaps, then and only then, will we really like Moses, in Christ and Him Crucified, be able, ” see God face to face”. And be bold! To the glory of God, and for the renewal of Church and Nation(s). All because, then, we have not have allowed the The Cross to be ” emptied of its power”.

Peace.

LWJ

FINALLY A MESSAGE WRITTEN ON FACEBOOK

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20171024/mobay-panic-13-murders-six-days-spark-questions-about-zosos

Headlines in the Gleaner yesterday!

Last night the Lord placed this ‘ headlines’ from thousands of years ago in my soul! And so I woke with great anticipation to read it:

” My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water”.
Jeremiah 2:13

We, in the 21st century don’t like to use this kind of language, but for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, it is clear that Judgment is upon the land. For just like the children of Israel, centuries ago, we have turned away from the Living God and turned to idols ( in the entertainment sector #Adi a convicted murderer still very popular with the young people; twice a day on #TVJ #Lotto #Brukouttabrucknesss; our favourite politician….I will follow …til I die; three and four burner lifestyle.. ..a body to die for; scamming has become a way of life and not just a St. James problem; the #prosperitygospel which is no gospel at all; Netflix run tings until the wee hours of morning; our favourite talk show host….dont touch that dial; and worse of all self-love.
Thank God for Jesus, there is a way back to a loving God, for Prodigal People. A Way back as prophesied by the same Jermiah, and sung by our slave forefathers:

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole,
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.

If you can’t preach like Peter,
If you can’t pray like Paul,
Just tell the love of Jesus,
And say he died for all.

And an even better song about God’s mercy which lifted my soul, to which I was led, as I began my #Earlymorningdevotions

https://youtu.be/Mxz-c8MLAoU

The message then, for me is crystal clear. For the church to be able to assist this nation in reducing crime and violence, we have to be clear about out priorities.

Can it then be coincidence that in a time of such great need in our nation, when many are zealously feeding the poor, defending human rights, healing the sick, preaching sermons, organizing their denominations, arranging meetings, while ” bloodshed follows bloodshed”, that this week, the legendary theologian Oswald Chambers posed a serious question in a meditation I was led to read:

MY UTMOST GOT HIS HIGHEST

WHAT IS A MISSIONARY

OCTOBER 26

As my Father hath sent Me, even so I send you. John 20:21

A missionary is one sent by Jesus Christ as He was sent by God. The great dominant note is not the needs of men, but the command of Jesus. The source of our inspiration in work for God is behind, not before.
The tendency today is to put the inspiration ahead, to sweep everything in front of us and bring it all out to our conception of success.
In the New Testament the inspiration is put behind us, the Lord Jesus. The ideal is to be true to Him, to carry out His enterprises.

Personal attachment to the Lord Jesus and His point of view is the one thing that must not be overlooked. In missionary enterprise the great danger is that God’s call is effaced by the needs of the people until human sympathy absolutely overwhelms the meaning of being sent by Jesus…..

We forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary enterprise is not first the elevation of the people, nor the education of the people, nor their needs; but first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ – ” Go ye and teach all nations “.

Final comments:

It is a good thing to feed the poor, educate our children and defend the rights of the marginalized. But to do so with the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, one has to be first rightly related to the source of all Power, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. And the lack, or breakdown, because of shifting priorities (and perhaps, just perhaps to be fair, for pride lurks deep in the human heart, on account of the pressing needs of people) in this life changing relationship with Christ, is the main reason why the Church no longer has the Power to call a nation back to righteousness.
And this is precisely what St. Paul warned about when he declared ” lest the Cross be emptied of its power”.

So two fundamental changes need to take place in Jamaica land we love. First, Christians need to renew their allegiance to the Lamb of God, the Crucified Christ. And not to the needs of the poor and the marginalized; as legitimate a concern as that is for all mankind. A difficult but necessary lesson to learn.

And second, just as Christians need to get their ‘ act together ‘, and reestablish their priorities, lest we be accused of ” forsaking our first love”, so too governments.

For what shall it profit a political party to gain state power, provide a stable macro-economic environment, attend to the infrastructure needs of a nation, and yet be unable to provide a safe environment for its citizens: going to work, to school, to church, hanging out on the corner, sleeping in their beds, having fun in a session, going to look for a girl. By 2030! Or tomorrow.