From England with Love!

I was in a pensive mood this week. Staying in a hotel near to the famous Trafalgar Square in London, I visited an Anglican church, situated in the heart of the Square, with connections to my own church in Jamaica, St. Martin-in-the-Field. Carol Service!

The church was packed, almost standing room only, the choir outstanding, the reading of the lessons inspiring, and the whole experience very fulfilling.

I

t’s a place, Trafalgar Square, where lots of people visit and take pictures. A square, where I visited years ago, and joined in emotionally with those bearing placards, ” Free Mandela”.
A square with a Christmas tree donated, with deep gratitude, I was informed, by the people in Finland, for the role British soldiers played in protecting them from Hitler during WW11.

And all around London, Christmas, as they say on the streets in Jamaica, ” was happening “. Or ‘ a kip’. The trouble is that, for many people as I found out during my conversations with diverse folks, it was a celebration of Christmas, without Christ. ” I celebrate Christmas and have Christmas dinner with family, but not the religious part of it”, was a common response to my questions.
For although the lighting is spectacular and everywhere on the streets

of London, this city, and indeed, the entire country is secular.
Very secular!

A city where teachers are not allowed to speak as Christians personally, but are limited to ” this is what Christians believe”. Where at least one person with whom I spoke, a Jamaican, no longer going to church, was not aware that Jesus and God were one and the same. And was not familiar with the Holy Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God! And where, like Jamaica, although we don’t hear about it much, young people are committing murder daily. Killing each other by stabbings. Not M 16’s!

And so I was inspired to write. About basic Christianity! On:

Facebook

Christianity 101 #earlymorningrevelations in a historic city.

” Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts”. Zechariah

One cannot therefore try to be a Christian. For true Christianity, not the hype, is about The Holy Spirit, Who is God Himself, living and manifesting Himself in the lives of believers: sinners who believe that Christ died for our sins, and was raised by the mighty Power of God, so that we too, in Him, may repent, and die to the old self, and become new in Christ. Which is ” eternal life”, right here on earth ! And thus be empowered to be Christlike, taking care of the widows, the orphans and the strangers, and spreading abroad in word and deed, the Good News of Salvation.
Why? ” For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. John 3:16 – the real story behind Christmas that no grinch can steal

1. Creation – God made all things good; in fact very good. Including mankind!

2. The Fall – when because of disobedience, through one man, Adam, sin entered the world and ” opened the gates and let in the pirates ” of all kinds of evil, and sickness, and disasters. Including rape murder, infidelity, corruption in high and low places, disobedience to parents and unbelief in God. Among other evils!

3. Redemption – The Atonement for sin wrought by the Blood of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. A free and unmerited gift from a God of mercy. All done. ” It is finished”! Our response ought to be, repentance and the acceptance of this free gift where mankind has been reconciled ( returned to the original relationship with God before The Fall) with God. And with each other!
Otherwise:

4. Judgement – ” for it is appointed for all men to die, and then the judgment”. A time when Jesus ( Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again…the foundation of the Christian faith) shall come again in glory. But not as Saviour this time, but as Judge.

That’s why as Christians we humble ourselves, be patient with those who don’t know Christ, and even those who persecute us, forgive those who trespass against us, in the same way we have been forgiven by God, and daily deny self, seeking first the kingdom of God, promoting justice, providing for the needs of the poor and lonely, the homeless and the disadvantaged, protecting the human rights of others, and trusting in the goodness and faithfulness of God in all circumstances.
Why? All because of Calvary, where Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, demonstrated His love and mercy and faithfulness to His Creation.
This is what Christmas is all about and not the bling on the streets of London

And to my church! Back home. About not being afraid. For if we are not careful, children of God, redeemed people bought by the blood of Jesus, people of the ressurection filled with Spirit of the Risen and Ascended and soon coming Christ, can get caught up in the secular narrative. That there is no hope for Jamaica. That we are a failed state! That it is only a State of Emergency can stop our people from killing each other. That all politicians and police are corrupt. And bring Petrojam, now, and the Shell waiver, then, as evidence. Along with a whole litany of misdemeanors! That the church is only concerned about the LGBT, in London I was informed that other letters have been added, community. That God is asleep or does not care, or is powerless to stop the brutal killing of our young girls, pregnant women, female partners and so many young men.

A fear which ignores or is not familiar with the power of the resurrected Christ. The foundation on which ” all things are made new” throughout the entire world. Not just Jamaica! And which reality, inspired St. Paul to declare, ” I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me”. Philippians 4:13.

LETTER TO MY CHURCH

#Earlymorningdevotions and #Latenightdevotions

A message from a city, London, from where once, “Britannia” ruled. And the sun never set on the British Empire!

From where colonialism with its evil tentacles of slavery spread. But, lest we forget, from where Spitfires and Hurricanes flew in battle against the evil of Hitler and the spread of the Third Reitch. All alone until Pearl Habour happened and gave birth to the Allied Forces as America joined the war. Thus ending the diabolic plans of one of the most evil empires of all time.

Most importantly however, ” you meant it for evil, but I meant it for good”, from where, the Salvation story came to us in the Caribbean. After Columbus, and then Penn and Venables invaded Jamaica and ” God save the Queen ” ruled, until Eternal Father bless our land, in 1962.

Message : Do not fret ( do not be afraid or worry ) for it only leads to evil. The Psalmist.

The reason for the sad tale of Lot and his two daughters; a metaphor for much of the reason why so much has gone wrong in human history. They attempted to ‘ play God” for they were afraid, they worried, were guilty of fretting, that no man would be available for them ” in all the world “. This after the destruction of Sodom and Gomarrah, and ironically, after God had saved them with mighty power.

THE SHAMEFUL ORIGIN OF MOAB AND AMMON

Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.” That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older …..
Genesis 19:30‭-‬38 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/gen.19.30-38.NIV

It’s a passage of Scripture which has provoked much comment and great controversy, especially on social media. And no doubt there are many other lessons to be learnt from this experience.

But when you link it with the story which immediately follows it, in Chap 20, as I was led to read, the point raised by the Psalmist, ” do not fret, for it leads only to evil, is once again validated.

ABRAHAM AND SARAH AND ABIMELEK

Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.”

Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”

Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”

Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
Genesis 20:1‭-‬11 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/gen.20.1-11.NIV

The challenge, as I read these passages of Scripture, in the context of my visit to this historic city, and what is taking place at home, I believe, is for us as church, to remember that God is a good God. And a God of, and in control of history. Regardless of our present or past circumstances.
An assurance given on the final revelation.

THE WORD OF GOD

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:18‭-‬27 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.14.18-27.NIV

For, ultimately, the reason why we can live without fear, and not allow evil to rule our minds, is because we serve, and believe in, a Savior who was raised from the dead. With might Power! And which Power, The Holy Spirit, lives in every believer, by faith and by grace.
And anytime we forget the power of the resurrected Christ living us, evil can attack us, and cause us to fret and worry. And do stuff which dishonors the Living God.
The story of Lot’s, and sadly, lots of, daughters, and sons! Including far too many of us in Jamaica who don’t live victorious lives in and through Christ Jesus the Crucified One.

And, thank God, only a small part of Abraham’s story. The man of faith!
So we thank God for mercy, as He ‘ restores our souls’ , in Christ Jesus, the Living Word, day by day, as we learn, and believe in the words of the songwriter:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way.
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.
Peace.
In obedience

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Buju Banton’s second chance with man and with God

Assuming that Buju Banton aka the gargamel, the Jamaica Reggae Superstar, did in fact commit a crime and there was no ” set up”, then, having ” done the time”, he, like anyone else, deserves a second chance. Therefore we ought to welcome him home. Without any reservations! And pray that, for he and his family and all his fans, including me, who are attracted to his conscious message music, he keeps on the ” straight and narrow “, from now on, because prison is ” not an easy road”. As it takes one over ” hills and valleys”.

But his getting a second chance by society, is one matter. Getting a second chance with his Creator, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of Haile Selassie, an Emperor but also like us a sinner in need of grace, is another matter altogether.
That one requires repentance and a believe that Jesus died and was raised from the dead, for our sins. So that in Him, we may gain a righteous before God, and become a ” New Creation “, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For all have sinned, Buju, Chronixx, Bob Marley, Dalton, TessAnne, Spice, and fallen short of the grace of God. And the wages of sin is death. But the ( free and unmerited) gift of God – grace is Christ and him crucified.

With this in mind it is clearly not by chance that last night’s #latenightdevotional reading from Oswald Chambers was all about repentance:

OSWALD CHAMBERS

Repentance

Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation….
2 Cor. 7:10

Conviction of sin is best described in the words:

My sins, my sins, my Savior,
How sad on Thee they fall.

Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin ( see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God – ” Against You, You only, have I sinned and done this evil in your sight….(Psalm 51:4).
The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy.
He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, ” I have sinned “. The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything else is simply sorrow for having made a foolish mistake – a reflex action caused by self-disgust.

The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man’s respectable ” goodness”. Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begin the formation of the Son of God in the person’s life ( see Galatians 4:19).

This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses – repentance is a gift from God.

The old Puritans used to pray for ” the gift of tears “. If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.

Comment: I have read the first letter to the churches in the book of Revelation many times. And often challenged by the gentle but insistent rebuke from Jesus, that ” you have lost your first love “.

THE WORD OF GOD

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
Revelation 2:1‭-‬5 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/rev.2.1-5.NIV

In this context I believe that the message to the church in general, in this age, is that if we are not careful we could be guilty of “losing the plot” . i.e forgetting that the power of Christianity is the eternal message that ” Christ was raised from the dead”.
This is what frightens powers and principalities and all the evil forces of this comos. This is what annoys and disturbs Satan’s minions. Read the passage I was led to reflect on this morning, by instruction – the extended passage of Scripture came into my head during my #Earlymorningdevotions.

The Word of God

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:1‭-‬13 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/act.4.1-13.NIV

The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead is what ultimately is the turning point in history, which gives all mankind a second chance. So that we too can die to sin, and like Christ, in Him can be raised to new life, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This revelation of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the only power that can prevent the horror of a young 13 year old child stabbing his mother to death.

http://www.loopjamaica.com/content/13-year-old-son-custody-after-mother-stabbed-death

Seriously, how do you kill your own mother unless the living devil has taken over your soul. I don’t even like killing croaking lizards, even though for a ” happy life” I have had to over the years given my wife’s fear of them. So only God He knows, how anyone can kill another human being, much less the person whose love and care sustained you when a helpless baby.

I pray God that Buju and all who have sinned, will repent. With a broken and contrite heart! So that, Jamaica, land we love, may get a second chance to recover from the evils of Crime and Violence and Immorality and Injustice and Indiscipline which have infected this blessed nation. For Christ has died! Christ is Risen! Christ will come again! As Judge. Not as Savior.
Peace.

Evil and Self: Both have to die if we are to save young girls like Tashi Munda from Evil.

So evil has struck once more in Jamaica. And another young girl’s name is forever etched in our consciousness. Tashi Munda. Burnt to death in a fire allegedly set by her mother’s boyfriend.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20181130/she-was-going-impact-world-st-hughs-high-devastated-loss-honour-roll

Then this evening news broke on Twittet that her mother had succumbed to her injuries. Is there no end to this wickedness? A cry coming from the lips and hearts of many who are just sick and tired of this ” new normal ” in our lives. Day after day, the violence continues. And especially against young girls and women!

In other words, what is to be done about evil? And we know that only God can answer that kind of question. It is in that context that I believe I was led to write this message on to members of my Anglican Church earlier this week:

FACEBOOK

Of late the Lord has been waking me up at 5:00 vs the earlier 4:00 meetings. So in obedience, admittedly eventually, I got up and opened my Bible randomly. And one thing led to another! Finally the ‘ discussion ‘ stopped at a meditation by Martin Luther King jr.

And as I read how MLK jr understood, under divine guidance no doubt, what took place at the Red Sea experience between Israel and Pharoah, ” the death of evi”, and a ” checkpoint in the universe ” for evil, my mind went to the sermon Bishop Gregory preached last Sunday. About ‘ end time’! A summary of which I posted on Facebook as a Sunday Camera reporter.

FACEBOOK
Missed reporting on Church last Sunday. Great Service today at St. Andrew Anglican Parish Church. Our Bishop was present and on a day when we celebrated Christ the King, he shared instructed the church about the ” End Time“.

A time when Christ shall return, not as Savior but as Judge. And the wicked, those who abuse the poor, those who carry out, or support, acts of injustice, those who ignore the Good News about the Redemption wrought by Christ on Calvary, will be judged. Their day of reckoning will surely come regardless of how ‘powerful’ individuals and institutions and governments appear to be.

At the same time ‘End Time’ understanding gives the church no mandate to ignore the cries of the poor and disadvantaged, ‘bun fire’ ( my interpretation of his charge) for this wicked world and look to everlasting life in heaven with Christ. No! Rather we are to endure what the world may throw at us because we serve a heavenly King, and in the power of the resurrected Christ, continue to build the Kingdom of God right here in this sinful world until Christ comes again; the timing of which return no one knows.

Birthday folks and visitors were highlighted and celebrated. And we look forward to next Sunday, our Patronal Festival and the first Sunday in Advent

Hymn verse of the week:

….all hail, Redeemer hail,
for thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.

And as pondered these things, the reality struck me; that the ultimate checkpoint in the universe for evil, was, and continues to be Christ and Him Crucified on Calvary. Raised from the dead and Ascende to heaven.

No doubt the reason why I was led to post this message on Facebook yesterday:

Facebook

Yes, it’s really beginning to look like Christmas. As Sunday coming is the first Sunday in Advent- a season of preparation for the second coming of our Lord. Christmas marked the first coming! But always, Christmas and Easter are joined together. Why?
This song entered my heart as I read Martin Luther’s reflection on Philippians 2:8

And being found in human form:

” he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death-
even death on a cross”:
Therefore God also highly exalted him…

Martin Luther – The Wonderful, Unspeakable Mystery

All the wisdom of the world is childish foolishness in comparison with the acknowledgement of Christ. For what is more wonderful than the unspeakable mystery, that the Son of God, the image of the eternal Father, took upon himself the nature of man.
Doubtless, he helped his supposed father, Joseph to build houses; for Joseph was a carpenter.

What will they of Nazareth ( and we in Jamaica) think at the day of judgment, when they see Christ sitting in his divine majesty; surely they will be astonished, and say : Lord, thou helpest build my house, how come thou now to this high honor? ( Or about the many Saints who endured ridicule, as while they served in our homes, collected the garbage, stood at the street corners, they witnessed to Christ, and then will be with Christ).

The Song:

He is Lord, He is Lord
He has risen from the dead
And He is Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord

You are Lord, You are Lord
You have risen from the dead
And You are Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord

#Earlymorningdevotions
Peace

The challenge and comfort which I think the following meditation from MLK jr. provides, is for us to be resolute in our efforts to fight against the evils of Crime and Violence, Oppression, Injustice and Immorality and Unrighteousness often masquerading as ” progressive thinking “. And to root that ‘ almost fanatical resistance ‘ in the only checkpoint for evil in the universe; Christ on Calvary. This is what I believe was the message from the Lord last Sunday and from this #Earlymorningdevotion.
Comfort – For though ‘ midnight ‘ in various forms has been visited upon our nation by evil forces, we have a Hope in Christ that ‘ no midnight long remains ‘. Challenge – not to lose focus on the Cross and become distracted by subtle and very tempting, or overt attacks by the evil one.
Peace.
In Obedience

THE DEATH OF EVIL

Martin Luther King jr.

Verse: Exodus 14:30

When the children of Israel were held under the gripping yoke of Egyptian slavery, Egypt symbolized evil in the form of humiliating oppression  ungodly exploitation, and crushing domination, and Israel symbolized goodness in the form of devotion and dedication to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Egypt struggled to maintain her oppressive yolk, and Israel struggled to gain freedom. Pharaoh stubbornly refused to respond to the cry of Moses, even when plague after plague threatened his domain. This tells us something about evil that we must never forget, namely that evil is recalcitrant and determined, and never voluntarily relinquishes its hold short of a persistent, almost fanatical resistance.

But there is a checkpoint in the universe: evil cannot permanently organize itself. So after a long and trying struggle, the Israelites, through the providence of God, crossed the Red Sea……

When the Isrealites looked back, all they could see was here and there a poor drowned body beaten upon the seashore. For the Israelites, this was the end of a frightened period in their history. It was ther joyous daybreak that had come to end the long night of their captivity ( MLK Jr. also wrote a meditation which begins like this : ” Midnight is a confusing hour when it’s difficult to be faithful. The most inspiring word that the church may speak is that no midnight long remains”.)

The meaning of this story is not found in the drowning of Egyptian soldiers, for no one should rejoice at the death or defeat of a human being. Rather, this story symbolizes the death of evil and of inhuman oppression and unjust exploitation.

Comment: The key to unlock this power in Christ to fight against evil anywhere, whether it be the wickedness which claims the lives of a young girl ( with or without academic promise) and her mother, human rights abuses in prisons – a raging debate in Jamaica – corruption in high places which increases the cost of doing business, affects the efficiency of governance and ultimately denies the poor of access to desperately needed services, or whether it be the invasion of our culture by immorality which helps to destroy family life – the foundation of any society, is to accept that we cannot manage. And not only are we incapable of fighting evil, we too are in desperate need of help. From a loving Creator God!

“Listen” carefully to the message I was led to read early this morning when ” I slept, but my heart was awake “.

It’s from the final one of the Seven famous Letters to the Churches found in the Book of Revelation.

” I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold not hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
For you say, ‘ I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’
You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked.
Therefore I counsel you to but from me gold refined by fire ( suffering for righteousness sake….come out like pure gold) so that you may be rich; and white robes ( washed by the blood of the lamb….are you washed, are you washed by the blood of the lamb, are your garments white…) to keep the shame of your wickedness ( unredeemed sin) from been seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those I love ( so that you may become holy ….see Hebrews 12). Be earnest then and repent.
Listen! ( Behold) I am standing ( still there until now….a better translation that ” I stand”) at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.
To the one who conquers ( endures the trials and temptations to turn away from Christ or to remain ‘ lukewarm ‘….and remains faithful) I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered ( was obedient even to death on a cross….to his Father and our Father) and sat down with my Father on his throne. Revelation 3: 15 – 2.

I put it to you, that one, if not, the main reason, why the church in Jamaica is so ineffective in its witness, and its ability to fight against evil, is the widespread lukewarm virus affecting the church. Despite appearances to the contrary, in terms of our ” reputation for being alive, but you are dead” – part of the message to another church!

And based on the Scriptures, all of this has come about because we think we are ” rich”. And don’t accept or understand that we are ” wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked”, and therefore in need of the presence of Christ’s transforming love and power in our lives.
That’s why we have to die to self!
The topic of the final message. A message sent to members of my church this week.

But not before the words of this wonderfully instructive hymn came to mind as Satan attacked me by day and by night yesterday.

THE HYMN

1

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.

2

Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Refrain..

3

Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
Refrain. .

4

But we never can prove
The delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Refrain.

5

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do;
Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey
Refrain

DYING TO SELF

Woke up this morning, regular hours, with a verse from John 6 in my mind. Wasn’t sure of the exact quote so I went reading and found it.

” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me”. (45).

And there is a companion verse:
(44) ” No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father, who sent me, and I will raise him up on the last day”. An End Time promise!

Very much in keeping with the Bishop’s charge last Sunday, and consistent with the message and season of Advent which begins this Sunday.

But there is more, for not only, as I was led to write yesterday, Evil has died, but self has to die also, if we celebrate Advent, the second coming of Christ, with the correct theological understanding.

Why? I was led to read from  verse 22, and then this, very familiar verse, struck me. Again! With fresh insight.

” When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, Rabbi, when did you come here?
Jesus answered them, Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” John 6: 25-27 NRSV

You may think that warning/revelation only applies to the adherents of the prosperity gospel! But think again after reading the next passage which entered my mind. And clearly not by ” flesh and blood”!

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives on me. Galatians 2:20.

Followed by :
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and have himself for me.
20 (b).

And nestled in the page is a very challenging quote from a saint of yure –

” It is accepting the circumstances that come to us in life that self is crucified.”

One more passage came to mind. When John the Baptist called for repentance, he also challenged people who came to ” produce fruits of repentance “.

So the ultimate question, for me, and for the worldwide church, not just Anglicans, is twofold.

1. Have we died to self, or are we dying to self day by day, and received the very life of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

2. Is this life of Christ in we who have died to self, producing fruits of the Spirit. Or are we behaving just as we were before we received eternal life; which is Christ himself.

For the eternal challenge for we who claim to believe in the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection of Christ and that He will come again to judge the living and the dead, is not our belief in and by itself, not faith in faith, but whether or not we have received Christ. And it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. And that life of Christ is manifest to our children, our spouse, our neighbors, our co-workers and to our fellow Christian brothers and sisters.

Lord renew thy church, beginning with me. Lord renew thy church, that the church may renew the nation(s)

For truly the kind of evil among us, although evil has been conquered on Calvary, as the headlines of the Gleaner reveals, cannot be defeated by people who come to Christ for, only, food that perishes! Whether that ” food” is ackee and saltfish, which folks in the inner city need on account of neglect and how a capitalist state and system operates. And yet they need more than that for eternal life.

Or whether that ” food” is the joy of being able to worship God Sunday after Sunday, and receive the Holy Sacrament, or engage in praise and worship for an extended time. And yet! And yet, in the eyes of God, and man too, there is no consistent evidence of the ” fruit of the life of Christ”. Or a deep yearning for ” a clean heart and a right spirit….a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise “.

Peace.
In obedience.
LWJ

Of Taximen, Thanksgiving, Weddings and Good ( not Black) Friday

My experiences this week were a mixed bag. Taxi drivers, the most indisciplined, outrageously reckless and impatient people on God’s good earth, went on strike in my country this week.

Why? #fakenews and a move by the government to put some amount of discipline into the transportation sector, and introduce new technology. All in an effort to stem the rising carnage on roads where to date, 324 persons have died. Gone too soon, according to the famous song by the late Michael Jackson.

And in the midst of the heated national debate, came the ‘ bite of the week’. ” Ah Taximan run Jamaica”. Ostensibly because of their role in moving people, lots of people, from point A to point B. Everyday! Which brings to mind a popular Janaican saying, aphorism even:
” Duppy know who fi frighten”. In this instance the target was the Jamaica Government and certain ‘offending ‘ provisions under the new Road Traffic Act.

And so I was moved to post this message on Facebook.

FACEBOOK

#Earlymorningdevotions

Two passages of Scripture instructed me, following last night’s ‘ revelation’ on #TVJ that ‘ taximan run Jamaica’. Yes they have some legitimate issues. A place to let off and pick up passengers where they will not be ticketed by the police for example, is true in some cases.
But their sense of power, slaked by the wine of the lawlessness of some, and the facility with which some of them constantly provoke law abiding road users to wrath by their indiscipline, and get away with it, has gone to their heads.

So too some policemen and women who believe that they too run this country and are above the law. Add to that list some politicians, some professionals, some business men, some journalists and some Intellectuals, and other would be tyrants, including organized crime, and put them in a pot and boil them, and we get a poisonous brew or stew of hubris, arrogance and unfettered evil which has become a pervasive and destructive force in this country. Almost unstoppable. Except for God:

” See now that I myself am He!
There is no god beside me.
I put to death and I bring to life.
I have wounded and I will heal,
and no one can deliver out of my hand”
Deuteronomy 32: 38

” When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17&18. An extension of the one of the Scripture readings for the worldwide Anglican church this Sunday – Christ the King.

Then as the change in climate, thank God the nights are a bit cooler, ” it beginning to look like Christmas”. The most wonderful time of the year. Better than Thanksgiving in the USA. To Whom do they give thanks? How? And for what?
Better than #BlackFriday when hordes of shoppers flock the stores to cash in on tremendous savings.
And so I shared the post of good and faithful man of God, Rev. Rawley Tyson. Which would definite deserve a repeat of another popular Janaican expression. ” Nuh say nutten”. No need for much comment.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10158276278054129&id=521649128

No doubt then, that the Lord was working His purpose out when He inspired this post on Facebook. For our commercial and feel good, and ” every thing going to be alright”, Bob Marley kind of understanding of Christmas may be quite different from the message from the songwriter, and of God.

” Hush ye men of strife and hear the Angels sing ” ( about Peace on Earth to be wrought by the Blood of the Lamb who came on earth as a baby). Ye men of indiscipline and who rebel against the Word of God!

FACEBOOK

Not 4:00 am but 4:30. Nothing dramatic. Just a quiet urging. To get up and read. Randomly. Joel 2.

” Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain. Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near – a day of darkness and gloom…. .

Before them people are in anguish all faces grow pale…..

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows if he will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him……

Then John the Baptist came to mind, and by now the gentle rain which attended my awakening had ceased. So I turned to John and then to Luke 3:

…….the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah……He went into all the region around the Jordan preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins as is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Then I recalled the message from 2 Peter 1:20-2, my bedtime reading:

First of all to must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Then Luke continued:

” The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…….

John says to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance……
And the crowds asked him, ‘ what shall we do’?

Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none, and whoever has food must do likewise….. ( sounds almost like Socialism, but….)

Collect no more prescribed for you – Tax collectors.

Do not extort money from anyone by threats and or false accusations – Soldiers ( and police….what a thing if they would repent).

John has the final word. John 1.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man but of God.

Comment: Lots to say. But not allowed. Too much ” right hand in the shot” is not good cricket form.
Deja Vu! The more things change, except we be in Christ, and become a ” new Creation “, the more they remain the same. Why! Listen to the music: ” It’s beginning again to look a lot like Christmas “; Jesus coming to his own, but yet his own receive him not.
So where are they turning to. And to whom.are they looking for a savior? Perhaps at Confernce tomorrow….figuratively! JLP and PNP.
Perhaps to Cashpot everyday. Even to ‘let the music blow your mind’. Literally! Kartel. Tommy Lee. Buju. The Home of the brave and land of the free….who knows! Perhaps even our own ‘ reasoning ‘, and unaware of the caution of one of the most brilliant minds in history, Blaise Pascal…..” The last function of reason is to recognize that there are an infinity of things which surpass it”…..he who at the age of 12 had worked out the equivalent of many of Euclid’s geometrical theorems.

O Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us.
Minutes to 6. Time to get ready for church.
Peace.
In obedience.

Finally, not tomorrow, but today, I am going to a wedding. With my wife! I just love weddings. And the song from My Fair Lady: ” I’m getting married in the morning, ding ding dong the bells are gonna chime….” O how I wish I could sing.

I spend a lot of my time at work encouraging people to get married.
But more importantly, to commit to the Jesus who I love with all my heart. And get Baptised! Why?

Read carefully the words of a hymn which came into my mind in the wee hours of the morning this week. A hymn we sing often during or before Holy Communion. But a teaching hymn, and a hymn for the ages.
A message of Hope for the sins of taxi taxidrivers and all who cause mayhem on our roads and in our lives. A message for each and every one of us. ” For all have sinned….not just taximen or Chucky Brown or Donald Trump….and fallen short of the glory of God”. And ” the wages of son is death, but the gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus “.

That’s why Jesus came. At Christmas. To die! On Calvary. #GoodNews And to invite us to a Wedding Banquet. And if you don’t have on proper wedding clothes, not just the high heel boot and nails, but covered by the Blood of the Lamb, you can get in. Not even if you win Lotto and can buy a house in Beverley Hills in Los Angeles! Or even if you ” run tings” in Jamaica and big and bang bout yah.

THE HYMN

And now, O Father, mindful of the love
that bought us, once for all, on Calvary’s tree,
and having with us him that pleads above,
we here present, we here spread forth to thee
that only offering perfect in thine eyes,
the one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.

The second verse is the one which entered my soul.

Look, Father, look on his anointed face,
and only look on us as found in him;
look not on our misusings of thy grace,
our prayers so languid, and our faith so dim;
for lo! Between our sins and their reward
we set the passion of our Lord.

Verse three is a prayer for those we love. At home. And at weddings.

And then for those, our dearest and our best,
by this prevailing presence we appeal;
O fold them closer to thy mercy’s breast,
O do thine utmost for their soul’s true weal;
from tainting mischief keep them white and clear,
and crown thy gifts with strength to persevere.

And so we come; O draw us to thy feet,
most patient Saviour, who canst love us still;
and by this food, so awful and so sweet,
deliver us from every touch of ill:
in thine own service make us glad and free,
and grant us never more to part with thee.
Peace. And please pray for all of us who will be journeying across the island, and all who use our roads. And all who need to know about the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Death on our Roads: Faith in the God Who is The Light in the Darkness

Came in late last night. Harvest Supper. Slept until late. Got up, opened my Classics Devotional Bible, randomly, and found a meditation by Brother Lawrence, one of the early mystics of the church ( c.1605 – 1691).

THE COMFORT OF THE SOVEREIGN PHYSICIAN

Isaiah 38:16

I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains, but I pray God earnestly that he would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as he pleases. Comfort yourself with him who holds you fastened to the cross.
He will loose you when he thinks fit. Happy are those who suffer with him. Accustom yourself to suffer in that manner, and seek from him the strength to endure as much, and as long as he shall judge to be necessary for you……

I wish you could convince yourself that God is often ( in some sense) nearer to us, and more effectually present, in sickness than in health……

He often sends diseases of the body to cure those of the soul. Comfort yourself with the sovereign physician of both soul and body.

A reflection from ” back in the day”, which reminded me that I had not yet written the weekly blog – inspiration and instructions come in different ways.

So what touched my heart this week. And everyone in Jamaica who heard the story?
Tiana and Tiara ( Thompson ) and Latisha ( Willians). 8 years old, 10 years old, and 8 years old respectively O Jesus!

Two sisters and a best friend. All perished in a terrible crash, imcluding the driver, who reportedly was speeding and lost control of the ill fated car, on the western part of Jamaica on a famous road. Which on reflection, bears a name full of irony; The Elegant Corridor.

What struck me though, among many other issues emerging from this nightmarish event, was the father’s reaction, in part :

As painful as losing two of his children is, Curtis Thompson is happy that they were baptised even though their mother felt they were too young to take that route.

“I want people out there to listen to their children when they ask to be baptised,” said the father.
He said that both Tiara and Tiana asked to give their lives to God two years ago.
janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com

A reaction to a parent’s worse nightmare become an awful reality, which was even more powerful and impactful on television, when this obviously distraught, but full of faith in his God, referenced Job. And how that Biblical character had suffered! And placed himself and family in the hands of the God who allowed such suffering. For His own purpose. Thus employing the same kind of understanding of God, that
Brother Lawrence wrote about in the quoted meditation.

Amazing! Not a road safety message. Although the context was inherently so. But a message about trusting God in the midst of ” the fire”. Just like Daniel, Mesach and Abendigo!

Makes one ashamed of the doubts and fears and even panic, which attend everyday circumstances which are unfavorable, inconvenient and even distressful. Talk about perspective!

It’s a subject which us 21st century Christians often shy away from discussing. Or even accepting that it is an inevitable part of the journey with Christ. And so we ” bun fire on Diabetes” and every illness and circumstances known to man ” in the name of Jesus”.

Not so, Tiana and Tiara’ s dad. An example that needs much thought and prayer and a matter which ought to attract more correct teaching.

Finally, no doubt influenced by this terrible tragedy, I posted two messages on:

FACEBOOK

One a call to be vigilant and alert. The other, perhaps in anticipation of God’s hand being reflected in the faith of Tiana and Tiara’s parents ( as both of them spoke of their trust in God, and also the faith of one of the surviving sibblings).

NO MAN KNOWETH WHEN THE SON OF MAN SHALL COME

“Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come”. Mark 13:33. An extended reading of the Gospel for the worldwide Anglican Church this Sunday. One of the key messages that our Lord sends to his Church. The Redeemed!

Be alert. Do not get distracted. Do not lose your focus on Christ your Redeemer. And the distractions are many, varied, personal, corporate and intense.
Just like the cell phone and driving. And it’s not only Netflix and WhatsApp, not only a fascination for ” What did Trump do today”, or the latest ” suss”, not only the ” prosperity gospel” and a spiritually unhealthy fascination with Angels and Demons ( losing connection with the Head……Colossians) but as our Lord said, ” False messiahs and false prophets producing signs and omens to lead astray, if possible the elect”. The question is what is the nature and location of these false prophets who would dethrone Jesus and Him Crucified from being Sovereign over our hearts and mind. And cause us to ” forget our first love”!
#Earlymorningdevotions
Promise-keeper, way-maker, miracle-worker, Light in the darkness, My God, that’s Who you are…..been in my head this week.

THE HAND OF GOD

” When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord”. Acts 13:12.

” The hand of God shows up in many ways. Sometimes it’s a deep impression in the heart, a timely word for someone’s need, or even a supernatural phenomenon like this one. But a mission which is not backed by the hand of God will be fruitless. People simply don’t believe in a radically new way unless there’s evidence for the belief itself”. Chris Tiegreen.
#Earlymorningdevotions

Then I went to do my early morning walk. And this came into my mind:
Lord help all of us who work together to promote road safety to be evidence of your mercy and your love and faithfulness.

Especially to the poor and needy and powerless, as road safety, according to the influential research organization World Resources Institute, is a ” issue of poverty”. As most of those who are killed, live in poor countries, and are pedestrians, motor cyclists and pedal cyclists, and very sadly our children ; 21 of them to date. #JohnRollinsThree

So we pray Lord that you may stretch out your hand and make us bold to do your work, as you perform signs and wonders, great and small, dramatic and incremental, in the name of your holy servant Jesus Christ.
Grant us additional resources, so that even though we are not doing well now, 260 – 2012 vs 321 – 2017 and 311 to date, in due course we will see the evidence of your continued grace and mercy on, the ” wretched of the earth”, who for the most part are those who suffer loss of life and terrible injuries. In Jesus name we pray, and ask the faithful to pray for us and for safe passage on our roads.

Evil in California and in Westmoreland: Give to Trump what belongs to Trump, and to God what belongs to God

 

“The Joy of the Lord is your strength ”

Part One

This week, Shakespeare’s prophetic voice, ”

Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry,
New sorrows strike heaven on the face”,

was so real, as, once again terror was unleashed in California USA, and Westmoreland Jamaica.

And once again came the plaintiff cry. Why! Why kill 12 in California? Why murder 4, in one house, in Jamaica. Why?

Perhaps Chris Cuomo on prime time on CNN said it best, when he declared, ” We can do better than this”. His context was gun control. And clearly that’s our context also, but with a slightly different perspective. As our challenge is to try and stop the inflow of these weapons of death. Whereas, in the USA, their challenge is to prevent easy access. Especially to high powered guns, whilst protecting the right to bear arms.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Four_members_of_Westmoreland_family_shot_dead?profile=1228

https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/california-mass-shooting-thousand-oaks-bar-today-2018-11-08-live-updates/

The key question remains, however, can we do better than this? Can we stop being so murderous? With well over 1000 persons murdered already for the year. And almost one mass killing in the USA daily; not all receive national, read, attention from CNN.

By way of an answer, under divine inspiration, I sent an email and posted two messages on Facebook this week.

In response to, yet another egregious act of wickedness came this:

Facebook

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20181106/he-must-have-been-out-his-mind-guidance-counsellor-charges-children

Not necessarily ” out of his mind”! But that the same spirit of wickedness, that caused the murder of over 1008 of our people, invaded his soul, all because, Jesus Christ is not his Lord.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear –
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Woke up with this song in my heart, as we continue to grieve for our country. #Eyewater #Jamaicalandwelove.

And lament that not only Carlene Davis has been warning this country in song, for so long, #ThisislandneedJesus, but also the Bible believing obedient church has been calling this nation to repentance and to be reconciled to God in Christ. For years!

But our stubborn hearts, and proud minds have sought solutions to this national crisis of murder, and murder most foul, in Politicians and Police and rogue police ( It’s amazing how many people, support the self confessed dastardly acts of ” Chucky Brown”, perhaps out of desperation) and soldiers and in ourselves. And our ” International Partners”!

All this madness taking place, whilst Jesus waits on us with open arms, and nail scarred hands, ” The Friend of a Broken Heart”.

For if our hearts aren’t broken by the egregious wickedness of the murder of this young boy, and we return to business as usual, cash pot, I will follow de leader, Netflix, rum and boom, bun church and God, whatever lives, listening to solutions posited by well meaning but in the scheme of things, powerless to fight against evil, folks, upright and bright folks, and more, then our corner dark. But if one or two, continue to cry out to the God of all consolation, then who knows, He might turn and heal this land. And grant us peace in Christ Jesus. A Friend indeed!

Then the message continued, as I prayed for my country:

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
calling for me and for you…
Why should we linger when Jesus is calling,
calling for you and for me.
Come home! Come home! All you who are weary, come home….
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me.
#Earlymorningdevotions

PART TWO

This week I learned a new word. Unfrustratable! I’ve inserted it into this discussion, for it is extremely disappointing, and yes, frustrating, from a human point of view, since the battle is not mine, nor yours, but the Lord’s, to witness so much mayhem and pain, when we could do so much better. And the frustration is not with those Republicans who voted for Trump, much to the chagrin of the Democrats who wished for a Tsunami and only got a Blue Wave.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/9/18075536/midterm-elections-2018-results-governors-state-legislatures-agenda

But with my fellow fellowman in the USA, Jamaica and all over the world, who continue, in the face of unfettered evil, to ignore the words of the Psalmist who wrote this truth:

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor is in vain who build it”.

And so I included the verse in the following post on:

Facebook

Interesting, and even important news. The results of the mid-term elections in the US yesterday. And we should all pay attention. But, ultimately, the most important news that mankind needs to heed is:

” ……And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting on him.” Hebrews 9:24-28 NRSV….one of the readings for the worldwide Anglican Church for this Sunday.

Why? Because death upsets the plans of everybody! And all will perish one day. Those who make the news and those who live in ” obscurity”. And only those who trust in Christ and Him will live forever when He returns.

And God alone is the giver of life….” So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son”. Ruth 4:13…the OT reading for this Sunday.

” And thou child, shall be called the Prophet of the Most High ( John the Baptist …and every believer) for thou shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people: for the forgiveness of their sins…..To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death ( be they Democrats or Republicans, Shower or Comrade). Words from The Benedictus…..Zechariah, Luke 1: 67-79 KJV.

So Trump and his colleagues, elsewhere, are just ” shadows “. Mists, which are here today, and gone tomorrow. But the Word of God lives forever. And ever. Amen.
#Earlymorningdevotions

Then the next day, came this message sent out by email:

EMAIL

But there is more. Much more for us to explore as a people, ” who do not know the power of God”.

For this verse ought to set us on fire! Thinking, probing, wondering, and repenting. That we have not fully grasped the instruction to be in this world but not of this world, viz.,

” Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Which in this context, at the very least, means that we ought to ascribe to God all honor and glory and power. Note the ” Power”. And give to Andrew Holness, Donald Trump, and the institution of government, respect, obedience to laws and qualified support, and prayers ( spell check wrote protest…maybe that too) ; so there may be peace in our land.

The challenge, in this context, is for us to believe, and act on that belief, that God can ” raise the dead”! The beleaguered nation in which we live! The beleaguered nation up north, where many of our loved ones and friends and christian brothers and sister live. How and when and in what form, this ” deliverance ” will take place is God’s affair?

But until then, we must ascribe to God, all power to defeat evil…..the collect for Sunday. For in Christ, even in the midst of trials and temptation and persecutions, we are ” much more alive”, now than before. And through us new and abundant life continues to flow, as we intercede for our nation and the world……Oswald Chambers last night. For if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation! And much more alive than when we were without Him.

Peace, and in obedience

LWJ

This week, as I pondered on these acts of violence which created mayhem, thousands of miles away, and nearby at home, I was led to read the following verse in 2 Peter, which perhaps offers a clue why we have not, in the words of Chris Cuomo, ” done better”.
“Listen” carefully:

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8‭-‬9 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/1pe.1.8-9.NIV

Question is then, not, can we do better, but, ” where is the manifestation of the Joy of the Lord who is our strength “? Where is the inexpressible Joy, that Jesus has come to ” destroy the works of the evil one”?

Where is the glorious Joy, in the face of evil in California and Westmoreland, that one day, one fine day, all of this wickedness will come to an inglorious end.

For with Joy and Hope in our hearts, we, the Baptised, have to be in the vanguard of the struggle to stop the flow of guns into our island, and prevent such easy access to high powered weapons in America.

Be in the vanguard of the struggle to speak Truth to Power. Whether in the US, or in Jamaica. Anywhere! Anytime! Whether there is a Blue Wave, Red Wave, Green Wave or Orange Wave.

With Joy and Hope in our hearts, we the children of God, have to be in the vanguard of the struggle to construct a fair, humane but firm Immigration policy in the USA. And be in the forefront of the struggle to end Squatting and Poverty and Injustice and Unemployment in Jamaica; all of the factors that depress the souls, and stymie the hopes and dreams of the ” wretched of the earth”. Those who make up the ” Caravans ” marching to the land of the free and home of the brave. Seeking better for their families! And those who block roads in Jamaica and legitimately cry ” We want Justice”. All part of the celebrated novelist, Franz Fanon, in his book ” The Wretched of The Earth”. The Forgotten People!

With Joy and Hope in our hearts, we have to escape falling prey to the pervasiveness mood of hopelessness and despair, which Jamaicans are now feeling in respect of conquering the evil of murder which has taken over the minds of so many young men in our country. For we know that the God of Jacob is still Sovereign over this land. And also in America where many are asking not just Why, but How, to fight against the evil of mass killings.

And then finally a song from the world famous Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, inspired by Psalm 121, gives the Benediction. For indeed, my help, all of my help, in this confusing and frustratable world, comes from the Lord. The One who died on the Cross of Calvary to defeat evil. And who will come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead. Then our Joy and Hope and Faith in the cleansing Blood of the Lamb will allow us to see God’s face. But not so for the wicked and the unbelieving!

That’s why ” Because we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men“. But as frustrating as it is, we can only lead people to the well, but we cannot force them to drink from the ” living waters” that is Christ and Him Crucified.

But maybe if they see our Joy and Hope and Love, in the lives of Christians, who walk by the Spirit, and not by the flesh, in the midst of the madness, who knows, they may come to know Him who is ” Softly and Tenderly is calling”. The whole world! Come home, come home, all ye who are weary, come home! To the Only One Who can give rest in this evil generation. The Only One Who can raise the dead, and give new life in a seemingly impossible situation.

O dear Jesus have mercy. Have mercy. Have mercy.

The Abortion Dilemma: The late Rev. John Stott wrote a profound note on this issue

Abortion is a now a red hot topic in Jamaica land we love. And extremely controversial! Dr. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health has challenged the Parliament to make a ” Firm Decision “. This coming during a debate in the House of Representatives following a submission by MP Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn calling for a revision of the current law which makes it a criminal offence for a woman to attempt to abort a child.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20181024/firm-decision-needed-abortion-says-tufton

“The law we are operating under is sections 72 and 73 of the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act. It says that women and their doctors can be charged with felonious assault for procuring or facilitating an abortion, and they can be imprisoned for life if they are found guilty. “.…quote from an article written recently in the Jamaica Observer from a reporter who covered a forum organized by human rights activists early this year.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/front-page/abortion-plea-experts-urge-repeal-of-century-old-law_130154?profile=0

Then for me, after recommendations from this group, came a question which goes to the heart of the issue:

“Is taking the decision to terminate a pregnancy really a crime?”

Inspired by the Old Testament reading for tomorrow Sunday, November 3, 2018, in the worldwide Anglican Church, I sent an email on the issue of Abortion to our Parliamentarians and Church leaders captioned; Abortions, State and Church.

And reacting to a Daily Gleaner Editorial on this issue, I posted a response on Facebook.
These two heartfelt ” letters” are shared. You can read at your convenience. Neither one is lengthy.

https://historicalimperatives.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/inspired-letters-about-abortion/

But, perhaps more importantly, this:

I recalled that the late Rev. John Stott, an eminent Anglican theologian of an Evangelical bent, a former Chaplain to the Queen of England, and a prolific writer, shared his views on this issue many years ago:

Opening lines of the chapter on The Abortion Dilemma ( First Edition of Decisive Isdues Facing Christisns Today 1984):

” 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 discussions regarding this topic and 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 doctrine of both God and humanity, or more precisely, the sovereignty of God and the sanctity of human life. All Christians people believe that Amighty God is the only giver, sustained and taker-away of life. …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 and death….That is why abortion is such a terrible sin. You are not only killing life, but putting self before God; yet people decide who has to live and who has to die. They want to make themselves almighty God. They want to take the power of God in their hands. They want to say: ” I can do without God. I can decide”. That’s the most devilish thing that a human being can do….

Further on John Stott wrote:

THE KEY ISSUE

Those who campaign for a lax policy on abortion, and those who campaign for a strict one, begin their arguments from opposite positions.

Proabortionists emphasize the rights of the mother, and especially her right to choose; anti-abortionists emphasize the rights of the unborn child, and especially his or her right to live.
The first see abortion as little more than a retroactive contraceptive, the second as little than pre-natal infanticide. The appeal of proabortionists is often to compassion ( though also to the justice of what they see as a woman’s right); they cited situations in which the mother and/or the rest of tge existing family would suffer intolerable strain if an unwanted pregnancy were to come to term.

The appeal of the anti-abortionists is usually also and especially to justice; they stress the need to defend the rights of the unborn child who is unable to defend him/herself.

Then Stott makes two important points.

” Those who oppose easy abortions are not lacking in compassion however. They recognize the hardships, and even tragedies, which the arrival of an unplanned baby brings, for example…..an already big family with financial constraints…..sick husband….violent cruel husband…..single mother …schoolgirl….adultery….rape ..incest ….Down’s syndrome.

All of these cases, and many more ( and the driving force behind the modern argument ….maternal mortality), cause great personal suffering, and arouse our sincere Christian compassion. It is easy to understand why some women in such situations opt for the abortion which seems to them the only escape, and why some doctors interpret the law as liberally as they can, in order to justify one.

But….and herein lies the rub….

Christians who confess Jesus as Lord, and who desire to live under the authority of his truth and compassion, can never be pure pragmatists. We have to ask ourselves what principles are involved. Our compassion needs both theological and moral guidelines. If it expressed at the expense of truth or justice it ceases to be genuine compassion.

The key issue, then, is a moral and theological one. It concerns the nature of the fetus ( foetus is Latin for offspring). How are we to think of the embryo in the mother’s womb? For it is our evaluation of the fetus which will largely determine our attitude to abortion.

Then Stott turns to the well known and often quoted Psalm 139 in order to unearth four theological truths.

1. Creation….You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

2. Continuity…He is now an adult, but looks back over his life until before he was born. He refers to himself both before and after birth by the same personal pronouns I and me, for he is aware that during his antenatal and postnatal life he was and is the same person.

3. Communion Covenant…for he, the Psalmist is conscious of a wry personal and particular communion between God and himself….in fact Communion may not be the best description of this …awareness, because the word implies a reciprocal relationship, whereas the Psalmist is bearing witness to a relationship which God has established and which God sustains. Perhaps therefore ” Covenant ” would be a better word, indeed a unilateral covenant, or covenant of ” grace ” which God initiated and which God sustains. For God our Creator loved us and related himself to us long before we could respond in a conscious relationship to him. What makes us a person, then, is not that we know God, but that he knows us; not that we love God but that he has set his love on us. So each of us was already a person in our mother’s womb, because already then God knew us and loved us.

It is these three words ( Creation, Continuity and Communion or Covenant) which gives us the essential biblical perspective from which to think. The fetus is neither a growth in the mother’s body, nor even a potential human being, but already a human life, who though not yet mature, has the potential of growing into the the fullness of the individual humanity he already possesses.
Other biblical passages express the same sense of personal continuity due to divine grace..

Turning to the New Testament, it has often been pointed out ( as I did in the email to our Leaders…..before going back to read John Stott) that when Mary and Elizabeth met, both were pregnant, Elizabeth’s baby ( John the Baptist) ” leaped in her womb” in salutation of Mary’s baby, Jesus and also that Luke here uses the same word brephos of an unborn child ( 1:41,44) as he later uses of the newborn baby ( 2:12,16) and of the little ones whom people brought to Jesus to be blessed by him ( 18:15).

In closing Stott makes the following recommendations.

A. That we ought to repent – as a society, for condoning such a wrong. ……quoting a UK official John writes….I am personally convinced that the destruction of the unborn on this massive scale, deliberate scale is the greatest single offence perpetuated in Britain today…..

further..we need to repent of selective campaigning. We lack integrity if we fight for the life of the unborn and care little for the life of the born – for example, of abused and neglected children, battered or abandoned mothers, slum dwellers or refugees. Christians are committed to human life, both the defending its sanctity and to promoting its quality.

B. That we need to accept full responsibility for the effects of a tighter abortion policy, if it can be secured. To agitate for it without being prepared to bear its cost would be sheer hypocrisy. We must not occasion an increase of illegal ” back street ” abortions. Instead, we shall want to help the pregnant woman overcome any reluctance she feels to have her baby, and see that is given every possible personal, medical, social, and financial support. For God tell us to ” carry each other’s burdens, and in this way …..fulfill the law of Christ ( Galatians 6:2)

C. We need to support a positive educational and social campaign, not least in the schools. Christians must not be shy to teach thoroughly and constantly the biblical understanding of humanness and of value, indeed the sacredness of human life ( Stott I think lived long enough to see that ” door shut” in British Schools, and is well on it’s way to be closed in Jamaica….if we are not careful)…..

More important in the end than either social education or social action, vital as both are, is the good news of Jesus Christ. He came to bind up the broken-hearted and support the weak. He calls us to treat all human life with reverence, whether in the newborn, the infant, the handicapped or the senile.

I have no desire, says John Stott, in his majestic final words of the chapter on The Abortion Dilemma,
to stand in personal judgment either on women who have have resorted to an abortion, or on the men whose sexual self-indulgence is responsible for most unwanted pregnancies. I want to say to them instead, ” There is forgiveness with God” ( Psalm 130:4).

For Christ died for our sins and offers us a new beginning. He rose again and lives, and by his Spirit can give us a new, inward power of self-control. He is also building a new community characterized by love, joy, peace, freedom and justice. A new beginning. A new power. A new community. This is the gospel of Christ.

Me? Forever grateful to my mentor, and late Anglican Bishop of Kingston, Herman Spence, for introducing me to the mind of John Stott. But more importantly teaching me by word and deed to love my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. More than anyone or anything else in life! For in Him, I have life; and life more abundantly.
Peace.