Brett Kavanaugh or Professor Ford, one of them lied: Jesus forgives the sins of the penitent

” Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked may be shaken out of it.” Said God to Job.

#StopKavanaugh #TruthMatters
What’s your take on the Ford vs Kavennaugh debate? Someone lied. And lied repeatedly! And lied under oath!

Was Professor Ford mistaken? Did she accuse the wrong guy? Is she part of wicked liberal left wing plot to oppose everything and everyone connected with President Trump?

Was Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kevannaugh a ” sloppy drinker”? A guy who got drunk repeatedly in high school and at University? If so, if he lied on that issue, under oath, could he not have lied also about the ” bigger issue ” of sexual abuse?

So the upshot of all of this drama, these new development, in the US Senate hearings on whether or not Kavanaugh will be confirmed, is that the FBI is to undertake an investigation into the allegations made by Professor Ford. At the end of the day, credibility is not the issue. Nor the usefulness of a lie detector test. Not even the results of the FBI investigation, in and by itself. I’ll tell you why

Many years there was a song made famous by Dionne Warwick, no doubt composed by the fabulous song writing duo of Bert Bacharach and Hal David, entitled, ” What’s this all about Alfie “.

The answer in my head is that it’s all about ” Sin”. Not just high stakes American politics! Not only about women who have been sexually abused, #MeToo, coming forward to protest against this grave miscarriage of justice in America. Not only about CNN’S Cuomo and Don Lemon ( with his new -no- hair-style) taking up the fight, in the face of weak Democratic leadership, to counter ( and provide an alternate perspective) what Donald Trump is doing to important institutions in America; in their view.

Why do I say that Sin is at the heart of this debate. Two reasons.

One that I was led to read a Scrpiture Union meditation this week in which the writer mentioned that, Bill Maher, the famous American comedian and atheist, reportedly claimed that ” all that was once called sin, is now a disease”
This in an attempt to make sin ” out of vogue “. I wonder what category of disease, Bill Maher, this icon in the anti- religion, anti-church, anti- God, anti- Christian movement, would locate the unfettered misrepresentation of the truth, by one party, this week, in front of millions of people.

Two, is that the Gospel reading for the worldwide Anglican Church for this Sunday seems to have anticipated this event where Sin was paraded without apology.
Take a look:

THE WORD OF GOD – EXCERPT

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:41‭-‬48 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mrk.9.41-48.KJV

Comment: So what we are talking about here is not just the bravery, and decency, of Rupublican Senator Jeff Flake. Not just the flip flipflop, the volte face behavior of Senator Lindsey Graham; no need for an investigation yesterday, with ‘attitude’, and with righteous indignation, and today a dramatic ‘ agreement with Senator Flake’. But rather, ” to be cast into hellfire” on account of unrepentant Sin. Definitely not a good place for anyone! To live in. Forever! And ever!

Perhaps this was the reason why I was led to write this note to some folks in my church yesterday:

EMAIL

The story continues: Last night I posted on Facebook that one of the most liberating passages of Scriptures is to be found in Romans; that in Christ Jesus, we have died. And just as how death has no more dominion over Christ, so we too, having died and raised with Christ in Baptism, ought to count ourselves dead to sin. Romans 6.

So this morning #earlymorningdevotions I am back to the readings for Sunday. And specifically the Gospel which speaks about the wrath of God for those who refuse to die to sin. If thy right hand offendeth thee….using the familiar KJV of this passage….cut it off….otherwise….what awaiteth is a place..”where the worm does not cease. Why? Because we are leading people astray, we are crucifying Christ all over again, when we refuse to die to sin. Lord have mercy on me a sinner…create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me…lest I be guilty of leading anyone astray. And it is not only the sins mentioned in Colossians.

Recently I read a reflection on how we break the Ten Commandments by the well known and highly respected theologian John Stott. And it comes to mind now in this context.

YOU SHALL NOT MURDER. This is not just about the crime of murder. After all, if looks could kill, many would kill with a look. And if murder can be committed by cutting words, many are clearly guilty. Indeed Jesus said that to be angry with someone without good reason, or to be insulting, are as serious as actually killing someone. John draws the right conclusion when he writes, ” Anyone who hates another believer is a murderer.” Every loss of temper, every outburst of uncontrolled passion, every stirring of sullen rage, every bitter resentment and thirsting for revenge – all these things are murder. We can kill by malicious gossip. We can kill by studied neglect and cruelty. We can kill by spite and jealousy. We have probably all done so.

The ethical bar of the Christian life is extremely high, viz., ‘ be holy as I am holy’. In thought word and deed. Thank God for Jesus and his blood on Calvary. For who is able! And for the Spirit of God, which came upon Eldad, and Medad. The same Spirit Who is available to us, and will help us to ” cut off the right hand” if it offendeth the Holy One of Israel. Lest we lead people astray!

Peace
LWJ

Comment: Having written about murder in the email above, perhaps in the context of sexual assault and harassment, it may be useful for us to consider how often, using the high ethical bar that Christianity sets, we transgress the Commandment:

YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.

Again, this commandment has a far wider application than being unfaithful in ( Christian) marriage. It includes any kind of sex outside the marriage relationship for which it was designed.
It also includes all sexual perversions, for although men and women are not necessarily responsible for the urges they have, they are responsible for what they do about them.
It includes selfish demands within marriage, and any behavior that drives a partner to want to end the relationship.
It includes the use of pornography, and giving in to impure fantasies. Jesus made this clear when he said, ” anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.
Just to think murderous thoughts is to commit murder, so to think adulterous is to commit adultery. This commandment embraces every abuse of a sacred and beautiful gift of God.

Final Comments:
From ” what’s it all about, to what’s to be done about it “. What hope is there for either Professor Ford or Brett Kavanaugh? What hope it there for you and I? Sinners all. What hope is there for Bill Maher. All of us guilty of breaking at least one, if not all God’s Commandments in one way shape or form!
Depends or whether or not we are sorry. Or just upset that we got caught! Big difference. Depends on whether or not we are prepared to ” cut off the right hand that offendeth thee”. Depends on how much we wish to avoid the fire that never ceases.
The referenced post on Facebook last night brings Good News. We don’t have to Sin. For our God is a God of mercy and compassion. Which is the message found in the Collect, the guiding prayer in the Anglican church for Sunday:

” O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity……”

Facebook

One of the most liberating passages of Scripture. And of life! You have died in Christ” . And therefore , nothing can rule over you anymore. God’s gift of mercy and grace to all who are baptized. So count yourselves dead to sin, and fear, and doubt……..Satan has no more hold over you. For if the Son of man sets you free, you are free indeed. To be joyful, even in the midst of trials! #latenightreading #betterthanachampsticket. #betterthancnnprimetime

THE WORD OF GOD

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:3-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

That’s the Good News that Cuomo and Lennon et al on CNN need to spread abroad. That’s the Good News that ought to be on TVJ and CVM every night in prime time: to let our people know that we do not have to sin. To leave our children at home alone, and when trouble ” that don’t set like rain” comes, and the house catch afire, and innocents die. To ” put hand ” on our women and girl children, and stab and murder, and then go and commit suicide. To give guns to ” unattached youths “, and then lament the high murder rate in our country. That if we are baptized in Christ Jesus, we have died, and don’t have to tell lies in the Senate anymore. Nor in church. Nor at home. Nor anywhere. And face the possibility of dealing with unending fire in hell.

That’s why we sing like a renewed Wayne Marshall; almost an anthem in Jamaica. This as we closed the service in Majesty Gardens last Sunday. Glory to God indeed!

Verse 1: Wayne Marshall]
Uh
Our Redeemer, saving grace
I know I’m not worthy to see Your face
I try hard, but I make mistakes
You’re still by my side every step that I take
Through every heartache, a You get the praise
A You a me guide and me shield always
Every time me a gaze and a play hard ears
You still show mercy and keep me safe

[Chorus: Wayne Marshall]
Lord, I pray
I honor Your name
Deliver Your mercy
Whenever I fall, You lift me up
Glory to Thee, O God

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Darkness in Jamaica: Light in Christ Jesus

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

I didn’t know him. Nor even knew of him! Until Thursday night when Twitter erupted after news broke that he was killed. I called a friend who had posted one of the early messages on Twitter. Then I got the full report of this wonderful young man, caring young man, passionate about his country young man, who had been gunned down. Mercilessly!

The friend was devastated! As were so many other people in Clarendon where he lived. A young pastor! In church! Teaching! Have mercy! How cold! How absolutely cold, this gunman.

One of his relatives tweeted this message so filled with pain:

And so, inspired by God’s Word, I posted this note on Facebook on Friday morning. In the aftermath of the madness which descended upon the Church on Old Harbour Road the night before! A message of hope. The kind of Hope that Martin Luther King Jr had in mind when he wrote a meditation many years ago, during a very dark period in the lives of black America, entitled:

HE WHO TURNS BLACKNESS INTO DAWN

” Midnight is a confusing hour when it is difficult to be faithful. The most inspiring that the church may speak is that no midnight long remains …..
Our eternal message of Hope us that the dawn will come….

Faith in the dawn arises from the faith that God is good and just. When one believes this, he knows that the contradictions of life are neither final nor ultimate. He can walk through the dark night and the radiant conviction that all things work together for the good for those that love God. Even the most starless midnight may herald the dawn of some great fulfillment.

FACEBOOK

A terrible tragedy happened yesterday. Many who knew him well are devastated.
The Lord sent this message of Hope. I passed it on. And on!

God’s answer in my #Earlymorningdevotions

Opening Chris Tiegreen’s The One Day Wonder of The Cross Devotional, randomly, this appeared. Abridged!

IN THE BEGINNING….

The Scriptures foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham. Galatians 3:8

IN WORD

God has always been the God of the gospel…..

IN DEED

What does this mean for us? It means that God has always been a solution giver….. …
God is a God of answers. He has a solution both for our petty problems and for our deepest crises. How? Through His Word and by His Spirit. When? As we seek Him and His answers in His Word. Why? Because He has always been the God of the gospel.

Comment: Grieve. Yes! But not as one without hope. For your God and my God, is a God of answers. In and through Jesus Christ of Nazareth and Him Crucified.
Peace.
May the God of Jacob comfort his family ; as no one else can.

Then last night, Friday, another thought came to me on #beyondtheheadlines on #RJRFM94 with #djmiller. From the international story of the woman whose son killed his sister. And contemplated killing his mother too. Among her reactions, eventually to be fair, from this very articulate mother, still committed to loving her son unconditionally, was this description of his behavior – darkness. Not mental illness. Not poor parenting. No excuses. Just reality. Eventually she accepted the medical diagnosis – sociopath.

And that triggered in my mind a verse of scripture which ‘ places us all in two clearly demarcated spiritual camps; with no possibility of of any ‘ sitting on the fence’.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin”. Colossians 1: 13-14 NIV.

As regardless of the motive behind the killing of young pastor James Johnson, we know from the Word of God, that such a murderer lives in ‘ darkness’. Just like the son in the story who stabbed his sister to death: then called a friend; spoke to him for a while; after which he called 911. And just like all who have not yet accepted the free gift of Salvation wrought on Calvary by Jesus. And thus come into the Light.

In my country, the political buzzword on one side of the divide is Prosperity. And on the other side, recently, an intriguing development – establishing a covenant with the people to create an egalitarian and just society. Both equally important! But politics and politicians cannot rescue people from darkness. No matter how long we have states of emergency, and zones of special operations! Important initiatives yes. No matter if we create a special ministry to help fashion wholesome values and attititudes. Important initiative, yes. But only Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, Risen and Ascended, and soon coming again as Judge, can rescue Jamaica. And the whole world weighed down by the consequences of sin!

The challenge we face as church, and therefore according to the Theologian John Stott, part of the ” Rescue Religion”, which is the ultimate role of Christianity which is tasked with carrying the ” gospel message” to the ends of the earth, is ‘ opposition’. Which comes in various forms. Within and without!
Instilling fear.

Inter alia : Creating doubt. Causing panic. Clouding our minds from the eternal hope that the gospel promises in Jesus Christ. Creating confusion. Distracting us from our central mission in life: to spead the gospel of Christ, and the Good News of Salvation. Questioning the divinity of Christ, the love of God, and the relevance of Christianity in this ” modern world “.

And so one early morning this week, the Lord inspired this message triggered by the recall of two infamous biblical troublemakers.

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#Earlymorninginstructions.#Beyondtheheadlines

Blessed Redeemer God, save your church from the spirit of Sanballat and Tobiah, who opposed Nehemiah then, and which spirit is still abroad in Jamaica, even now, as we try to ‘ rebuild our crime infested and sin infected, beleaguered nation’, in the Name of Jesus. At whose Name every knee shall bow. One fine day!

The Word of the Lord

” Then I said to them, ” You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and it’s gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and we will no longer be in disgrace. I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, ” Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Amomonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing ?” they asked. ” Are you rebelling against the king?”
I answered them by saying, ” The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it”. Nehemiah 2:17-20 NIV

A word of encouragement for the Bible believing, authentic ( like Bonhoeffer’s confessing church during Hitler’s reign in Germany) praying Church in Jamaica.

I close with words from one of the early church fathers, Hilary of Potiers. A Bishop who lived in the fourth century. Words about the gospel. Words from one who loved Christ unconditionally. One who understood the darkness. But one who had an eternal hope.

SATURATED WITH THE SPIRIT

Acts 20:24

Hosting my Sails

The chief service I owe you, I God, is that every thought and word of mine should speak of you. The power of speech which you have bestowed on me can give me no greater pleasure than to serve you by preaching your gospel.

But in saying this, I am merely expressing what I want to do. If I am actually to use this gift, I must ask you for your help – ask you to fill the sails I have hoisted for you with the wind of your Holy Spirit, inspiring my mind and my voice…..

Saturated in His Love

Although I am dust and ashes, Lord, I am tied to you by bonds of love. Therefore I feel I can speak freely to you. Before I came to know you, I was nothing. I did not know the meaning of life, and I had no understanding of myself…

But then you decided that I should hear the words of your Son, Jesus Christ. And as I heard his words, you enabled his love to penetrate my heart. Now I am completely saturated in his love and faith, and there is no remedy. Now, Lord, I cannot change my attitude to my faith; I can only die for it.

Comment: I pray God that there was no remedy for young pastor James Johnson’s love for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That he was prepared to die for his faith in God.

For it is only this kind of faith, when we are completely saturated with the love of God and there is no remedy, that can chase away the darkness on our land, and bring the Light of Christ into the hearts of sinful men, and rescue our nation.

Not faith in Andrew Holness. Not faith in Peter Phillips. Not faith in the rising star Damion Crawford. Not faith in the state of emergency in St. Catherine. Not faith in our licensed firearms. Only faith in the God who turns darkness in dawn, in and through Jesus Christ of Nazareth and Him Crucified.

May young pastor James then not die, and eventually be forgotten, except by friends and relatives. But may his blood, and the blood of so many brutally murdered in this land, rise up before the God of all Creation, and help to bring Justice and Peace on Jamaica land we love. One fine day!

Hurricanes and Murder and Sin. Jesus turns back the hands of time

Two thoughts came into my mind as prepared to write today. In obedience, according to my experiences this week with both man and God.
The first one is a song from way back in my youth. A time when Jamaica, and in fact the entire world was a far different place. No 9/11. No ISIS. No Dudus.

A song about a guy who left his girl, and wished that he could turn back the hands of time; and reverse his decision. So he begged her, as ” the pain of separation was so deep”, to give him one more chance. We are not told if the young lady responded to his entreaties, and of course, as a young man, dancing away ( three step if you please….and not the stuff that I see on TV) with a girl in one’s arms, we really did not care.

So only God alone could place that song in my heart as Hurricane Florence batters The Carolinas in the USA, a huge typhoon, CAT 5, ravages the Philippines and Isaac, now a storm, threatens to dump lots of rain on Jamaica. All of this happening during a week when we remebered #WildGilbert; one of the most devastating hurricanes Jamaica has ever experienced.

So what’s the connection between Hurricanes, 9/11 and ” If I could turn back the hands of time “.

Sin! The Fall! That terrible moment in human history when Adam and Eve, disobeyed the Word of God. And literally ” all hell has broken loose ” since then. All that is wrong in the world. Disease – dangerous diseases; earthquakes, hurricanes, murder- and murder most foul; wars – and rumours of wars. And of course death – our enemy. All a mystery. But revelation from the

Word of God.

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:19‭-‬23 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/rom.8.19-23.NIV

And it can’t therefore, coincidence that I shared this on Facebook this week.

FACEBOOK

On a night when as a nation we are rejoicing and giving thanks for the reduction in murder, over 200 less murders than last year, a reflection on Sin by a well known theologian, in my mind, warns us about the true nature of sin. And therefore how we ought to approach the matter of solving crime and violence in our society.

John Stott – Basic Christianity:

The Fact and Nature of Sin

Sin is an unpopular subject, and Christians are often criticized for going on about it too much. But they only do so because they are realists. Sin is not a convenient invention of church ministers to keep them in their job, it is a fact of human experience. ( As the furore concerning the behavior of some Roman Catholic priests, and others to be fair , reveals…my words).

The history of the last hundred years or so has convinced many people that the problem of evil is
located in human beings themselves , not merely in human society.
The nineteenth century saw a flourishing of liberal optimism. It was widely believed that human nature was fundamentally good, that evil was largely caused by ignorance and bad housing, and that education and social reform would enable people to live together in happiness and goodwill. But this illusion has been shattered by the hard facts of history……

Much of what we take for granted in a ‘ civilized ‘ society is actually based on upon the assumption of human sin. Nearly all legislation has grown up because we cannot be trusted to settle our disputes with Justice and without self-interest. A promise is not enough; we need a contract. Doors are not enough; we have to lock and bolt them. …..Law and order are not enough; we need the police to enforce them. All of this is due to our sin. We cannot trust each other. We need protection against one another. It is a terrible indication of what human nature is really like……

The consequences of Sin.

” Our highest destiny is to know God, and to be in personal relationship with him. Our chief claim to nobility as human beings is that we were made in the image of God and are therefore capable of knowing him. But this God who we are meant to know and whom we ought to is a righteous Being. ……

If the curtain that veils the indescribable majesty of God could be drawn aside – even for a moment – we could not bear the sight ……A great chasm yawns between God in his holiness and us in our sin…

Writing about sin like this has only one purpose. It is to convince us of our need of Jesus Christ , and to understand and accept what he offers. Faith is born out need. We shall never put out trust in Christ until we have first despaired of ourselves. As he himself said, ” It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Only when we have realized and have faced up to the seriousness of what we are suffering from will we admit our urgent need for a cure.”

My words: Then we can join those who ” Sing for Christ”. To the glory of God.

One of my favourite hymns captures best how hopeless we were, on account of sin, and unable to ” turn back the hands of time “. And how our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ redeemed us with his precious blood.

Here I find my greatest treasure,
hither by Thy help I come,
and I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God,
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
let Thy goodness like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love, oh
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The second thought that came to mind is best explained from the

Word of God.

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my Lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord , so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:15‭-‬17 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/2ki.6.15-17.NIV

The reality of life is not only that we ought to be praying for folks in The Carolinas, and especially for God’s comfort for the families of the five persons so far, who have died, and for those who may be affected by flooding by Isaac, but that God is Sovereign over all things. Even though we cannot see Him. And perhaps more importantly, we cannot understand His ways. Hence foolish people accuse Him of being ” uncaring”.

So this song which I first encountered in Singapore, and met a friend who is a Pastor in the Philippines, many years ago, came to mind. This as I pondered how much, and rightly so, we are concerned about the very real issue of gridlock on the roads in our capital Kingston. How much, and rightly so, we are concerned about murder, especially those involving our young girl children. How much, and rightly so, we are concerned about another #WildGilbert. How much, and rightly so, we are concerned about the 45th POTUS and how his tweets might fuel a backlash against people of colour.

But yet, we cannot see, the veil has not been ” pulled back” , in the minds of unbelievers, so that we can know, that ” there are more that are with us than those that are with them”. And that if as a nation, we would “turn back the hands of time”, go back beyond Democratic Socialism, beyond Free Market Capitalism and ” it takes cash to care”, beyond Progressive Politics and Prosperity, beyond Google – everybody’s best friend – and begin once to trust the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, the God of Sam Sharpe and Deacon Bogle, the God of our grandparents and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows what could happen in our country. What miracles could take place. To the glory of God.

THE SONG

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy

O God have mercy on our souls. For as a people ” we are so prone to wander ” from the God who loves us. Even to death on a Cross in Christ Jesus. And so ” turned back the hands of time “, where once we were held captive to Sin and Death and Evil. But thank God for Jesus. No more!

The Blood of Jesus is against you Satan: In Jamaica and the whole world

Last week Sunday, I had the privilege, and awesome responsibility, of preaching at my church.

If you have the time you can have a look at the link below and the title of it was :
Personal Safety, Obedience and Salvation

https://sermons964306149.wordpress.com/

Not at the main service! But still in the house of God, speaking on His behalf. I shared with the congregation, as an introduction to what the Lord had laid on my heart, a recommendation from Oswald Chambers; the author of the best selling Devotional Book, ” My Utmost for His Highest “.

To read the Bible according to God’s providential order in your circumstances is the only way to read it, viz., in the flesh and passion of personal life”.

Hence the choice of one of the themes of the sermon – Personal Safety.
Then I went work on Monday morning, and by late evening I got a call from a patient whose husband had just died. Suddenly! And she cried. And cried. And cried!

The very next day the news broke that a young man had been shot and killed by a policeman under very controversial circumstances. And his weeping mother was caught on camera.

Both son and mother are ( was) my patients. And so once again I was caught up in the midst of grief.

The very next day, a big woman who lives in an area plagued by gunman, shared her experience of having been held up by two masked gunmen, who demanded money; and told her to kneel down.

And how as a child of God she confronted him repeatedly with, ” The Blood of Jesus is against you “, and refused to comply with his orders. So much so he got nervous and his hand began shaking. And the only reason why she did not grab him and get someone to call the police, was the fact that his crony, also armed, was threatening her daughter and grandson inside the house.
So the young thugs, took a cell phone and a computer and ran away.
I asked if she was going to leave the area and her answer was an unequivocal no. As this was her home.

All of this happening against the backdrop, which influenced the sermon, of a Deacon in a Seventh Day Adventist church, accused of murdering a student. A wicked and evil act, which sadly, is representative of so much that is happening in my country. Leaving people fearful, and concerned about their personal safety!

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/front-page/killer-deacon-dead-mandeville-residents-express-relief-regret_143630?profile=15

So the Bible is really true when it reveals that ” the times are evil”. And hence we should be ” very careful how we live; not as unwise but as wise “.

Elsewhere this same Word of God tells us that “ To fear God is the beginning of wisdom and to avoid evil is understanding “, if memory serves me right.

It cannot, therefore, be coincidence that, following one my early morning 4:00 am encounters with the Lord, that I was inspired to write about ” The Wrath of God and The Future of Jamaica “. And send it out in obedience to some of the leaders, in church, state, civil society, business sector and the fifth estate.

For as old time people tell us ( No not Miss Lou and her Aunty Roachy whose work is being celebrated in Jamaica this week), ‘ it’s either eggs or young ones’. As we cannot continue to live like this: devouring each other like animals. Otherwise the wrath of God is going to pour out on a nation where there is ‘ so much blood on the ground crying out’. And many of us have ‘ blood on our hands ‘! Either because of what we have done, or left undone. No one can sit on the fence when judgement comes. Especially God’s people in the Church, who have lost their first love – Jesus Christ of Nazareth and Him Crucified. And further, have ignored the suffering of their own flesh and blood!

Hear the words of the prophet Ezekiel again:

You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered and became food for all the wild animals “.

Therefore as we consider ” The Wrath of God: The Future of Jamaica”, we give thanks for Jesus. As no matter how ‘dark our corner looks’, we serve a God who ‘ raises the dead ‘. And can breathe new life into this nation! If only we turn and repent. And plead the blood of Jesus against all evil in the land. O God of Jacob, renew the Church beginning with me; renew the Church that the church may renew the nation.

THE MESSAGE

We all know that Salvation has a history. Sin! Yes. But perhaps God’s wrath does not feature in that understanding. However, this morning when the Lord woke me up at 4:00 am, to read about it in Isaiah, I got a new sense, and applied a greater sense of urgency to sharing this revelation. In a county where both adults and children are being mercilessly killed daily! And where ‘ natural causes’, not necessarily connected to the wrath of God, but certainly a manifestation of a broken world, is the cause of much pain and suffering in our land.

The journey began, as I opened the Bible, randomly, at Isaiah Chap 59. And these verses stayed with me, and explained much.

See, the Lord’s arm is not too short to save, not his ear too dull to hear. Rather, your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity……..

They rush to evil,and they rush to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, desolation and destruction are in their highways.

The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths. Their roads have made crooked; no one who walks in them know peace.

Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us; we wait for light, and Lo! there is darkness…..

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter…

The Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to set up truth in the public square in the Uk, in respect of Justice. He should be lauded:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6131827/Archbishop-Canterbury-says-need-tax-wealth-help-lower-middle-income-earners.html
( Thanks to Bishop Robert who tweeted about it).

Comment – I wonder how many who control the news, and those whose behavior ‘ makes news’, and those who add public commentary, understand the extent to which ” truth stumbles in the public square”. In Jamaica! And appreciate the reason why! For Truth, as we know in the New Testament, is not just the opposite of lies, or a pathway to Justice, but a person: He in whom the fullness of the God who inspired Isaiah to write, reigns. Jesus Christ!

So when we contemplate, in this dispensation, truth stumbling, and lament, like Isaiah, one aspect of it must be the increasing distancing of a society from the values and attitudes taught by the Judeo-Christian faith. For it has become, fashionably almost, and often without challenge by those who ought to, to sideline and question the value of such teachings in this ‘ modern world’. And yet, and yet, we expect peace, and lament the onslaught of the kind of viciousness which reared its ugly head, once again, having done so, so many time before, in Arnett Gardens, recently.

We continue:

God saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.

He saw that there was no one, and was appalled that there was no one to intervene. So he own arm brought him victory, and his righteousness upheld him.

He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garnets of vengeance for his clothing ( Lord have mercy), and wrapped himself in fury as a a mantle .

According to their deeds, so will he repay; wrath to his adversaries, required to his enemies.

Comment: One of the verses that really got into my head, and I tried to read into it, the New Testament upgrade, was :

” You who remind the Lord, take no rest, and give him no rest, until he establishes Jerusalem and a makes it renowned throughout the earth”.

Now, bearing in mind the verse which reveals, that ” All of Gods promises are Yes in Christ Jesus…..”,

I took that to mean that we ought to engage in two things. One to be constantly giving thanks to God for Jesus, give ourselves no rest, for rescuing us from the wrath of God. And two, to be constantly praying to Jesus, that which he taught us: to seek, to ask and to knock. Without ceasing…give him no rest…so that God’s will may be done in this land, in and through the church. By renewal ! ” Will thou not turn again and quicken us O Lord; that thy people may rejoice in thee.” Did the Psalmist cry out!

So we continue:

Arise, shine ; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For darkness shall cover the earth, a thick darkness over the people; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory shall appear over you ( sounds very much like the conversation between the angel and Mary). Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

The Full explanation of Jesus’ declaration in Luke, viz., Salvation explained.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; and has sent me to bring good news to oppressed, and to bind broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release the prisoners;

to proclaim the year of the Lords favor, and the day of vengeance of our God ( remember that there is a day of judgment to come …and the Lord has given proof of it by raising Jesus from the dead …Acts 17:31);

to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion –

to give them a garland instead of ashes; and oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, and devastations of many generations.

Comment : one of the most profound passages in all of Scripture, and I was led back there, in the midst of personal struggles today, is found in 2 Corinthians:

” We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead”. 1:8-9 NIV.

So in this is passage which promises, and prophesies, in and through the Salvation wrought by Christ on Calvary, virtually to restore Israel from a dead life, devastations, to build up the ancient ruins, we find solace and comfort for out times. For many have given up on Jamaica. That the crime and violence will never get any better. That we are living in end times, and that God’s wrath has come upon this nation because of disobedience. But I hear a different sound in this history of Salvation. I hear a Word that promises that my country shall rise again. That not always we shall awake to the sound of death on our streets and truth stumbling in the public square. For even in the depths of their sinfulness, God promised his people redemption. How much more now that Jesus has paid the price, shall a nation be restored to its former glory. If only we would repent and return to a loving and forgiving God. He who raises people and nations from the dead.

So we continue:

You shall no more be termed Forsaken; and your land shall no more be Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man married a young man ( no alternative lifestyle mentioned here, or anywhere else in the Bible), so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you……

You who remind the Lord, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned thought the earth.

Comment: Yes Bob Marley and Usain Bolt and our culture have made Jamaica famous throughout the world. But ultimately God’s plan is that His faithful people, and faithful nation, living a surrendered life, will help to make the glory of the Lord renowned throughout the world. Israel lost the plot when it failed to remember this, and grew to believe in its own glory and entitlement, and became disobedient. Was subject to the wrath of God, and yet ” all Israel will be saved”.

Although not all who are Israeli are children of Abraham. So too, not everyone in the church who says, ” Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of God”. But only those who remain faithful to Jesus and him Crucified; for in Him, our sins have been forgiven, and we have escaped from the wrath of God. And given power to ” set the captives free”. And those who live in the shadow of death. And the poor and the marginalized and those who humble themselves and are prepared to eat even the crumbs that fall from the table – the story in the Gospel in the worldwide Anglican Church for this Sunday.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath visited and redeemed his people. And has raised up a mighty salvation for us, in the house of his servant David…..The Benedictus.

Peace.

In obedience.

LWJ

Yetanya Francis murdered in Arnett Gardens: Jesus Christ Crucified on Calvary. The Connection!

The kind of wickedness and evil which moved criminals to rape, murder and then burn the body of young Yetanya Francis in Arnett Gardens last week, continued to be the ‘ talk of the town ‘ in my country, Jamaica land we love. Along with memories of other young girls who were similarly ‘ executed’.

I read a challenging column posted on the online ‘ newspaper ‘, Loop Jamaica, and shared it on Facebook. I would encourage you to read it carefully as not only the people of Arnett Gardens have a lot to answer for, but a whole generation of Jamaicans.

http://www.loopjamaica.com/content/view-outside-arnett-gardens-has-lot-answer

Another post that challenged me, at another level, was a intriguing blog by a Facebook friend who I only know as Rockstone. He’s a theologian and senior Lecturer, or was, at Jamaica Theological College. The context is clearly the Christian response to societal neglect of the poor and the marginalized. And which ‘ injustice’ has spawned inner city or ghetto life, with its many and varied challenges for who live there, and for the wider black and oppressed communities wherever. So the question Rockstone poses will challenge us examine our understanding of Christianity. Whether we are only concerned about forgiveness of Sin and a everlasting life with God, or whether we accept also that our walk with Jesus, leads us to ‘ set the captives free ‘ from all kinds of evil, including the social injustice that is inherent in ” Ghetto Life ‘. And which forces of evil caused the death of not just one but :

33 children murdered and 152 raped according to #RJR news. This is a national emergency

A tweet from talk show host on #RJRHOTLINE Emily Shields

ROCKSTONE

https://www.facebook.com/notes/rock-stone/is-your-christianity-black-enough/10217218600044101/

Finally I posted the Word of God ” in season”, on Facebook and added my comment, which sparked a lively, and still ongoing discussion.

For in the final analysis, as my colleague and Christian friend Dr. Clyde Morrison reminded me one day, ” It’s a matter of the heart”. A subject which the hymwriter addresses in one of my favorite, and challenging hymns. As our hearts are so ‘ prone to wander’.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
By: Robert Robinson, 1735-90

Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy praise!
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! Oh, fix me on it,
mount of God’s unchanging love.

Here I find my greatest treasure;
hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace now like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

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Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” – Part of The Gospel for the worldwide Anglican Church for next Sunday.

As we continue to examine ourselves as a nation where dog hearted killers of women and children and men reside, and where other kinds of evil populate our society, Jesus reminds us why social intervention and more effective policing, and mobilization of communities, alone cannot solve this problem.

For according to the Word of God, ” our hearts are desperately wicked”. Thank God for Jesus and him Crucified, through Whom alone, we can have ” a new heart and right spirit renewed”.

Murder most foul in Poverty stricken Arnett Gardens: Righteousness and Justice in Jesus Christ

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/lead

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/front-page/-hang-them-father-of-murdered-teen-girl-advocates-capital-punishment-to-deter-criminals_142417?profile=1606

Two great, and related – the nature of which relationship differs in many counties – social issues, have caused so much distress in Jamaica land we love. Murder and Poverty! The headlines in both newspapers today, sadly, reflects that very distressing reality.

And despite some recently announced welcome news on both fronts, neither of them is going away soon.

The jury is still out on the causative factors; and in fact the search for the underlying reasons has been the subject of much debate in the public media, and by the ‘ village lawyers’ in the communities. Everybody, ‘and their cousins’, have the answer. Especially for Murder! If the ‘ powers that be ‘ would only listen. And take action!

Our attitide to this twin headed monster though, is quite different. We all would love to live in a country where, like in the 1960’s,
a single murder was big news. And no doubt, if called upon, would gladly, ‘ give up half our earnings’, like the Biblical character, though for different reasons, in order to be able to go to sleep without grills, bolts on the doors, an alarm system, guard dogs, a licensed firearm; and waking up at the sligtest sound to check if thieves, usually armed and vicious, are trying to break into your home.

Give up almost everything to be able to listen to the news, without hearing about someone having been murdered as they drove in through the gate. Or in the community on the street corner!

But Poverty is a different matter altogether. We, for the most part, although thank God there are pockets of ‘ resistance’, tolerate our fellow human beings suffering behind ‘zinc fence’ and ‘ wrong addresses’. And ‘ war zones! With children going to bed, sometimes without food! Girls and young women bathing outside with little or no privacy. With girls being raped and burn like a dead dog. Young men with no skills and no jobs ‘ digging out their handmiddle’! Or taking up a gun. Young women with ‘ belly’ ; oftentimes by 30, pregnant with the fifth or sixth child. Few times for the same father! Children, many of whose fathers died by the gun – gunman or police – full of potential like kids anywhere in the world, but faced with an uncertain future, and sometimes vengeance in their hearts. And so the cycle continues.
For some! Thank God not for all. As many have carved out a decent life for themselves by dint of their own initiative and drive. With help. Locally and or from foreign!

Last night I was led to read a stinging commentary by the late Rev. Martin Luther king Jr, about those, in the church, who ‘ tolerate ‘ poverty. And a challenging Word from the prophet Amos for God’s people who had ‘ turned away from him’ – about Righteousness. And which favoured people had treated the poor with comtempt – About Justice. And nestled in it all was a quote from the same Martin Luther king Jr, and wgich which quote comes directly from God’s Word, which brought it all together.

” We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
– MLK Jr.

THE COMMENTARY – ABRIDGED
The Ends are swallowed up in the Means.

MartinLuther King Jr
Verse: Amos 8:4 ” Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land.”

Only an irrelevant religion fails to be concerned about man’s economic well-being. Religion at its best realizes that the soul is crushed as long as the body is tortured with hunger pangs and harrowed with the need for shelter.

Jesus realized that we need food, clothing, shelter, and economic security. He said in clear and concise terms:
” Your Father knows what you need”. Matthew 6:8
But Jesus knew that man was mote than a dog to be satisfied ny a few economic bones.
He realized that the internal of a man’s life is as significant as tge external. So he added:
” Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.
The tragedy of the rich man ( in the bible ) was that he sought the means first ( building lots of barns), and in the process the ends were swallowed up on the means……

The challenge for modern societies living in this capitalist economic model, is located in a debate we had in school during the 60’s. And a lively debate it was!

” Does the ends justify the means”?

We don’t need the late Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, to remind us how capitalism, with its many ‘ advantages’, certainly over socialism and Marxism, has left behind in its wake, many casualties.
Including the ghetto, or latterly, inner cities!
So the question is, or one question, does the increased standard of living which capitalism has undoubtedly brought to Western civilization, justify the impoverishment and ‘ hard life’ of so many of its citizens?

Of course the debate rages about the cause of Poverty and Inner City Life. And some are convinced, and would have us believe that ” the buck stops at the gate of the politicians “. Full stop!

What I hear the prophet Amos, and Martin Luther king Jr and our Lord Jesus saying, however, are two things. Justice and Righteousness. Both need to be pursued by a nation, any nation that fears God, in tandem and in concert.
Any nation that seeks God’s favor

Read again the Word of God shared by theprophet Amos:

Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord ! Why do you long for the day of the Lord ? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.

Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.

Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Amos 5:18‭-‬24 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/amo.5.18-24.NIV

So as ghetto people weep for a young girl raped, killed and burnt like a dead dog, I hear the Lord saying that we bear a collective responsibility for this egregious act of wickedness. As for far too long, we have not cultured the will, and that’s where it all begins, emerging out a sense of compassion and cameradie with the poor and defenseless, to remove the stain of Poverty from our land.
That the church, the body of Christ, has a peculiar and divine responsibility to respond to the hunger pangs and shelter needs of the stranger, the widow and the ophan. That Murder and Injustice are inextricably linked, and that if we hope to do away with King Alarm, we need to transform Tivoli and Majesty Gardens into oases of hope and peace.

Finally, that although the politicians have a mandate to right these wrongs, they themselves, need first to listen and obey the Word of God.
For what indeed shall it benefit a man to be ruler over all, and be voted into power, and yet be unable to rescue our nation from Crime and Violence and Poverty. As although Poverty can and ought to be tackled by man, Righteousness comes only from God in Christ Jesus.

Which is what is urgently needed in poverty stricken Arnett Gardens and other inner city communities, including those up down. Along with the fruits of Justice. So that we will no longer hear the children crying out, ” rape, rape ‘. And then the terrible silence!

The pastor is right to be filled with righteous indignation, and pose the question: why didn’t those who heard the young girl cry out, respond?

Which is the same question, in a wider context, that Martin Luther king Jr poses: Why has some parts of the church ignored the cries of the suffering masses in the inner cities? For Jesus certainly would not have done so!

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is dead: The Redeemer of my soul, Jesus Christ of Nazareth lives forever.

Music has always played an important role in the life of most Jamaicans. I can still recall in high school, an all boys school at that, having discussions which would be spiced with Shakespeare’s ” If music be the food of love, play on”.
And the music of the ” Queen of Soul“, Aretha Franklin, who died during the week, had a huge influence on our lives.

And not just on a Saturday night, when, ‘ going to a party was a must’, and if you were not invited, ‘ crashing’, for adventurous boys, but certainly not for the young ladies, was an option. But more importantly, although we did not think about it at the time, music of that era, message music, helped to shape our consciousness and our worldview.
In that context, Young Gifted and Black, was huge in the era of Black Power. So was Aretha’s Respect, during the Civil Rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. No doubt that song provided a ‘ bridge ‘ between Stokely Carmichael ‘ pushing fire’, literally, ‘ burn baby burn’, and King’s Non Violent philosophy ‘ borrowed ‘ from Ghandi.

But outside of the ‘ message’ music, Aretha bared her soul, revealed the personal struggles she endured, and elevated the gift of love to new heights, some might say foolish heights, in her signature song, ” Ain’t never love a man the way I Iove you”. Even though he was a cheater, and a heartbreaker!

All of this stuff happening at one level, while the driving beat of ” Rocksteady” would make any dance floor be jammed with young people having a good time. Not a war in sight. No guns. One ot two switchblades at most. A different time from now.

And so I was moved to post this obituary of sorts on Facebook the day Aretha died.

https://lm.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2Fentry%2Faretha-franklin-dead-queen-of-soul_us_57489412e4b03ede4414cc5d%3Fncid%3Dengmodushpmg00000003&h=AT38MBh_Lqiliozv05Il5n8FarfV-Nu-CdFBOt2RM3_uDIYUe2DJeWdVNfn8tMPPNtM7WZIRT2Ll1Wz9WGeQdDngtXDwbkEPUm3l29h_KnazT8lxK3m026w81pJry2ML&s=1

And add my own humble tribute !

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Out of #Respect spent some time listening to her music last night after a friend Don Bennett posted one of her songs. Aretha’s music, along with Temptations, Sam Cooke, and others, played an important role in the development of Black consciousness in the era of Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Eldrege Cleaver’s Soul on Ice and Franz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth. Along with Nina Simone’s ” I would be dead in my grave than remain a slave “.
T’was a wonderful time to be Young ( not sure about gifted) and Black. Did wonders for one’s self-esteem. I really wonder what evokes pride and a sense of self in today’s #Kartel and “Don Gorgon” scene.
Farewell Aretha. I hope that all is well with your soul. And that of others whose music lifted our ‘ souls ‘ to dizzing musical heights and provided so much joy. Especially on a Saturday night!

For an understanding of the no nonsense, sassy Aretha you gotta watch this interview, Sixty Minutes, on YouTube.

Christ The Redeemer of my Soul

But as we were carried away by the music of Aretha, the Queen of Soul, the question arose, ‘ was it well with her soul’! A matter for God alone who declares ‘ judgement in mine’.
The fact remains however, ‘ man is appointed once to die, and then the judgement’. For me, for you, for Aretha, for Martin Luther king Jr, for Stokely Carmichael, for Sam Cooke, for those who made Aretha’s life a tough one – and did not ‘ do right by her ‘, for young Andrew, for hopeful Peter. Whether you are Young Gifted and Black or otherwise. Don’t really matter. Judgment shall come. One fine day!
And a passage of Scripture which has been ‘ haunting ‘ my soul provides a perfect preamble to a post on Facebook.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 3:19‭-‬21 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.3.19-21.NIV

For the Truth as revealed in the Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, is that,

If you have the Son, you have life. If you have not the Son, you have no life”.

Regardless of whether you have the fame and the love and Respect that Aretha had. Or Barack Obama has. Or Usain Bolt has. Or Marcus Mosiah Garvey had.

FACEBOOK

At the end of the day, at the end of life #Respect only one thing in life matters. Not if you are gay or straight, not if you wear sleeves or go sleeveless, not if you are FLA compliant or not, not if you back your jacket or wear T shirts in the tropics, not if you are a Man U fan or cheer for the hapless Gunners, not if you are Roman Catholic ( and ashamed of what’s going down in some parts of your church) or Adventist, not if you are a nominal Christian or a fervent Islamist, not if you can predict where the dollar is going or not, not if you can control crime or you are a violence producer. Not if you are a human rights activist or doing wonderful work as a volunteer. Only if you are born again. Only then will you be able to enter the Kingdom of God. Or not!
In a #bedtimedevotion popular author of My Utmost for His highest Devotional expands:

The Evidence of the New Birth

You must be born again.
JOHN 3:7

The answer to Nicodemus’ question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” is: Only when he is willing to die to everything in his life, including his rights, his virtues, and his religion, and becomes willing to receive into himself a new life that he has never before experienced (John 3:4). This new life exhibits itself in our conscious repentance and through our unconscious holiness.