A sad mood in #Jamaicableeding: Peace only in Christ Jesus 

This morning as I prepared to speak at a Road Safety meeting, the voice of an old favorite of mine came to mind. This, as the murder rate spirals out of control with over 700 murders for the year so far! And the realization that Road Crashes is  the second leading cause of violent death in my country; 161 to date. 
 Sam Cooke 1962: I am in sad mood tonight…..oh my baby done gone away and left me.
Gleaner Headlines today 2017:  Highlights and captures the mood, the indescribable sad mood,  of the country as another life is #gonetoosoon. Cut down in a hail of bullets! 
Is this Independence?  The journey of a now sovereign nation, since 1962 ! What the ‘ devil  ‘ has gone wrong? 
Why have we become so evil that not even women and children spared by marauding gunmen. Not even 80 and 90 year old grandmothers are beyond rape! Not even babies are beyond sexual abuse.

Not even the church is beyond attack by thieves.

Not even pastors are beyond committing acts of gross indecency  in public or in private.

Not even your wife and baby mother or girlfriend is beyond  murder most foul.
This week the sad mood continued.

11 shot one night with five dead. 5 another night with 3 dead. 
And while the carnage continued, and blood and tears flow freely #FleetStreetNightmare, we are busy debating Crime Bills. And wondering how the Church can make a difference!
This week, from the depths of my soul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, I wrote on Facebook.
This week also,  I pondered on one of the most profound, encouraging and instructive passages of Scripture:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of  talk, but about power.”

1 Cor. 4:20
And as I journeyed with the Lord in prayer for my country, and delved deep into Holy Scriptures and inspired writings, this one fact became clear.
This power, although manifest in many and different ways across the centuries, is fulfilled mainly in God’s design to rescue our minds from being controlled by the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ. 
And that power comes by grace flowing from Christ’s great Act of Atonement for Sin on Calvary.
So the battle to rescue our nation from #FleetStreetNightmare is well and truly joined in the minds of our people.
For that reason I believe I was led to read and write that ” we fight not against flesh and blood……”.
And also that at centre of all evil causing #Jamaicableeding #ManchesterBombing and #ParisAttack is Sin.
June 23  ( last night before retiring to bed…..My Utmost for His Highest ….Devotional Guide ) 
ACQUAINTANCE WITH GRIEF
Oswald Chambers 
Verse: A Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Isaiah 53:3
We are not acquainted with grief in the way in which our Lord was acquainted with it; we endure it, we get through it, but we do not become intimate with it. 
At the beginning of life we do not reconcile ourselves to the fact of sin. We take a rationale view of life and say that a man by controlling his instincts, and by educating himself,  can produce a life which slowly evolve into the life of God.
But as we go on,  we find the presence of something which we have not taken into consideration, viz, sin, and it upsets all our calculations.
Sin has made the basis of things wild and not rationale. We have to recognize that sin is a fact, not a defect ; sin is red-handed mutiny against God. Either God or Sin must die in my life. 
The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue. If sin rules in me, God’s life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed.  There is no possible ultimate but that.
The climax of sin is that it crucified Jesus Christ, and what was true in the history of God on earth will be true in your history and mine. In our mental outlook we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact of sin as the only explanation as to why Jesus Christ came, and tge explanation of the grief and sorrow in life.

Facebook One 
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,  bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not his benefits  – who forgives all your iniquity and heals all your diseases”

Psalm 103:1
Even death is healing. Healing from all the pain that cancer brings. And for those in Christ,  death ushers us into the very Presence of the Living God. But for those without #Weddingclothes then death brings judgment. That’s what the Bible reveals. #Manyarecalledbutfewarechosen
Pray that we may live so that all whom we meet,  may come to know the God who forgives all sins and heals all diseases. The God who knows that we are but dust and unto dust we shall return. A God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…..who does not deal with us according to our sins…..but who in Christ died on Calvary so that we may live a new and unending life.

#Earlymorningdevotions 

Facebook Two 

#Earlymorningdevotions 
Augustine ( 354- 430……became Bishop of Hippo, North Africa…..a figure of major importance in the Church.. ..He established the doctrine of the Church gave a clear statement concerning the person of Christ, and made the grace of God the theme of the Theology in the West……but committed himself to God late  after much prayer by his Christian mother)
One of his most famous and penetratingly  accurate observations,  is still quoted often in the 21st Century:
“Thou hast made us for thyself O Lord,  and our heart is  restless until it finds its rest in thee”.
 – Lately have I loved thee. O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved thee; for behold thou wert within me, and I outside, and I sought thee outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those things that thou hast made. 

Thou wert with me, and I was not with thee. I was kept from loving thee by those things, yet had they not been in thee, they would have been at all………
Part of the challenge in finding a solution  to #Jamaicableeding  #Gleanerheadlines  #EdBartlett is that those things that we love, kill for, quarrel about, and are prepared to die for, all come from God. Including family.  Including our ability to think and reason and reject God, or ignore Him. Including the concept of Freedom – the foundations of democracy, a free press and human rights. Read H. Orlando Patterson’s epic book on Freedom in the Making of Western Culture. And scholars argue that Augustine’s City of God heavily influenced the shaping of Western civilization.
Simply, very simply put, the call of the Church is then to embrace God, and not the things and gifts that He alone gives. As otherwise our hearts become restless and all sorts of evil emerge. Including #Hanoverbleeding. But it is better late than never. And a merciful God is always calling. Individuals and nations! For we just cannot manage on our own. No matter how bright we think we are.  Which is what I was led to reflect on this morning. And share. There was more. But more anon. Peace. NB. Philosophy matters #IanBoyne #InFocus  

Facebook Three 

Last night on #CVMTV. ” Crime has nothing to do with poverty” – A pastor  with an inner city ministry.  He was ridiculed on and off TV. By the religious and the irreligious.
Last night on #TVJAllangles  A New Crime Bill was ‘ taken to the cleaners ‘ by a lawyer. Scrap it! 
Yesterday in the Parliament the Attorney General and members of the Opposition Party ‘ locked horns’ over the same Bill which was advanced as part of government’s response to #Jamaicableeding 
This morning in my #Earlymorningdevotions  :
BE AWARE 
STAND FIRM 
THE SPIRITUAL WAR
Three reflections by Chris Tiegreen  ( randomly found….September) based on :
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against……powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
I’ll share some of the key points God willing, another time. But for now, on this day, when the #Gleaner Headlines agree with Earl Moxam and Emily Shields #BeyondPolicing  #BeyondTheHealines ” Deal with the social issues”, the following quote says it all:
The devil wrestles with God, and the field of battle is the human heart – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Maybe the ‘ lowly and ignorant ‘ and   unschooled pastor was not so foolish after all.
All of this is  pure coincidence or a Word from the Lord!  The choice is yours, but ‘ as for me and my house ‘, the words of this hymn came into my mind: 
O Jesus I have promised 

To serve thee to the end.

Be thou forever near me

My Master and my friend. 

I shall not fear the battle 

As long as thou art by my side

Nor wander from the pathway

If thou wilt be my guide 

Facebook Four ….this morning
Poverty and Crime  contd. #Earlymorningdevotions 
Randomly I opened my Classics Devotional Bible this morning and found this:
THE ENDS ARE SWALLOWED BY THE MEANS
Martin Luther king Jr 
Verse: Amos 8: 4 ” Hear this, you that  trample on the needy, and bring the poor to ruin…..”
Only an irrelevant religion fails to be concerned about man’s economic well being. Religion at its best realized that the soul is crushed as long the body is tortured with hunger pangs and narrowed with the need for shelter.
Jesus realized that we need food, clothing, shelter and economic security. He said in clear and concise : ” Your Father knows what you need”. Matthew 6:8. 
But Jesus knew that a man was more than a dig to be satisfied by a few economic bones. He realized that the internal of a man’s life is as significant as the 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”. vs 33 .
The tragedy of the rich man was that he sought the means first, and in the process the ends were swallowed in the means.
Comment: The tragedy which is manifest on the  #Gleanerheadlines  #morethanathousandwords  #EdBartlett #Jamaicableeding is that successive political leaders have paid attention to one, the economy, and largely ignored the other, the kingdom of God. And if truth be told it is a story writ large in the rising  popularity of the  #ProsperiryGospel.
For no New International Economic Order, no sloganeering of ” It takes cash to care”, can deal with the kind of evil which has been let loose in Jamaica ” land we love”. No #progress no #prosperity can replace the need for us to ” seek ye first the kingdom of God”, if we wish to remove crime. Not just from #Gleanerheadlines but from the depths of the human experience in #Jamaicableeding. 
A message the Bible believing church has been preaching for years! But sadly men and women of influence have closed their collective ears to the truth. And so the land mourns. And we wonder why and spend our times ” debating the issues”.

Will someone please tell the PM. And the Opposition Leader! That Jamaica is in ‘spiritually naked’, in serious danger,  and needs to repent. 

Peace

#Jamaicableeding #GrenfellFire #TimFarron and “Thus Says The Lord”.

It’s 4:00 am as I  write. The rain has started again. It’s been raining on and off since yesterday. Not with the same intensity like what happened a couple weeks ago,  when torrential rains caused flooding, and great damage to our land. An  national catastrophy,  which, together with drought last year, according to the IMF,  has affected our projection for economic growth this year.

But if  the rains continues, devastation could happen again. And we are now officially in the hurricane season! A time of potential trouble.

A 4:00 am wake up call,  always for me,  means that there is a Word from the Lord.  So I opened  my Bible,  randomly,  and read. Read about Hoshea King of Israel who , “did what was  evil in the sight of the Lord

They did wicked things provoking the Lord to anger; they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, ‘ You shall not do this’…..”

But Israel, the Northern Kingdom, Judah was in the South, was captured by the King of Assyria and placed in  exile. 

This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them out if the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharoah king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods and walked in  the customs of the nation’s whom the Lord drive out before the people of Israel.”

But the story with Judah was different; even though, ” Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God….”.

Because Hezekiah, King of Judah, ” did what was right in the sight of the Lord just as his ancestor David had done”.

So when the King of Assyria came against Judah, “ he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord”. 

Then he sent for the prophet Isaiah to inquire of the Living God what to do.

Then came the message from God to Hezekiah then, and now  to we who trust in God in this age:

“Thus says the Lord……..”

The rain has stopped for a while now! It’s minutes to 5. Daylight may take a longer time to come up in this weather. And shine on this troubled land where ” Thus says the Lord” has largely been ignored.  Except when it is perceived that the Church may vote en bloc against a particular issue and occasion a change in government. #Rape and a changing definition, is the current fear as expressed by a Cabinet Minister.

Otherwise it is ” Thus says the Editorial “. Or ” Thus says the UN”. Or #Thussays the Talk Show Host. Or #BigBusiness. Or #TheAmericans. Or #CivilSociety. Or the #HumanRights groups.

Therefore  the land mourns. In Jamaica. In the UK. In America. In Syria. For the only reason why God decided to covenant with Israel, rather than any other people on earth, all of  whom He created in His own image and likeness, was to reveal Himself through them. So mankind could know Who to worship! The story of Israel then , as the Word of God  reveals to us, is captured thus :

” These things happened to them as  examples and were written down as warnings to us on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”

The question, the existential question, which arises for all leaders, especially political leaders who claim Christ,  therefore is, to whom will you turn in times of trouble.  

Will, ” Thus says the Lord”,  be the final decision? Or have we grown so sophisticated and pluralistic that the Word of God is only one of several options to be considered.

But there is another dilemma! Who or where is the Prophet Isaiah in Jamaica, to whom shall the leader look for an answer from the Living God to #Jamaicableeding ? Is he the same one in the UK, and in the USA. 

The answer may  not be located  in the #TimFarron experience alone. But clearly there are lessons to be learnt, viz, ” Do they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ ?”

” How is that relationship manifested ?”

” What sacrifices are they prepared to make, #DenySelf  as a disciple of Christ?”

And clearly these are  not a questions  for our leaders alone. But for all of us who claim Christ. Are we going to be obedient when Jesus calls, or warns, or sends us. For if we ‘ walk with Him and talk with Him along the lonely way ‘, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He will live in us ‘, as promised. And teach us, and empower us, to live in this troubled world. 

And so I wrote last night before the Lord intervened and led me to read 2 Kings 17 – 19. 

This has  not been a good week. As events occurring locally and abroad have shocked us to the core. And left many of us deeply disturbed by man’s inhumanity to man.
First, a desperate  cry from children about to die, among others images, haunted my very soul this past week.

“Please don’t kill wi”, screamed the headlines of The Jamaica Observer, as the newspaper reported on four persons shot dead by marauding gunmen in the once peaceful parish of #Hanoverbleeding . Two adults and two  children prematurely ushered out of this life by wicked men with no heart! No mercy! No regard for the sanctity of human life!

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/front-page/carnage-8226-8216-don-8217-t-kill-wi-8217-children-plead-as-gunmen-slaughter-family-of-4-8226-police-commissioner-says-cops-will-flood-crime-hotspots_101853?profile=15

Then the carnage continued. This time in #Clarendonbleeding !  In the center of the island. Far to the south east of Hanover.  And left in the wake three dead; reprisals for another murder a few days before.
Then today, in ‘ broad ‘ daylight, yet another murder in #StJamesbleeding. And so the land mourns #Jamaicableeding, as over 600 persons have been murdered in less than six months.

#Judgmennt #LastDays #Goingtogetworse #Prayer #JamaicaneedsJesus say some!

#Moremoney ##SocialInterventions #LimitedStateofEmergency #MorePolicePresence #Moreinformatiomfromcitizens say others

Then in the midst of this madness #GrenfellTowerFire ! Again with desperate pleas for help, as lives were snuffed out by smoke and fire. Firefighters fought bravely, sweating, and who knows, perhaps a few tears too. But many died. And many are missing!

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/world/europe/uk-london-fire-grenfell-tower.html

All of this followed by cries of  injustice because it was a poor neighborhood! Thus explaining why basic warning signals were not in place.

Finally, a seemingly unrelated matter. Brought to my attention by a friend on Twitter who is an atheist. Not rabidly so, but very firm in her convictions 

#TimFarron resigned as head of the #Libdems, one of the smaller yet well known parties in the UK. Why! Because his view as a Christian that homosexuality is a sin, was at odds with the party’s position and the general sentiment in what is now a thoroughly secular state. Despite John Wesley’ s legacy of ‘ restoring to Britain its soul’!

As I listened and read and pondered, the Lord provided inspiration to tweet:

He did the correct thing… surprised that as a practising Bible believing  Christian he got so far in such a liberal and secular state. https://t.co/pwmPfpUeGz

@Petchary it is going to get worse. Not just if you believe that homosexuality is a sin. Regardless of how you treat all people with respect https://t.co/DlrPBLpHWM
@Petchary #OswaldChanbers on #Discipleship  #DenySelf. If I do become a disciple my career may have to be ruined https://t.co/pwmPfpUeGz

If means that you don’t need to ( give up the right to yourself) unless you like, but you won’t be of any Account to me …. unless you do https://t.co/pwmPfpUeGz
Best choice: Forgiveness or Same-sex marriage? #TimFarron Party leader or lose your soul! @Petchary @dennisgjones @emily many are called but https://t.co/dFVYjrKYSZ

You alone are my strength my shield. To You alone may my spirit yield. You alone are my heart’s desire. And I long to worship you #TimFarron

And to write on Facebook:

Facebook One 


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  so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2. Cor. 8-9. NIV 

#earlymorningdevotions 

The most important lesson that any nation #Jamaicableeding or any individual can learn in our journey with the Living God. Ultimately manifest in Christ’s  death and ressurection! But in so many other  aspects of life’s journey. In simple and complex matters. The mundane and the profound; relationship issues even to the point of  divorce, cancer or other life threatening issue, coping with Alzheimer’s disease or drug addiction,  racial abuse wherever, financial challenges, growing up children in a challenging   world, managing a business or a nation, teaching children who don’t wish to learn, coping with the death or disappearance of a loved one, pastoring a church, seeking justice for others, ministering to unbelievers or to other religious groups….God and God alone.

Facebook Two 

Last night the Lord led me through another 4:00 am message. Opened my Bible, randomly,  in obedience, and read: 

Psalm 106. 
A short history of Israel’s repeated apostasy despite the goodness of the Lord; The Holy One of Israel who rescued them time and time again.

And the verse which stuck in my heart, and on which we in #Jamaicableeding  ought to reflect, deeply, was:

They exchanged the glory of God for the image  of an ox that eats grass”. Verse 20.

This reminder ( I was led to read 1 Cor. 10……these things occurred as examples for us, so that we may not desire evil as they did……) comes at time when Sports has almost become the new religion; as it now in the UK and Europe. #Fulldisclosure a #gunners fan. But not fanatic. A #Cavs fan. But not distraught. A #Bolt fan and I was there at #onelastbolt. Grateful but he is not  my #idol.

Would to God that the 35, 000 vuveleza tooting, screaming,  adoring fans,  would also find themselves in church praising the Lord for His repeated goodness to this land of former slaves. Now free! And to this world all formerly under the wrath of God because of Sin.

But now a door has been opened for Salvation by the shed Blood of Christ.
A land, now where ” because there is no vision, no obedience to the Word of the  God of Creation, the people have cast off restraints”.

And so  blood flows freely because of revenge, whether on account of praedial larceny or scamming or a drug deal gone sour. Women have to pick up their girlchildren and run from Rape.  The Gleaner Editorial,  unconstrained by Christian Morality, recommends that we ‘low’ the prostitutes; as they are not troubling anyone, and in so doing we can reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS.

And so while we ignore the Word of God and concentrate on #TheresaMay running through wheat fields and #DonaldTrump and #Comey #Clarendonbleeding #Trelawnybleeding #Hanoverbleeding #StJamesbleeding confronts us. And to whom do we turn?

Last night the Lord provided an answer:
” Hear my cry O Lord

Attend unto my prayer.

From the ends of the earth 

Will I cry out to thee.

And when my heart is overwhelmed 

Lead me to to the rock

That is higher than I……from memory. Psalm 61
As I write another song comes:
This rock is Jesus. The only one.

Be very sure, be very sure. 

Your anchors holds, and grips the solid rock.

Peace

Facebook Three 

The Lord does not need a lot of people, or powerful people #Quallo, #Holness, #Phillips, #Montague, #Bunting, to rescue #Jamaicableeding.  Just a few good men and women who trust God and are obedient. #DavidandGoliath,  #Gideon #Deborah #Judges. So that we may learn  not ” rely ourselves but on Him who raises the dead”. #2Corinthians

 For just as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead by the mighty Power of God #Resurrection so too are all who are in Christ,  raised to a new life, by the same mighty Power. And then sent to do mighty works!

For thine is the Kingdom the Power and the Glory.  Forever and ever Amen.

#earlymorningdevotions  No Scripture, but still guided by Scripture. But #Revelation.
Facebook Four 
Yesterday as I  was led to read again,  the story of Gideon …..not to rely on self but on God….I rediscovered this profound message.

One which speaks a word in season as we grapple with the spiralling numbers of murders. And confidently assert that ” we shall prevail “.

A message also  for the UK, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Israel, the Palestinians, Afghanistan and the Americans also.  #ManchesterBombing #ParisAttack #Hanoverbleeding 

FOR GOD’S GRACE IN OUR HELPLESSNESS 

Peter Marshall ( 1902-1949….Scottish emigrant to the USA served as Chaplain to the United States Senate….powerful preacher. Life made into a movie ” A man called Peter”. And a book.) 

Verse: Judges 7:2  

Context – World War Two

We know, our Father, that at this desperate hour in world affairs, we need thee. We need thy strength, thy guidance, thy wisdom.
May thy  wisdom and thy power come upon the  President of of these United States, the Senators and Congressmen ( Prime Minister of Jamaica the Cabinet and Parliament)  to whom we have entrusted leadership.
May the responsibility lie heavily on their hearts, until they are ready to acknowledge their helplessness and turn to thee. 

Give to  them the honesty, the courage, and the moral integrity to confess that they don’t know what to do. Only then can they lead us as a nation beyond human wisdom to thee, who alone hast the answer.
Lead us to this high adventure. Remind us that a ” mighty fortress is our God” – not a hiding place where we can escape for an easy life, but rather an arsenal of courage and strength – the mightiest of all, who will march beside us into the battle for righteousness and world brotherhood.
O our God, may we never recover from our feeling of hopelessness and our need of thee !

In the strong name of Jesus, we pray. Amen 
O Mighty  God hear our  prayer, your prayer,  for this nation today. Amen.

Facebook Five

I don’t join in much, at  least of late,  as I grow to appreciate Gods mercy more and more, in the ongoing and inevitably bitter,  debate on homosexuality and Sin.
But #TimFarron  the Political Leader in the UK, #LibDems who chose allegiance to Christ,  over party,  in the ongoing debate in the UK,   of whether or not homosexuality is a Sin, has been on my mind. 

Exchanged tweets about him. Then I was led to read this. Only God!
 

For the challenge, existential challenge even, that  both Christians,  divided over this issue, and non Christians alike, is that we were all under the wrath of God;  Gay and Straight, Black and White, British or Yard. For all have sinned! And only in Christ do we find peace with God – The essence of the message of the Good News, the Gospel.  So in a sense, to reduce the argument about Sin to either sexual sins in general or Homosexuality in particular, would be to miss the point entirely.

For, but for the grace of God, ultimately manifest in Christ’s death and Ressurection, we would have all perished in our sins.

REVELATION ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF SIN  AND GOD’S MERCY

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions  – it is by grace you have been saved….
For it is by by grace you have been saved through faith  – and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God
. Ephesians 2: 1-9.

So #TimFarron has opened up space for a greater and more useful  debate. Sin and God’s mercy!
Was also led to tweet this. In context!

” If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,

O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness;

therefore you are feared”. Ps. 139:3-4

Bolt #TheLegend, Captain Burrell, #PepitaLittle and Christ 

​I read my Bible to see what men ought to do, and read my newspapers to see what men ate doing – a Saint of yore.

Lord renew they church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A Prayer.

Because we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men – Holy Scriptures.

NEWS

This week four issues touched my soul or struck a chord with me.
1. Usain St. Leo Bolt’s ‘ send off party.

I was there in midst of one  the largest crowds ever to assemble at the National Stadium. Wearing yellow! Cheering! Grateful for the special memories. But ever mindful that ‘ I owe allegiance only to the Lamb’.

http://m.bbc.com/sport/athletics/40237653

2. The death of football icon Captain Burrell 

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20170606/tributes-pour-captain-horace-burrell

3. The Pepita Little Story

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20160319/ganja-christthe-pepita-little-story

4. The continued high level of murder in Jamaica 

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20170610/ten-dead-murderous-24-hours

Two of which issues,  inspired,  under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the sending of three messages to my church and the wider secular and Christian community, by email.

All four of which were part of a sermon I preached at a Contemporary today.

First the  ( notes ) of the sermon.

Which amazingly is close to the thoughts, at least the initial part, of a column written by the award winning journalist Ian Boyne in the In focus section of the Sunday Gleaner today.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/sections/focus

SERMON FOR JUNE 11TH ST. ANDREW PARISH CHURCH 


What is man that You are mindful of him…..Psalm 8

Captain Burrell 
Pepita Little 
One famous…larger than life….almost a national icon….france ’98….restored to a nation its soul( according to the Jamaica Observer Editorial..my response Twitter..well done but not quite …..searched for help in fight against cancer
The other struggling Christian young lady beset with many many sins…ganja smoker, pastors son….along with a gangster….crying out for help 
Suggest that these two life experiences demonstrate how much we all need the grace of God. Regardless of our circumstances. For what is man really in comparison with the Living and Almighty and Holy God.
This week…..Pepita Little…..sinful woman and Jesus.

Pharisee, who was very self righteous  invited Jesus..   perhaps like Herod…who was intrigued by John the Baptist and liked to listen to him…..until he John the Baptist confronted him about his egregious sin

She invited herself…..stood behind Jesus crying ….deeply distressed by her sinful life….

Don’t know the Captain well nor do I intend to pass any judgment on him in terms of his relationship with God, but listening to the commentators you hear that he was a haughty man…..and that self-esteem was definitely not his problem.
Suggest that this kind of pride, this kind of belief in one’s abilities,  if not attended by thanksgiving to a mighty God who gives gifts to all humankind, will be a death knell to the Christian life.

For the essence of relationship our a Holy God to sinful mankind is captured by Peter’s frightened reaction when Jesus told them to let down the net on the other side after they,  experienced fishermen,  had been labouring all night…..caught no fish……nets full of fish…..”get away from me Lord for I am a sinful man”.

For this understanding of life, this worldview, is what the story of the sinful woman and her encounter with the Living God, is all about. 

For like her, like Pepita,  whether we are acolyte, youth leader, regular member the 10:30 congregation, street boy begging, pastors preaching, Bishop presiding, Captain Burrell giving orders and shaping a vision for football, whether embattled  Donald Trump or  confused Theresa May, whether I am legend Usain Bolt, we have all sinned and fallen short if the glory of God.

And are in need of  God’s mercy and grace. Thank God for Jesus’ death on Calvary
Basketball….this is why we play….this why we love God…..why we worship….this is why we share the Gospel…..go ye and make disciples of all mankind….the reading for today.
For what really is man that God should be mindful of us. 

Hilary of Poitiers 
Although I am just and ashes, Lord I am tied to you by bonds of love. Therefore I feel I can speak 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. I have no doubt that You had a purpose in causing me to be born; yet you had no need of me, and  on my own I was on no use to you.
Bit then you decided that I should hear the words of your Son, Jesus Christ. And that as I heard his words, you enables 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.

We can’t tell people about our Savior unless we tell them we need to be saved and why – Chris Tiegreen

……but I hold this against you…..you have lost your first love….
Without love…we are nothing…… If I  speak in tongues of mortalsand if angels, but do not have love, I an noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

1 Cor. 13.
Jesus did not come for the righteous but to call sinners to repentance…..set the captives free, 

Amazing grace

Problem of the church….lost its first love…..trying to change the world or exist in this world by its own power and organizational strength……lift up the name of Jesus and he will call all men to himself.
Honest people like #Pepita…..like the sinful woman…..loved much and therefore her many sins were forgiven.

This week I was led to share thoughts with first my church, Anglicans, mainly the leaders, and then  the wider Christian and secular  leadership about the danger of pride and self-love.  Two human characteristics which are a danger to a soul which was bought by the price of the blood of Jesus.
For we must never ever forget that we are no longer our own, that we have committed in baptism to die to the old sinful man. For out of  hearts of men cone all kinds if wickedness…..have you ever experienced this….wicked thoughts that sometimes plague your soul.

And thoughts of envy and anger and greed and perhaps even sometimes even if we are truthful wishing for the  death of someone.
All because of self-love and a determination to have our own way. Rather than submit to the guidance if the Holy Spirit.
Self-love has to be rooted out and replaced by the love of God.
Which can only happen when we ‘ become new in Christ ‘ at Baptism.

For ” no one cometh unto the Father except through me ” – Jesus then provides access to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. For what is man or woman indeed without Christ. Nothing. Even if you are Usan Bolt!

MESSAGE
Part One

 I watched most of the video.

http://www.yardhype.com/pepita-little-talks-about-her-hardships-on-religious-hardtalk-video/

 Been thinking about it. A lot. Then read this on Hebrews this morning:

” See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person who sold his birthright for a single meal…..he was rejected for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears.” 12:16-17

Then I recalled my favourite Bible story. The one where the sinful woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped then with her hair. And our wonderfully Compassionate Lord sent her away on peace as her many sins were wiped away because she ‘ loved much’.

That’s the impression I formed about this troubled young lady. Though tormented by her failings, she is not ‘ godless ‘, in the way Esau was described, or declared. But rather someone who loves Jesus much and needs our prayers.
Pretty much in the same way all of us need prayers for we have done and thought much wrong. Not the same, but all in need of grace.

Then Cece Winans ” Alabaster box ‘, which accompanied me to Healing Conference 2017 came into my mind:

Always recall though that this same Compassionate Jesus who told the woman caught in adultery  that he did not condemn her, also emphatically told her to ” go ye and sin no more “. A command which is only possible when the Holy Spirit lives in us in response to our belief in this same Jesus who died on Calvary for our sins. And was raised from the dead so that we too may have ‘ new life ‘ in Him.

Which is  what the celebration yesterday of Pentecost was all about: The fulfillment  of prophesy that ” God’s Spirit would be poured out on all flesh”.  And enable us to ‘ sin no more’.
And which Gospel story is the only lasting solution for #LondonTerrorAttacks and #Hanoverbleeding 

Part Two

THIS MORNING 

That was yesterday! Posted on my Facebook page.

Then this morning as I woke up the story of the ‘ sinful woman’ came to mind. So for my #earlymorningdevotions I read the story in Luke again. And these thoughts came mind after:
– The Pharisee invited Jesus to his house.
– The sinful woman invited herself.
– Both had debts which were canceled. But the one with the bigger debt ‘ loved Jesus more’.
– Because ‘ she loved much’, her many sins were forgiven. But ‘ he who has been forgiven loves little’.

Comment: Herein,  I believe the Spirit of God, led me to the problem( perhaps among others)  we have in our church today why we are suffering a decline in both numbers and effective witness.

Far too many members of the church, at all levels, do not identify with “Amazing Grace – that saved a wretch like me”.
Thus we have invited Jesus into our lives, but not necessarily into our hearts.
Compared to the ‘ sinful woman who ‘ invited herself’, with tears of contrition, perhaps like Pepita  Little, into the very Presence of an Awesome Healing God.

And if we extend the story into the Sermon at the first Pentecost, when the people heard that they had not just,  ‘ not given Jesus a kiss, or washed his feet, but killed the One sent by God’, they were ‘ cut to the heart’ and asked what should they do?

Then came the answer, ” wash Jesus’ feet with your tears, and wipe them with your hair’, viz, Repent and be baptized.
And save yourselves from this corrupt generation.

But for that to happen, we first have to just ‘ stand behind Jesus and weep’. Because like Pepita, we have so many sins. And they have all been canceled.
As were Peter’s! “Simon, do you love me”.

So I receive. So I share. Almost with tears in my eyes. In the name of Jesus, Son of the Living God.
Peace.
LWJ 
Part Three 

As  I conclude  this three part message, a couple of noteworthy things intervened.

First, I listened to two of Jamaica’s more perceptive journalists, sharing in  a deep conversation on #BeyondTheHealines on #RJRFM94 last evening. The issue was the spiralling murder rate. This,  as news broke yesterday about one youngster stabbing another to death, the gruesome discovery of a tomb in a room in a house in which was found the decomposing remains of a ‘ missing woman’s. And more. Much more within the past few days, include the shooting death of two teenage couples, with both of the females pregnant. Evil! Declared Emily Shields. Beyond Policing!  Asserted the veteran and highly respected Earl Moxam. As both agreed that success in treating these heinous crimes has to begin in the mind.

And I said to myself, this ‘ revelation’ is what the church has been saying for years!

But history has a way of repeating itself. So the people chose ‘ Barabbas ‘ instead!  Chose to listen to the irreverents; Mutty Perkins, and John Hearne. And now Cliff Hughes and  Orville Taylor. Chose to follow ‘ Bustamante til I die’….and Norman, and Joshua, and Eddie, and ‘ We say PJ, and De Driva, and Sista P, and now young Prince Andrew. Chose to put their trust in ‘ Cash Plus ‘ and Olint ! 

Chose macroeconomic imperatives over Christian Morality. Chose the doctrine of the ‘ Free Market’ over the Doctrine of Sin. Chose to be entertained by sundry Dancehall and Soca artistes who claim that ‘ they have the formula ‘. And of late chose to be entertained by the ‘ prosperity gospel’. Which is no gospel at all. And so the land mourns, and young girls like Pepita Little are born every day into a ‘ corrupt generation’.

 From which Peter, in his first sermon after Pentecost, urged those whose ‘ hearts were cut’, by the Good News of the Resurrection of the Jesus,  who they had killed ( rejected in favor of Barabbas),  to save themselves.

Second, as I opened my Classics Devotional Bible this morning  words from a MLK Jr  meditation ‘fixed its eye on me’. Again! As I had written about it before.

HE WHO TURNS BLACKNESS INTO DAWN.

Verse: Amos 5:8

Midnight is a confusing hour when it is difficult to be faithful. The most inspiring word that the church may speak is that no midnight long remains……

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……

So let me now share the final part of the reflection on Self-love knowing that we serve a God is both good and just. And and promised, in the Gospel reading for Sunday coming, ‘ to be with us, and Pepita Little, and all who chose Him over Barabbas,  until the end of age ‘.

SELF-LOVE CONTD

….we should be in despair 

Those who correct others ought to watch the moment when God touches their hearts; they must bear a fault with patience till they perceive his spirit reproaching them within. 

Then they must follow his providence that gently reproaches them, so that they may feel that it is less God than their own hearts that condemn them.  When we blame with impatience because we are displeased with the fault, it is a human censure and not the disapprobation of God. 

It is a sensitive self-love that that cannot forgive the self-love of others. The more self-love we have, the more severe are our censures. There is nothing so vexatious as the collision between one excessive self-love and another still more violent and sensitive. The passions of others are infinitely ridiculous to those who are under the dominion of their own ( Especially if you are determined to stand behind Jesus like Pepita Little and weep).

The ways of God are very different. He is ever full of kindness for us, he gives is strength, he regards us with pity and condescension, he remembers our weakness, he waits for us. ( Even after we chose Barabbas….the message from Calvary).
 

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

We wait for providence to give the occasion, and grace to open their hearts to receive it. If you would gather the fruit before its time, you lose it entirely. END.

Food for thought !  From Pepita and the Church,  to Jamaica and Barabbas. Time to get it right. And escape from this ‘ corrupt generation’. Time for all us to repent. And me first!

Lord renew they church beginning with me. Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).
Peace.
LWJ

#Manchesterarena, #KabulBombing, #Jamaicableeds and Satan vs. Jesus.

War in the minds of suicide bombers and wicked gunmen. Jesus vs. Satan 

#Manchesterarena. #ManchesterBombing  It’s not that the story didn’t touch me when news broke about the deaths of twenty three persons; with many more injured. 

Ariana Grande says she is ‘broken’ after explosion in Manchester Arena that left 22 dead and 59 injured | https://t.co/aSeVWDCW3c | #Iran

In fact,  like perhaps millions across the world,  I was horrified beyond words. And like others,  followed closely the saturated coverage of the awful story by  both CNN and BBC. Further, even though I am an Arsenal fan #gunnerforlife, I’ve been there. And done that! Visited Manchester, and did what would be considered de rigeur; walked around in the Man U stadium. I know the place.
The ‘ revelation ‘ about the everyday  material used in the bomb #nails, the repeated showing of the video with the terrible  haunting cry of, ‘ O my God‘, the mad rush to exit the arena caught on camera, the banality of evil as shown by the  middle class  home where the suicide bomber lived, and the defiant attitude of those who gathered in the city centre to mourn and to comfort; all these images will remain in my mind for a long time.
And hopefully so too will the images of the over 80  victims of the #KabulBombing this week, stay with me for a long time. Despite the fact that there was no saturated coverage of that equally horrific event. None! Just a news item among many others. And then moving quickly along! Despite the fact that the objective was the same. Create terror in the minds of the ‘ target audience‘!  Maybe it’s the novelty of  a suicide attack in one city vs the regularity in another. Maybe! But for the Christian, we must never forget, that  all are made equal and precious in the eyes of the God of Abraham, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 More than 80 dead and hundreds wounded after a massive explosion rocks highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul: https://t.co/xMhUKg6ekb https://t.co/nPzqRhUyZv

Clearly then,  news of  four persons brutally murdered in seven days in #Trelawnybleeding, and three dying in St.Catherine over a weekend, and a mother and son gunned down in #Hanoverbleeding, was not going to make the International news. And who knows, perhaps people in Jamaica who don’t follow the news, unless it affects them directly, might not even be aware of such happenings.

And while the world searches for answers to the vexed question of how to stop the terrorists, or even how to deal with man’s inhumanity to man,  I was led to read a profound meditation which speaks directly to this existential challenge.

NEW MINDS

Chris Tiegreen 
Verse: You were taught….to be made new in the attitude of your minds. Ephesians 4: 22-23
 You were taught…” In other words, this is something we should know. The renewing of the mind is a prominent New Testament teaching. When we become Christians we are to think differently.
“To be made new …..”  We can take comfort in the fact that this is a passive command. We don’t do the renewing ; we simply subject ourselves to it. We submit our minds to God and let Him fill them with His truth. He is the guardian of our makeovers.
” In the attitude of your minds”.  Our thought life is a battleground. You’ve probably noticed that.  There is a war going on for the ideas and affections of men and women in this world, and it’s brutal. We are assaulted with  falsehoods  constantly, and sometimes they seem  so close to the truth that we fall for them. But the enemy is devious, we are gullible, and the war rages on. Satan wants our minds, Jesus wants them even more.
How can we win this war?……

It’s hard. There is no easy way. 

…..We are to fill our minds either truth and let God’s Spirit renew them. As we immerse ourselves in His Word and let His teachings sink into our hearts, eventually our minds will learn to decipher truth from error. We will learn to see things from a kingdom perspective rather than a worldly one. In effect, we will be made new.

Comment: I suggest that this meditation addresses the heart of the problem facing the ‘ body of Christ’, the Church in today’s  Google Millennial   Society.
The battleground for the hearts and minds of people, calling them to repent, to turn to God in and through Christ Jesus, is in the minds of our people. And by ourselves we would lose that war, and suffer a massive defeat.
For who among us can compete with Google, pornography, Netflix, iTunes  and YouTube,  for the affections and minds of unbelievers. And if truth be told, the Bible and prayer are  no longer necessarily  the #1 ‘search engine’ for many Christians.
So, for many,  Truth and Morality are relative issues and not absolute! Something to learn and not a Person,  Jesus Christ,  to meet. And to ‘ covenant with’!

Therefore my truth tells me to bomb innocent people. In #Manchesterarena and in #Kabul. In the name of revenge. Or even Allah! #IamCharlieHebdo.
My truth allows me, a rated dancehall artist, so the story goes, not to be ‘ dissed’ by anyone. And thus exact revenge!

My truth says that women and children are fair game in the ‘ rough and tumble of life’. And thus as a ranking badman, it doesn’t matter how old. Or if she could have been my mother.  Blam, blam. You’re dead!

 

My truth allows to me to  live as if God is irrelevant, dead or ineffective. But yet I  am in shock when disaster strikes. And yearn for a crime free Jamaica!

Thank God for Jesus,  it is the Holy Spirit that convicts people of Sin. And lead them to turn to God in repentance.
Thank God for Pentecost which many churches will celebrate thisv Sunday. Marking the beginning of the Christian Church when the Holy Spirit was ” poured out on all flesh “.

When the first sermon was preached.  Acts Chap 2. One of the readings for Sunday.   And the people were told that God raised  the man Jesus Christ  – who they had killed – from the dead. 
The people then asked what should they do? ” Repent and be baptized…..and  save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”. Came the answer. 
God then ‘ added to their number’, three thousand on that day. 
So in the final analysis, it is God who convicts people of sin, when we lift up the Name of Jesus. In our homes! In the community!  In the crusades! In the media! On social media! At Healing Conference! Everywhere!

No doubt it was for reasons as articulated above, why I was inspired to post this message on Facebook this week.
Facebook One

” Opened my Classics Devotional Bible randomly   in my #earlymorningdevotions and found this:
THE SEEKERS COVENANT

Matthew Henry ( 1662-1714 … As a bible expositor, his multivolume  Commentary on the Bible still enjoys popularity, even though they were written almost 300 years ago…..)
Verse: 2 Chronicles 30:6
Yield yourself unto the Lord ” ( 2 Chronicles 30:8)
Before you can come into communion with him you must come into covenant with him……
The God you are called to return to is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a God in covenant with your first fathers.
Your late fathers that  forsook him and trespassed  against him have been given up to desolation; their apostasy and idolatry have been their ruin, as you see ( vs 7). You yourselves are but a remnant narrowly escaped out of the hands of the Kings of Assyria. If you return to God in a way of duty, he will return to you in a way of mercy….  
Could anything be expressed more pathetically, more movingly? Could there be a better cause, or could it be better pleaded?
Comment: #Trelawnybleeding and #Hanoverbleeding and #StJamesbleeding and a 9 year old girl coming from school is struck down a few feet from her home by a speeding bus….  and #Jamaicableeds and #Jamaicatroubled  came into my mind. For we have in large measure forsook the God of our grandparents, who were in a covenant relationship with ‘Puppa Jesus’  and ‘Maasa God’. And got taken up with idols, in politics, talk show radio ( it will take many years to recover from Mutty Perkins et al) , in our wallets, even  in the Church( have mercy),  on the Internet- we turn to Google more than we turn to the Bible or go on our knees –
And so our land mourns. The people are confused and increasingly becoming hopeless and cynical  about the solutions to stem the flow of blood in our land. 
Thank God,  as Matthew Henry closed his profound meditation, 

” In the worst of times God has had a remnant, so he had here….”

A people committed to ‘ yield themselves to Christ and Christ alone’.
To Whom will you pledge allegiance today? The Lamb of God. Or idols, about whom King Hezekiah faced with the threat of destruction by the King of Assyria declared:
Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us fight our battles. The people were encouraged by the words of King Hezekiah of Judah. 2  Chronicles 32: 7-8″.

Our duty then is lift up the Name of Jesus in Word and in deed. A lifestyle!  Whenever. Wherever. To whomsoever. In season and out of season.  Whether we get a visa or not. Whether we are ridiculed or not. Whether we appear on page 2 or not. Whether we are ignored or not. Whether we suffer at the hands of extremists, in Pakistan, India or in China. And in Jamaica.  And the USA. 
That is the context in which we need to reflect on the powerful message coming out of #HealingConference2017: that Healing takes place in community. 
That we need each other. In war torn Afghanistan, in the ruins of Aleppo, and the human tragedy that daily unfolds in  Syria, in the once tranquil and now devastated city of Manchester, and especially in ‘ Paradise Lost’ Jamaica. A togetherness which was a striking feature of first century Christianity as they witnessed to the love of God in Christ Jesus – the end of Acts 2.  But which quest for unity,  sadly,  is no longer a priority in the ‘ body of Christ’, as each denomination ‘ does its own thing’, largely unconcerned with the activities of others outside their  ‘ flock’ – one of the scandals of the modern day church.
And then this  chorus which got into my soul during the Healing Conference weekend; in  particular just before the powerful Healing Service on Sunday morning, reveals the only source  that binds us together. Not doctrine! Not tradition!  Not culture! But:

 

Chorus:

oh it is Jesus

yes it is Jesus

it’s Jesus in my soul;

for I have touched the hem of His garment,

and His blood has made me whole.

Pray God that His precious  blood will make people ‘ whole’. In Manchester. In Kabul. In Trelawny. In Hanover. And across the entire world. If people would just reach out and ‘ touch the hem of his garment ‘.

And sing  ( another Healing Conference  chorus):

1 Pass me not, O gentle Savior,

hear my humble cry;

while on others thou art calling,

do not pass me by.
Refrain:

Savior, Savior,

hear my humble cry;

while on others thou art calling,

do not pass me by.

Song in video. Early morning devotions on Saturday.

Healing Conference 2017: Healing takes place in Community 

Leaving the debate about #RankingPumpkin ( she came in second), and men wearing #rompers  ( the new fashion statement for men), I journeyed across the island, last Friday,  to Montego Bay, the tourist capital of Jamaica.
And spent a deeply spiritually rewarding weekend at #HealingConference2017!

A gathering of mostly Anglicans, with a sprinkling of other denominations, going on now for over forty years. A weekend of teaching, fellowship, prayers, worshiping, and testimonies. Climaxing in a  deeply moving Healing Service on the Sunday morning, when ‘ healing hands’, anointed and empowered by God, are laid on persons. And who then receive healing according to the power and timing of a Sovereign God.
The first night, Friday night, was ‘ youth night’. Led by vibrant young Rev. Michael Elliott from Portmore. Missed it unfortunately as I arrived too late – long story. But from all reports his presentation ‘ why are you here ‘, among other things, set the stage perfectly for the working out of a Theme: God’s Healing; Turning the hearts of Individuals Nations and the World.
Next up was the early morning devotions led by a team from the Bahamas – they have been coming for over ten years.


Then the Diocesan Bishop of Jamaica, Rt. Revd. Howard Gregory, and popular Webster United Church  Pastor, Astor Carlyle, shared their presentations on the Theme.

In the afternoon sessions, two ‘ Sisters ‘, from a Religious Order in Canada, well one of them, shared their perspective. This after, almost forgot, a short ‘ exercise session’.

Following which, one of the highlights of Healing Conference, the sharing of Testimomies, took centerfold.

The day  closed with a night session led by Canon Horace Ward and his team, ten strong, who flew in from Florida.

And after the Healing Service on Sunday morning, reluctantly, very reluctantly, I went back down into the ‘ demon possessed Valley ‘,  of mothers ‘ pimping their daughters’, and gunmen chasing a mother and son; killing them both.
So what revelations, teaching, thoughts and prayers accompanied me back to Kingston.

That the Sovereign God,  who may seem to  be silent while we are going through  our ‘ valley of the shadow of death’, always stands in solidarity with us. For it is He who assures us that, ” Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us, all the days of our lives…..”.
That the unity of Scripture affords us a panoramic view of the Sovereign God who is always there for us when trouble comes. Even and especially when it comes suddenly.
That righteousness is the very essence of the nature and  character of God. And is very closely linked to  justice!  And if we wish for our nation to be placed on a path of healing, we have to take care of, the widow, the orphan and the stranger”, viz the vulnerable and the downtrodden and those who society abuse and treat unjustly.

” So, if the community of faith wants justice to “roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” there must be first of all repentance of sin at a personal and communal level and the commitment to consistency of living between our professed faith and our deeds, finding expression also in advocacy for those who are being denied justice within the society.  But we must understand this call to repentance and renewal will not resonate with the entire society as it speaks to the quality and nature of human relations in community which are informed by faith in God and a consequent commitment to incarnate a life of moral rectitude which reflects the very nature of God.”

That Healing takes place in community. That we need each other. For it is the prayers and acts of kindness of others,  that sustain us when God appears to be silent.

So let us jettison overboard any concept of an ‘ individual ‘, Christian with his or her personal relationship with God, worshiping God in the privacy of their homes. Church then becomes,  not only a place to worship, but where we fellowship with each other,   build each other up; and go out to show mecy to others. In word and deed!

Thus lifting  up the Name of Jesus. To the glory of God!

That the end of our story, regardless of how grave the challenge may be, is still be written by a Sovereign and Compassionate God.
That Jesus turned to His Father, in His final hours before He died, and prayed for those who God had given to Him.
And that Jesus, having received them, gave them back to God. The owner of all mankind and of creation. We too,  therefore, ought to follow that example. That we own nothing in this life. Not our car. Not our house. Not our business. Not our ministry. And most importantly, certainly not the church. Pastors beware! And not even our own life.

For it is the Sovereign God who owns everything. And who then deserves all the honor and the glory and the praise.

That when unfettered, Anglicans  worship with passion,  and awe,  and joy. Yes joy!  It was a sight to behold.
That a weekend of glorious singing,

‘ For it is Jesus, yes it is Jesus……if I can just touch the hem of his garment…..can fill you with so much peace and joy. Sufficient to ‘ full your cup’, for months to come. Just praising God.

That a weekend of Praise and Thanksgiving and  Wrestling with God in Prayer, invites the very Presence of God to be felt in an awesome manner ” in the House”. Praise God.
So Healing of hearts and minds and souls and bodies took place over the weekend. Not because we were pious, or holy. Not because of the intensity of our prayers. Not because of the beauty of the singing. But because God was in the House. And all made possible because of the Blood of Christ shed on Calvary. Thus opening a new way for mankind to be still. And know God

That, a nation desperately in need of healing from crime and violence, corruption and hopelessness, needs to understand that the answer to our problems lies in how we cherish, shape and nurture,  this community called Jamaica. That we do in fact need each other.  Regardless of what ‘ power we may think we have’. And which power only belongs to a Sovereign God, who can, in a brief moment relieve us from any authority. Whether we sport green or orange vests; trod in Tivoli or Waterhouse; live  in #ClarendonFlooded,  mourn in #Trelawnybleeding or #Hanoverbleeding, have thousands of followers  on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, rule daytime, afternoon or night  radio, rate high on the stockmarket, or  run tings  in the dancehall.

A perspective which we need to hold dearly as we consider the cries of our brothers and sisters in Venezuela, Syria and Iraq. Community matters. Dearly! As a ‘ so de ting set’ by a Sovereign and Compassionate God.

Then this morning, with a heart still overflowing with the wonder and Glory of God, this wonderful song came pouring into, and out of my soul. ” His own Presence to cheer and to guide”.

Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Refrain:

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
2

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
3

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Amen.

Flooding or Judgment

  1. ​The heavens opened and the rain came. Of almost  Biblical  intensify. All night long!  It poured. And poured. One wit on Twitter wondered where was ‘ Noah ‘. Only to be answered laconically, by another smart aleck, ‘ Quickly putting together his  Ark.’ .

Check out @vidokti’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/vidokti/status/864582653592391681?s=09

I, however, was determined to go to work. Don’t like staying home unless sick. And very sick too.  But my staff and videos on Twitter warned against such madness. As the bridge that I would normally use to get to work had raging water just underneath it.

Check out @jovanthony’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/jovanthony/status/864452679476682752?s=09

All of this taking place in a previously dry river bed. Suddenly transformed into a threatening and angry mass of water. To the extent that another bridge further south of my intended route was,  not just completely inundated with flood waters, but almost wrecked. Which was  the fate of several other bridges in the rural areas!

Perhaps the flooding which took place in the same parish a few weeks ago, was a warning. Who knows! But this time the damage was island wide as a weather system took aim at our country  and drenched us with many inches of rain fall. All happening in short time.

Predictable everybody had a solution. Fix the drains. Prevent informal settlements. Build housing schemes with floods in mind. Don’t  build houses next to ” Big Pond”.

All good ideas.
But two ‘ conversations ‘, come to mind as I write.

” How can we fix our country”, I asked one of my patients as we discussed the latest vile act?

” Only judgement “, was the immediate and only response!. And that happened twice. On the same day! One proposing. The other in agreement.

Then this, as unusually  I woke up at 4:00 am this week, and being unable to go back to sleep, got up, opened my Bible ‘ randomly’, and began reading:

Judgment on Moab

Jeremiah 48. The entire chapter.

And in particular: ” Moab shall be destroyed as a people, because he magnified himself against the Lord”. Verse 42.
But always, a God who is full of mercy, and who famously declared through His Prophet Ezekiel,  that, ” I take no pleasure in the death of Sinners, but that they turn and be saved“, offered a Word of Hope in the midst of the revelation of judgement.
Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days, says the Lord”. Verse 47.

And as I discussed this issue of Judgement with another set of patients, one of whom had a similar perspective,  after the flood waters had receded and I was able to go to work the following day;  and after I read about the judgement on Moab, my thoughts went to Abraham and His conversation with God before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
I don’t believe this!  Have mercy. As I open my Bible  to find the story about Sodom and Gomorrah, right in front on me is:

” The Shameful Origin of Moab and Ammon.”

How Lot’s two daughters ‘ lay with him‘. How they both got pregnant. 

” The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab; he is the ancestor of the Moabites to this day. The younger one also bore a son and named him Ben-ammi; he is the ancestor of the Ammonites to this day.

So on to Abraham:

Then  the Lord said, ” How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether to the outcry that had come to me; and if not I will know……..
Then Abraham came near and said, ” Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked..  . 

and began the great ‘ bargaining with God. Finally ending with:
Suppose ten ( righteous) men are found there. He ( God) answered, ” For the sake of ten I will not destroy it”.
Now fast forward to the New Testament and to the Book of  Romans, where it is revealed that:
” There is no one righteous. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.
Therefore it means that the modern day argument about whether or not this passage ought to used to condemn homosexuals, or not,  is ‘ missing the central point”.
Which is,  that God in His mercy did,  ” Come down to fallen humanity”. In the form of Jesus Christ. Not to destroy. Not to condemn. Not to judge. But so that everyone who believed in His Salvific Act ” The Atonement wrought on Calvary “, will not perish but have eternal life.
For all have sinned:

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Straight ” All bent out of shape “. Black, White, Browning (Of the  Beenieman version  or otherwise), Brazilian hair, bald head, Rasta, pork eaters, vegetarians, wearers of Rompin, bare it all dancehall or Carnival girls. Muslim, Shinto, Buddhist, New Age.
Lying lawyers, corrupt politicians, and the narcissistic ones too. Gouging doctors, payola DJ’s, ‘ know-it-all ‘ righteous’ journalists, misbehaving pickney, four burner daddy’s, child abusing pastors….all have sinned. The great spiritual reality which is the essence of the Bible message!

But thank God for Jesus. Whose Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension reveal that:  God loves  humanity whom He created, He breathed life into us, He Redeemed us – From Sin and Death-  by The ( Precious) Blood of The Lamb. And He alone will judge us:

For, ”  In  the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere  to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31. A verse to which I was led to read.

So back to The Judgement story.
An excerpt from a message in October shortly after a young student ( from my alma mater ) was brutally murdered.

“Then at the Lecture I gave recently, Healthy Church: Healthy Nation, in the section ‘ Decisive Issues facing Christians Today, I  shared an extended version of this data. Data which chronicled the dramatic change after I left ” Fervet”.
1970 – 152  died from homicide in Jamaica
1980 – 899
1990 – 543
2000 – 887
2010 – 1447  ( 2009 – 1683 the worst year on record”

The reality is that as a nation we cannot continue to murder and rape and create mayhem,  with such impunity,  and not expect these ‘ vile acts’, to ‘ rise up’  before  a Righteous and Just God.

For those who would think that,  after such an event like what happened last week, I commend you to one of the signature songs of the late Frankie Paul,  whose picture is emblazoned across the front page of today’s Gleaner. ( May his soul RIP).
Fire dey a muss muss tail and Him think Seymour a cool breeze”.
For although God is indeed a merciful God and slow to anger, and full of compassion and mercy,  and although He sent His Son to die so that ‘ all who have sinned ‘, should not perish, this is not a God who we can ” magnify ourselves ” like the Moabites and expect no consequences.

A warning which I was moved to tweet yesterday:

Check out @lucienforJesus’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/lucienforJesus/status/865374397032521728?s=09

So we thank God for the witness of the authentic, Bible believing,  and confessing Church.

Otherwise God alone knows what would have become of Jamaica; one of the murder capitals of the world. And America, ( Trump is a distraction…not the real issue)  which has exported so much immorality across the world.

And in all of this, day after day,  this week, the words of this wonderful and challenging hymn, stayed with me.

1. O Jesus, I have promised

to serve thee to the end:

be thou ever near me,

my Master and my friend;

I shall not fear the battle

if thou art by my side,

nor wander from the pathway

if thou wilt be my guide.

2. O let me feel thee near me!

The world is ever near;

I see the sights that dazzle,

the tempting sounds I hear;

my foes are ever near me,

around me and within;

but Jesus, draw thou nearer,

and shield my soul from sin.

3. O let me hear thee speaking

in accents clear and still,

above the storms of passion,

the murmurs of self-will;

O speak to reassure me,

to hasten or control;

O speak, and make me listen,

thou guardian of my soul.

4. O Jesus, thou hast promised

to all who follow thee,

that where thou art in glory

there shall thy servant be;

and, Jesus I have promised

to serve thee to the end;

O give me grace to follow,

my Master and my friend.

5.  O let me see thy footmarks,

and in them plant mine own;

My hope to follow duly

is in thy strength alone.

O guide me, call me, draw me,

uphold me to the end;

and then in heaven receive me,

my Savior and my Friend.

O give me grace to follow my Master and my friend!

Zoleka Mandela, South African Royalty. Jesus Christ, Heavenly Royalty 

​This week I spent quality time with South African ‘ Royalty ‘.  With Zoleka Mandela the granddaughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela! 

Of slight build. But  pretty as a picture. Quiet, but commanding voice. With the Miriam Makeeba lilt. An internationally-acclaimed road safety advocate. Moving people to tears! Our own Prime Minister confessed he was on the brink. I came close too. 
But fragile. And has been through a lot! Her story will be aired on the award winning #Profile on #TVJ, hosted by Ian Boyne;  not this Sunday but the next one. Riveting stuff. Painful stuff. But full of hope, as she rose like the phoenix from the dust. To become a much sought after motivational speaker!

The host of #HotlineonRJRFM #EmilyShields,  one of Jamaica’s best and brightest, graciously agreed to interview Zoleka. And when Emily  found out about the #FreeMandela connection,  she was ‘ over the moon’.  Estatic! Like seriously enraptured! As for those of us who grew up – ES must have been a yoing girl – during the ‘ struggle ‘, Nelson Mandela is like Royalty.

Emily even began to sing ” Bring back Nelson Mandela “. #HughMasekela. On radio. Live! And was accompanied by ‘ caught up in the fever’, rasta drumming, by one of the party. 


She even met Jamaican  ‘ Royalty’. And posed for pictures with the ‘ big man’. #UsainBolt. And ‘ coach ‘ too!

Spoke about ‘ Gone too soon ‘. And more!

So South African Royalty came. Conquered the hearts of many. The excitement at the Jamaica Cancer Society where she visited was palpable. And left. After three days. To catch a 15 hour flight back to Jo’berg. But first a short stop to NY. What sacrifice. She hopes to return. When? Who knows! But a little piece of her heart was left here. Treasured by those who took pictures with her. Gave her a hug. Prayed with her. And just loved her. Not just because she is Royalty. But because, as Taurus Riley sang. 

 ‘ She is Royal’! 
This week also I spent time, quality time, with Royalty. Of a different kind altogether! 

And He revealed to me, through His Word, one of the great lessons in the Bible. 
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound ? By no means! 

How can we who died to so go on living in it?  Do you not know that all of us were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him in baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6: 1-4.

The passage resonated so much with me, even though I had read it so many times before. As it reminded me of one of the fundamental truths of the Christian Faith. That we have died! In Christ. And in Him raised to a new life. Powerful stuff. Life and game changing stuff. The Gospel Truth!
A truth which led to the posting of this message on Facebook.
FACEBOOK ONE 

When things seem not to be going your way, try not to be suspicious of God. He is a good God. He is a faithful God! We need to trust Him in every circumstance, however bleak it may appear. Personal  stuff. Other people. Nation. That’s the ‘ mind of Christ ‘ we are to cultivate, for we have been buried with Christ at Baptism.  And just as how Christ was raised from the dead to a new life,  to the glory of God, so too with Him, we are raised from the ‘ old man who died’, to Eternal life. Romans 6 #earlymorningdevotions 

So to be suspicious of God is to allow the ‘ old man ‘,  now dead in Christ, to once again take control. Perish the thought. O for grace to follow thee more. For in Christ, the old man, the law,  sin and yes, even death itself, no longer rule. Only Christ in whom we have new and unending Life. Right now.

Comment – It’s great to ‘ hang ‘ with earthly Royalty for a while. Whether South African or Jamaican. And to love and appreciate them. But  that’s it. Back to Jo’berg.  Back to training. And still fragile. Regardless!

But with Heavenly Royalty, the Psalmist- which I was led to read tonight – gets it right. Heavenly Royalty is to be blessed. For only He is a Healer. And full of mercy.

Yet fragile. As the Christ child. But raised from the dead. With power. And therefore  always with us. Always healing.
PSALM 103

Bless the Lord , O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:  Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;  Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;  Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  …….


The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalms 103:1‭-‬5‭, ‬8‭-‬12 KJV

http://bible.com/1/psa.103.1-12.KJV
Chris Tiegreen has the last word.

After Cleansing 
Verse: Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!
“……Unfortunately, history is filled with Christians who have taken grace too casually. We have seen it abundantly and concluded that  with much of it to go around, we might as well spend it recklessly. 

Casual grace has led us to conclude that sin is not that big of a deal, that we weren’t that badly off to begin with, and that God is not really as uptight and holy as we once made Him ought to be. 
But while that’s the prevailing view of casual Christianity, it isn’t biblical. Grace was given to free us from sin, not free us up for more of it. Make sure you understand the difference. God is still Holy, and grace is still precious. Always live in a way that shows that both are sacred to you.”

The question is, have we truly died with Christ, by grace,  to sin and death and fear. If not,  then people won’t see the Risen Christ in us. Thank us for bringing Him to visit.  And get excited. Not about us. But about Him. For He only is King. And highly exalted!