An Independence Message from a Spiritual Perspective

I usually write under God’s guidance on a Saturday morning. But I’ve been on holidays, or ‘ vacay ‘ ; the term popular with the young people.

Had a great time with family. Got lots of rest. Watched movies; finally saw Black Panther and understood better the ‘ Wakanda Syndrome ‘. Also watched ‘I am Bolt’; with Serena Williams, Michael Jordan and the Black Pearl ( Pele…voted athlete of the century…according to the movie, ‘ Pele ‘ which I watched and heard about the ‘ ginga’ style of football, and understood why so many of us love the beautiful game that the Brazilians play) as co-stars.

But in the midst of the vacay, news came from home, that a church sister, a friend, and the wife of a friend, died. A member of a family who by word and by action,

have been powerful witnesses to the love of Christ within and without the Church!

So, from near and afar we mourned the death of Pascale James. A beautiful soul, now gone to glory with her Redeemer, Christ the Crucified One, who promised, ” Today thou shall be with me in Paradise”: the ultimate Freedom that awaits all who die in Christ. And although for the family, Michael Jackson’s ‘ gone too soon’, is not just a song, but a tragic reality, we know that according to the words of D. L. Moody, an American preacher ” Pascale is more alive now than before “.

I would suggest that this, ‘ eternal life with Christ Jesus ‘ is the ultimate context in which we ought to celebrate our Independence from Colonial Rule by the British. And the French! And the Dutch. And the Spanish et al.

Why?

Because of an eternal Truth I have been meditating on ever since the Lord woke me up to read one His ” 4:00 am messages “; when I open the Bible randomly and read.

” As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.

For he knows how we were made; he remembers we are dust……”. Isaiah 103:13-14 NRSV

The reality is that our identify ultimately, is not defined by what others make of us. Nor even what we make of ourselves! But how our Creator sees us: lovingly created in His Image and likeness from ‘ dust’.

So yes, we have been enslaved and beaten and used and transported from our native land. Most Jamaicans. Treated as ‘ chattel ‘. And then ‘ Emamcipation morning’. But for many we are still in ‘ slavery ‘.

Enslaved by poverty! By bad economic decisions, corruption and the ‘ garrison ‘ type politics, made and practiced by our political leaders over the years, And aided and abetted by poor work ethic and low productivity!

Enslaved by ‘ Dons’ and criminal organizations who have murdered thousands of our people, and destroyed the good name of our country.

Constrained by the migration of so many of our highly trained professional.

Led astray by too many of our modern day artistes who have glorified the gun culture, placed an unhealthy focus on the ‘ privste parts’ of our women

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Carl Stone 25 years ago and Jesus in 2018

Today, on Boxing Day, after lunch with family, at loose ends after the excitement of Christmas Day, I went in my library in search of a good book to read. And choose, certainly not by chance, The Stone Columns: The last year’s work; by the legendary Professor Carl Stone.

The edited introduction by Dr. Brian Meeks, now Professor, living in the USA, and a part of this email, says it all:

“………For most people in the wider community, it was Carl’s columns which were the avenue to an appreciation of his intellect. Always empirical and probing, occasionally acerbic and even acidic, but never dull. Carl’s columns invariably set the agenda for the week’s political discussions in that never-ceasing dialogue in the board rooms, yards, factories, radio stations and classrooms, which has become a definite feature of contemporary Jamaica….

In the end, the measure of the man’s work is to be seen in the almost universal accolades which he received before his untimely death, and immediately thereafter. In the sharply divided and tribal world which constitutes the Jamaican political system, all sides recognized that Stone’s polls and his commentary brought a measure of sanity, objectivity and ultimately, maturity to a system sadly lacking in those qualities. It will be many years before any individual can fill the space he has left behind.”

And then came Ian Boyne!

Two points came to my mind as read. One, that the column that struck me, and which I will share, though ‘ inspired ‘ by Martin Henry’s insights, could easily, in this dispensation, have been attributed to the style of writing for which Ian Boyne was known.

Two, that on reading on reflecting on the column written by Stone on March 24th, 1992, 25 years, and a whole generation ago, things have not, according to the old adage, ‘ the more things change the more they remain the same’, remained the same, but sadly, despite the insights of Stone and Henry then, and Boyne and still Henry now, what a legacy Martin will leave eventually, things have gotten significantly worse.

For me as a Christian blogger, and decidedly not a social commentator, this stark reality only enforces my appreciation of the message in the Old Testament reading for the worldwide Anglican Church last Sunday and another passage of Scripture I shared in my blog last Saturday:

The Word of God

When the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? Samuel

Where there is no revelation the people cast off all restraint. Proverbs.

For, in the same way, we, as a people, have presumed like David to ” build a house for the Lord”, without awaiting ‘ more and better particulars’, I.e. revelation from the Lord, in the same way, as advised by the Psalmist, ‘ in vain do we build’, and in vain do we watch over the city. Unless the Lord builds it and watches over it.

Christmas then, is the birthday of God’s final and ultimate revelation to any nation and any people. Whether in Jamaica, Palestine or Israel. Perhaps then we need to cease looking for another Stone or Boyne, to ‘ set the agenda’ for national discourse. And accept The Incarnate Word, Who is Christ The Crucified One. The only One who can bring, Joy, Love, Hope and Peace: what the preacher in my Church described as The Advent Agenda, as we wait upon the Lord.

This certainly does not mean that The Word alone ought to guide policy prescriptions and social activity. Hence the reason for bringing to the attention of those who have power in this country, Carl Stone’s profound analysis of a worrying issue in the 1990s, and an even more dire national problem in 2017, as we progress inexorably into 2018. But what it does mean is that the prophetic voice of the church, a divine creation, has to rouse itself and escape from theological error ( the genesis of the prosperity gospel phenomenon) , and social apathy, and return to life under the Cross; and not just thunder forth about Righteousness and Justice. But be the leaders in the communities living out these two interrelated mandates of the gospel. As only then will it be salt and light in a state that, if left unchecked, will without doubt descend into the kind of anarchy which will make today’s troubles seem like the good old days.

Carl Stone

POVERTY AND VIOLENCE

March 24th, 1992

For some time now I have avoided commenting on what other columnists are writing. But I must depart from that trend to commend colleague columnist Martin Henry for consistently trying to deal with the deeper moral, developmental and philosophical issues and taking us away from a total pre-occupation with day to day occurrences and events.

His recent piece on the role of the declining family life in contributing to social violence was a refreshingly different perspective from the simplistic but popular view that poverty by itself accounts for the high level of violence in our country.

There is no longer any need to guess or speculate about this issue. A great deal of research has been done on it both at the international level and in our own environment and the explanation is beyond refutation.

Let’s start with Jamaica. The incidence of violent crimes in Jamaica remained low and stable and on par with sister Caribbean territories from the late nineteenth century right up to Independence.

Something suddenly happened in the early 1960’s to generate a new and unprecedented wave of violent robberies and increased homicide. Jamaica and particularly the Corporate Area became overnight the Caribbean crime capital. The wave of violence crimes started slowly in the 1963-64 period and took off in the second half of the 1960s, accelerating further in the 1970s and stabilizing but at a very high crime and victim rate in the 1980s

Violent Crimes

It is instructive to note that in its first wave the violent wee using knives, ice picks and machetes to rob as they had no guns. Access to guns later obviously increased the propensity to violence but it was not the cause.

The magnitude in the increased levels of violent crimes in Jamaica is quite staggering and it occurred over a relatively short time. The number of a assaults per 1000 of population increased from 120 in the 1950s to 300 by the end of the 1960s and climbed 650 by the late seventies ( even before the election violence of 1979-80). Homicides or killings grew from 5 per 100,000 of population to 11 in the late sixties and up to 20 by the late 1970s and early 1980s. Personal robberies jumped from 15 per 100,000 of population to 30 by the end of the sixties and climbed further to 65 by the late 1970s.

Jamaicans have always been poor. Poverty did not begin in the 1960s, so poverty by itself cannot explain these escalating increases in violent crime. Nor is Mr. Henry’s alternative theory about the impact of weak family an adequate explanation.

All comparative research on social violence has demonstrated that there is more violent crime in among the world’s middle income Third World countries. India and Haiti have far more poverty than Jamaica yet our level of violent crime is way above theirs. Violent crime rates in Japan and Europe are far below those in the USA. New World societies formed out of fragmented migrant communities ( Latin America and the Caribbean) and lacking in strong traditional cultures, protective extended families and authority systems have consistently higher rates of violent crimes than Asian and African countries where these stabilizing forces are very strong.

Twenty years of comparative social science research has taught me that when massive social behavior changes occur in societies over a short time periods ( as was the case with the social violence in Jamaica after 1962) there is usually a convergence of factors causing the change, not just one factor, and it is the interrelationship between these factors that fell the whole story. Family disintegration accelerated by migration was just one of the factors contributing to the problem.

Poverty and social deprivation are common and universal conditions in Third World countries, but among these communities some societies have levels of social violence. Some have medium levels of social violence and some have very low levels of soil violence. What accounts for the difference ?

The difference has to do with how people respond to poverty and the strength of the factor shaping that response. Values, culture and social institutions are the factors that make the difference.

Values determine the response of societies to poverty and institutions like the family provide the social contract, conditioning and learning of values that makes the difference.

Let me illustrate how this works concretely. Values dictate the three positive reactions to conditions of poverty and extreme poverty. The prevailing value system ( as in India) may tell people that poverty is their destiny and may motivate them to accept their conditions of poverty with resignation. Alternatively the poor may be motivated by values to strive to Improve themselves by education , hard work, thrift and business acumen. Thirdly the poor may come to resist poverty as a curse and militantly use violence to strike out against society, in which case the violence becomes a tool of social protest and a class struggle by the poor.

What happened in Jamaica in the 1960s was a profound change in the values that re-directed behavior towards violence and violent crime. The traditional values among the poor in Jamaica was that of accepting their lot and of resignation towards and acceptance of poverty. A minority reaction was to stove for upward social mobility through education, sports, music etc. A new generation of urban youth emerged and came of age in the 1963-64 period in the inner city influenced by a new social doctrine that blamed society, the system, the big man, the rich and the middle class for their poverty.

Unlike traditional mainstream poor, they resented poverty and developed violent crime as a means to acquiring affluence and material goods that hitherto were the exclusive preserve of the rich and middle class. They were aided and abetted in that endeavor by politicians.

Violence therefore became a weapon in the Jamaican class struggle and it is not accidental that during this period radical politicization was occurring in the inner city ghettos among the unemployed youth. Both the radical political tendencies and the growth of gangs and violence are offshoots of the same process of change.

What we witnessed after independence was a convergence following factors that reinforced each other in creating a new culture of violence in inner city communities.

1. Mixed class residential communities in the Corporate Area where the poor and middle class lived side by side were replaced by class-exclusive communities of homogenous middle class areas and homogenous poor residential areas. The middle class role model among the poor declined and the physical polarization of classes generated distrust, mutual hostility and a new we versus them set of social attitudes . Exclusive suburbanization in the middle class and upper levels and ghetto-ization of the bottom set the classes apart and created a climate in which these value changes occurred.

2. Massive outward migration destroyed families and family structures which have been weak sine slavery leaving behind a new generation of youths deprived of nurture, love and adequate parenting . The ” leggo beat” phenomenon of uncontrolled wild youth using violence to prove their manhood multiplied massively in the inner city as a consequence.

3. Increased youth unemployment among males with secondary education created new formations of young people with intelligence, leadership potential and enormous confidence in themselves and aspirations for middle and upper class lifestyles but without legitimate opportunities to achieve them, hence the resort to guns and violence. The gap between their aspirations and blocked social opportunities created the motivations for violence.

4.The huge inflow of guns from the USA empowered ghetto youth to ‘ dis’ adults and traditional community leaders and to literally take over communities.

5. Links between street gangs and political leaders legitimized and empowered the gunmen to defy the law and created a whole culture of lawlessness.

6. Increasing inequality between rich and poor as uptown society flaunted affluence while poverty increased and opportunities for upward social mobility among the poor declaimed substantially.

Social Forces

It is not any single factor but the interaction between all of these powerful social forces ( social, economic, and psychological ) that triggered the massive change in violent behavior after 1962.

Since the of course the drug trade has given the gunmen real economic power which they use to but community support by projecting themselves as latter-day Robin Hoods. Many ghetto people get material benefits benefits from the Dons and the impact has been great because the traditional handouts from the politicians has dwindled over the years. Political violence has also given the dons a new role as community protectors.

The gun-toting bad man in the ghetto is now a role model that has fired the imagination of the youth creating an entrenched new pattern of values that romanticize the subculture of violence.

Twenty years ago a Jah T who went to Wolmers ( my old school) would have tried to acquire a profession or to enter a legitimate business as a young entrepreneur. He would have aspired to become a High Small, or an Ian Ramsay or a Cliff Cameron. His father Jim Brown is a wealthy man and in the past, he would have, like the Kennedys, motivated his son to to love upwards into the higher reaches of the social ladder by professional education or legitimate business. Young Coke chose instead the option of becoming a ghetto Don which is telling us how the value system of the sub-culture of violence has taken over the youth……

In any society where badness and the appetite for money destroys traditional values and sidelines education, professionalism and the impulse towards moral and intellectual growth, decay and is inevitable. ……If we don’t change these values God help us in this country.”

And now 25 years later, having had brilliant analysts like Stone, Henry and Boyne, and dire warnings invoking the Lord, as a nation, we are tottering on the brink of disaster.

How much more, and how worse can the situation get before we turn to the Lord and cry out for mercy! The subject for another blog, based on an encounter with the Lord in Holy Scripture this morning.

In obedience.

Peace.

LWJ

Sent from Gmail Mobile

Today, on Boxing Day, after lunch with family, at loose ends after the excitement of Christmas Day, I went in my library in search of a good book to read. And choose, certainly not by chance, The Stone Columns: The last year’s work; by the legendary Professor Carl Stone.

The edited introduction by Dr. Brian Meeks, now Professor, living in the USA, and a part of this email, says it all:

“………For most people in the wider community, it was Carl’s columns which were the avenue to an appreciation of his intellect. Always empirical and probing, occasionally acerbic and even acidic, but never dull. Carl’s columns invariably set the agenda for the week’s political discussions in that never-ceasing dialogue in the board rooms, yards, factories, radio stations and classrooms, which has become a definite feature of contemporary Jamaica….

In the end, the measure of the man’s work is to be seen in the almost universal accolades which he received before his untimely death, and immediately thereafter. In the sharply divided and tribal world which constitutes the Jamaican political system, all sides recognized that Stone’s polls and his commentary brought a measure of sanity, objectivity and ultimately, maturity to a system sadly lacking in those qualities. It will be many years before any individual can fill the space he has left behind.”

And then came Ian Boyne!

Two points came to my mind as read. One, that the column that struck me, and which I will share, though ‘ inspired ‘ by Martin Henry’s insights, could easily, in this dispensation, have been attributed to the style of writing for which Ian Boyne was known.

Two, that on reading on reflecting on the column written by Stone on March 24th, 1992, 25 years, and a whole generation ago, things have not, according to the old adage, ‘ the more things change the more they remain the same’, remained the same, but sadly, despite the insights of Stone and Henry then, and Boyne and still Henry now, what a legacy Martin will leave eventually, things have gotten significantly worse.

For me as a Christian blogger, and decidedly not a social commentator, this stark reality only enforces my appreciation of the message in the Old Testament reading for the worldwide Anglican Church last Sunday and another passage of Scripture I shared in my blog last Saturday:

THE WORD OF GOD

When the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? SamuelWhere there is no revelation the people cast off all restraint. Proverbs.

For, in the same way, we, as a people, have presumed like David to ” build a house for the Lord”, without awaiting ‘ more and better particulars’, I.e. revelation from the Lord, in the same way, as advised by the Psalmist, ‘ in vain do we build’, and in vain do we watch over the city. Unless the Lord builds it and watches over it.

Christmas then, is the birthday of God’s final and ultimate revelation to any nation and any people. Whether in Jamaica, Palestine or Israel. Perhaps then we need to cease looking for another Stone or Boyne, to ‘ set the agenda’ for national discourse. And accept The Incarnate Word, Who is Christ The Crucified One. The only One who can bring, Joy, Love, Hope and Peace: what the preacher in my Church described as The Advent Agenda, as we wait upon the Lord.

This certainly does not mean that The Word alone ought to guide policy prescriptions and social activity. Hence the reason for bringing to the attention of those who have power in this country, Carl Stone’s profound analysis of a worrying issue in the 1990s, and an even more dire national problem in 2017, as we progress inexorably into 2018. But what it does mean is that the prophetic voice of the church, a divine creation, has to rouse itself and escape from theological error ( the genesis of the prosperity gospel phenomenon) , and social apathy, and return to life under the Cross; and not just thunder forth about Righteousness and Justice. But be the leaders in the communities living out these two interrelated mandates of the gospel. As only then will it be salt and light in a state that, if left unchecked, will without doubt descend into the kind of anarchy which will make today’s troubles seem like the good old days.

Carl Stone

POVERTY AND VIOLENCE

March 24th, 1992

” For some time now I have avoided commenting on what other columnists are writing. But I must depart from that trend to commend colleague columnist Martin Henry for consistently trying to deal with the deeper moral, developmental and philosophical issues and taking us away from a total pre-occupation with day to day occurrences and events.

His recent piece on the role of the declining family life in contributing to social violence was a refreshingly different perspective from the simplistic but popular view that poverty by itself accounts for the high level of violence in our country.

There is no longer any need to guess or speculate about this issue. A great deal of research has been done on it both at the international level and in our own environment and the explanation is beyond refutation.

Let’s start with Jamaica. The incidence of violent crimes in Jamaica remained low and stable and on par with sister Caribbean territories from the late nineteenth century right up to Independence.

Something suddenly happened in the early 1960’s to generate a new and unprecedented wave of violent robberies and increased homicide. Jamaica and particularly the Corporate Area became overnight the Caribbean crime capital. The wave of violence crimes started slowly in the 1963-64 period and took off in the second half of the 1960s, accelerating further in the 1970s and stabilizing but at a very high crime and victim rate in the 1980s

Violent Crimes

It is instructive to note that in its first wave the violent wee using knives, ice picks and machetes to rob as they had no guns. Access to guns later obviously increased the propensity to violence but it was not the cause.

The magnitude in the increased levels of violent crimes in Jamaica is quite staggering and it occurred over a relatively short time. The number of a assaults per 1000 of population increased from 120 in the 1950s to 300 by the end of the 1960s and climbed 650 by the late seventies ( even before the election violence of 1979-80). Homicides or killings grew from 5 per 100,000 of population to 11 in the late sixties and up to 20 by the late 1970s and early 1980s. Personal robberies jumped from 15 per 100,000 of population to 30 by the end of the sixties and climbed further to 65 by the late 1970s.

Jamaicans have always been poor. Poverty did not begin in the 1960s, so poverty by itself cannot explain these escalating increases in violent crime. Nor is Mr. Henry’s alternative theory about the impact of weak family an adequate explanation.

All comparative research on social violence has demonstrated that there is more violent crime in among the world’s middle income Third World countries. India and Haiti have far more poverty than Jamaica yet our level of violent crime is way above theirs. Violent crime rates in Japan and Europe are far below those in the USA. New World societies formed out of fragmented migrant communities ( Latin America and the Caribbean) and lacking in strong traditional cultures, protective extended families and authority systems have consistently higher rates of violent crimes than Asian and African countries where these stabilizing forces are very strong.

Twenty years of comparative social science research has taught me that when massive social behavior changes occur in societies over a short time periods ( as was the case with the social violence in Jamaica after 1962) there is usually a convergence of factors causing the change, not just one factor, and it is the interrelationship between these factors that fell the whole story. Family disintegration accelerated by migration was just one of the factors contributing to the problem.

Poverty and social deprivation are common and universal conditions in Third World countries, but among these communities some societies have levels of social violence. Some have medium levels of social violence and some have very low levels of soil violence. What accounts for the difference ?

The difference has to do with how people respond to poverty and the strength of the factor shaping that response. Values, culture and social institutions are the factors that make the difference.

Values determine the response of societies to poverty and institutions like the family provide the social contract, conditioning and learning of values that makes the difference.

Let me illustrate how this works concretely. Values dictate the three positive reactions to conditions of poverty and extreme poverty. The prevailing value system ( as in India) may tell people that poverty is their destiny and may motivate them to accept their conditions of poverty with resignation. Alternatively the poor may be motivated by values to strive to Improve themselves by education , hard work, thrift and business acumen. Thirdly the poor may come to resist poverty as a curse and militantly use violence to strike out against society, in which case the violence becomes a tool of social protest and a class struggle by the poor.

What happened in Jamaica in the 1960s was a profound change in the values that re-directed behavior towards violence and violent crime. The traditional values among the poor in Jamaica was that of accepting their lot and of resignation towards and acceptance of poverty. A minority reaction was to stove for upward social mobility through education, sports, music etc. A new generation of urban youth emerged and came of age in the 1963-64 period in the inner city influenced by a new social doctrine that blamed society, the system, the big man, the rich and the middle class for their poverty.

Unlike traditional mainstream poor, they resented poverty and developed violent crime as a means to acquiring affluence and material goods that hitherto were the exclusive preserve of the rich and middle class. They were aided and abetted in that endeavor by politicians.

Violence therefore became a weapon in the Jamaican class struggle and it is not accidental that during this period radical politicization was occurring in the inner city ghettos among the unemployed youth. Both the radical political tendencies and the growth of gangs and violence are offshoots of the same process of change.

What we witnessed after independence was a convergence following factors that reinforced each other in creating a new culture of violence in inner city communities.

1. Mixed class residential communities in the Corporate Area where the poor and middle class lived side by side were replaced by class-exclusive communities of homogenous middle class areas and homogenous poor residential areas. The middle class role model among the poor declined and the physical polarization of classes generated distrust, mutual hostility and a new we versus them set of social attitudes . Exclusive suburbanization in the middle class and upper levels and ghetto-ization of the bottom set the classes apart and created a climate in which these value changes occurred.

2. Massive outward migration destroyed families and family structures which have been weak sine slavery leaving behind a new generation of youths deprived of nurture, love and adequate parenting . The ” leggo beat” phenomenon of uncontrolled wild youth using violence to prove their manhood multiplied massively in the inner city as a consequence.

3. Increased youth unemployment among males with secondary education created new formations of young people with intelligence, leadership potential and enormous confidence in themselves and aspirations for middle and upper class lifestyles but without legitimate opportunities to achieve them, hence the resort to guns and violence. The gap between their aspirations and blocked social opportunities created the motivations for violence.

4.The huge inflow of guns from the USA empowered ghetto youth to ‘ dis’ adults and traditional community leaders and to literally take over communities.

5. Links between street gangs and political leaders legitimized and empowered the gunmen to defy the law and created a whole culture of lawlessness.

6. Increasing inequality between rich and poor as uptown society flaunted affluence while poverty increased and opportunities for upward social mobility among the poor declaimed substantially.

Social Forces

It is not any single factor but the interaction between all of these powerful social forces ( social, economic, and psychological ) that triggered the massive change in violent behavior after 1962.

Since the of course the drug trade has given the gunmen real economic power which they use to but community support by projecting themselves as latter-day Robin Hoods. Many ghetto people get material benefits benefits from the Dons and the impact has been great because the traditional handouts from the politicians has dwindled over the years. Political violence has also given the dons a new role as community protectors.

The gun-toting bad man in the ghetto is now a role model that has fired the imagination of the youth creating an entrenched new pattern of values that romanticize the subculture of violence.

Twenty years ago a Jah T who went to Wolmers ( my old school) would have tried to acquire a profession or to enter a legitimate business as a young entrepreneur. He would have aspired to become a High Small, or an Ian Ramsay or a Cliff Cameron. His father Jim Brown is a wealthy man and in the past, he would have, like the Kennedys, motivated his son to to love upwards into the higher reaches of the social ladder by professional education or legitimate business. Young Coke chose instead the option of becoming a ghetto Don which is telling us how the value system of the sub-culture of violence has taken over the youth……

In any society where badness and the appetite for money destroys traditional values and sidelines education, professionalism and the impulse towards moral and intellectual growth, decay and is inevitable. ……If we don’t change these values God help us in this country.”

And now 25 years later, having had brilliant analysts like Stone, Henry and Boyne, and dire warnings invoking the Lord, as a nation, we are tottering on the brink of disaster.

How much more, and how worse can the situation get before we turn to the Lord and cry out for mercy! The subject for another blog, based on an encounter with the Lord in Holy Scripture this morning.

In obedience.

Peace.

LWJ

Murder and Elections in Jamaica: The Cross of Christ in Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps there is a link between this real and present secular issue, and in my view, a matter of far greater importance, the spiritual issue of the critical role of what took place on the Cross of Christ in the advancement of the Kingdom of God, and the spreading of the Gospel

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

THE LETTER

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

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

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

THE WORD OF GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 23:1‭-‬11 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 1:8‭-‬9 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

In obedience.

Peace.

LWJ

THE FOLLOW UP LETTER NEXT DAY

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

This morning on arriving at :

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Cor 3:12-18 NRSV

As I wrote a couple of thoughts entered my mind:

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

2. If not, why?

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

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

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

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

Peace.

LWJ

FINALLY A MESSAGE WRITTEN ON FACEBOOK

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

Headlines in the Gleaner yesterday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/Mxz-c8MLAoU

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

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

MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

WHAT IS A MISSIONARY

OCTOBER 26

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

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

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

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

Final comments:

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

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

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

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

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 be by my side.

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

Flesh and blood dying in Jamiaca:  flesh and blood not responsible but evil 

Not even the thrill of seeing #FastElaine turn on the afterburners at the #JamaicaTrials. 

Not even the joy of the seeing #BlessedOne #YohanBlake separate himself from the field and win with the second best time in the world this 

Not even the realization of the moment when yesterday’s greats #AsafaPowell and #VCB had to make way for the new turks, the new generation of sprinters!
None of this commentary of the activities in the Spring Factory of the World  could help to gloss over the kind of wickedness which was spread abroad in #Jamaicalandwelove this week.