God’s Rescue Mission for Justin Bieber in America and Crime in Jamaica

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation – A Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism.
NEWS – Justin Bieber
I am a huge tennis fan. And even more so, a huge Serena Williams fan. But, thank God,  I am no longer disturbed,  as I was years ago, when I would refuse to watch any more matches if she lost in the early rounds. That’s how I came to watch and genuinely enjoy Ivanovic, Silbulkova, Li Na and Eugenie  Bouchard compete for the top spot in the recently concluded Australian Open which eventually went to China’s Li Na. The important story here,  is that whilst watching the first semi-final between Bouchard and Li Na, the name Justin Bieber came up. The report was that Bouchard, a Canadian was highly excited that he, Bieber,  a fellow Canadian, had sent her an encouraging  tweet just before the match. A big thing for a young girl! Then next day or a couple days later, the whole thing about Bieber’s exploits for which he was arrested blew up  in the social media and  later on conventional  news outlets. And Justin Bieber is hugely popular in the USA. Then, just this evening on twitter a came across an article which not only improved my limited knowledge on this troubled young man, but offered a useful perspective on how he can be rescued, at least from a Christian point of view. And which interview I tweeted to a few persons.
– Jamaica’s high murder rate and failing schools
THE JAMAICA OBSERVER   WED. JAN. 22- SOME OF Jamaica’s lowest-ranked high schools have been churning out the bulk of misfits, who have ended up in the country’s prisons, a government study has revealed.
The study, which was presented in the House of Represen-tatives yesterday by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, shows that five institutions with the most persons in the penal systems are all poorly performing schools, according to ranking by the think tank, Educate Jamaica.
“The research unearthed evidence to suggest that the names of some schools were more likely to be featured than others. There is also overwhelming evidence to infer, with a high degree of confidence, that at least seven out of 10 inmates in our adult prisons have had some association with a non-traditional high school,” the study said.
Thwaites, who described the results of the study as frightening, said naming the schools is in no way intended to ridicule them.
The five schools named in the report that were featured most frequently in the sample are Kingston High, Holy Trinity High, Vauxhall High, Norman Manley High, and Pembroke Hall High – all upgraded high schools.
“No one wants to put a pall of doom or guilt on these institutions, but they have been singled out only with the desire, as far as the Ministry of Education is concerned, to be offered special attention,” Thwaites said.
He told Parliament that in addition to the 18 schools identified in the report, the study had found 56 institutions that are seriously affected. He said the institutions will receive special intervention as of next month, which will include identifying troubled students and addressing their situation. The minister said the strategy, which has at its heart the objective of ameliorating Jamaica’s crime problem, will also aim to prevent school dropouts.   END OF QUOTE
So this week tears flowed, objections were raised, accusations of insensitivity made, and explanations given, after the Minister of Education laid a paper in  the Parliament. And which ministry paper  revealed that  research done by the local police force showed that many persons in jail had attended a particular kind of school, and the names made public. Thus causing great concern, upset, anger and controversy; all of which was carried by the media. The public officials denied that it was ever their intention to ‘ injure and to cause embarrassment’; but rather to use the opportunity to  intervene and to provide help. With not only the local institution in mind, but having regard the vital tole that schools play in socializing youngsters, improving the state of the nation, awash with so much crime and violence  was the ultimate objective. In other words, just like Justin Bieber a ‘rescue plan’ was necessary.
– Child Sex Abuse
The topic of a riveting discussion I heard on Nationwide News Radio on Friday night. The featured speaker was a lady who had suffered at  ‘the hands’ of two uncles. And thus she wrote a book about reclaiming her dignity and musing whether or not God was too busy at the time of the incident to intervene on her behalf. And one disturbing revelation by a public official was that most cases of child sexual  were carried out by relatives; mothers,  step mothers, fathers and stepfather and other relatives!  And which discussion triggered the following tweet
THE  WORD OF GOD
So in all of this what did  the God who is never too busy to speak or to intervene, having ‘intervened’ on the  Cross of Calvary on behalf of all mankind, reveal to me this week.
First of all a follow up message to last week, that divisions in the church are not good;  and in fact militate against the kind of unity which we need to have to fight against evil which is alive and well in my country, and in the world.
It started by  praising The Lord using The Benedictus,  sang by the father of John the Baptist at his birth; THE KJV.  ‘ Blessed be The Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…….That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies; might serve him without fear; In holiness and righteousness before him: all the days of our lives’
Which prompted a return to last  night’s reading of Oswald Chamber’ ” My Utmost for His Highest”. An abridged online  version of which appears below.
JANUARY 23
Transformed by Beholding
We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image . . . -2 Corinthians 3:18
The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it- something good, but not what is best.
Then I was prompted to read the text in context and found this:
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters of stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now, in comparison with the surpassing glory……..
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold …….Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts, but whenever anyone turns to The Lord, the veil is taken away. Now The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Sprit of The Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from The Lord, who is the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:7-17 NIV
The ultimate question at the end of the day, is how much are we being transformed into the likeness of Lord; and as Chambers’ suggests, how much  are  we reflecting that life as a mirror. Not trying to be obedient to a law and commands that, in our sinful selves can never do. But O my God, in Christ Jesus, we can be transformed into His likeness, and become holy, as our God is holy.
In obedience to the Spirit.
Peace.
LWJ
And which was followed immediately  by another message.
i just  felt it in my spirit that there was something else. And so as I turned to the NT reading for this Sunday I found this. In the NIV the caption is:
DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter, ” or “I follow only Christ.” Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. (1 Corinthians 1:10-17 NLT)
The key point in all of this, is ” lest the cross be emptied of its power”…I prefer that version.
And  if that happens, pride sets in, and the eternal lesson from Gideon would be lost. That no man should boast before God. That’s the danger with ‘ keeping the sabbath’. It gives  Satan an opening to promote pride and boasting, which unfortunately, in some cases, in my experience, has been the case.
Not by the way, but very germane to this point, the same challenge faces the Pentecostals and Evangelicals, and we Anglicans, and Roman Catholics  and others; for different well known reasons. For which Anglican, brought up on the notion that our theology is our strength, or our faithfulness in participating in the Holy Eucharist, a most beautiful and empowering experience for me every Sunday, if we are not careful, can become a ‘snare’ to us, as we ‘boast’ about it. Or for others ‘ being filled with the Spirit’, or pride in ‘carrying the word in mass meetings to the lost’. You get the drift.  Paul would not have been happy. And a divided church, cannot help to rescue Jamaica from ‘warmy’, Dudus, D’angel and a run-away dollar and all that they represent.
The Lord’s peace be with you.
In obedience.
LWJ
And we can add to that, rescuing Justin Bieber, and America from running away from, or trying to escape from the Truth. In respect of the Abortion, Gay marriage and other ethical and moral issues. In that regard, I found a speech shared by one of America’s highly acclaimed writers, Eric Metaxas, and who was the featured  speaker at the 2012  Prayer Breakfast attended by President Obama and The First Lady along with President Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, an extremely good read. I would recommend it to all who are seeking the Truth.
Finally as I pondered the state of my country this week, and prayed, The Lord  led me to reflect on a short passage of Scripture, which has huge implications for mankind. And then a refection which provides a serious challenge for how we live our lives as Christians among persons who are desperate need of being rescued, as we know that we are, whether they accept it or not. But the need is clear and manifest in all kinds of social and moral and economic challenges that we daily we face as a society
THE WORD – found in a single verse in the Old Testament reading for the Anglican Church today
” Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets” Amos 3:7
And without pause the following verse came into my head:
 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets in many times nd in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he has made the universe.
Surely then that advocated by Metaxas,  and stated by God’s Son in  the Bible, that Jesus Christ is The Truth, The Way, and The Life ought to weigh heavily on the minds of all who yearn to know the mind of God. And what plans he has for mankind. Surely it is this Truth alone which can rescue Justin Bieber and all ‘ beliebers’. That can rescue Jamaica’s failing schools and solve our murder problems. Surely only this Truth can rescue people from abusing our children, and more importantly, their own children; and rescue the abused.
THE REFLECTION
QUICKENING GRACE
Martin Luther ( 1483-1546)…arguably the most important church reformer in history. And who  God used to reform not only the Church in the 15th century but an entire society and human history consequently.
Verse:  Zechariah 12: 10.  And I will pour out a on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication……
When a Christian begins to know Christ as his Lord and Savior, through whom he is redeemed from death and brought into his kingdom and inheritance, his heart is aglow with a flaming love of God and he would gladly help everyone to the same experience. For he knows no greater joy than that he possesses this treasure, that he knows Christ.
Therefore he goes out and teaches and exhorts other people, praising and testifying to it before all men, praying and yearning that they too might attain to such grace. That is a restless spirit enjoying the the highest rest in the grace and peace of God, for it cannot be silent or idle, but is always striving with all its power to spread the honor and glory of God among the people, that others too may receive this Spirit of grace and may then help with the work of prayer. or where the Spirit of grace is, he quickens our hearts, so that we can, and may, and must begin to pray.
As I close I am struck by Metaxas’ insistence that Truth must be shared in love. Otherwise it is not Truth. In the sense that we must have a restless spirit to share the gospel with all, but must remember to be sensitive and be gracious to others, as we would have wanted, had we been on the ‘ other side’ of the fence. And in desperate need. As we once were were, like Justin Bieber, until God in Christ intervened on the Cross. For the abused! And for the abuser!.
Peace
LWJ

 

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Whether in Jamaica, The USA, Europe Africa….all are at Rest in Christ

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing –  John Newton

Lord renew thy church beginning with me: lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – a Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

THE NEWS

1. In my country, on the third Thursday of each year there is a major national event organized by  the Church – A National Leadership Prayer Breakfast. At this function leaders from Government and Civil Society join the church in prayer and reflection on the state of the nation. This year our Prime Minister and the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition were invited by the preacher on to the podium for special prayers. An excerpt from a report shared on RJR news online appears below

Jamaica’s leaders were on Thursday morning challenged not to be autocratic or confrontational in these challenging times, but to be courageous and lead by example.

This was a key part of  the message delivered at the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast by guest speaker, Bishop Dr. Delford Davis.

Dr. Davis, who is pastor of Power of  Faith Ministries, called for the nation’s leaders to become collaborative.

“We have had a winner and a loser. As political parties contend for state power, some might argue… that Jamaica has never won, and many have contemplated this question.” This is now high time for Jamaica to win. Jamaica must win for all Jamaicans, and not for a select few.”

That which caught my attention however,  were  the two readings.  OT and NT. And in particular the one from Joshua….Be Bold and very courageous.

2. The second bit of news which, apart from the continued reports about murders, was an egregiously outrageous statement by a sitting member of Parliament. A response to his comments, one of many, including an column written by the Anglican Bishop of Jamaica ….http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Those-who-do-not-count_15802229
appears below:

In a speech characteristic of the bombast that has made him infamous, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) member of parliament for South West St Catherine espoused a view of politics that could have the unintended consequence of bringing an already wobbling process into further disrepute.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t count, and you can’t ask for government benefits when you refuse to participate in the governance of your country. I don’t know how others perform, how others work, but in South West St Catherine dem have to vote to talk to me, nuh care how yu sick and need it, nuh care how the old lady on the crutch; you didn’t vote without an excuse, you don’t talk to this member of parliament,” he said.

That’s an outrageous perspective for a liberal democracy of the type we have been fashioning for nearly a century and to which I believe most of our political leaders aspire.

GOD’S WORD

This week I was led to write two letters and send out a number of tweets. The first letter, I believe,  was triggered by the state of the nation and the validation, at the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast, of the call ” from the most unlikely source”
( The Minister of National Security who is not known to be a church man) , for ‘Divine Intervention’. It was addressed to national leaders, and makes the point that ‘when the going gets tough, our only recourse is to ask The Lord for help’. And with ‘madman’ Warmington, together with  the equally outrageous behavior of two of our top dancehall female artistes, and the pressing social and economic problems all around,  and a feeling of hopelessness abound,  I thought a perspective from one who had access the minds of men of great power could help at this time.

THE FIRST MESSAGE

Peter Marshall ( 1902 -1949) was a Scottish emigrant to America and served as Chaplain to the United States Senate for two years. After his death his wife Catherine published his biography ” A Man called Peter”, which made his story well known. And even more so when the book was made into a popular film.
The excerpt from a ‘sermon’ to the most powerful legislators in the world in a time of great crisis, the years of WW11, struck me this morning,  as I was led to read them during my devotions.
A message we in Jamaica need, in this our time of crisis,  with  the twin swords of Damocles, spiraling crime and anemic economic growth, hanging around our proverbial necks. For years! And we have no clear idea what to do, despite the apparent ‘ light at the end of the tunnel’ provided by the IMF agreement. Further, who is going to rescue us from D’Angel and Macka Diamond and what their recent behavior represents metaphorically in our society – an issue captured so well by young Daniel Thwaites in brilliant satirical style, in his most recent column. And each one being  inextricably linked to the other. Perhaps we should include in the mix, ” what is to be done about M.P. Warmington” and others like him, and what they represent in the body politic in Jamaica!

FOR GOD’S GRACE IN OUR HELPLESSNESS
Verse Judges 7:2

We know, our Father that at this desperate hour in world affairs, we need thee. We need thy strength, thy guidance, thy wisdom.
There are problems far greater than any wisdom of man can solve. What shall our leaders do in such an hour?
May thy wisdom and thy power come upon the President of these United States, the Senators and Congressmen, to whom have been 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 has 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 a easy life; but rather an arsenal of courage and strength – the mightiest of all, who will march beside us into battle for righteousness and world brotherhood.
O our God, may we never recover from our feeling of helplessness and our need for of thee! In the strong name of Jesus, our Lord, we pray. Amen
Peter, I am not sure that you understand clearly the ‘seed ‘ that you have sown in this nation. But be of good courage and persevere, in the midst of the criticism from any quarter. For those who follow history closely will recall that the USA was a ” reluctant bride” in WW11. And had to be convinced to enter the struggle to defeat Hitler. Then came the pain of Pearl Harbour. And other issues not well publicized too. The point here is that God moves in mysterious ways always. We just have to trust him now, as  others, like Rev. Peter Marshall,  have urged leaders in the past,  to place all their trust in The Creator of Heaven and Earth. Why?  Despite our apparent wisdom and power, without Him we are helpless. But with Him all things are possible.
Peace.
LWJ

As I finished writing the note during my early morning devotions and went on my knees in prayers, another thought came. And so I wrote. Again!

The key thing about the verse from Judges about Gideon, if you read the story carefully, is that when God grants us the wisdom, the power and the victory, we should not boast as if it is our courage and might and wisdom which has caused us to prevail. But to give him the glory always. To do otherwise is to ignore the lessons taught to us by  Sam Sharpe and others.  And to ignore what was the greatest declaration of victory in human history, spoken by Christ on the Cross of Calvary: ” It is finished”. Which is precisely what we have done. Hence the pain, about which Lewis writes with compassion, humility and deep insight.
All done for today.

This actually came after I had been moved to write that C.S. Lewis’ The PROBLEM OF PAIN ought to made required reading for all who aspire for leadership in Jamaica. And as you know by now, my having written about this book for the past three weeks, it’s all about man rebelling against God  during ‘The Fall’, and hence the introduction of pain in the world.

Please follow me carefully now, as even as I write, I am astounded. This morning, believe it or not, after being awakened by an early morning call, and I rarely leave my cell phone on  at night, I went to sleep and this thought came during my early morning sleep. “It is finished” means that all human beings can be at rest in God, as the great work of bringing us back into  relationship with Him, which is what we were Created to have and to be, is all done. Even the great passage in Acts 17 came during this ‘eventful’ sleep.

” Then Paul stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus. He said, “Men of Athens! I see that you are very religious in every way. As I walked around, I looked carefully at the things you worship. I even found an altar with ~to an unknown god= written on it. Now I am going to tell you about this ‘unknown god’ that you worship. “He is the God who made the world. He also made everything in it. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in temples built by hands. He is not served by human hands. He doesn’t need anything. He himself gives life and breath to all people. He also gives them everything else they have. From one man he made all the people of the world. Now they live all over the earth. He decided exactly when they should live. And he decided exactly where they should live. God did this so that people would seek him. Then perhaps they would reach out for him and find him. They would find him even though he is not far from any of us. ‘In him we live and move and exist.’ As some of your own poets have also said, ‘We are his children.’ (Acts 17:22-28 NIRV)

So here is where, on reflection, God’s mighty power was at work in ways that I don’t begin to understand. Yesterday I went to a planning meeting of The Healing Conference; which is an annual event going on for many decades. Where people from varying denominations, but mostly Anglicans,  come together for a weekend of Fellowship, Singing, Teaching and Healing. The Bishop who is our Chairman, Bishop Daniel, as is his accustomed habit, before prayers, read a short meditation.
On the importance and deeper understanding of sabbath rest.  An meditation that took us far deeper than how the SDA treat with the subject, for as the writer explained…the sabbath and rest from work, and the attendant benefits , is not about man but about a gracious God A topic, as I informed him, about which I had that very morning addressed in a letter to a SDA pastor for whom I have great respect. But was led to challenge him to reflect of what God had placed in my heart. So I did so boldly.

THE SECOND MESSAGE

…….This response to our ‘conversation’ last year resumes much later than I had promised and anticipated. But it is always better to wait on the guidance of the Spirit rather than rush ahead.
Actually this message began yesterday, when I was led to read 1 Timothy. And as I read the following words this ‘conversation’ came to mind:
“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is not made for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels……and for whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which he entrusted me.” ! Timothy 1:8-11.

How did I get there? I was searching for ” Timothy my son……..some have rejected these and have so shipwrecked their faith”…1:19. Why? Recall that the second reading at the NLBP was taken from Acts 27. A story about a shipwreck; all because the folks involved chose not to listen to Paul’s warning. And so as I was led to reflect on both passages; the one from Joshua…be bold and very courageous; and this one from the Acts of the Apostles, my mind, led by the Spirit went to this Timothy passage.

Then this morning as I awoke and began walking to my study to engage in my early morning devotions, ” I have been crucified in Christ……”,  came into my mind. One of my favorite Bible passages! And so I read, and read, and read all about the futility;and more than that, ” You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you” ( NIV); of being under the law. An argument which climaxes towards to end of Galatians,  with specific reference to circumcision. Followed by the profound and eternal recommendation: ” Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”

Therefore I know that the context  revolves around the struggle the early church had in resisting any attempts to seduce the new converts to, ” behave like Jews”, and allow themselves to become circumcised. And thus “avoid being persecuted ( 6:12) for the cross of Christ”. In that context then, and note I am not writing to ask you to explain the ‘keeping of the Sabbath”, as you will appreciate from what I have written that,  ” flesh and blood’ did not teach me these things”; but rather for you as a leader in the SDA church to reflect on them. For the glory of God!…….

And having  been led to  write such a ‘bold’ letter, I was moved to read and write the following:

And then I was led to read and sing and weep in my soul, I suppose given the huge implications of this conversation, the song below:

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 the verse referenced with the hymn in my Classics Devotional Bible, is Jeremiah 8:22.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing
for the wound of my people?

Intriguing isn’t it!
LWJ

So what does all of this have to do with MP Warmington’s madness, the issue of bold leadership and Jamaica’s serious problem with Crime and Violence.

Two tweets from  triggered by the sermon that the same Bishop Daniel preached that afternoon at the funeral of a very popular Evangelist, who labored in the ‘vineyards’ at home and abroad, Julius Creary, might help.

@lucienforJesus: Christ is Savior Judge and also intercedes for us.  What a comfort! Bishop Daniel at Julius Creary’s funeral today.# IloveyouJesus #Julius

@lucienforJesus: If you truly love Jesus you are to feed His sheep. That’s what He told Peter. Not look after yourself. Bishop Daniel today. #Jesus @sqyre

The give away here is that ” neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means a thing. What counts is a new creation”.

In that regard then, unlike MP Warmington, who believes that only those who vote ‘count’ in his eyes, the God of Creation, in Christ,  died on the cross of Calvary, while we were still sinners, because ” all whom He created counts”. And He loves all of us dearly; even to death of a Cross. So that our sins may be forgiven. That’s the essence of the ‘good news’, the gospel of Christ. And the matter is ‘finished’. Forever!  What is needed on our part is repentance and to seek God in Christ, and become a ” new creation”. Only that simple ‘ old time religion’ is good enough for the world. That’s the basic message of any Evangelist.  Or ought to be! Lest, as Paul warned, ” The cross be emptied of it’s power”.
Therefore the sabbath rest in Christ, …It is finished…..ought never to be confused with ‘keeping the sabbath’. A horse of a different color all together. And keeping with the metaphor, that’s like trying ‘ride two horses at the same time’. One of grace and mercy in Christ, and the other of trying to ‘keep  the law’ or commands, in  response to grace.

This is indeed the comfort that Bishop spoke about. That we are no longer to be judged by a a law, a system of rules that no one could keep, but by the same one who is our Savior. And not  only Savior but also the One who advocates for us at the right hand of God.  Therefore there is no longer any condemnation, whether you ‘keep the sabbath’ or not! Whether you worship on a Sunday or not! Whether you have an experience  with angels or not! Whether you ” get in the spirit’ or not!  Whether you participate in Holy Communion every week or once a year! All that matters is that you repent of your sins and accept Christ as Lord. And thus become a new creation.

Then comes the true test. If we really love Jesus, because He died for us, and not just because we see Him as a ‘ celestial boops’ …’ ‘im give me everyting me ask ‘im…or a heavenly Santa Claus, then our proper response is to ….feed his sheep. take care of people, in so many different ways. The Politician, the Businessman, the lawyer, the journalist, the  teachers, the doctors, the students.  The lonely. The downtrodden. The helpless! ….those captured and led astray by satan….Franz Fannon’s ‘ wretched of the earth’…those in error like ‘warmington’…those who rob and kill and steal…in fact the whole human race. As that is the kind of boldness and passion we need to rescue Jamaica, America, Syria, Egypt and the all people everywhere. And tell them the story that ” it is finished”. All done. On Calvary

Jamaica, USA, C.S. Lewis and God in Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do: an d read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton ( a former slave ship owner turned priest).

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation (s)  – A Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism.

NEWS

This week the news at home arose primarily from yet another surge of murders. Really heart breaking stuff incidents in particular involved the rape of a young school girl, and the splaying of a young and promising teacher; descriptions and pictures of his students mourning was very difficult to read. The link to the distressing story of a school girl who was brutally raped, is shared below:

https://twitter.com/rjrnews/status/421697750648905728

and the general picture is described in another link;

https://twitter.com/rjrnews/status/421421745338200064

The other story which caught my attention was a tweet from CNN contributor and New York Times  op-ed columnist Charles Blow in which he posted his latest column entitled ” Sex is not our problem”.
https://twitter.com/charlesmblow/status/421836618216271872
The point which struck me, in particular, inter alia,  was the  documentation of the kind of liberal ‘ on the fast track’ lifestyle, manifest in their attitudes towards sex and abortions and STD’s ; and it’s inevitable consequences, which many are accepting as the norm, without shame or apology. And worse, offering solutions which do not cause any pain or remorse or the requisite profound change  in attitude on the part of these young people. The challenge for the rest of the world is that this kind of lifestyle is being exported along with Pepsi and iPhones!

The fundamental question which then arises from all of this, is what has happened to mankind why we cause each other so much pain?  A question which goes right to the heart of any discussion on crime and violence on the one hand. And changes in values and attitudes with its attendant effects, on the other hand. It is in this context then that I believe The Lord spoke during this week.

THE WORD

The week began with my being inspired to write an e-mail to a local politician whose appeal for divine intervention in seeking to solve the problem of crime and violence has landed him in ” hot water’ with some journalists, and others in the society.  And so I wrote to encourage him to go a step further than make a request to God, but more importantly believe in  His Son, Christ Jesus and him crucified. Also copied the note to other leaders in society

…….. you have to go a step further than ‘ asking for divine intervention. Read the Word carefully that was sent this morning, and the tweet I sent to you ……

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 1:22, 23 NIVUK)…read Jews demand divine intervention.
Then go back to where the Word started this morning:

” Now there were some Greeks among them who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Phillip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee with a request. Sir we want to see Jesus……….Jesus replied, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…” John 12:20-23

Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfil the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (John 12:37, 38, 42, 43 NIVUK)

The message is the same ……; you have to accept Christ and Him crucified, be baptized and serve God, if you are to make a difference in this ” demon possessed valley”. And do not worry about those journalists who ridicule you for seeking divine intervention. Your role is not to satisfy them,…seek praise from men….. but to trust God and His Son Jesus who died for you. And for them too. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. In my Father’s house….”.
Peace
LWJ

He having received the note graciously responded. And so we had a behind the scenes discussion on the priority of “soul winning” vs social action. My understanding, as a ‘disciple’ of the late and  widely acclaimed Evangelical Anglican Theologian  Rev. John Stott, is that both are equally important. Further, I referenced the  letter written by Screwtape to his junior devil, from one of C.S. Lewis’ classics, ” The Screwtape Letters, which I had included in the mail out last Sunday night, as witness that we need to be very cautious when we make presumptions about God’s mercy

LEWIS

About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their Christian life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their advancement, but failing that, as a means to anything – even to social justice.
The thing to do is to get a man first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think that they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop.

Comment – The point  in all of this is that, even when we are at out wit’s end in respect of dealing with crime and violence, and the consequences of a lack of a moral compass in any society, if we elect to come to God for help, we must understand the nature and extent of God’s mercy and goodness. A subject which C. S.Lewis deals with extensively and in a very profound way in “The Problem of Pain”, which I am currently reading. The tweets which I sent out will give you an appreciation of where Lewis is heading.

@lucienforJesus: Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victims suspect their existence.#CSLewis #Truth #Mystery

@lucienforJesus: God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience,but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world #CSLewis

@lucienforJesus: The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as ail seem well with it. # RockofAges # washmeSaviororIdie

So far Lewis had put forward cogent reasoning for him, a former, atheist, and all others,  to believe that there is indeed a Sovereign God in control of the affairs of man. That this God alone is God. That this God, for reasons that we cannot understand and Lewis suggests that it not very useful to try and find out why, created man and gave him free will. And that by virtue of The Christian Doctrine of ‘The Fall of mankind’, which is essentially how we came to be so disobedient to God, most of the problems and pain in this world can be understood.

In all of this I came across an observation by Lewis which I believe is one of the most important, even if simple,  statements, about the required behavior of Mankind to a Sovereign  God.

” Now the proper good of a creature is to surrender itself to its Creator – to enact intellectually,  volitionally, and emotionally, that relationship which is given in the mere fact of it being a creature. When it does so, it is good and happy…..In the world as now know it, the problem is how to recover this self surrender. We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved; we are as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms”.

The problem for Charles Blow and the liberal press in the USA, and beyond is  to found in the first  tweet from Lewis’ book. Error and sin have become so entrenched, that folks do not even suspect that they are in error. Worse in sin
No wonder the Word of God,  warns us that,  ” The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the glory  of Christ, who is the image of God”. 2 Cor. 4:4 NIV

The Christian life then is all about surrendering to the Creator who made us. Reached out to us in Christ Jesus on the cross of Calvary; and empowers the baptized with the Holy Spirit. Thus enabling us to live a holy life, and to share this good news with others in their distress. And when we ‘fall down’, we are assured of God’s mercy if we seek His help. Seventy times seven!

But how far have we moved away from this simple formula for being happy and good. It is this context then that Lewis develops his theories about the reasons for pain. And offers three of them. Two are yet to come. The first one he calls ” terrible instrument” , and hence the second tweet about pain being God’s megaphone to ‘rouse a deaf world’. Remember how many persons flocked the churches after 9/11 in the USA. And we all know how many of us ‘ run to God’ in times of trouble, but when times are good, we promptly forget about Him.  Locally, a driver of a huge tanker laden with gas, who escaped injury after bravely driving he track away from a thickly populated area, has since then expressed a need to ‘ turn to God”. As he felt that this was the Lord’s way of speaking to him.

As I read the last tweet and the profound reality, as addressed in the comments above, the second verse of Rock of Ages came to mind. As these words expressed very simply yet so accurately the kind of attitude that sinful man must have when he cries out to God for ‘ divine intervention’.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Finally this week, I wrote a letter to the Editor of The Gleaner on account of an editorial published on Saturday, yesterday, January 11th 2014.  Read  the excerpt, or the entire piece at http://www.go-jamaica.com  and see why I was moved to write. No so much in defense of the Minister, as I hold no brief for him, politically or otherwise. Although I work fairly closely with him, and have done so for years, with many others who hold that office. But rather in defense of the Sovereignty of the Creator God, and His compassion and mercy, and power shown through the church, the body of Christ, to may societies throughout the ages.

THE GLEANER EDITORIAL  an excerpt of which is germane to this discussion.

…….We submit that killing a few gang members cannot be the centrepiece of any anti-crime strategy. National Security Minister Peter Bunting signalled that he was all out of ideas to fight crime when he declared sometime ago that the country needed “divine intervention”. With the country in the grip of a crime crisis, national security is one of the most important portfolios in the Cabinet, and if the minister is unable to effectively lead that ministry, then he should step aside. Although citizens have a part to play in helping to keep their neighbourhoods safe, it can’t be that the country looks to the religious community for the next big idea to make Jamaicans less violent and the country a safer place in which to live and work…….

MY RESPONSE

Having read the Daily Gleaner’s Editorial today, as a Christian, with a long history of involvement in public health issues, of which crime and violence, the topic under review, is one, I feel compelled to make the following points. That a call by The Minister of National Security, or any other Minister of Government, or member of civil society, for ‘Divine Intervention’, in the fight against, what some may argue is the most important national issue going forward into 2014, Crime and Violence, does not mean, ipso facto that, such a call translates into that person being ” all out of ideas to fight crime”.
That the writer’s lack of appreciation at best, and ignorance at worse, of the role of the religious community in general, and the Christian church in particular, in advancing,  and more importantly, attended by considerably sacrifice and pain, in  implementing ” big ideas”, in nation building, is amazing in this era of easy access to information. An impression that one could reasonably deduce from reading the editorial. In that respect then, it leaves me to wonder if the writer has  ever heard of Sam Sharpe, and read about his role in setting black people free from the shackles of slavery? All because of the ‘big idea’ that all men are equal before God! Has the writer ever contemplated the role of ‘church schools’, perhaps to which he or she owes a great debt, in shaping a nation? All because of the ‘big idea’ that education of the sons and daughters of former slaves, could better enhance their freedom, and build  a nation!

If this nation had responded to the ‘big idea’ that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach”, then we would have avoided this madness about which, the headlines from another newspaper ‘cried for divine intervention’. For make no mistake about it, to wonder if there is ” A Devil amidst us”, is to implicitly ask God for help. Unless of course the writer of the Gleaner editorial is, unaware of, or unconvinced about, the role that evil supernatural forces are playing in this heart breaking national problem.
Either way, whether it is in carrying out  one’s baptismal mandate to ‘ fight valiantly against evil’, or in joining forces with the rest of civil society in helping to lift people out of poverty, sickness and ignorance, the religious community’s ‘big idea’ of trusting in God, and loving our neighbour as ourselves, if adopted by more people, would go a far way in fighting against crime and violence in this nation. The Minister is right. And refreshingly so for a politician!  We should encourage him and not
‘ pour cold water’ on one of his ‘ big ideas’.  Either because of prejudice or ignorance. Or both!

Sincerely
Dr. Lucien W. Jones

The key point on which I have reflected deeply this week, is Lewis’ contention, and the whole weight of the revelations contained in Holy Scripture, is that, ” the proper good of a creature is to surrender itself to its Creator. For that is what we are, despite the assumptions made by  journalists, philosophers,  et al. Whether they feature nightly on CNN, or write in the high rated, by man, New York Times. Whether they hold sway in less celebrated news rooms in Jamaica or otherwise. Whether they hold high office, only at the pleasure and mercy of God, even though they often times are unaware or unconvinced though the Word of God says:
” Do not put your trust in princes
in mortal men who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return
to the ground;
on that day their plans come to nothing.” Psalm 146;3 NIV

And because we continue to ignore this basic requirement of creature to a Creator, then sometimes pain is what makes men sit up and take notice. Even when the pain is of their own making and not necessarily coming from the hand of God.
Perhaps America in its currently sexual revolution should listen carefully. Perhaps Jamaica going through its own pain of murder an violent crime  should listen even more carefully.  As unlike those in rich countries, as the Gleaner well knows,  we have no excuse, or less, most of us having been exposed to  the Word of God.  Whether by grandmothers, parents or ” the village”. But yet we fail to turn to God until things ” tun up’ real bad……have become so out of control, to use more conventional language.
I pray God that, even now, we will listen and turn from our rebellion against a Sovereign God. And accept our sinful state and like the woman from Canaan whose daughter was possessed by a demon asked he Lord for help. And when he testing her faith and told her that ” he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”; she in response , ” came and knelt before him and cried, Lord help me”. The final result? An assurance of mercy towards her and her daughter. In like manner, we, in response to the problem of sex and abortions and STDS in the USA, and Crime and Violence in Jamaica, need to turn to Christ, and cry out to  Him, ” Lord help us”. And he will. As He did on the Cross of Calvary, even when were we His enemies.
What love! What mercy! What power. And yet we are asking where are the big ideas. Have mercy!

A New Year’s Message: Of trusting in God regardless of the Times

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A  prayer for the Decade of Evangelism
NEWS
The start of a new year and the endless possibilities ahead and the memories and lessons  experienced and learnt, trumps everything; at least in my book. Notwithstanding the suicide bombs in Russia, the extreme cold weather causing havoc with flights and lives in North America, Violence in Iran, #Teamshaggynfriends4kids fever in Jamaica as the winner of The Voice Tessanne, teams up with Internationally acclaimed  performer Shaggy and friends for a charity event to earn millions of dollars for a local Pediatric Hospital. Absolutely, everything else pales in comparison with the awesomeness of a new year.
THE WORD OF GOD
So what did The Lord say to His children through his medium at the beginning of 2014?  This week I was moved to write four , very short,   messages. All to do with the need to keep our focus on God, and God alone in the midst of the trials and temptations of this life.
THE FIRST ONE – TO  INFLUENTIAL PERSONS WHO HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN MY COUNTRY, INCLUDING POLITICIANS AND JOURNALISTS. ALL BECAUSE A YOUNG PASTOR LISTENED VERY CAREFULLY TO THE LORD AND WAS OBEDIENT.
1.     Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
beneath his wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.
Refrain:
God will take care of you,
through every day, o’er all the way;
he will take care of you,
God will take care of you.
2. Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
when dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.
(Refrain)
3. All you may need he will provide,
God will take care of you;
nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.
(Refrain)
4. No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
lean, weary one, upon his breast,
God will take care of you.
(Refrain)
The referencing of the words of the Hymn above, was one of the highlights of a powerful sermon, preached by a young Pastor, Rev. Larius Lewis,  last night at the Watch-night service at St. Andrew Parish Church….IN KINGSTON JAMAICA
All in the context of the invitation issued to the Shepherds by the angels to go and see baby Jesus. Then he made the historical observation, hitherto unknown by me, and I would dare say most of the congregation, that Shepherds then,  were not good people. In fact,  they were  part of the worst aspects of Jewish society. They would ill treat the sheep, kill them and sell the meat, and then tell the owners that wild animals had attacked them. But it was this kind of ‘lost people’ that God first invited to see the Savior of the world. The question the young preacher then posed,  rang in our ears, ‘ would you invite a gang of criminals to see your new baby or grandchild?. But God by His grace and mercy was from then,  calling the lost and helpless, as He is now,  (in 2014…my words but the implication is clear) calling all who are lost to ‘see  Jesus’.
And on reflection is makes sense, as if we cast our minds back to the well known verse, ” I am the Good Shepherd”, made by Jesus, it stand to reason that they were some, well,  ‘god awful’ ones. Further,  if one reads the entire chapter of John 10, the point is made even more dramatically, although Jesus was speaking metaphorically, in the one of His most famous sayings: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and to destroy; but I have come that they ( the harassed and lost and unprotected sheep…for a full explanation we have go back to Ezekiel 34..an important chapter in the Bible)  may have life and have to the full….or ‘more abundantly’..KJV..
The second point he made about the shepherds was that, it took a great deal of faith, to believe that God had sent the promised Savior in the form of a baby lying in swaddling clothes in a manger with animals, and lying in a feeding trough.
From there he went to question if we would  trusted God in that situation!
Another point he made,  by way of a  true story,  of how while he was teaching for two years before entering Ministry, he overheard a conversation between two teachers, lamenting the state of the profession,  which went like this. ” What a way teaching gone to the dogs”!  And then came the rejoinder. ” No,  teaching has not gone to the dogs, but the dogs have come into teaching.” In that context then, he observed that we now live in a society, where like the ‘fall from grace’  of the shepherds in Jewish society in the time of Jesus, many of our professionals, people once held in high esteem in the society – the politicians, the teachers, ‘men of the cloth’…are now behaving in a way which has betrayed the good name of the profession and has made people cynical. But this is the world into which Jesus came and issued the invitation, that He had not come for the ‘healthy’, but to call sinners to repentance. The implication being that all who are lost, as we all are in one way shape or form, in the presence of a Holy God, have been called by God, invited, to share in the life of Jesus, and to find peace and wholeness.
Finally, he made the point that we must trust God in all situations; as whenever Jesus is in any situation, we can be assured that God will take care of us. Like the woman with the issue of blood; like the woman at the well who had many husbands and none of then belonging to her, who after Jesus had entered her situation, went and told the town, “come see a man’; like the woman the young priest went to see in ICU, who responded to his song for her ” God will take care of you”, by responding in song, ‘ God will take care of me’. Thus showing the kind of faith which we all need to attain, even in the midst of her dire situation. Then in a gesture that moved all our souls, he sang the song made famous by The GRACE THRILLERS… ” can’t even walk without you holding my hand.
All of this was his way of saying, as inspired by The Spirit of God, that in 2014 we should:
” Turn our eyes upon Jesus
Look full into His wonderful face
And the things of this world…like all the trials and temptations
Will look strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.
My prayer for you, my wish for you, my gift to you, as we journey together in this ‘demon possessed valley’ where …. BIG BRIDGE, Westmoreland — The reputed leader of the feared Alma Gang, 29-year-old Torneal Haughton, also called ‘Malta’, was shot and killed during a reported shoot-out with the police here yesterday afternoon….lived; where Tessanne lives; where the good, the bad, and the indifferent live, is this simple message. That we may trust God, and turn our eyes on Jesus , the Savior of the world, in 2014. And be patient and confident, as the Shepherds who were invited to see baby Jesus, had to wait, according to the young preacher, 33 years for that prophesy to be manifest.
May the God of Jacob be with all of us in this New Year. And may we trust in Him to take care of us, what ‘er betide in this New Year.
Amen.
Comment: As we go into the new year it is imperative that, despite the crime wave, here in Jamaica, and in other countries across the world, we remember that the God who sent His Son to die for us on the Cross, will take care of those who believe that Christ is the Savior of the world. Regardless of how seemingly hopeless it may appear. In Jamaica, in Syria, in The Sudan, in Iran and in inner city Chicago.
 THE SECOND MESSAGE – A BIT MORE PERSONAL. SENT TO THOSE WHO THROUGH MY PROFESSION, HAVE BECOME ‘ MY CHILDREN’….ONLY SOME OF THEM. IN ADDITION TO THE TWO AND FOUR GRANDS THAT GOD GAVE TO MY WIFE AND MYSELF. BUT THE ADVICE  SHARED BASED ON THE WORD, WILL, IAM CERTAIN, WILL RESONATE WITH OTHERS NOT SO CLOSE, AND WITH THOSE WHO PRAY WITHOUT CEASING FOR THEIR OWN LOVED ONES IN THE ‘TOPSY TURVY’ WORLD. THERE IS ALSO A SUBLIMINAL SUB-TEXT; THAT READING GOOD BOOKS OUGHT TO BECOME A PRIORITY, EVEN, MORE SO, IN THIS SMART PHONE ERA
Many years ago, I read this quote from C.S. Lewis ( one of the most widely read, not just theologian, but wise persons,  in the history of the church..and in fact even in secular society). It left an indelible impression on my then young mind. This morning I had reason to recall it as The Lord led me to reflect on His Glory – the Shekinah…Hebrew term.
As I read the word of holy Scriptures, the glory of Tessanne’s victory came to mind; so did Usain Bolt’s many victories, with his signature ‘to de worl’ pose; so did the feeling we had when Obama was sworn in as the first black President of the USA; and latterly Mandela’s famous speech in the dock…” I have fought against white domination, I have fought against black domination….and then the majestic closing words which must have brought a lump to many a throat……but if needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
But compare all of this glory to :
” O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all
the earth!.
You have set your glory above
the heavens…….Psalm 8:1
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the works.
 of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where
their voice is not heard…..Psalm 19:1-3 ( if you recall this is a verse quoted in the Internet ministry last week)
Then consider the glory of God as manifested in the heavens, and the glory is ours in Christ.
” What is man, that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You have made him a little lower than
the heavenly beings ( angels KJV)
and crowned him with glory and honor…..” Psalm 4-5
” Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may share in his glory”. Romans 8:17
Why  am I being led to write to  you young people who I love, to whom the God who makes no mistakes, and with whom there is no issue of chance,  has brought us together? For perspective in life ! As you mature and enjoy, or aspire to share in,  the wonderful gifts of  marriage, of sex, of children, of professional life, of the various pleasures that life has to offer:  all of which  God by His grace has given to us to enjoy within the context of marriage; remember always that  self-control, discipline, patience,  denial of self in material things, at the very least; and if it God’s will and purpose,  persecution and suffering, are part of the journey to that glory. This is what, as Christians, we have ‘signed up for’. So be self controlled and alert,  as the devil is like a roaring lion, telling you otherwise, in so many ways, and via different sources and distractions.
If you keep this perspective, the vast difference between earthly pleasures and glory, and the promised glory to be had in Christ Jesus, now and eternally, even, and especially through suffering of some sort,  you will not fall into the trap that many have. With the attendant trials to family life and health. And worse of all  trouble in your soul.
May the God of Jacob, whose Word has be given to keep us from trouble and sin, guide and keep you safe in Christ Jesus in 2014 and beyond.
LWJ
THE THIRD MESSAGE – SENT TO MY ANGLICAN CHURCH LEADERS. TRIGGERED BY A DISCUSSION  WITH ONE OF JAMAICA’S LEADING THEOLOGIANS AND HIGHLY RESPECTED PREACHER, BAPTIST MINISTER BURCHELL TAYLOR. AGAIN C.S.LEWIS FEATURES IN THE DSICUSSION.
An encounter with Rev. Burchell Taylor, a reflection on words from C. L. Lewis’ ” The Problem of Pain, and meditation on a song in my heart as I awoke this morning led me to 1 Peter. And to this Word in particular along with others.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:9-12 NIVUK)
Lewis asserted that there was an a priori acceptance of wrong and right in the society into the early church was formed. And thus the Apostles preached to persons who understood that they were sinners. But in the time of Lewis, that had changed. For many reasons as he with his brilliant mind  together with philosophical and historical training, discerned!. As we were discussing yesterday, at Rev. Brown’s funeral outside during the long tributes, the situation in Jamaica is far worse. So Burchell reflected that we as Christians, must not only challenge people with the Word to convict them of Sin, but must more importantly, in this society, become the embodiment of the Word, in how we live.
The Word above then reflects this truth, in a profound way. But also reminds us of who we are in Christ, and who we were B.C. And our true and only calling. To glorify God!
No doubt in 2014 we need to take these fundamental truths on board as we seek to minister to an increasingly secular and lawless society. With tragic effects and manifestations on the roads, in the communities, in the homes, in the schools, at the workplace, in the media and ‘entertainment’…with a ‘sting’.. sector.
Happy New Year
LWJ
THE FINAL WORD – WRITTEN BUT NOT SENT, AS GMAIL WAS ACTING UP.  UNTIL THIS MORNING WHEN, AT LEAST MY SERVICE RESUMED. ORIGINALLY MEANT FOR THE SAME GROUP OF POWERFUL PERSONS WRITTEN TO IN THE FIRST MESSAGE.  C.S. LEWIS AGAIN FEATURES ; THIS TIME WITH AN ADDITIONAL INSIGHT INTO HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND THE PLAN OF THE EVIL ONE. A PERSPECTIVE WE NEED TO KEEP IN MIND , CONSTANTLY, AS WE GO THROUGH THE YEAR.
Two profound thoughts occupied my mind this week. One from the Bible. The other from C. S. Lewis.
The first one from the Bible answers a lot of questions, not all, about the  response of some people, throughout history of mankind, to  the Gospel. The second, from C. S.Lewis’ ” The Problem of Pain’,  offers a perspective on why contemporary man is so ‘lukewarm’ to the Gospel. ( and into my mind comes the thought- which is rooted in Scripture – thank God for the remnant.)
THE FIRST PASSAGE
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up…….. when anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. (Matthew 13:3, 4, 19 NIVUK)
The implication on this passage is crystal clear. When we share the gospel, make sure that people understand what we are saying. Otherwise Satan will come and ‘take it away from them’.  Their lives will be no better, as they will  not be moved to repent; and the question then arises of our stewardship of the Word. The flip side of this argument however , is that if people understand and yet reject the ‘good news’, then their ‘blood is on their own heads’.
THE SECOND PASSAGE -WHICH I TWEETED LAST NIGHT
@lucienforJesus: A recovery of the old sense of sin is essential to the Christian life. Christ takes it for granted that men are bad.#CSLewis #Jesuscameforme
 The Biblical teaching which no doubt inspired this profound observation by Lewis is to be found  – one of several – in the passage below.
THE BIBLE
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ (Matthew 9:9-13 NIVUK)
I shared this last observation with my church leaders yesterday. Pondered on it last night, and hence the Tweet. This morning, I awoke and another Lewis observation, this time from Screwtape Letters came  back into my head; having read the passage many years ago and having been arrested by its truth from that time.  It offers an example of how the devil trains his minions to tempt people to move away from the basic Christian doctrine of sin.
SCREWTAPE – WRITING TO WORMWOOD, HIS NEPHEW AND JUNIOR DEVIL IN TRAINING ABOUT THE VIRTUES OF ENCOURAGING PEOPLE  TO  BELIEVE IN A ‘HISTORICAL’ JESUS WHO CHANGES WITH EACH PASSING GENERATION
“……….. The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact ( the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine( the Redemption) operating on a sense of sin which they already had – and sin, not against some fancy-dress law produced as a novelty by a ‘ great man’, but against the old, platitudinous, universal moral law which they had been taught by their nurses and mothers. The ‘Gospels’ come later, and were written, not to make Christians, but to edify Christians already made.
The ‘ historical’ Jesus, then, however dangerous he may seem to be to us at some particular point, is to be encouraged. About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their Christian life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their advancement, but failing that, as a means to anything – even to social justice.
The thing to do is to get a man first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think that they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop ( in today’s world the analogy would be quite different – to a big house, a fancy car,  good job, a good man or woman…my words. Fortunately, it is quite easy to coax humans round this corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the grounds that ‘ only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilizations.’
You see the little rift? ‘ Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.’
That’s the game.
Your affectionate uncle.
SCREWTAPE.
Comment: No wonder Jesus called the devil a ‘liar’. As he has done so much damage over the years, and continues to woo away the unsuspecting, even in the church, from the central doctrine of Redemption  built on the historical fact of The Resurrection. I believe this extract from Lewis’ Screwtape letters, written as an ‘instruction manual’ to young devils in training, explains a great deal about the misunderstanding by politicians, journalists and many others in the society, including, sadly, very sadly,  church members, of the Word of God.   Our role then, as enlightened Christians, is to ensure that persons understand the central thrust of the Faith- to call people to repentance, by The Word and how we live.
I pray God that I have helped to make someone understand the Faith a little better and by God’s grace and mercy, will be empowered to continue to do so in 2014.
Peace.
LWJ