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.
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.
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.
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.
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!.