Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.
Verse one of a hymn we sang in church today which I believe captures a lot of what The Lord spoke about this past week.
I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton
This week the news in my country was dominated by the reports and responses to the continuing killing of our young children; and a call to ‘rise up’ and protect them, from the Prime Minister of our country. The online edition of the Daily Gleaner carried the following report:
PM Condemns Murder Of St Thomas Minor
Published: Friday | February 7, 2014 11 Comments
While holding true to her Christian conviction, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller yesterday declared that the murder of eight-year-old Celeena Headman in Top Hill, St Thomas, on Monday was an unforgivable act.
“Let us see to the security and protection of our children,” said Simpson Miller. “What happened in St Thomas is unforgivable, and the Master knows that although he says we are to forgive, when you murder a child, it is unforgivable.”
The PM, who was giving the keynote address at the handover ceremony for housing units to relocated sugar workers at Spicy Hill, in Duncans, Trelawny, implored those in attendance to return to the concept of an entire village raising a child, as these children could become very valuable contributors to Jamaica’s development, if they are given the chance to live.
“That little girl could have become the next female prime minister of Jamaica or a scientist who could discover the cure for cancer,” she said. “We must return to the community values of loving, sharing and looking out for the little ones, (this is) barbaric, wicked, evil.”
Also news broke about the death of one of the country’s most popular artistes, not just a reggae singer – Bunny Rugs of Third World Fame. Someone who had achieved International acclaim and had ushered in, together with Inner Circle and the late Jacob Miller, a refreshing and exciting new addition to the other many different styles of reggae music which the country has produced over the years. His death is a tremendous loss to nation and indeed the world.
THE WORD OF GOD
In the midst of all of this soul wrenching news about our nation, and the ‘future’ of our country, what did The Lord say. What did He point to? What did He remind us about? The first message was written on Thursday morning and was addressed to senior members of the Media and Political leaders. A group of persons who can make a huge difference in how my country progresses over the next few years. Going forward, or moving progressively backwards! A scenario handled with the genius and insight by one of the most gifted poets of our time; and around which the poem the message is constructed, as I was led to write on the vexed issue of murder most foul in my country. Perhaps issues raised in the poem ought to exercise the minds of policy maker and media practitioners in the USA also as they try to come to terms with the continued reports of violence on their campuses. Finally the question which struck me most forcibly as I listened to the tribute to Bunny Rugs on #Radiojamaica94fm with #DJMiller on BTH, was whether or not his soul was at peace with God.
THE FIRST MESSAGE
What’s the link between the eight children who, iN a few minutes of madness, suddenly became orphans and the almost bestial-like killing of eight year Selena Edmund in St. Thomas this week? Mental illness! Drug addiction! Savagery!
It’s more complex or more simple than that, according to one of the most profound commentaries on changing values of ‘modern’ man that I’ve beem led to read in recent times. It happened during my lunch-time devotions, when I ‘came’ upon a wonderful poem by T. S. Eliot ( 1888-1965…’arguably the most influential English writer in the twentieth century. ….American born and graduate of Harvard…he settled in London and became a British citizen….A Nobel Laureate who famously penned the lines …Those who talk of the Bible as a ‘monument of English prose’ are merely admiring it as a monument over the grave of Christianity…..his Christian convictions are seen in ” The Journey of the Magi”….and ” Ash Wednesday” which depicts the need for repentance. ” The Four Quarters” is Elliott at the apex of his poetic strength. it deals with the relationship between time and eternity…….’ – according to the ‘blurb’ in my Bible.
The entire poem ( found on Google) from which the except which appears in my Bible is taken, begins in a grand and dramatic fashion…..
Choruses from The Rock – T.S. Eliot
The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.
then this version in my Bible, perhaps a combination of two poems, I am not sure:
THE MOMENT OF MEANING
T. S. Eliot
Verse: Zephaniah 1:14
Then came, at a predetermined moment, a moment in
time, and of time,
A moment not out of time, but in time, in what we call
history: transecting, bisecting the world of time,
a moment in time but not like a moment of time,
A moment in time, but time was made through that
moment; for without the meaning there is no
time, and that moment of time gave the meaning.
Then it seemed as if men must proceed from light to light, in the light of
Through the Passion and Sacrifice saved in spite of their negative being;
Bestial as always before, carnal, self seeking as always before, selfish and
purblind as ever before,
Yet always struggling, always reaffirming, always resuming their march on
the way that was lit by the light;
Often halting, loitering, straying, delaying, returning, yet following no other
But it seems that something has happened that has never happened
before: though we know not just when, or why, or how, or where.
Men have left GOD not for other gods, they say, but for no God; and this has
never happened before
That men both deny gods and worship gods, professing first Reason,
And then Money, and Power, and what they call Life, or Race, or Dialectic.
The Church disowned, the tower overthrown, the bells upturned, what have we to do
But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards
In an age which advances progressively backwards?
Comment: What I gained from tis message from The Lord is a reminder that B.C…. Before Christ, and Anno Domini…..in the year of our Lord…After Christ’s death……and more specifically Christ Crucified…..a predetermined moment in time…gave the meaning to time.
That through this ‘passion and sacrifice saved in spite of their negative being…sinful state….ought to proceed then in light of this revelation from God…His Living Word…..bestial as ever……yet struggling always to live by the Word of God.
Then drama!…..Something happened …..which ….inter alia….led us to ‘invite Kartel into our University”….and Dudus into our politics….dialectic into our vocabulary …. ‘ demons’ into our music…and evil into our hearts…and thus ‘ they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed…as prophesied in Hosea 4.
What’s the drama? Men have left God, not for other gods….but to worship Reason( the Age of Enlightenment ) Money, Power…….. So the Word is largely ignored…although like Herod some like to listen to John the Baptist….like to listen to the Word; until the Word accuses them of evil, and then then they turn around and ” chop off his head”….persecute the church….in so many many ways.
So what do we have here in Jamaica but ” the Church disowned”….and the faithful praying …with palms turned upwards to God….praying for a country, and indeed a world, which is ‘progressively advancing backwards’….all because people have elected to ignore that which gave meaning to Time. The Cross of Calvary.
Perhaps Ash Wednesday this year should be declared a National Day of Repentance by people who are determined to be saved, and not to ” place another monument over the grave of Christianity’…as the God who listens to the prayers of those with ‘upturned palms’…is a God who revealed Himself in Zephaniah 1:14…and also John 3:16……therefore perishing is not a threat for those who join in the backward progression …away from He who died and gave TIME meaning. And which turning away from the Cross has given rise to our children becoming orphans and dying at the hands of evil men.
So this is not a time only for declaring ‘ outrage’. Again! Yes for that too. For the umpteenth time! But rather for national and personal repentance. Beginning with me! For all have sinned…..and have contributed in some way, shape, or form, to the madness.
The second and final message was written the very nest day, as a follow up. To the same group of powerful people. I had heard the call from the Prime Minister to “rise up”, and protect our children on the television news on @televisionjam. Then I continued my reading a book written by one of the greatest, not just Christian writer, but one of the greatest minds in all history, C. S. Lewis. And his seminal book ” Mere Christianity”. A combination of which inspired the message. And which message was validated by the powerful direction of God’s Holy Spirit. The question here is who is the enemy causing the death of our children; and how best to engage him?
The Prime Minister is right on target. Indeed we must, both mothers and fathers rise up and protect our children from evil.
The problem with waging war however, as any good general will tell you, is that you must know who the enemy is. Last night I sent out Tweets after continuing my reading of C S. Lewis’ seminal book ” Mere Christianity”. Messages from one who God used to inspire and teach a whole generation in the UK and beyond, through his many books, in very simple and easily understood terms, the nature of God, the purpose of man, and the reality of the devil. The real enemy who is responsible for murdering our children and causing our society to descend into madness. Not just flesh and blood.
@lucienforJesus: Enemy occupied territory – that’s what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed.#CSLewis #childmurderer
@lucienforJesus: Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself, for the present the Prince of this world #MereChristianity #somuchevilaround
@lucienforJesus: If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad.And free will is what has made evil possible;so too goodness and love and joy.#Lewis
@lucienforJesus: https://t.co/5qkBudDoiB The problem of free will. That’s why we need Jesus.Because evil has perverted this world # enemyterritory #praiseGod
A clear understanding of not why, that’s not our business…says Lewis, but how God’s decision to allow us, His creatures, free will is the key to understanding good and evil. How I wish people would read more good books than watch so much television or listen to so much distracting stuff. There is more, from Lewis….as cars were made run on fuel…people were made to function only in God…….but that will come on Sunday night God willing.
Finally on continuing my journey with Matthew, a verse of two per night is sufficient, from being instructed to love God with all my heart and love neighbour as self, I was led to Deuteronomy. Where the instructions had its genesis….in so many ways. And opposite chap 7, which begins with the grand words, ” Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, The Lord is one, Love The Lord your God with all your hear heart…….”, highlighted in yellow ink, years ago, is the following verse.
” Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it may go well with them and their children forever.” Deuteronomy 5:29 NIV.
Coincidence? You must be joking. No, a very clear message that the children of Israel ignored. That the world has ignored. That Jamaica has ignored. To our great peril. So rise up yes, But only in Christ to fight valiantly against evil in this ‘enemy occupied territory’.
I’ll conclude with a very clear instruction of how to wage war; how to successfully rise up, against this enemy. A Word which I keep in my heart and raise up as a standard against evil, night and day. Even in my dreams. And when I forget, as we all do, if we do keep our minds on God all the time – trouble. This Word is also highlighted in my Bible.
” For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with have divine power to destroy strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:3-5 NIV.
#thankGodforJesus in whom we have righteousness. By whose death our sins have been forgiven. And in whom alone we can wage war against evil.
Three other things of note took place in my life. One was, being led, for a strange reason, again, of Daniel and his rescue from the den of the Lions. All because of his faith and trust in God! Not really. Read again the concluding section in which the glory of God was pronounced all over the world then; and even since.
” Then the King of Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land:
May you prosper greatly!
I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel…… Daniel 6:25-27 NIV
The issue here is who is to be glorified in the life and experience and trials of man. Only God, and God alone! That is the eternal message from the creation of man. And that is what Satan fights against at all times, and in all situations. In that quest, in that eternal struggle, in which there is only one ultimate winner, already pronounced on the Cross of Calvary, we find all the troubles of the world.
The second one was a vivid and dramatic dream. About ‘prayer warriors’, assuming that it was their responsibility …leave it to me ….to ‘pray out’ evil from an individual. And I was led to say no. No! It is only God alone who can protect us from evil. I say no more.
Finally the words from Psalm 20 got into my soul. Deep inside my soul this week. For good reason as the ‘devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he will’. So I thanked God for the ” protection that only the name of the God of Jacob” can offer. And for the promise of help from Zion and from the sanctuary.
So as we strive to give God the glory this week, and seek His protection in this ‘enemy occupied territory’, let us call upon the Name of Jesus constantly. As only He can rescue the soul of Bunny Rugs, no mater how much good he did on earth and how well he performed. As only, in the final analysis, despite all the measures, all the “horses and chariots’ we bring up against those who would murder our children, and blight our nation’s future, ‘the Name of The Lord our God’, about whom the Psalmist writes, can save us. So to Him be all the glory and honor, forever and ever. Amen.