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
This week a puzzled and distraught nation continued to agonize over the gruesome death of that young woman last week.
Further, an autopsy revealed that Karen Rainford, a mother of six young children, was also pregnant with another child.
Then, just yesterday I saw a report on twitter which grabbed my attention. More babies are aborted by black women in New York than those ( allowed to be) born. And which I copied and sent out to my TL. ( Twitter list)
@lucienforJesus: ericmetaxas: More Black Babies are Aborted than Born in NYC. When will we wake up? http://t.co/XnyuQoBGps #Madness @Petchary @souldancing
So the madness is not confined to our shores but has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Finally, not news, but all week long I sat and listened to teachers lamenting the behavior of the children in the classroom. Not a new thing, but just a lot of people talking about it this week. One said to me: ” I would not wish for anyone of my relatives to see me in the classroom”. As so many have reached their limit in trying to deal with children who have no intention to learn; and consequently spend their days fighting and creating mayhem in the classroom. Is there a connection to the general decline in the morals of a nation? Is there a connection to the egregious violence sapping the collective energies and will of our people?
THE WORD OF GOD
So what did The Lord say through His Word and His inspired word this week?
First up was a letter to an individual who needs our prayers. And no matter how I try to edit this note, and so I have not, it is fairly obvious to whom it was directed. To others also, but primarily to our Minister of National Security. A note which recalls a note I once wrote about the late Rev. Peter Marshall, a former Chaplain to the United States Senate, and whose life-story, written by his wife, was such an epic one that it was made into a movie; ” A man called Peter”. The note is self-explanatory; that only when we reach the nadir of life, and realize how desperate we need God, will we then cry out for ” Divine Intervention”. A ‘conversation’ triggered by a cri de coeur , a cry from the heart, by the Minister some months ago. And which cry, coming from the Minister of National Security, set off a a veritable fire-storm of comments in the nation. Most of then questioning his ability and resolve to continue to lead the nation in this ‘life and death’ struggle against the criminals, and evils powers in our midst. No doubt there is a message in there for for America; at the very least for Black women in New York City where the madness is very much in eveidence too. In the land where all Us Presidents are moved to repeat in speech after speech, the words; ” God Bless America”. makes you wonder to which God are they praying.
THE MESSAGE – ENTITLED DIVINE INTERVENTION
In the aftermath of evil raising its ugly head, once again in our country, I read the report about your ‘religious’ comments in the Gleaner this morning; that we are not fighting against flesh and blood alone but against evil powers, and gave thanks for the wisdom God has granted you.
And tonight as I prepared to go to bed, and commit myself to God’s care and mercy, this reflection by the late Rev. Peter Marshall – which was shared in a previous Sunday night message – who once served as the Pastor for the US Senate, came to mind. In the sense that we are now realizing that these are indeed desperate hours in Jamaica, and we need to – have the courage – to confess that we really do not know what to do. And as Marshall prayed, only then can you ‘lead us as a nation beyond human wisdom’ to He alone who has the answer.
A message followed by an observation shared with you at that time; and which thoughts, I would suggest are still relevant as we contemplate the shocking news of the day, which led to the march.
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.
THE SECOND MESSAGE – ENTITLED DIVINE INTERVENTION CONTD
..was a follow up to the first as I continued to listen to The Lord. And introduced me to a hymn which influenced my prayers greatly throughout the week, as I prayed with the assurance that A mighty fortress was my God indeed…against evil.
I woke this morning with ” A Mighty Fortress is our God” in my heart. It is not one of the hymns in the Anglican hymnbook, so to Google I went. And found the history of the start of the Moravian Church, as well. These are indeed powerful words sent to us at at time like this.
One more thing. Matthew Henry, another stalwart of in the history of the spread of Christianity across the ages, wrote a reflection which I ‘happened upon’ yesterday. He suggests that ‘ to be in communion with God, you need to be in Covenant with Him’. Something for you to think about and to make a decision as you continue to lead this country, at one level, in the fight against evil in our land. That is if you really wish that ” His truth to triumph through you’. Otherwise you run the risk of finishing up like one of the first set of people in the parable of the sower of the seed, and not producing the fruit, ‘ a hundred times over’, of the final example. In that respect, I believe there is a word for you in the final verse of the hymn. And indeed for all who accept Christ’s invitation to follow Him.
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
“God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Words & Music: Martin Luther, 1529 (MIDI, score); translated from German to English by Frederic H. Hedge, 1853.
This song has been called “the greatest hymn of the greatest man of the greatest period of German history” and the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation.”
This hymn was sung at the funeral of American president Dwight Eisenhower at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, March 1969.
In 1720 a remarkable revival began in a town in Moravia. Jesuits opposed it, and the meetings were prohibited. Those who still assembled were seized and imprisoned in stables and cellars. At David Nitschmann’s house, where a hundred and fifty persons gathered, the police broke in and seized the books. Not dismayed, the congregation struck up the stanzas of Luther’s hymn,
“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.”
Twenty heads of families were for this sent to jail, including Nitschmann, who was treated with special severity. He finally escaped, fled to the Moravians at Herrnhut, became a bishop, and afterwards joined the Wesleys in 1735 in their expedition to Savannah, Georgia.
Sankey, p. 106
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
THE THIRD MESSAGE – ENTITLED DIVINE INTERVENTION..THE FINAL WORD..FOR NOW
Then, in my early morning devotions, I turned to the Psalm appointed for this Sunday in the Anglican Church and found this powerful Word of Prayer and Blessed Assurance which begins thus:
In you , O Lord, I have taken refuge,
let me never be put to shame……
My tongue will tell of your righteous
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and
I would strongly recommend that you keep this Word from The Lord in your heart, as I and no doubt many others, have been led to do for a long time now, in the days and months ahead. For the devil will not allow you to lift up the Name of The Lord in the manner that you are doing, and not attack you. Either directly or through others and circumstances.
We will continue to pray for you.
THE FINAL MESSAGE – SENT TO ONE OF OUR LEADING JOURNALISTS AND OTHERS
…..is essentially a message which heralds the power of The Living God; in the same way that the story about David and Goliath did, and which ‘revelation’ I was led to read this week. Especially:
Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. (1 Samuel 17:33, 34, 36, 37, 45 NIV)
The point here is that there is power available to the nation to defeat evil. What the Living God is requiring is that we depend on Him and Him alone through His Son. So that no one may boast before Him. An eternal lesson to which all the law and the prophets testify; and which reality is manifest, and climaxes on the Cross of Calvary. As all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are in need, in desperate need of His help. Available only in and through the life, death and resurrection of His Jesus Christ of Nazareth. All other help is like sinking sand indeed, and will be proven so on the day of evil, or reckoning.
As we try to come to terms with yet another gruesome murder in our country – and to add horror to horror I am told the video of the headless woman is now being spread like a contagion on the internet – the following things came to my notice.
Yesterday in my devotions, the New Testament reading for the Anglican Church for Sunday coming, 1 Cor. 3;10-11, 16-23 spoke to the building of the correct foundation;
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it. And each one must be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11 NET)
And I pondered on this revelation for a while and wondered what kind of ‘foundation’ on which we have built the church in Jamaica. I also wondered why Cliff Hughes, one of our leading journalists, chose to ‘pour cold water
‘ on the march led by the Minister and members of the Minister’s Fraternal at the end of his programme; and suggested that the gunmen were all laughing at them.
Later in the day, in discussing this terrible news with a member of my staff at work, she told me that the mother of the young lady was well known in her community and lived near to her. Her name is Jean, And that the girl who had been beheaded was also from the community.
Last night for my bedtime reading, Matthew’s account of what transpired as Jesus died on the Cross and took his last breath, was the focus. What struck me, was not that that Temple was rent in two, as that is so familiar, but rather a more dramatic event. Holy men were raised from their graves ; and walked about and were seen in the Holy City after the resurrection.
And I pondered this and marvelled for along time. This was power! This was very impressive.
Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. Just then the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks were split apart. And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised. (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.) Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!” (Matthew 27:50-54 NET)
Then this morning I woke up with an ad in my head. A Sherwin Williams ad from way back when. What I can recall goes like this: Pictures of one of the American spaceships going to the moon comes up. We are told that Sherwin Williams paint was used to paint the craft. Next up is a bathroom back here on earth. Then comes the tag line. ” if we can handle the ” Apollos” surely we can handle your bathroom.
And connecting the Power of Jesus last night with the ad, then surely if Jesus can raise the dead, surely He can bring new life to the people in Mountain View. And wherever evil abounds in this land. So why have so many of us deliberately decided to ignore this mighty power ; and try to build our communities and homes on another foundation. The uselessness of which is being so tragically exposed across the entire world.
Finally, can it be coincidence that this morning, I was led read a reflection on Luke 6:46-49. And which passage of Scripture opens with the dramatic words:
” Why do you call me , Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say”. To wit, why do you sing ” Eternal Father, bless our land….. guide us with thy mighty hand….” And not believe in me.
Then Jesus went on to speak, again, about the foundation on which we choose to build, and the consequences of our choices.
Coincidence! I think not. A clear message to those who have ears to hear, and who long and wish for a different Jamaica. And the media has a seminal and particular role in helping to spread this good news and not to ignore that which our forebears passed on to us.
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49 NIV).