Champs 2014, Flight MH370 and a wake up call to fight against evil in Christ Jesus

Champs 2014, Flight MH370 and a wake up call to fight against evil in Christ Jesus.

Advertisements

Champs 2014, Flight MH370 and a wake up call to fight against evil in Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to ; 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) – Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

NEWS

(1) As announced in the report from the Jamaica Observer below, every year at this time CHAMPS,  the largest and arguably the most famous Track and Field meet for high school children takes place in Jamaica. And regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the sport, the ‘hype’ of it all, takes over all conversations in this land of Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce. In fact,  the tweet below from the world’s fastest man, really says it all. Hot competition leading to high class and record breaking performances, which sets the stage for future Olympic Champions. In my country, there is no other news that even comes close. Even when the West Indies men and women  20/20 cricket teams are vying for a world  title in Bangladesh.

Events
  Track & Field Meets in Jamaica
ISSA Boys & Girls Athletics Championships
Date: March 25, 2014 To: March 29, 2014
Location: Jamaica Kingston & St. Andrew

VENUE: National Stadium
@usainbolt: Jamaica’s track future is in good hands..Congrats #JavonFrancis breaking class one 400m record #champs2014 #future #45sec

(2)  The missing Malaysian Airline Flight MH370 with 239  presumed dead aboard, continues to be big news across the world. The scenes captured on video, of the reactions of the relatives to the announcement by the Malaysian Government that all hope was now lost, was heartbreaking. I keep wondering about the sheer terror that must have come over those aboard when they realized that the plane was going down in the middle of nowhere. About the observation from one of CNN’s guests, that, given the fact that sophisticated equipment kept transferring fuel from the tanks to the engines, in order for it to have flown for so long and far, suggests strongly that deliberate human action was at play. One inference from  which scenario is that evil played a major hand in the loss of all those lives.

(3) This week, not making the headlines, but of some considerable moment to me, was a question raised following a presentation, as noted below, about the vibrancy of the Anglican Church, and I suppose the wider church community,  and its ability to fight  against the kind of evil represented by aspects of Vibz Kartel’s life. All within the context of how crime and violence,  violent lyrics immorality, and other social and moral issues,  in our schools and communities,  are affecting our nation.  And the role of the church, possessed of many and varied gifts,  in rescuing a people from evil.  

Since Thursday of this week my mind has been ‘troubled’ by:
1. A question posed by Church Army Sister Molly Walton during a Q&A session after her presentation on Thursday evening on :
Using Our Spiritual Gifts and Abilities to Evangelize.

A ‘troubling’ which triggered a message to my church members, to which some have responded. And also triggering the same discussion at another forum. The upshot of which I believe,  was a leading of the Holy Spirit to  commence reading  a book by the late and much revered in Evangelical circles, Rev.John Stott entitled: ” Christian Mission in the Modern World; what the church should be doing now.”

THE WORD OF GOD

So then, what did The Lord, who is God of heaven and earth, and everything that is in it, who sees and knows of evil intent and evil action in the dark blue sea, and in the highest heights, and in the hearts of men and women, what did He point reveal to His people through this medium this week.

First up was a message and a clear warning about the consequences of ‘going against the will of God’,  and setting up for ourselves ‘ kings’ that are neither appointed nor anointed by the Lord. Which is what men and women in recent times, and all through history with predictable outcomes, have tried to do in respect of their much revered political leaders, media and entertainment stars, money and what it represents, and the alluring nature of power. What does this have to do with CHAMPS and Flight #MH370? Lots! Think about it. if you are going down in a plane, or if you come face to face with a ‘gunman’, or if a ‘bad man’ turned rapper or dance hall artiste is wreaking havoc on the minds of the young and the old, who are you going to turn to for mercy, and for help and for ‘divine intervention’? Usain Bolt, Javan ‘donkeyman’ Francis, Prime Minister Simpson Miller, the Malaysian or Chinese leader,  or as we say in Jamaica ‘ puppa Jesus tek the case’….meaning in proper English,  Lord Jesus Christ have mercy.

THE FIRST MESSAGE

Just yesterday I was musing that the Bible should always be read in context. Today’s context! Otherwise only learned scholars could properly interpret the Word, and that could not be what God intended.

Then this morning I turned to the Old Testament reading for next Sunday and found this:
” The Lord said to Samuel, how long must you mourn for Saul since I have rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” 1 Samuel 16:1 NIV

The background to this profound statement by the Living God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and who chose to reveal Himself to all mankind, initially, in and through the Jews, is to be found in the same Book by Samuel.

” But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, No we want a king to rule over us – even though The Lord  was your king. ”  1 Samuel 12:12.

Samuel had just recounting how God had rescued his people from slavery in Egypt, with the help of Moses and Aaron who He appointed. And other leaders who God sent when they sinned against Him and God ‘sold them into the hands of Sisera….” And even after all this mercy and compassion from a faithful God ” Great is thy faithfulness….there is no shadow of turning with thee”, they demanded a king – like what the other nations had. So Saul was given to them. But not appointed by God.

Now I ask you, is there not a parallel here when some of our people look to Kartel as ‘de werl boss”? What do you think they are doing? When women march and declare that ” they will die for Dudus”? What do you think they are doing, and quo vadis, from whence cometh this madness. I can still remember the early days of people declaring the same kind of allegiance to Bustamante. The very same kind of adoration we had for Michael ‘ Joshua’  Manley,  for ” Eddie”, for ‘de driva’ and now for ‘sista P”. PJ was respected but never attracted that kind of ‘worship’. Neither did Norman Manley, in my recollection which may be faulty, but certainly was the most respected of all.
It is the same kind of blind unquestioning adoration that happened with Mutty Perkins and some people in this country.  So too with some of our current ‘media stars’. And if you think about it, so too Cash Plus and other schemes guaranteed to bring us riches – a kind of king – in  ‘whom’ many of us foolishly  placed on faith. Who can escape this charge?  Certainly not elements within the church who perhaps ‘tainted with the sin of the prosperity gospel’ became unwise and foolish. Certainly not elements in the private sector who behave as if ‘ the market is king’, and ‘profits are to be pursued regardless of how it affects other human beings’.  Certainly not me who ‘ jumped and pranced’ in my early days in blind allegiance to my ‘ political king’.

But thank God for Jesus, and the prayers of the faithful, at some point in time in one’s life, one  comes to  realize that we need to cease mourning and longing for another ‘king’, when our ‘kings’ who we have appointed in our lives,  show that they have ‘feet of clay”. Because God is ‘sending us ‘ to Jesus, who He has appointed as Lord and Savior. As He alone is faithful and full of compassion and mercy. As all, like the children of Israel have sinned, in one way shape or form, and set up our own kings, within and without,  and  therefore  have fallen short of the glory of God.
Lent is good time to think about these things.
Peace.

THE SECOND MESSAGE –  the conversation continued about how we ought to respond to the high level of crime and violence in my country and the need for all persons to be ‘very careful how they live’.

THE MESSAGE

As I read and share with you, as instructed, a  slightly  extended version of the New Testament ( The Epistle)  reading for Anglicans this Sunday, and reflect on yesterday’s message, we have a better understanding if  why people like Keiran King would heap ridicule on the Word of God, the Holy Bible, and by extension God Himself. As he too,  is serving another King – this time the prince of darkness himself.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:1-19 NIV)

Can you imagine if our youngsters, and adults,  were to learn from early, as they once did, to ‘ be very careful how you live….”, what effect  that kind of lifestyle would have on our murder rate. The Commissioner of Police and Minister Bunting would be very happy indeed. Shouldn’t  they then be in the vanguard of  the struggle to fight against the prince of darkness. And I would suggest so  too should their colleagues, and the media and all well thinking Jamaicans, who are praying for the families of Flight MH370. As many multiples of those who perished, die every year in Jamaica. And that fact alone should cause us to ‘wage war’ against the forces of evil, and not ‘big up foolish young men who write nonsense masquerading as enlightenment  in the newspapers’. Why have  we the children of Sam Sharpe forgotten so quickly? And  with such predictable, predicted, if anyone was listening, and devastating consequences! For the days are evil indeed.
Lent is a good time to think about these things.
Peace
LWJ

THE THIRD MESSAGE –  places in context the ‘wake up call’ that the case of the missing plane in the Indian Ocean sends about evil in the world. Equally so the devastating effects of the violence in my country.  A meditation from a popular religious writer.  And as a well written article by a prominent Jamaica theologian and head of a theological seminary, among other things, about the Vibz Kartel mystery,  a wake up call for dance hall music in my country.

THE MESSAGE

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140326/cleisure/cleisure5.html

After reading this article  (by Garnett Roper in the Gleaner yesterday )the thought came to me that left to dancehall music Mandela would still be in jail #Kartel  – a post, (minus that in parentheses)  on twitter and facebook this morning.

For some reason South Africa as in my dreams last night.

For many reasons I hope you found time to read this article. After writing that note yesterday, words from  Etana’s  song came into my head. ” Lady where you come from people die thee everyday….”
Further, that “If we are not careful, and do not mobilize all the forces of good in this country to fight against the evil of murder, then Jamaica will become one big ‘wrong address’ to those who wish to do business with us”.  We therefore need to join the ‘rebellion ‘ against evil in this land. But as the meditation below, March 25,  recommends, our weapons in this war are  to be quite different. 

OUR REBEL LEADER

CHRIS TIEGREEN

“Am I leading a rebellion?”
Mark 14:48

IN WORD  The scene is almost ludicrous. Jesus the Prince of Peace, is surrounded by a hostile, armed crowd. He has been walking weaponless throughout the streets of Jerusalem with compassion in his voice and healing in his wings, but compassion and healing are a little too suspicious for powerful people. So they come, burning with anger and betrayal.

The Son of God, apparently knows about sarcasm; ” Am I leading a rebellion….that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?”  But the question is more loaded than the sarcasm on the surface would indicate. He is leading a rebellion. He is leading a rebellion against the human rebellion, which was instigated by the angelic rebellion. He is leading a rebellion against the ways of this world and against the enemies of the kingdom of God. He is leading a rebellion against the culture of hate, anger and enmity and against the culture of lust, greed and idolatry. There is a war behind the scenes of this battle. The commander of this traitorous world is being cast ( John 12:3). Jesus knows exactly who has surrounded Him. On the surface, it looks like spiteful Jews under the authority of spiteful Gentiles. But Jesus has already told His disciples: ” The prince of this world is coming” ( John 14:30).  Yes,  by all means, this is a rebellion.

IN DEED  As descendants of Adam and Eve, we have all been participants in a rebellion. WE have committed treason against the High King of Heaven. We’re not sure what we were thinking at the time, but somewhere back there we joined in. Now we have a golden opportunity to join the quashing of  our former uprising.  Wherever we see injustice we can right it.  Wherever we see pain , we can help them heal. The passing prince of this world is being cast out; the time has come for us to join in. Are you waist-deep in this war, or are you just passively sitting by? Join the battle. Join the rebellion wherever you can.

Final comment: We need to begin to look beyond the headlines, like #BJMIller, and understand that Kartel in and by himself is not the real problem. Nor is Keiran King – can you imagine how, as children of former slaves, we would have fared, if King  had been writing in the days of Sam Sharpe. Nor is the current status of dancehall music as observed by Garnett Roper. But rather, these things and arguments and phenomena,  are manifestations of the power of the prince of darkness, against who we are joined in battle. To death! And only the grace of God in and through Christ the King can grant us the insight, the discernment, and the  power to win the battle for the minds and souls of our people.
As I close I recall that for some unknown reason Teddy Pendergrass’ song about ” Wake up everybody”, has been in my head of late. It does not offer a full theological view of what we are up against, and what we are called to do. but it certainly tries.  And comes pretty close. Plus it is just a wonderful song.

Wake up everybody, no more sleepin’ in bed
No more backward thinkin’ time for thinkin’ ahead
The world has changed so very much from what it used to be
So there is so much hatred war an’ poverty

Wake up all the teachers, time to teach a new way
Maybe then they’ll listen to whatcha have to say
‘Cause they’re the ones who’s coming up and the world is in their hands
When you teach the children, teach ’em the very best you can

The world won’t get no better
If we just let it be
The world won’t get no better
We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me

Wake up all the doctors, make the ol’ people well
They’re the ones who suffer an’ who catch all the hell
But they don’t have so very long before the judgment day
So won’tcha make them happy before they pass away?

Wake up all the builders, time to build a new land
I know we can do it if we all lend a hand
The only thing we have to do is put it in our mind
Surely things will work out, they do it every time

The world won’t get no better
If we just let it be
The world won’t get no better
We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me

Yeah, you and me with the help of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, as revealed in Holy Scripture.
Peace.
LWJ

So as we close, what did Rev. Joh Stott have to say about  Christian Mission in this Modern,  Flight MH 370, Kartel world. Some important things, written in note form for brevity, and to capture what I have distilled from this very profoundly written book. And there is more to come.
– the argument between Evangelical Christians and Ecumenical ( traditional/conservative…my words) ought to be guided by, in my view a profound statement by Stott. ” Life is a pilgrimage of learning, a voyage of discovery, in which our mistaken views are corrected, our distorted notions adjusted, our shallow opinions deepened, and or vast ignorances diminished.

– all Christians everywhere, whatever their cultural background or theological persuasion, must think at some time or another about the relationship between the church and the world………What is a Christian’s responsibility towards his non-Christian relatives, friends and neighbors, and indeed to the whole non-Christian community.

-The Great Commission to spread the gospel  and The Great Commandment to Love your neighbour are of equal importance.

– Evangelism and Social Action are equal partners in Mission. Each can stand on its own as they are both guided by Love. And the Holy Spirit gives gifts to enable both to take place. So not everybody is gifted to preach the Word. But to represent Christ wherever  The Holy  Spirit places us. In the Media, in Politics, in Medicine, in Law……

– As the Father has sent me , so am I sending you…..And God sent Jesus into the world to serve. So must we commit to be servants of others, and to involve ourselves in the lives of people ‘up front and personal ‘ and not ‘shout the gospel at them from afar’.

– Evangelism…to set people free from the alienation from God  through ignorance or rejection of the Gospel, when discussed on its own merit, ought to be the ‘greatest challenge to Christian love’…..and therefore be the number one priority for the church in general, especially to those who have not yet heard the Word. But not exclusively so, as others who have heard, need  ‘ more and better particulars’.

– Evangelism means to announce the good news about Jesus.
– It is not to be defined in terms of results…yes we would hope that people will respond and seek forgiveness of their sins in and through the shed Blood of Christ. But we are called to preach Jesus and Him Crucified and raised from the dead. And leave the rest to God.
-Evangelism is not to respond to the questions that people are asking about life…however deep those questions may be. But rather the first place of evangelism is the transmission of God’s question to man. And that question is and remains , ‘ whether or not we are willing to accept Jesus Christ as the one and only Lord of life.

– Our role and challenge  in the modern world is to ‘communicate’. To be faithful to the  Gospel of Jesus, while  being contemporary. As without communicating, there is no evangelism, no actual sharing of the good news.
– The entire Old Testament witnesses to the ‘salvation’ offered by the Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The disciples were witnesses. And so too is the church- to be witnesses to the Gospel of Christ.

So are the churches which are packed and ‘preaching the Word’, because The Holy Spirit rests with them in a special way? And those church which are ‘declining in numbers’ but  more concerned about Social Action, out of favor with The Spirit. No says John Stott. Both have their roles according to the gift of the Spirit. The key is whether or not one church or another is producing men and women who are serving as Christ did, and not as men have designed. As the latter cannot help to fight against the evil that was visited upon Flight MH 370, nor that which has come into my country through dance-hall music. Regardless of whether Champs next year is as record breaking as this year’s staging. We need to wake up to that reality.
Peace.
LWJ

Flight MH370, Tragedy in Jamaica and Jesus the answer to all mysteries

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

(1) The mystery of flight MH 370 continued to dominate the news this week. And if you a CNN fan you might have gotten the impression that nothing else was happening in the world. Nonetheless, many people across planet earth have been watching with keen interest, as travelling by air has become so routine and a hugely  important method of communicating with one another. Further, many are praying and ‘keeping vigil ‘ with the families and friends of the 239 missing persons.
The latest news which broke today raises more questions and provides few answers about this mystery. And can be seen in the link below.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/23/world/asia/malaysia-airlines-plane/index.html

(2). Of course the fact of my country, Jamaica,  having the second highest homicide rate ( at least those attributable to gun crimes) as revealed in a speech given by the Commissioner of Police this week only added to the pathos and the angst about my island home. How did we ever get there, or here? What can be done about it? Who is to provide the help. So much is the pain that I took to Twitter last night and ‘ spread my prayers abroad’, even as I sent them up to the only One who can help.

@lucienforJesus: As the woman begged you to drive out the demon from her daughter,so Lord we beg you to drive out the spirit of violence from our people #God

@lucienforJesus: As she fell on her feet Lord so we fall our knees and beg for mercy,and for your divine intervention in the lives of our young men. #Jesus

@lucienforJesus: O God we pray that thy will and not the will of the enemy be done in Jamaica land we love. O God we cannot take the killing any more. #mercy

@lucienforJesus: O God forgive the foolishness that Keiran King and Muta Baruka others are saying. For we know that we have no help but thine. #thanksbetoGod

@lucienforJesus: In the precious name of Jesus – that name that bids  our sorrows cease and calms our fears – we pray. Amen and Amen. #ThankYouJesus

@lucienforJesus: O Jesus you are the balm in Gilead. To make the wounded whole – even Kartel Lord. Lord you are the balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

THE WORD OF GOD

In the midst of the mystery of whatever possibly ‘violence’ which occurred in heavens above Malaysia and the Indian Ocean, and the violence that continues to haunt Jamaica, what did The Lord say through His Word and His inspired word this week?

First up was a message sent to journalists and political leaders in my country who can make a difference in ‘how things run’ in Jamaica. The trigger was a Word from my Lenten discipline; and the essence of the message was about God’s salvation history and The life and effects of ‘de werl boss’ Vibz Kartel on my country.

THE FIRST MESSAGE

For part of my Lenten discipline I have been led to read Isaiah. Last night in my reading  it figured prominently, and then this morning at the end of the Acts of the Apostles, I saw it again.
” You will ever be hearing……”

They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet: “ ‘Go to this people and say,

“You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

“Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” (Acts 28:23-28 NIV)

I am no theologian, in the sense of being an expert in explaining the Bible. But I am determined to be obedient to the leading of the Spirit. I was searching for a passage in Acts which speaks to the basic understanding of the Gospel. Jesus Christ descended from David and raised from the dead. The mighty salvation about which the father of John the Baptist spoke, after he regained his speech, in what is known in the church as the Benedictus.

The key point here is the final verse of the passage quoted about from Acts. ” they, ( the Gentiles) will listen, even though  the Jews, to whom Jesus and the Apostles were sent by God, refused to listen. Apart from a ‘remnant”!  A significant feature  of the prophesies and the history  of spread of  the gospel, the good news about God,  from creation, until this day, in my understanding, has been the revelation that the we the  ” Gentiles will listen”, where Israel did not.
The question then which came to my mind this morning, given the fact that I been led include members of the media in this Internet Ministry, in addition to other groups, apart from the church, is what is the role, if any, of the media in helping ” the Gentiles to listen”.

I saw where Simon Clarke, with whom I worked on the original committee set up to the Values and Attitudes campaign, launched by former PM P. J. Patterson, recommended in the Gleaner yesterday, that a ‘spiritual aspect’ ought to be included in the development of our children. As we have done well with the basic education, but have not done as well in teaching our children that that there  is a higher power, to whom  they ought to relate. All of this coming in the wake of the Vibz Kartel issue. Simon was a bit cautious in also warning that he was not advocation doctrinal teaching of any one religion. Too cautious in my view. I read once that ‘you cannot hope to have Christian values without Christianity”.

Yes the church, the body of Christ, has the ultimate responsibility to speak the Word, and live the Word, so that ” the Gentiles” will listen. But what about those journalists who profess Christ. Both at the level of ownership and with those who work for media houses! And even those who are not Christians, but have read and understood the history of the movement of the Word – the Gospel.
And we may start with the media, but the same question could be posed to any other group. Dare we exempt ourselves, opt out of this historical and prophetic movement started by God Almighty Himself? ” That ” God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen”.

I shudder to think what would have happened to the gospel had the book of the Acts of the Apostles had been written by journalists intent on ‘satisfying the public interest’ and  ‘maintaining a balanced view’.  Could they have ever formulated the basic reality, that salvation has come to us, the Gentiles, from One who descended from David, and was raised from the dead. In the midst of all the other things that were happening in Palestine at that time.

And if we are not helping to continue what God started, what is the point of all this reporting? In a country where Kartel and Dudus, are seen by many,  far too many, have mercy, as their ‘salvation”. Or PNP, or JLP, or the ‘wisdom of Mutty Perkins.

Could it be that the same accusation leveled against the Jews, can now be said of this generation. If so, we are going backwards and not progressing in the history of the Word. And can that be a good thing!  To whom then will God send His Word?  And the Word will be sent no matter how we respond. As Kartel and Dudus are discovering. Interesting!
In obedience.
LWJ

THE SECOND MESSAGE – sent to the same group, develops some more on the issue of our refusal to ‘listen’ to God ‘s Word, and the attendant consequences. Part of which is the revelation by our Commissioner of Police about the high levels of guns crimes occurring in this once peaceful land. All because ‘ we have decided to follow Kartel, and Dudus and our ‘political gods’ rather than Jesus.

THE MESSAGE

The train of thought began yesterday after the message about the role of the media and other groups in helping ” the Gentiles to listen” to the gospel. And was elevated during the course of the day, especially after reading about the terrible fate that the Children of Israel suffered at the hand of God in Psalms 79 & 80 – during my lunch time devotions –  and then words in Psalm 81 which remind us of the message from Isaiah and Acts yesterday:

“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Psalm 81:6-16 NIV)

From other parts of the Bible including  the Gospel according to Luke when Jesus appeared to some of his disciples on the road to Emmaus, we know that the promise from God about ” them being fed from the finest of wheat and honey from the rock”, is fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The point here again is that disaster had come upon the Jews because they refused to listen.

And so when I got up this morning after listening to the Commissioner speak about crime in Jamaica last night, and that in 2009 we were ranked as the most ‘murderous’ country in the world at 63 homicides/100,000, with:

O Jesus I have promised
to serve thee to the end:
…….

O let me feel thee near me;
the world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
the tempting sounds I hear;
my foes are ever near me,
around me and within;
but, Jesus, draw thou nearer,
and shield my soul from sin……..

in my head, the train of thought was complete. That as individual Christians, we are reminded that two forces dominate our lives on this planet. A loving God enabling and empowering and calling us to be be transformed by the Spirit of Christ to be  like Him in righteousness and  holiness ; and an evil force inciting us to rebel against God. In this context then, everything that takes place in our lives can be traced back to these two forces. And the choices we make have eternal consequences. More and  more, as I read Scripture I am sure of this point. And the hymn-writer makes it clear also.

The other issue is, if so for individuals, can we say the same about nations. And more specifically about Jamaica. In the sense that are the lives  of Kartel and Dudus, in the context of our being the most ‘murderous’ nation on earth in 2009, and now # 2 behind El Salvador,  according to the Commissioner, a manifestation of the choices this country has made to ‘ refuse to listen to the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob and the God of Sam Sharpe ( a different one than ‘constructed’  by Miguel Lorne recently on Nationwidenews) and the God of Bogle and Gordon.
The Bible is  very clear on this. A resounding yes! In the same way apart from a miscreant, the jury returned a resounding yes to the question of Kartel’s guilt.

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:1, 2, 4-11, 13 NIV)

If there was ever a time when a nation ought to listen to the Word of God, it is now, and it is Jamaica. Our history, if examined closely, and truthfully, is history of gospel being taken to the Gentiles, ‘ because they would listen’. Our grandparents listened and Jamaica became a different place after the ‘terror’ of slavery. Far too many people of this generation have elected not to listen, and thus we have become ‘enslaved’ all over again. With Kartel and Dudus et al, and the et al is significant, as the ‘tempting sounds’  of Carnival are once again in the background in Lent,  leading our people like the Pied Piper of old into all kinds of evil – aren’t we ashamed. But still Christ is waiting and available to ‘shield our collective souls from sin”.

I would suggest that this is the kind of conversation that our nation ought to be engaged in, even as we battle the demons of inflation, low productivity, high debt to GDP ratio, anaemic economic growth and other manifestations of our refusal to listen to the Word of God. Yes, report on the trial of Kartel and the fact that  ‘Hylton walks’, but for God’s sake place the thing in its proper and rightful context. If not, to what end all this reporting and economic activity.
Peace.
LWJ

THE THIRD MESSAGE – has within it one of the foundation teachings of the Christian faith. That God’s grace is sufficient for us on all occasions. Especially when we are undergoing persecution and facing trials and temptations. Also in the message is a focus on one aspect of the Lord’s Prayer which often does not get as much attention as it deserves. ” Thy will be done”.

I woke up this morning after having experienced another ‘song in my heart’ last night. What was it?  ” My grace is sufficient for you”. So I went and read the well known passage from 2. Corinthians and reflected on this aspect of it:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 NIV)

Then just before that I had picked up the Observer and read:
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Churches-Angry 

Then I was led to the following meditation from Chris Tiegreen’s One Year Devotional  given to me in 2008 and which I began reading again this Lent.

A Call to Arms.

Verse; Your will be done….
Matthew 6:10

IN WORD……NO when we say “Thy will be done”, it is to be an assault on  the gates of hell. It is an offensive march against the evil of this world. There is nothing defensive or ambiguous about it. It calls for God  to make his kingdom manifest in this enemy territory, taking ground that the enemy has stolen. It is specific, and assertive, a battle cry against everything that is not His will. It is war.
Observe the Master who gave us this instruction. When did He pray, ” Your will be done”? it was before the ultimate battle against His human nature and the powers of darkness, as He pondered the coming Cross in the garden of Gethsemane ( Luke 22:42)

IN DEED…… This request is not to be a statement of our resignation or the fine print at the bottom of our prayers that takes our will out of the situation. We are right to be suspicious of our own wills and defer to the Father’s. But while the request is an appropriate deferral to His higher plan, it is much more. It is a conscious appeal to bring God’s kingdom into victorious conflict with the hostility and depravity of our world. We are not only saying ” not my will”, we are also saying ” not the enemy’s will”.
Wherever human tendencies or a corrupt world comes into conflict with the revealed word of God, we are to pray, ” Thy will be done.” We know that what His will is with regard to our won hearts, sin, evil and violence, salvation, and much more. Shall we be tentative in these areas? No, Jesus gives us a call to arms: Pray that God’s will be done.

Comment: Could this be coincidence  that the church is ‘taking up arms” against the government’s proposed policy of flexi-week on a morning when God is speaking about  His people becoming strong in the middle of persecution and trials? Could it be coincidence that  The Lord is speaking this morning about His people ‘taking up arms against violence and depravity” when perhaps we are  a bit nearer than before to solving the mystery of flight MH370 ? Could it be a coincidence that Christ and Him Crucified is speaking this morning through His Word and His inspired word about ” taking up arms” against the evil forces that Kartel and Dudus represent in this enemy territory?
Pray God that His will be done in this beloved and beleaguered, Jamaica land we love.
Lent is a good time to ponder on these things.
In Christ
LWJ

THE FOURTH MESSAGE –  is a manifestation of the old french pessimistic observation that ” plus ca change, plus ce la meme chose”…the more things change the more they remain the same. As men and women have fruitlessly spent so much time arguing about the existence of God from time immemorial. And this week in my country, while others were praying to God  for mercy and comfort for the occupants of that ill fated place, and the ‘ ongoing disaster in Jamaica’, they were at it again. And so The Lord inspired this  message.

THE MESSAGE

Last evening, on the way home from work,  I heard a conversation on  Nationwidenews FM that disturbed me greatly. I came in late, but from what I understood the topic had to do with the views of people  who don’t know the Bible ; whether they see it as fact of fiction. I suppose all of this triggered  by the much heralded and  very ‘irreverent’ treatment of what many Jamaicans accept as Holy Scriptures, by one of the Gleaner’s new online columnists, Keiran King. Those whose views I heard included, Ian Boyne, a Pastor whose name I did not hear properly, Muta  Baruka,  Keiran and the host George Davis who ‘run tings’ in the absence of Cliff Hughes on a Friday night.

The part which I heard from the sceptics  Muta and King – Davis was neither hot nor cold -focused primarily on the authenticity  of the Bible as  the infallible word of God, given that  Science has shown many previously ‘truths in the Bible’ to be incorrect ( I did not hear any) ; that one does not have to read the Bible to hear or experience God; and that the Bible was written by people who captured the folk lore of others to deal with the anxiety of not knowing what lies ahead in the future, and so invent ‘God’ as a means to an end. Ian mainly tried to use his vast knowledge of those who write  for and against the Bible,  in pursuit of a ‘polite’ conversation with the skeptics and ended by appealing for humility on their part. For me, the most important contribution by the pastor was the fact that this discussion has been ongoing from time immemorial and to date the Word of God has outlived  all its detractors. I thought about calling in, but was prevented.

So I went home with the thought that ” only a fool says there is no God”. And as I opened the Bible later on, guess what appeared:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 53:1-3 NIV)

Then in the early morning, about 3:am I heard a loud sound in my house and went to investigate and found nothing wrong. So I turned to the Word of God before going back to bed. And found in midst of  Amos,  who prophesied against the children of God on account of how they treated the poor and the needy, an inspired word from Martin Luther King Jnr. A quote from which is sufficient:

” Only an irrelevant religion fails to be concerned about man’s economic well-being. Religion at it’s best realizes that the soul is crushed as long as the body is tortured with  hunger pangs and harrowed with the need for shelter”.

This morning I woke with the same thoughts I had last night after hearing the discussion.
One that the entire Bible was written to bring people to Christ, in whom alone we find peace with God. Why? Because as Job said, and as most of the New Testament and the Old too, explains,  sinful man cannot approach a Holy God without a mediator. It’s a topic that one of the greatest minds of science, and about which and whom I have written before, Blaise Pascal, addresses in one of the most powerful reflections I have seen.  ” Jesus – The Middle Way”, The end of which goes like this:

“The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness created pride. The knowledge of our wretchedness without that of God creates despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle way, because in him we find both God and our wretchedness.”

The thrust of any evangelist, anyone who is given to speak about the Bible and Christ, is to speak to men and women about their wretchedness. For  unless  we come to understand how ‘wretched’ we are before a Holy God then these kinds of discussions which go nowhere will always take center stage from time to time. The revelation from Scripture  is that we are guilty by nature of the sin of Adam, as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, in two ways. Before God and before our neighbour. The life of Jesus as revealed in Holy Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments, calls us to repent of this inherent rebellion against God and how we have treated our neighbour. That’s why our Savior went about preaching and doing good works. That’s why the Church pays, or ought to pay equal attention to both preaching and teaching and doing good works. The irony is that both Muta and Keiran have  benefited from the good works which the church has done in this country in respect of the abolition of slavery and the provision of a high quality educational  foundation, while rejecting the preaching and the teaching. A further irony is, what came to mind last evening, and again this morning; that although many of our ‘intellectuals’ have rejected the Word of God, almost all of them, when they die, the family requests, and by God grace and mercy, they are granted a Christian funeral. Strange isn’t it. Or maybe not so strange given the reality that according to one  hymn-writer  the life of Christ, full of grace and mercy,  is portrayed in this fashion:

Thou dids’t leave thy throne and thy kingly crown
when thou camest to earth for me,
but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no
room for thy holy nativity……..

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
that should set thy people free;
but with mocking scorn and with crown of
thorn
they bore thee to Calvary.

And then comes the refrain, which is really a prayer,  for and by those who are humble enough to believe that they need a mediator to approach God:

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
there is room in my heart for thee.

So, as Christians,  according to the Word, ” Because we fear God, we try to persuade men”. Thank God some have been persuaded. And that’s why our nation is not much entirely in the hands of  Kartel and Dudus!  I wonder if people really understand this reality.
Lent is a good time to think on these things.
Peace
LWJ

And just when I thought that it was all done, The Lord sent a final message. Perhaps the most important one.

THE FIFTH MESSAGE – VERY SHORT.

My mind is saying that people will not read so much, but The Lord says to write. So I being obedient.

An extract from Chris Tiegen – as I close my devotions for the morning.

BAD INVESTMENTS
A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions – Luke 12:15

The many ruins and relics of antiquity testify  that earthly empires do not last. Mausoleums and memorials  reveal the  transience of life. The inability of governments to solve the world’s problems persuades us that politics is not the answer. Volatile markets and monthly statements show us the corruptibility and futility of wealth.
Still,  the tendency of mankind is to invest in earthly things. So few people know so little about of the coming kingdom that it becomes an afterthought. Six days a week we plan for life by investing in house and goods – insuring them all – and perhaps give one day’s thought to eternity. We research human answers to human problems and neglect the divine privilege of dependence on a transcendent God. Both as individuals and as societies, we focus on the here and now that we grow so blind to the there and then. While all eternity lies before us, our vision extends but a few decades. But as in Jesus’ parable of the rich fool, human plans can be interrupted in one surprising,  moment, and what we have valued most may no longer matter at all…….

In obedience
LWJ

Flight MH370, Vibes Kartel and God’s Grace and Mercy in Christ Jesus

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) – Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

NEWS

1. The big news that continues to dominate public and even private discussions across the world,  continues be the Mystery of the Missing Malaysia Airplane. And about which, with a twist on the story, the latest news from Twitter  appears in the link below. What really happened to the plane and its 239 souls continues to be a question which so far no one seems to have any clear answer. So speculation is rife and drives the talk on television and radio with one wit sarcastically posting a comment that CNN has reported that the plane is somewhere on the planet! What is certain is that someone or some persons may very well be  guilty of committing one of the worse crimes  in  recent history thus resulting in the loss of so many precious and ‘innocent’ lives.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/sniping-over-missing-malaysia-airlines-flight-reflects-long-simmering-regional-tensions/2014/03/16/7ef11692-ad22-11e3-9627-c65021d6d572_story.html

2. The other big story, certainly for us here in Jamaica, and which has resonance for the music industry elsewhere, is the Vybes Kartel murder trial which finally came  to an end last Thursday evening, local time. The verdict? Guilty! Thus setting off a virtual firestorm of public comment and discussion on social media and on the regular news. One particular comment which caught the attention of one of our top journalists Dionne Jackson Miller on Beyond The Headlines of RJRFM94, was the cynical suggestion that, Kartel should have been ‘given a chance’ because he did not kill anybody from ‘high society’. An observation which really brought into very sharp focus the  ‘ hero worship’ that this high ranking dance hall artiste commands in certain sections of Jamaica. Perhaps rivaling the kind of ‘worship’ and ‘respect’ that the more Internationally  infamous ‘Dudus’ attracted from his ‘followers’, before his ‘fall’.
On the other hand, a comment from one the Bishops in my church, ” Divine Intervention”, perhaps sums of  the views of most Jamaicans, even if they are not religious. The point was that justice had been well served, regardless of how ‘exalted’  Kartel was in the eyes of some persons, from the hallowed halls of the local University to the streets in ‘Gaza’ – his stronghold. One key question which is still unanswered, is what went wrong with this hugely talented young man? Where did he go astray, and what led him to commit, if the evidence is to be believed, such an egregiously wicked act,  where he reportedly, along with his co-accused,  ” chopped up another human being fine, fine”.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what thoughts did The Lord Almighty, who intervenes in the affairs of men, reveal in the midst of all this mystery about the behavior of mankind. First up was a Lenten message to my church.  The reflections is grounded in the classic Gospel reading for Lent, concerning the temptations that Jesus faced immediately after his baptism. And the many lesson which we ought to learn from His experience. One of which is that, trials are to be seen as opportunities for spiritual growth. Why? Perhaps the old Jamaican that ” trouble don’t set like rain’ captures the essence of the answer. In the sense that we are forever to be in the ‘watchful mode’, as Satan, the evil one,  is always on the prowl to cause trouble. Whether  33,000 feet up in the air, or in the home of someone whom we trust, which is where ‘Lizard’, the man who Kartel is accused of killing, died. Or when we become rich and famous, or even  so comfortable, that we are tempted to forget that in God alone, and in the Name of Jesus Christ His Son,  we can place our ultimate trust.  More  importantly however, is the fact, that watchfulness is to be a feature of the Christian life as, ” no one knows when the Son of Man shall return”.

THE MESSSAGE

While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. (John 17:12 NIV)

So as David called upon the Name of the God Almighty, so we are to call upon the Name of Jesus often, and in every situation. Whether we face trouble or not, as trouble ‘don’t set like rain’.
Peace.
LWJ

On Mar 10, 2014, at 7:18 AM, Lucien Jones <lucienw.jones@gmail.com> wrote:

Early morning revelations

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, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 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.” Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!” 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. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord ’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:34-37, 41-47 NIV)

The first thought that came into my mind as I read the passage above was< ” Will Jesus find such faith in Jamaica when He returns. More importantly when will I have that kind of faith, or when will the entire church of God have that kind of faith so that we can wage war effectively against all kinds of evil. Within and without!

Then my eyes were drawn to the following meditation on the next page of my Classic Devotional Bible.

GOD’S OPPORTUNITIES IN DISGUISE

C. H. Parkhurst ( 1842-1933; A medical doctor and the author of the classic devotional ‘ Streams in the desert’.)

Verse: 1 Samuel 17:34.

It is a source of inspiration and strength  to come in touch with the youthful David, trusting God. Through faith in God he conquered a lion and a bear, and afterwards overthrew the mighty Goliath. When that lion came to despoil the flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David. If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel.
One would not think that a lion was a special blessing from god; one would that only an occasion of alarm. The lion was God’s opportunity in disguise. Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it the right way, is God’s opportunity. Every temptation that comes is God’s opportunity.
When the ‘ lion’ comes, recognize it as God’s opportunity no matter how rough the exterior……May God open our eyes to see him, whether in temptations, trials, dangers, or misfortunes.

Peace.
LWJ

THE SECOND MESSAGE

It came in three instalments over a three day period. The first one introduced the issue of God’s grace and mercy…even to the ‘vilest offender’. And was sent to leaders in my country who can make a difference in the life of  a Kartel or a Tommy Lee.

PART ONE – ON THE NIGHT AFTER THE VERDICT WAS ANNOUNCED

On a day when both justice and mercy acted in tandem, the day closed with this message from the Lord: Mark 5:18-20 NIV

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. #prayforKartel #prayforJamaica #prayforourownsouls. Why? Tiegen- Those who are appalled at the depravity of others do not understand the gospel. In order to understand the gospel, we must first begin by knowing that we are all children of Adam and, as such, are partakers of the rebellion common to man. That this rebellion manifests in one person as murder or in another……is no matter- it all comes from the same seed……

Your grace and mercy……I’m living this day…..
LWJ

The second one carried the issue of grace and mercy a bit further and includes a wonderful video which touched the very core of my soul.

PART 11
This morning I woke up and shared what Tiegen said, and the story of Jesus and ‘Legion’,  with my wife and thanked God for grace and mercy. Then Immediately, like right away, this song below came into my heart. I pray God that the context,  the words  the soulful singing and the message from The Lord last night, will help all of us to understand this mystery of the grace of God as manifested in Christ Jesus, a bit more. And place everybody we meet and know, before The Lord, together with ourselves, for as the songwriter says in that wonderful hymn ” To God be the glory!  Great things he has done….the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon he receives.

http://youtu.be/ho5dQ4VlKA4

So let us thank God for Justice. But also for mercy, as even Kartel can be redeemed. And let us weep and pray for him and our ‘demon-possessed land’, where folks, who clearly have lost their minds,  can speak about Dudus and Kartel and Jesus in the same context. Let us weep for our country, that has clearly lost its way, when grace and mercy can be rejected, day after day; for that is the essence of our actions when we fail to respond and be obedient to the Word of God, and the pleading of the church, for all of us to surrender completely to Christ. And Jesus still  weeps for Jamaica, in the midst of this madness as He wept for Jerusalem, two thousand years ago, as He knew exactly what was going to happen to them, and what is happening to our disobedient nation today.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you were not willing.” Luke 13:34 NIV.

I suppose I could preach an entire sermon on that verse, but The Lord did not place it in my mind for that purpose. But rather for all of us to consider, whether in politics, the media or church, as leaders in a society, and therefore representing spheres of very powerful influence, the consequences for a nation, occasioned by our being ‘ not willing”. To the extent that we can be so charged! And only God knows whether we are guilty or not. And only grace and mercy can rescue us. Perhaps Lent is a good time to be considering these things.

http://youtu.be/ho5dQ4VlKA4

Peace.
LWJ

The final section deals with two vey important matters. The miseducation about the Christian faith, and the correction. Both of which need to be examined carefully in the context of evil masquerading in whatever garb is useful at any particular time in history of the world or in our personal situation. For, depending on whether you know the real Truth, or are ‘searching for the truth’, whether you know it or not, then on the ‘day of evil’,  is not the time to  find out how deadly wrong you are. For then you would have rejected the only ” Truth”  Who can help you.

PART 111

As I reflected on the words of the well known hymn below and then recalled the central message of the meditation from Oswald Chambers which I read last night, ” The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill ” came into my mind. In the sense that, as I have indicated, in various earlier messages to Cliff et al, what I have learned over the years, is that we need to unlearn a lot of things about Christianity. The Religion is not about seeking God, so that we may rescue Jamaica from Kartel and Dudus, and what they symbolize in our land; we pray God that it may happen, but that’s not the central message. Neither is it about seeking to know God, even worse,  that our personal fortunes and circumstances may improve; that may happen depending on God’s will and purpose, but that could not be the reason why Jesus Christ, God incarnate, suffered and died on a old wooden cross. It’s not even about seeking God, that we, and our loved ones, may get to heaven, and that those who consistently refuse to accept Christ will end up in hell or that God will destroy them; that’s an interpretation of Christianity which perhaps emerged out a reading of the  Old Testament in isolation. Without any reference to the grace and mercy of God in Christ which is the feature of the new Covenant! And which is properly understood, is a feature of the old Covenant also. I could go on, but the point is that the essence of the Christian life is to take hold of a vision to know Christ and Him Crucified. Alone! Nothing else! Nobody else! If Sunday worship does not teach people this then it’s a waste of time. So too Saturday worship. So too Lent and Easter. So too the gospel music and all the Tele-evangelists.

Having then understood that basic fact of the Religion, the problem which Tiegen and the entire Bible points outs then arises; we are all children of Adam and our natural self will not yield to God. Our natural self willingly and easily yields to the selfishness and the lusts about which Chambers speaks in the meditation below. And many other features of human life which are left unsaid. The arrogance, the unspeakable and unimaginable sexual acts  demanded of our children and women, which were highlighted on NationwideNews FM, last nights during the discussion on ‘ Human trafficking’, the love of,  if not the addiction to pornography, the lust for power to which  powerful men and women  once yielded and provoked them to give out, or facilitate the distribution of , or turn  a blind eye to, the use of guns to  and by unsuspecting youths on the corner and which ‘crime against humanity’ together with the ‘Don culture’,  has helped to destroy  our once peaceful country. The lust for money and power to which many in the music fraternity have  yielded thus corrupting our music and the minds of our children and adults. The list goes on. How we have yielded to pride and an unforgiving spirit, thus causing us to tear down one another in public and in private. Even in the church of the One who died on the cross of Calvary. How we have yielded to the love of money, and created a society, and a world where there is so much injustice and inequality  so that discerning musicians sing about ” wrong address” and ” how do you deal with rats in the ghetto”.

Truly the natural self possesses the seeds to do all kinds of evil. And we, in and by ourselves, could never change it and become what God created us to be. To be like Him in holiness and righteousness. That’s why, according to the Christian religion, Christ came. To set us free from ourselves, and not only to forgive us of our sins. So  salvation is about allowing and inviting Christ into our hearts and minds to transform us into His likeness, and to set us free from ourselves – children of Adam. That’s the essence of what Chambers is saying. That’s the essence of what the Bible teaches. That’s the message the Psalmist is sending when he says in Psalm 51, ” Create in me a new heart”. And until we come to the point where we  understand the need for Christ, the absolute need for Him and Him alone. Until then we are still suffering from the ” Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. Regardless of whether we are Adventists, Anglicans, Baptists or well read journalists, or powerful politicians. And the pursuit of that goal, and vision, constitutes the most severe of all Christian disciplines. Lent then is an opportunity to start. Or to continue.
Peace.
LWJ

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

OSWALD CHAMBERS  – MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST
FRIDAY MARCH 14
Yielding
. . . you are that one’s slaves whom you obey . . . -Romans 6:16
The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.

If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth. There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is- “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. “. . . He has anointed Me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives . . .” (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1).

When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.

Copyright © 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd. All rights reserved.

Final Comment. God is God of Justice yes. But God is, thank God for Jesus, a God who is not just rumoured, but actually is  God of mercy. To all who call upon the Name of Jesus. Even Kartel. Even the perpetrators of wickedness at 33,00 miles up in the sky. What a God we serve!  So why don’t we love Him more? Mystery is it not!
Peace.
LWJ

Lent, Malaysia Airlines and Becoming like 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 in the Anglican Church.

NEWS 

The big news this week, at least for me, is that Ash Wednesday, still celebrated as a national holiday in Jamaica, and which was observed this week, marked the onset of Lent. A time for serious introspection about one’s spiritual journey. A time for a renewed emphasis on fasting and prayer. A time for ‘giving up’ and ‘taking on’, in order that one may draw closer to God. A period which climaxes in the glorious celebration of Easter, after the celebration of the Passion of our Lord on Good Friday. A friend and Christian brother who is a Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, and a well known Environmentalist in my country, Peter Espeut dedicated one of his regular columns in The Daily Gleaner to the story behind the observation of Lent. 

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140307/cleisure/cleisure2.html

The other big news this week was, or is,  the still developing story of the missing plane which disappeared suddenly from the radar screen, en route from Kuala Lumpur  to Beijing. All 239  souls aboard are presumed dead and lots of questions are yet unanswered. Chief of which is how did two persons with passports stolen and reported as long as two years ago, managed to get on the flight. The latest news available on Twitter as I write can be seen in the link below.

@BBCWorld: Seas off south Vietnam scoured for any signs of missing #Malaysia Airlines #MH370 jet after possible debris sighting http://t.co/49ebMp9bH3

Other local news news which caught my attention included the fact that the Vibes Kartel’s fate should be decided this week. Guilty of murder or not!. More news about artistes producing videos with live sex, and condemnation from  some church groups. And controversy over the appointment of one of the commissioners to enquire into the Tivoli Incursion, during which seventy plus Jamaican died A matter which,  so far,  has caused at  least one  brave Government Senator,  Senator Imani Duncan-Price, to ‘break ranks’ , with her party and join with those who have called for the removal of the controversial commissioner, whose legal opinion about whether or not police are allowed to return fire when gunmen use women and children as shields, and fire from behind them at the police, has angered many persons.

THE WORD OF GOD

In the midst of all of these stories playing out in the nation and across the world, The Lord spoke in the following ways.

(A)  A  Sermon

First, I was privileged to share the Word at a Anglican Church in the rural area on Ash Wednesday. The text was from the well known Old Testament story in the Bible.

” Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:7-12 NIV)

An examination of the text was contextualized in the reality of ” how far God by His grace has carried this nation on Ash Wednesday 2014. Amidst the reality of Vibes Kartel and his outrageous lyrics; Tommy Lee and his ‘demon’ songs, this ‘tun up
( very challenging)  economy’ – affecting everybody; sickness ; violence in  the nation, women being beheaded,  children and children killed;  the declining numbers of persons attending church and the ineffective witness of many church members.

And three key points found in the text and the story of Hannah and Samuel, and Dagon ( the god of the Philistines)  and  The Living God, and the rescue by God of the children of Israel from the Philistines, were examined.
1. The faith of Hannah who cried out to God for a son, and God answered her and that of our forebears; the decision by Hannah to offer the best to The Lord; a requirement dealt with extensively in the book of Malachi as God is great King and worth of respect.

2. The sin of the children of Israel in  placing ‘ other gods’ – idols-  before the Living  God, resulting in the death of Eli’s sons, the loss of the ark of God, and the ‘routing’ of Israel, on two occasions, by the Philistines. And only when the Israelites were prepared to give up their idols and trust in God, and when Samuel cried out to God, did God rescue them from the Philistines.

3. The story of how Dagon the god of the Philistines  was found face down on the floor when left overnight  beside the Ark of God. And when returned to its place, was found on the ground again and broken up the second time. A story which  showed that evil and a holy God  cannot co-exist.

Two conclusions were then drawn.

a) that the ultimate Ebenezer in life, the goal of the journey, is not a place but a person, Jesus Christ.
b) that sinful man cannot co-exist with God; flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore our journey with Christ, in Lent and in life, is to so allow and accept God’s discipline, in whatever way He choses, whether by temptation or by trials, to assist us in dying to self, and living by the Spirit of Christ only.
As then and only then will we as children of God have the power to defeat the forces of evil, as manifest in the lives of Kartel, Tommy Lee. The forces of evil which cause people from the ‘wrong address’ as depicted in the Etana video, to be tempted to do wrong to survive; forces which are leading our children astray, and which forces, even in the church are leading people astray; forces which are at the root of the culture of violence so pervasive in our country and responsible for the loss of so many lives and battering of the good name of our country

(B) A Text message and e-mail
Second, on night of Ash Wednesday, starting  my Lenten discipline by continuing to read a good book, Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis I was struck by Lewis’ warning that because Christ’s intention is to make us perfect, ‘the ride will be rough”…i.e. the Christian journey. And therefore was moved to send out the following except from the book as a message by text and by e-mail

The Message

“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ” Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your  natural self, but to kill it.  No half-measures are any good. I don’t  want to cut off  a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down…Hand over the whole natural self, all of the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.
C. S. Lewis.  Mere Christianity.
LWJ

Perhaps the most severe discipline that we need to engage in during Lent, and accept it as a life long journey, is the reality that Christ has not just come to “torment the natural self, but to kill it”. And no half-measure will be accepted.

Lewis further expands on that point in the following except:

” This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. it is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the church has a lot of different objects – education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects – military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading book in his own room……that is what the State is there fore. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.
In the same way the Church exist for nothing  else but to draw men into Christ., to make them little Christs. if they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God made man for no other purpose.

(c). Third.  An e-mail sent to some folks after the God led me to read a very profound passage of Scripture.

The Message

Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!” And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was. (Mark 3:11, 12 NASB)

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7 NASB)

Something to think about as we wage war against the forces evil in this 
country. Wherever they rear their ugly head! In crime and violence; in the music videos; in the dancehall; in the classrooms; wherever bacchanal reigns; wherever corruption is; whatever stronghold, argument or pretension  that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we hold captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ Jesus ( 2. Cor. 10:3-5) In the same way that the ‘unclean spirits’ fell down before Jesus.
LWJ

One of the most puzzling things to consider in this life, is that though the ‘good people’ in Jesus’ time, and even now in today’s world, were unsure of His identity, the ‘evil forces’ against whom He came to wage war, on our behalf, knew, and still know,  precisely who He was, and is. Further, the mystery is that, when The Lord is pleased with those who follow Him, wonderful, amazing and powerful things happen in the war against evil. Even to the point where ‘enemies’ become friends, and help us in our journey. So even the worse gunman, the desperate prostitute, the most cynical journalist, the most corrupt politician, the most outrageous dance hall artiste can change, the most challenging circumstance can be overcome, and change can happen, if we surrender complete to Christ, and become holy in the eyes of God.

(D)  A message triggered by another revelation late last night

When Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘ He is out of his mind’.  Mark 3:20. NIV

Did you know that Jesus’ family thought that he was mad…had gone way off track…a fanatic perhaps…whatever…but definitely in need of help?
But then Jesus calls us to follow him…to take up our cross daily and follow him. 
In the excerpt below, C. S. Lewis, and the Bible supports him that ultimately Jesus’ intention is to make us perfect – in Him.

“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ” Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your  natural self, but to kill it.  No half-measures are any good. I don’t  want to cut off  a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down…Hand over the whole natural self, all of the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.
C. S. Lewis.  Mere Christianity”

Doesn’t all of this sound a little crazy…way off line in fact. What would your friends and relatives think of you, if you were to really commit yourself to following Christ. To really surrender to Christ. Leave all the things and places and friends that previously meant so much to you. And  begin to attend Bible study regularly, worship at church regularly, lift up the name of Jesus at every opportunity, spend most of your time thinking about how to contribute to the building of the kingdom of God. Accept that your natural self cannot enter that kingdom and commit to dying to that self each day, and live for and in Christ alone.
People would begin to think that you are  bit weird, wouldn’t they. That you had lost it completely. That you had taken this thing too seriously. And were definitely in need of help….get a life man.
Interesting isn’t it!. Food for thought.
LWJ

What is the upshot of all of this revelation as we wage war against evil in Malaysia, so that no  more souls will plunge to sudden death in our ‘friendly skies’! As we wage war against evil in in Ukraine and Russia so that ‘peace will break out across the world’! As we wage war against evil in Jamaica, in our music, in our schools and in our communities, the body politic and even in the church!
Two things. One is that only those who are perfect in Christ, can effectively wage war against evil on a permanent and sustained basis. Two is that for us to gain perfection – holiness – we have to start the journey of death to self. People may think we are crazy, and  have become fanatics, even weird,  and wish to ‘take charge of us’. But be of good courage, and even your critics and detractors may become your best supporters in the long run, God willing. And Lent is a good time to begin the journey.
Peace.
LWJ