Tensions between Ukraine and Russia, Wrong Address by Etana in Jamaica and God’s grace in Jesus

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

NEWS
What a week!  The drums of war are sounding out  in Ukraine as Russia pour troops into Crimea and tensions there rise. Just after the Winter Olympic Games in nearby Sochi closed. Can’t begin to think what would have happened had the timing been otherwise. All this against the backdrop of President Obama warning the Russians to avoid the temptation of going into Ukraine. But Russia is a sovereign state and will move to protect its best interests and that of its kith and kin wherever. That situation is fluid and therefore who knows what tomorrow will bring.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/03/02/ukraine-crimea-russia-military/5944179/

Back home in Kingston Jamaica, the nation is abuzz with a conversation of  another invasion which took place some four years ago – The Tivoli Incursion. An event triggered by the ‘exploits’ of former strong-arm man Christopher ‘Dudus” Coke who is now languishing in jail in the US for crimes committed there. A Commission of Enquiry has been established and a debate is raging about it’s usefulness and the perceived bias of one of the Commissioners.

Tivoli enquiry on — JCF, JDF welcome probe
JLP says it wants enquiry to provide closure for victims
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Tivoli-enquiry-on—JCF–JDF-welcome-probe_14218410

Also in the news is the continued discussion on the proposed  decriminalization of  the use of marijuna – a topic which has even attracted the attention of the world famous magazine The Economist.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2014/02/marijuana-jamaica

THE WORD OF GOD

In the midst of all of this The Lord spoke thorough His Word, His inspired word and circumstances.

The first message was a prayer sent to some folks in my church, and was triggered by a verse from a Psalm. One of the features of the Christian faith is The Power of Prayer when offered up in accordance to the Word of God, and which is in keeping with His perfect will and purpose. No doubt the people of Crimea, in particular, and Ukraine and Russia in general are in deep prayer for their region and country. So too must we in Jamaica, offer up prayers for all people everywhere, where there is tension, open warfare and where wickedness abound.  In that context then, we continue to pray for our Jamaica, and elsewhere, that the authority given to Jesus, may be manifest in His body, the church. To the glory of God.

THE PRAYER
Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them. (Psalm 99:6 NIV)

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. (Mark 1:27, 29-31, 33, 34 NIV)

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray that you may grant your church authority, through the out-flowing of your promised Holy Spirit for them that fear you; authority Lord to chase out evil out of our land. Out of our church…Lord all complacency; all lack of trust and faith in your mighty power; all arrogance, all pride,  all malice and greed and lust for power.
O Lord Jesus, grant your church authority to chase out the demons of rage and murder in your people; all outrageous acts and immorality; all corruption in the body politic. O Lord Jesus grant us power to chase out evil from our schools, from our homes and communities; to chase out all evil powers which  are destroying family life O God. Lord remember the prayer of the Psalmist that angels may chase away evil, like chaff before wind. Lord you see and know the effects pornography is having on the nation; the destructive influence of grinding poverty and hopelessness.
O Lord hear our cry…as you heard the cry of Samuel….attend on to our prayer…..Lord, and when our hearts are overcome…lead us to the rock, O God…that is higher than I.
In the Name of Jesus
Amen
In Christ.

THE SECOND MESSAGE

I had no idea as I wrote about the effects of grading poverty on our people what would happen next. Well on Thursday of this week, I was moved to share the following post on Twitter – which tells the story of a song which came to haunt my soul this week.  But not how.  I think it all began when  I listened to NationwideNews FM and heard the host George Davis  interviewing three ladies from Tivoli gardens who gave their version of what transpired on that fateful night. The stories they told were believable, dramatic and heart rending. However they did not help their case by trotting out the standard account of how Dudus was a good man and a helpful citizen. But that apart, and which defense mechanism is one of the features of grading poverty occasioned by life in the ghetto, the story was riveting and stayed in my heart. All of this happening two days after one of my regular trips on behalf of my church, to offer service in one of the most depressed inner cities ( ghetto) in Kingston Jamaica. Then the following day, while listening to HOT102 FM, I heard this old song by one of Jamaica’s most ‘conscious’ reggae artiste Etana. The words of which are reproduced below, and the link to the video shared on the Twitter post.
And the question which I posed on my facebook page, and which has haunted me ever since, is how did we ever get there. How did we ever allow our people, our own flesh and blood to live under these conditions?  What went wrong?  Many folks think it is a simple matter of politically tribalism which went dreadfully wrong. Or gangs battling for turf. Both of which phenomena worked to keep people in bondage and in poverty. But what about benign and not so benign neglect! In the same way that one of  the regions brightest sons, and a  famous historian,the late Walter Rodney,accused Europe of under-developing Africa,can we escape the accusation that as a country we have acted in concert through greed and neglect to occasion the growth of this cancer in our midst. A terrible blot on the conscience on this nation; and from which places, where ” people die every day”, despite the fact that many have overcome and grown strong against the odds, terrible ‘demons’ have affected the morals, promoted violence,  and  disturbed the psyche of our people – hence the hopelessness and its attendant ills which afflict so many.

@lucienforJesus: @franklyspeakja This video touched my soul in a special way just now. What a life!http://t.co/L1037sYgaX @geordavis  heard the interview

Lyrics to Wrong Address by Etana

[Verse 1]
Tried to get a job today but
When dem see the application dem say
If this is really where you reside
Please step outside
She asked them why
And they replied…

[chorus]
We don’t want no trouble
We don’t want no trouble, no day
Cause lady where you come from
People die there everyday
For our safety that’s where you should stay

[verse 2]
She traded in her three-piece for two
Everything and anything she wanted to do
Went back to her side of town
In bed she lay down
All she could hear was…

[chorus]
We don’t want no trouble
We don’t want no trouble, no day
Cause lady where you come from
People die there everyday
For our safety that’s where you should stay

[bridge]
It’s easier to give into the pressures of life
It’s harder to get over when you try to do right
Just stay focused and keep your goals in site

[verse 3]
Been through school, passed every test
Graduated above the rest
And yet the society still looks down
They do this, why?
They don’t want us to try
And so they’ll reply…

[chorus]
We don’t want no trouble
We don’t want no trouble, no day
Cause lady where you come from
People die there everyday
For our safety that’s where you should stay

[repeat chorus]

So what is to be done?  Some may, if  fact many will,  consider it is simplistic, but I believe that the Third Message below which The Lord laid on my heart,  the following morning,  if properly understood will go a far way in answering the question. And not only for our situation in Jamaica, but in the Ukraine, in the Middle-East where war can break out any time, in Africa, where grinding poverty still continues to haunt the lives of millions of people. While folks who have benefited from slave labour continue to ‘strut their stuff ‘ at the Oscars, The Grammy Awards and other fashionable places in the world of ‘haute couture’.  The message is all about the grace of God in Christ Jesus. A message for the entire world which God so loves, and to whom He sent, by grace, the gift of His precious Son. So that we should not perish, live in grinding poverty, suffer injustice, be overcome by the forces of evil, within and without, In this world, and in the next! Because God knows that this world needs a Mediator. Trouble is the Devil knows too. And will seek to prevent people from understanding that profound reality. Our job then, as children of God, is to lift up, without ceasing, the name of Jesus. For we, the Devil can manage. With ease! But not those who are in Christ Jesus. Ash Wednesday, which comes around again this week,  marks the beginning of Lent. The nation, and all others,  could do well to use the time to draw nearer to God in Christ. As these are not ordinary times. The day of evil, or the day of The Lord, both to be feared, can come at any time. In Crimea, in Tivoli Gardens, in New York City, and in Tel Aviv. Wherever!.

THE THIRD MESSAGE

As I began my devotions this morning, the well known song  ‘Amazing Grace’ came into my mind. And I spent a long time on the verse below:

‘ T’was grace that taught my heart to fear……….

In that context then, and given all the madness happening around us: the attacks on our children; the beheading of our women; the destructive nature of life in the ghetto; the equally destructive nature of some aspects of the Internet: the wonderful promise and antidote to all of this from Deuteronomy came to mind.

“Oh that their hearts would be inclined to  fear me and keep all my commands always, that it may go well with they and their children FOREVER”. ( my emphasis). 5:29

So if it is  by grace that we ‘inherit ‘ this promise from The Lord God Almighty, why aren’t more of us really living  in fear of the Living God – so that it may go well with Jamaica. Forever!

I well recall that faith comes from our forebears as recorded in Timothy, and about which I set a note note earlier.:
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV)
And thought about my own very dear and precious father, Winston Jones, who taught me by his life not only to love my country, but more importantly, to fear God. And my mother Sylvia who used to teach me, seated in her lap, from the gospel according to Luke, Mark, Matthew and John – in those days, they came as individual small books.

I also reflected on a verse which I was led to read this week:

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

And one which has been in my heart ever since I was led to it many years ago; which speaks about grace also:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22 NIV)

But in my heart I knew there was something else, even though the sequel to fear, the natural outflow of the fear of God came to mind; and which passage of Scripture is very  germane to this discussion:

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. (2 Corinthians 5:11 NIV)

Then The Lord reminded my, again, of the importance of the first verse of Amazing g Grace.

Amazing grace- how sweet the sound –
that saved a wretch like me…

That is the key! We have to come to that desperate hour, individually and as a nation, as Rev. Peter  Marshall reminded us and about whom I have written before,  that we are ‘helpless’ before a Mighty God; wretches before a Holy God.

Then my mind went to a reflection that very profoundly deals with that issue – of our wretchedness before God. And which reflection I have been led to read time and time again.

JESUS CHRIST – THE MIDDLE WAY
Blaise Pascale ( 1623-1662)…..one of the great minds in Western intellectual history, a eminent mathematician and physicist who was at the same time one of the great mystical writers in Christian Literature.. At age of 12 Pascale had worked out the equivalent of many of Euclid’s geometrical theorems. At 19, he invented the first practical calculating machine……

Verse: Psalm 51:1  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot away my transgressions. ( The forerunner of grace…my words)

The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of elements, as is the god of the pagans and of Epicureans. Nor is he merely a God who providentially disposes the life and fortunes of men, to crown his worshipers with length of happy years. Such was the portion of the Jews. But the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Christians, is a God of love and consolation, a God who fills the souls and hearts of of his own, a God who makes them feel their inward wretchedness and his infinite mercy, who unites himself to their innermost spirit, filling it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, rendering them incapable of any other but himself.

All who seek God apart from Jesus Christ, and who rest in nature, either find no light to satisfy them, or form for themselves a means of  knowing God and serving him without a mediator. Thus they fall into atheism or into deism, two things which the Christian religion almost equally abhors.

The God of the Christians is a God who makes the soul perceive that he is her only good, that her only rest is in him, her only joy in loving him, who makes her at the same time abhor the obstacles which withhold her from loving him with all her strength. Her two hindrances, self love and lust are insupportable to her. This God makes her perceive that that the root of self love destroys destroys her, and that he alone can heal.

The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness creates 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.
Peace.
LWJ

P.S. There is a reflection on The Problem of Self-Love which is very relevant to this discussion – The Lord provides for everything. I will send it another time.

Advertisements

One thought on “Tensions between Ukraine and Russia, Wrong Address by Etana in Jamaica and God’s grace in Jesus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s