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
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.
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”.
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’.
On Mar 10, 2014, at 7:18 AM, Lucien Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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.
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…..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
. . . 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!