Professor Bain vs The UWi, Four young children died tragically in four days, Success at the World Relays and Christ who holds the future

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 news  that dominated the discussion in my country, and has caused a serious split in the University of the West Indies according to a newspaper report, was the ‘firing’ of Professor Brendan Bain from the CHART program. An issue which was mentioned in this  ministry last week, but since has developed dramatically and controversially. 

Pressure mounts on UWI as Bar Association criticises firing of …
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Bain-Pain_16737469
OPPOSITION to the sacking of Professor Brendan Bain continued to mount Friday as the influential Jamaican Bar Association (Jambar) took the University of the …

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Bain-Pain_16737469

The essence of the story is that a highly acclaimed Professor of Infectious Diseases, and one who has received accolades for his contribution to the struggle to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Jamaica and in the Caribbean, under pressure from the  lobby groups, was removed  from his post as Director of the CHART program by the UWI. For very controversial reasons! …for details see the link above.  And  the reasons proffered for his dismissal by the UWI has provoked a firestorm of debate about the power of the Gay Agenda, and freedom of speech in Jamaica. This appears to be a story which is going to be in the spotlight for weeks and months ahead in my country.

2. Four children died in tragic circumstances in my country in four days.
ST JAMES HORROR – 14-yo in custody for murder – Jamaica Gleaner
mobile.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140524/lead/lead2.php
2 days ago – “Seeing the dead bodies of four different children in four days is not an easy experience. I feel truly troubled by this. This is really too much.”.

http://mobile.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140524/lead/lead2.php
This was an extremely painful week for my country and for the parish of St, James in the western part of Jamaica. First it was the tragic death of twins boys who perished in flood waters leading to a public debate about how we care for our children in times of extreme danger in our communities. Then the news broke of how one youngster was stabbed to death by another young child; and the news tonight confirmed that the accused child has confessed and had been taken into police custody. Along with his grandmother who is accused of ‘ attempting to hide the murder weapon’. And that was not enough madness, and evidence of evil in that community, news  broke of the death by suicide of a  teenager. Wow! heavy stuff indeed to contend with as a nation. Especially at a time when we are battling to understand what some feel, is a grave injustice that has been meted out to a good man. All orchestrated by powerful forces!

3. Finally some good news. Jamaica placed  second – to the USA -in the just concluded IAAF sponsored World relays where one of our teams ran a word record time. And where young Johan Blake proved himself to be a worthy successor to  the legendary, and still a contender for further greatness, Usain Bolt.

Report: Men’s 4x200m – Nassau 2014 WORLD RECORD
International Association of Athletics Federations ‎- 18 hours ago
Jamaica’s men’s 4x200m quartet improved the world record* by 0.05 … on time from the first heat, the former with a national record of 1:22.18.

IAAF: Report: Men’s 4x200m – Nassau 2014 WORLD RECORD | iaaf.org

Two warnings, this one is by necessity, as you read you will understand, a bit long. But please persevere to the end. Secondly, if you can, try and listen to the report on That’s a Rap on rjrfm94 at 6;30 Jamaica time for a good perspective on the Professor Bain issue.

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of all of this what inspired word, and what Word did The Lord lead me to read. First all let me confess that it was a struggle for me, as the principal actors in this story about Professor Bain, are for the most part, active in various fields, and playing different  roles, are colleagues of mine. And two, Professor Bain on one side, and Professor Figueroa, on the other side, I consider to be friends. Along with Professor Archie McDonald the Principal of the UWI Campus, and the Chancellor of the UWI, Professor George Alleyne who is one of my mentors but who was not involved, and also just an absolutely wonderful human being. The Vice Chancellor I know, and also Dr. Carolyn Gomes. But not well.
So as I was led write, quite a few times, to a group of influential persons in my country, including the principal actors, save one, I had to try very hard not to  insert my own feelings,  but depend on The Lord for His inspiration. And which dependence of God has been the hallmark of this Internet Ministry spanning the years.

THE FIRST MESSAGE -SENT ON THE MORNING THAT THE STORY BROKE

For obvious reasons, I’ve included Professor Bain in this ‘conversation’ today.  This is a dangerous time, as Brendan is a friend and colleague and Christian brother. And one who, as we say in Jamaica, ” cannot mash ants’. As he is such a gentle soul, even though  he is from Trinidad and has spent much of his life in ‘rambunctious’ Jamaica. He really ought to have hailed from Barbados. Dangerous for me then,  in the sense that even though I felt a need to write this morning, I do not, and will try never to write on my own feelings. But rather wait on a ‘word’ from The Lord .

Then the words of one of my  favorite, and most instructive,  hymns,  in recent times, came into my head.

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died, to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives

Refrain:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living just because He lives
How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he brings
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days because He lives

And then one day, I’ll cross the river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then as death gives way to vict’ry
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives

But even then I was not sure, so I asked The Lord to send me a Word. And He did.  In the form of the second reading, in my church,  for next Sunday ( One of the great things about the Anglican Church is that we know the readings for each Sunday and can therefore prepare for service in a very special way).

THE WORD OF GOD

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31 NIV)

COMMENT – Stripped of all the legal arguments, stripped of all the debate about the science, stripped of all the debate about human rights and issues of discrimination, stripped of all the arguments about the role of leadership and the responsibility of the UWI, deep in this desire on the part of Gay Lobby to remove Professor Bain is the struggle between ‘God’s commands’, and the determination of man to have the right to determine his own future. Free from the shackles of an Omnipotent God.  It’s as simple as that. Nothing more and nothing less. And therefore it is a  debate which is,  as we say in Jamaica, ‘ as old as the hills’; or in the language of the theologians, a manifestation of ‘ The Fall’. Which as we know describes what took place when Satan deceived Adam and Eve and ever since, ‘ all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

So in this  era, those who are determined that they should have the right to  engage in homosexual acts whether in the privacy of their homes, or in full public view if they so desire, and further,  to be free to promote that lifestyle, as an alternate one to that commanded by God, are now the ‘talk of the town’. And with support from powerful forces. 
So what is the word from The Lord saying to us this morning. Two simple things.
One that life, ultimately,  is all about, what will happen when you die. Secondly, regardless of who feel that they have power in this life, and have the right to determine their future, only God both knows and holds the future.

I close by drawing your attention to the fact that it is not a coincidence that the two big stories of the day are about  death. The untimely and tragic death of those two  precious little boys, and Professor Bain’s  removal from his University Post at the behest of the Gay Lobby – the apparent demise of an opponent.
But in the same way that only God, through the church,  can comfort that mother, and that father and that family, with the assurance that because Jesus lives, those children and that family will have a certain future, so too will Professor Bain a child of God. The question then arises what is the future of those who persist in resisting the commands of He who holds the future. I would suggest that the Word from Acts is very instructive, to all of us in this nation,  and the entire world. Whether we are unrepentant homosexuals, heterosexuals, or guilty of any other sin for which we have not repented. For the important news of the day is that ‘ God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31 NIV).
Professor Bain’s future is secure. So too that of those two children. All of us should seek that assurance rather than rejoice over Pyrrhic victories. 

THE SECOND MESSAGE – AGAIN SENT TO THE SAME GROUP, BUT THIS TIME WITH THE FIRST OF THREE WARNING ABOUT THE DANGER OF SATAN IN THE MIDST OF TROUBLE

Yesterday in my office, in the heart of rural Jamaica, where many persons still trust in God, the ‘firing of Professor Bain’,  at the behest of the Gay Lobby,  was a hot topic. But even before reading the meditation below I cautioned against leaving out the gays in our prayers. As we are called to pray for those who persecute us.

Last night as I watched All Angles on TVJ,  hosted by Dionne Jackson-Miller, her interview with Vice Chancellor Nigel Harris was particularly riveting. As she was able to get him to reveal some of the deep pain that this issue has inflicted on him because of his friendship with, and high regard for,  Professor Bain. So he too needs our prayers, as well as Professor Bain. So too the forever strident Dr. Gomes, and others who engineered his dismissal from the CHART program. So too Shirley Richards, the indefatigable head of the Christian lawyers, who in her own words, uttered during her interview with DJM,  ‘ had been warning the nation that this day would come’. My impression was that she was angry. Very angry! And perhaps rightfully so, and so too countless other Jamaicans who do not support the homosexual lifestyle, the preservation of which, in my understanding, lies at the heart of this issue.
But we have to be careful, ‘ for the Devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he will”. And the reminder of that reality is the central message in a mediation I was drawn to read this morning. A message that has resonance far beyond this debate, and ought to inform the Christian position in every circumstance; whether in politics, in business, in the schoolroom, at home, in the community…wherever. Only then will peace reign in our hearts and in our nation, and between nations. For at the heart of Christ’s suffering and death on Calvary was the ‘forgive them Father, for they know not what they so’. 
Can you imagine what could happen if forgiveness, like a strong wind, were to blow across Mountain View, McGregor Gully, Denham Town, Tivoli Gardens, Majestic Gardens……….Syria, Israel, The West Bank ; Ukraine, Russia; North and South Korea; Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India…….. wherever

DEEPER WARFARE – CHRIS TIEGREEN

” When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins”
Mark 11:25

” if there is the tiniest grudge in your mind against anyone, your spiritual penetration into the knowledge of God stops”. Oswald Chambers.

IN WORD  There is a direct link between the forgiveness in our hearts and the efficacy of our prayers. Those who are reluctant to forgive others are out of sync with God’s Character. Those who know the depths of God’s forgiveness for themselves apply that depth to their forgiveness of others and are at one with the Father’s purposes. They therefore pray consistently with godly character and are aware of God’s purposes in the world. Their prayers avail much.

It is on this point that we often misstep. When we run into difficult people, we focus on  resolving our relationships with them. We may believe that Satan’s warfare against us is also focused on those relationships. If he can disrupt them, he wins battles; if we can maintain them, we think we win. But there is a deeper battle going on. The enemy uses contentious relationships as a tool to a more profound warfare. if he can sow seeds of bitterness and resentment in our hearts, he hinders our prayers. And he is far more interested in hindering  prayers than simply seeing people argue.

IN DEED  When we try to resolve broken relationships, we cannot afford to focus on the externals, seeking to preserve civility and keep the peace. There is a much more intense and high stakes war going on in our hearts. A restored relationship is fine with the evil one if we lose a worshipful, joyful, prayerful, forgiving attitude in the process.
This is one reason God often puts His people in difficult and even oppressive circumstances. When we have learned to remain worshipful in an oppressive situation, we have won the battle, regardless of the outward resolution. This is the ‘standing firm’ referred to in Ephesians 6:13. And our prayers can remain unhindered.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – A SHORT ONE, PERHAPS  IN RESPONSE TO COMMENTS RECEIVED FROM MEMBERS OF THE GROUP

A final thought on this issue. At least for tonight.  The worse thing that can happen to anyone is not the contraction of HIV, or full blown AIDS. Nor is it the abrogation of one’s human rights. The one thing which this forum, brought together fully on a Sunday night, and sent to people by God’s grace, to all sectors  of our society and also internationally, for many years,  has tried to do, is to ‘save souls’.  To educate people about salvation. As what does it profit a man or woman to be healed from HIV, to have his or her ‘ human rights’ safeguarded,  to rise to the pinnacle of his or her chosen profession, to  be rich and powerful,  and yet lose their soul. And perish. Eternally! 
For that most profound reason, John 3: 16 has become the most well known verse in the Bible.  And in most areas of Jamaica, whether among believers or not, if you start the verse, they will finish it: 
“For God so  loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”.

That is why the battle is well and truly joined. As from time immemorial, men who became wise in their minds, and thus became foolish before God, are in complete opposition to that world view. But to what end? As who can fight against the Living God. 

My friend  Peter became very emotional this evening on BTH, and admitted it. As he was upset that, apparently,  despite his attempts to convince various governments over the years to repeal the buggery law,  he has failed, and which inaction,  in his view,  has contributed to the relatively high prevalence of HIV among MSM in Jamaica and Guyana, when compared to Cuba and the Bahamas where no such law obtains. He is convinced that he is correct. Others are of a different view. But more importantly, can you then  imagine  the angst and the pain that we who claim Christ,  experience,  when our friends, and fellow Jamaicans die and we don’t know they are gone.  Eternally! In comparison with the joy, regardless of the attendant grief, that we feel when we are certain that a friend or a loved one is gone to glory with Christ. 
Forever your friend and hopefully one day your Christian brother, with a promise to keep you and others in my prayers.
That is why, by God’s grace  I  am led,  and inspired to write to you and others in this particular forum,  who are not believers,  and to strengthen the faith of others, so that one day we may all come to know and obey Christ. To the the glory of God and the rescuing of this nation which in so many ways has lost its way.
Peace.
Lucien

THE THIRD MESSAGE – INCLUDES THE FIRST OF TWO WARNINGS ABOUT SATAN THE LIAR

Usually by today I would have gone through the readings for Sunday’s  service and thus prepare my soul adequately for worship. So this morning I read the last one usually of four – the OT, The Psalm, The Epistle(NT) and The Gospel – but for this week there is an alternative reading for the OT. So I read it, but was somehow drawn to also read Chris Tiegreen’s  2008 One Year Devotion at His Feet. So I read the one for today May 23 and was amazed at how God speaks so directly sometimes.
Recall yesterday the conversation included observations like, ‘ Text and subtext’. And Going Beyond The Headlines in order to understand  The Cover Story. As you read the meditation below, consider the reality that the same  ‘received wisdom’ of ‘International Agencies’ which is the major force behind  the move to decriminalize  the buggery law, is also the the same force that is pushing for abortions to made legal. So the same people who would like anyone who so desires, or ‘was born that way’, to be free to sin sexually, are the same people, by and large, who are promoting the argument that taking the life of an unborn child is not murder. And therefore not sin. And why?  On the face of it, for admirable reasons. So that homosexuals may be encouraged to come out of the closet and seek access  proper health care and thus reduce the prevalence of HIV among MSM in particular, and the population in general as MSM’s also have sex with women. So that women who have ‘backstreet’ abortions, which are often botched,  end up in hospital with infections and often die. So the argument is that,  which reasonable person, especially Christians filled with compassion for the suffering of others, can resist that kind of compelling argument to save lives and prevent the spread of disease.

One can only fall for that kind of beguiling and subtle argument when you take your mind from ‘off the cross’. The most dangerous thing a Christian can do! Why? Because Christ did not die because women were dying of botched abortions. Or because MSM’s were contracting HIV more frequently than heterosexuals, or because people were starving in The Sudan, or because people were dying of Malaria and Tuberculosis in Africa, or because Jamaica was prophesied to become the second most murderous country in the world in respect of gun related crimes. No, Christ died because ‘in Adam all men sinned’…and fell short of the glory of God. And that ‘Sin’ has led to all the trials and troubles and disease in the world. Further,  since ‘the wages of sin is death’, God in His mercy and love, that is beyond all human understanding, sent His Son to die as an Atonement for sin.
And the essence of sin, is man’s desire to have his own way and the right to do what he pleases. Thus rebelling against the very God who gave him breath and life.

So the question is, can we ‘save ‘ people from disease and trials, can we protect a nation and the world from illness by disobeying our Creator God. And send a message that God did not know what He was doing when He sent His Son to die. Or that people have misinterpreted the Bible. Or worse that the Bible is of no use to mankind in this modern world. The sad reality is that if people were to obey God, then HIV and AIDS would disappear from the face of the earth. So too would death from botched abortions. So does that mean that Christians ought to ‘ leave disobedient people to suffer’. By no means, as  the essence of the message of the Cross is  that God cares about sinful people like me and you. So much so that He Himself, in Christ, a most mysterious thing that the Jehovah’s witnesses and Rastafarians and many others cannot comprehend, in love,  died on the Cross, that those who believe may not perish. So all disciples of Christ are mandated to care for,  and to do everything  in their power to prevent the spread of HIV, and the death of young pregnant and desperate girls, to reduce poverty and disease in Africa, to help to reduce the incidence of murder in Jamaica and elsewhere. But we can never encourage or be party to sin, if we are to remain faithful to the God who died because of sin on the cross. In that context then,  and only in that context, would there be any  space for a debate on whether or not to decriminalize the buggery law is to encourage sin, or be a party to it- as that is a very complex matter.  It is  also in this context that I encourage you to read the meditation below, and which reflection I did not plan to read this morning.

DISCERNING THE LIAR – CHRIS TIEGREEN

‘When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’ John 8:44

IN WORD The best lies are slight variations on the truth. Anyone can pick out an obvious counterfeit. The ones closest to reality are the most difficult to detect. So it is with the father of lies. He is only overt when no discerning eyes are around. But the more we discern, the more subtle he gets in his perversions of truth. He will taint the gospel with the slightest of heresies – if we let him.
That is why some of the most deceptive cults have begun with Christianity as their starting point. The gospel plus a bit of paganism or a dash of secularism is an appealing formula for the liar. We must always guard against anything that modifies the purity and simplicity of the message that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected as our hope.
Our culture has fallen for the lies. It has no problem with  our saying that Jesus is a way, a truth, and a life. It’s when we say that Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only life – the only way to the Father ( John 14:6) – that the enemy gets uncomfortable. He hates the exclusivity of the gospel, and has inspired our culture to rebel against it. It is, and has always been, a scandalous proposition that there is only one way of salvation. The world rails against such particularity. it can tolerate anything but truth.

IN DEED  Jesus tells us we are to be wise as serpents but innocent as doves ( Matthew 10:16). Paul tells us that he is not – and neither should we be – ignorant of the enemy’s schemes ( 2 Cor. 2:11). And we are urged to, even commanded to put on the armor of God against the scheming weapons of the enemy ( Ephesians 6: 11).
It is a treacherous world, with deceptions scattered about like well-hidden land mines. The terrain is difficult. There is no way through it without strict adherence to the map. Let your mind absorb it; use it well and discern the lies.

My only comment: In the context of the ongoing discussion about Professor Bain and his dismissal as head of the CHART program, is this a coincidence?  I think not! Let those who have ears to hear, listen well as it is a very treacherous world out there. That’s why Jesus died and was raised from the dead with power, so that we can live a new life. And why in a very profound sermon delivered at my church recent, our Diocesan Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Howard Gregory observed that ‘ since Jesus has gone ahead of us, and empowered us with the Holy Spirit, so that we can more effectively go on Mission – to rescue the perishing and care for the dying among the other five marks of mission , our best days are always ahead of us.
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/five-marks-mission

So Brendan my friend, despite going through what some may perceive as the worse time of your life, in Christ, your best days are ahead of you. In your struggle to reduce HIV and  in your calling to spread the gospel of Christ. Both of which, evangelism and doing good works,  are part of the Christian journey. For that is what Christ did. All to the glory of God, His Father and in Christ,  our Father too.
Peace
LWJ

THE FINAL MESSAGE – AND PERHPS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE. FEATURING THE EXPOSURE OF HOW THE LIES OF SATAN ARE MANIFEST IN THIS ISSUE. AND OF WHICH LIES WE CALLED TO EXPOSE. 

This revelation, well not revelation in the purest sense as the release from the Council of Churches drew our attention to it. And certainly Shirley Richards has been speaking about it for a while now. But ultimately,  any revelation from God has to be personal, in the sense that you have to come to understand it yourself. That’s how in my experience God works. What’s the revelation? As revealed yesterday from John that the devil is a liar. Not just a common everyday liar, but a master of deceit.

DISCERNING THE LIAR – CHRIS TIEGREEN

‘When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’ John 8:44

I am not sure where it started, but the truth is that The University of the West Indies, headed by the Vice Chancellor, who in  his defense has no idea of the forces behind this,  has put Professor Bain on trial for a crime committed by someone else.

Follow me carefully. According to the Bible, the very Word of God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  created the earth, the sea and everything in it and declared it good. Then He created man from dust and blew breath into him. Then He fashioned woman out of man as it was not good for man to be alone. And then we are told ‘ for this reason a man will leave his  father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.
Then comes the story we all know well. But many have rejected both the story and the entire Bible. That mankind,  who God created with His own hands ‘ fell’ under the influence of the master of deceit. ” Did God really say that you must not eat of the …..”

Then literally all hell broke lose after that incident. As the disposition of all mankind after that was to rebel against a Creator God. If you read the Bible carefully you will see that, and one has to be very careful in the interpretation, God ‘lamented’ that He made man, but one man Noah, ‘found favor with God”. And after the cleansing by water, mankind was given a ‘second chance’.
Now we all know the story of ‘ God chosen people’, and how apostasy, rebellion against a God ‘ who carried them on eagle’s wings’ ,  quickly and repeatedly set in.
And how God promised Moses, ‘ to raise another from among you to save Israel’.
Which promise was fulfilled, not just for Israel, but for the whole world ( John 3:16) in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. To save men from their sins.

This is the context in which we have to understand the miscarriage of justice which took place at the UWI. One of the sins clearly outlined in Bible is homosexuality. All the experts agree – what a thing Jamaican people would say, after Massa God done tell you long time – that to engage in this (sinful)  sexual act is ‘risky’ as it facilitates the acquiring of the HIV much more ( efficiently) than – what God ordained – vaginal sex. Homosexuals, having acquired the virus, in an effort to, which we all subscribe, to reduce the spread, the same experts now tell us that one of the major planks in the reduction in the spread is to reduce stigma and discrimination. So that homosexuals will feel comfortable to come forward and access care and take preventative measures. And one of the main obstacles to that ‘coming out of the closet’ in Jamaica and Guyana and in any other country which has in place is this ‘ unjust law’.

Well how did this law come  on the books? What philosophy has influenced the development of Caribbean Jurisprudence over the years? The Judeo-Christian Ethic. And quo vadis, from whence cometh,  this influence. From our colonial masters, via the Baptists…William Knibb et al, the Anglicans, the Presbyterians and others. This then was the prevailing influence in Western Europe to where the Judeo- Christian ethic spread from Palestine.

So it is the Christians who are in opposition, are the ‘stumbling’ block, to the relief of the suffering that homosexuals, who not only spread the virus  among themselves, but according to Professor Figueroa in an interview on BTH this week, many also have sex with women thus complicating matters. Therefore every ( right wing..whatever that means) Christian, every Jamaican who does not believe that the law should be changed is also a co-conspirator in this case…what a preckeh!

So my friends, as the Vice Chancellor mentioned during that fascinating interview with DJM – she ought get a prize for it – even  if Professor Bain was correct – I hope you heard that, if not watch it again – with his data, the overriding concern, I am paraphrasing,  at the UWI is the human rights of the LGBT community. In the sense that the buggery law is an affront to their human rights.

So here is the thing now. The question of whether or not Professor Bain erred in appearing on the behalf of a group which is opposed to the removal of the  buggery law, is not the problem. Further, the question of what led to, if it is true, the loss of confidence in his ability to lead the CHART program is not the issue. The problem is that, not just Professor Bain, but every Christian who upholds the truth of the Bible, and believes that homosexuality is a sin, is being condemned for ‘ preventing Gays from feeling free to access care and thus prevent the spread of the disease”.
Not even the buggery law is the problem. As that’s only a  manifestation of the deeper problem – the thought process of the Christian community  and those whom  they influence. For if by fiat you remove the buggery act in Jamaica tomorrow morning  most Jamaicans would still be in opposition to the homosexual act in their minds.  Preachers would still inveigh against that sin, and all sins in the pulpit,  and call all sinners to repentance. No law can overcome that reality.  The culture of opposition to the gay lifestyle would still be intact. And it is the culture influenced by the Judeo-Christian ethic which is the problem. And so in the minds of the homosexuals they would still feel stigmatized. Why do you think the LGBT community recently sought to inform journalists what terms were acceptable to them and what was offensive  eg  ” Gay Agenda” is offensive! That’s  the reason, in my opinion,  why Professor Figueroa lamented the disproportionate high prevalence of the HIV in blacks in the USA where recent data from CDC indicates that HIV among MSM’s has increased by 12% . And they have no buggery law.  But by inference, the black community is influenced by the culture of  the ( backward) Judeo-Christian ethic.

So because of the master of deceit, he who influenced mankind to rebel against God, and has been ‘on trial’ since then, has now masterminded the reversal of roles. And so in the instant case we have a situation, across the world, not only in Jamaica, where Christianity is now on trial, for ‘ the abrogation of the human rights of Gays”.  Wow!

I got up this morning to write, even before my devotions,  about what The Lord said last night. And I almost missed two things.

One is a set of  prayers I read each morning, and spend sometime reflecting on them. Including:
” Protect me from all lies and  and falsehood, helping me to discern deception wherever I meet it.”

The other is a another perspective from Chris Tiegreen on  the master of deceit.

EXPOSING THE LIAR

IN WORD  The father of all lies will try to deceive us in many ways. But he seems to have an overarching strategy that is twofold. (1) He wants to tell us we’re more than we are; and (2) he wants to tell us God is less than He is.
There is a huge gap between sinful humanity and holy God. God bridged that gap with the perfect blend of justice and love – the Cross. Satan wants to bridge it is any alternate way he can. He elevates us and devalues God. If we can be reconciled with our Creator by our being a little bit better and by God being a little more reachable, then he has nullified our sense of need for the Cross. He has undermined the  legitimate craving we have for the Only.
How does the devil elevate us? He tells us that we’re not as bad off as the Bible makes us out to be; or that sin isn’t really that serious; or that sin doesn’t really exist ; or that we’re able to overcome it with our good works; or, as in this passage, that our heredity is enough – we’re of decent enough stock as children of Abraham or any other tradition.
And how does the liar devalue God? He can’t,  really, but he can change our perspective. He makes God appear unloving and distant, not worth pursuing; or so loving that He has no real concept of sin and tolerates all we do; or that He is pleased as long as our good works outweigh our bad; or, as in  this passage, that our own thoughts and judgments seem so right to us that they must have come from God Himself. Regardless of the lie, our twisted perspective makes God the sanctioned of all we want Him to sanction.

IN DEED  Expose the liar. The gap between the infinitely holy and the utterly sinful can only be bridged by the blood of the Savior. Satan will do anything to convince us otherwise. He wants us to compromise the truth of the gospel of salvation. But he lies. Always has, always will. Expose him everywhere you go.

Comment: I pray God that you will discern,  as I have,  how much this meditation speaks to all the issues about which we have been discussing in recent times. And further, how much it is warning us that it is time to ‘escape’ from the clutches of Satan and turn to the Only One who can put us right with a holy God, Jesus Christ our Savior.
Peace.
LWJ

Comment: So as I watched my country perform so well in the World Relays in the Bahamas, competing against athletic powerhouses like USA and Kenya, national pride reached it’s climax, as the Jamaican standard rose majestically to the top of the flag staff; and  the strains of ” Eternal Father bless our land’  played quietly in the background. But then we turned to news and watched the story of how evil forces conspired to cause grievous bodily harm and death, to a young child – over argument abut a cell phone – we, deep in our hearts, with unspoken word, no doubt with countless other Jamaicans, in our souls  quietly cried out to God for mercy. For Who else can rescue my country from evil, even as we celebrate in the best of times on the track. But God knows that there is,  as the dramatic opening words of that great novel testifies, ‘the worse of times’. This week in my country then saw the best of times, and the worse of times. Together at one time!  Who knows what will take place in the coming weeks and months. Only the God of Abraham,  and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who both knows and holds the future in his hands; and not evil forces operating in St. James, nor powerful forces outside the Caribbean threatening to destabilize the tried and proven foundations of culture shaped and nurtured by the Judeo-Christian ethic. We only have to look to Yohan Blake making the sign of the Cross during his celebrations, and listen to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce speak about , ” He that is within me is greater than that which is without’ to appreciate the depth and value of that ethic, against which the ‘gates of hell shall not prevail”.
Amen.

 
 
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Jamaica’s men’s 4x200m quartet improved the world record* by 0.05 with a run of 1:18.63 at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, The Bahamas, on S…
 
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Electricity Theft, Sex Tourism, The Homosexual Lobby and Christ the Solid Rock

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 the church may renew the nation(s) – A Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

NEWS

1. The big news in my country this week was an attempt by , and the response to, the local Light and Power Company’s , Jamaica Public Service ( JPSCo) determination  to to put a stop to the widespread stealing of electricity. And which electricity theft is threatening the viability of the company, on the one hand,and also partially responsible for the high cost of generation of power. A problem, about which, the high cost of electricity, everybody is concerned.
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/JPS-cuts-service-to-communities-with-high-levels-of-theft
2. The other news which caught my attention this week came by way of a BBC story about Sex Tourism involving  under age children in Kenya carried by a local station rjr fm 94  during it’s flagship Beyond The Headlines program this week.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27427630

Kenya’s hidden sex tourism in Malindi

Africa / 15 May 2014
Kenya’s coastal town of Malindi may look like a tropical paradise but is host to a hidden child sex trade. Children as young as 12 say they are…

The host of the program  Dionne Jackson-Miller warned her listeners that some aspects of the story might prove to be offensive and disturbing. And she was quite correct. The story was extremely disturbing indeed and demonstrated how sick some members of planet earth are; especially when pursuing, what they deem to be, sexual pleasures. For featured heavily in the story was the phenomenon of bestiality, and how much money people were prepared to observe and thus promote this kind of depraved  behavior.  Absolutely sickening!

3. Then just over the weekend I came across a story which perfectly demonstrates just how powerful the homosexual lobby has become in the  Caribbean and in Jamaica. A situation which is accepted as the norm in North America and Western Europe. A friend, colleague, and well known expert in  Infectious Diseases and Christian brother, and one who reads and critiques from time to time,  this Internet Ministry,  Professor Brendon Bain of the University of the West Indies, has come under fire recently for  testifying  in Belize in a landmark case concerning the buggery law,  in respect of the increased risk,  to which men who have sex with men, are prone:

Gay advocates want UWI professor sacked
Jamaica Observer ‎- 17 hours ago
… rights groups is pressuring the University of the West Indies (UWI) to fire Professor … The 33 lobby groups, from a number of Caribbean islands, are also … However, the groups and the UWI administration, which appears to wilting under the …

It means as Christians who speak the truth about any situation, especially when it affects powerful interests in our society, will come under attack and persecution. But that is part of the suffering which from time immemorial,  
those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior, and hold steadfastly to the Truth, have been subject. And what the world does not quite understand, is that when ” we are weak, Christ is strong”. And then supernatural things happen in the fight against evil! So pray for Professor Bain, but also watch how God will act in and through this situation. Whether right now, or in the future according to His perfect timing.

THE WORD OF GOD

So this week as we were subject to all kinds of challenges, as a nation and as a world –  look what is happening to that young woman in The Sudan – accused of apostasy and sentenced to death:  In Sudan, Pregnant Woman Accused Of ‘Apostasy’ Sentenced To Death
Huffington Post ‎- 3 days ago
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A pregnant Sudanese woman who married a Christian man was sentenced to death Thursday after she refused to …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/15/sudan-woman-apostasy_n_5331117.html

– what did the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob reveal through His Word, and by His inspired word?

THE FIRST MESSAGE – Sent to influential persons in my country.  And features the very topical story about electricity theft. But offers another perspective on the matter, and ends with a wonderful and comforting  assurance shared by the song-writer in the words of a well known hymn. So let us fear not, as Christ is the Solid Rock on which we as Christians stand in any situation.

THE MESSAGE

Many of us are guilty of stealing electricity.  High in the hills, where there is no excuse, and in the inner cities, where  the situation becomes more complex; in the sense that poverty, even without using the more popular and dramatic phrase, is still very much  a debilitating thing. And in some areas up to 70% of the people who live there steal light. Also disturbing is that, according to the police data, although murders are down 8% when compared to last year, Jamaica ranks # 2 in the world in respect of murders caused by gun related violence. In recent times,  a significant part of our popular music has been given over to the promotion of violence, unapologetically pornographic type lyrics and in the language of our neighbors in the eastern Caribbean, sheer ‘wutlessness’. Further, we have  far too many  extraordinarily unruly,  ill mannered, indisciplined  and people given over to lawlessness. And no where is this more evident than the way we drive on our roads; closely followed by the behavior in our communities and increasingly in our classrooms.  Also, whether by cause or by  effect, one is not sure, the behavior, inside and outside Parliament  of some of our elected officials, is not an insignificant matter in this context. Perhaps the worse, and most ironic feature of the modern Jamaican society, given its seminal role in constructing the kind of people of whom we were all once proud, is the behavior of some churches, and what they promote – greed, sin barely covered in fancy clothes and fast talking, false doctrines, and no accountability; neither to man nor to God.

So Jamaica must be a cursed place and forgotten by God! Not so, writes St. Paul in a very profound letter to a young Christian leader as recorded in 1 Timothy. And to which passage of Scripture I was drawn, as I woke up this morning singing, ” Christ the solid rock on which I stand, all other ground is sinking sand”. I could not recall the entire hymn so like any sensible 21st century person I went to Google and found the words as set out below – and a reference to 1 Timothy 1. A verse which explained the ‘Hope’ that Christians have, and which on further reading led to this very instructive Word. And in order that we may better understand it, I have included some verses which precede it for context.

THE WORD OF GOD

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen”. (1 Timothy 1:1-5, 7-17 NIV)

COMMENT: The single most important lesson that the Christian faith teaches us is that Christ died for sinners. And as St. Paul , who was there when the Jews stoned Stephen and killed him, claims, he was the worse of the lot. But, thank God for mercy, in him the life of Christ was displayed so that people would believe.  Therefore our society is far from hopeless, as we serve a God for Whom,  ‘nothing is too hard for Him to do’ – as Sarah, Abraham’s wife,  was told when it was revealed to her, in her old age, that she would have a child. The challenge then for our society, is much much more than to form committees to seek to find ways to prevent people from stealing light, as important as that is, but  to present  them with the gospel in word and deed, so that they might believe in Christ,  repent and live a new and ‘abundant life’. In Jacks Hill and in Majesty Gardens! For Christ Jesus and Him Crucified,  is the only Hope, ultimately that Jamaica has, as the solid rock on which any society can stand. So that we may be rescued from the madness which has overtaken us, and so we find ourselves  ‘ outing fires’ day after day; at Sangster Airport at one level, and deep in the hearts of our people, at an entirely different level not amenable to change except by the Living Word of God. Christ the solid rock and His Blood and Righteousness.
Peace
LWJ

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874
1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Hymn #370 
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 Timothy 1:1
Author: Edward Mote, c. 1834, cento
Composer: John Stainer, 1873, arr.
Tune: “Magdalen”

THE SECOND MESSAGE – Sent to the same individuals, features a reminder of the Power of the God who dwells in the bodies of believers in any country. And the implication for the rescuing of a society. from any and every kind of evil.

THE MESSAGE

Every morning I include at some stage in my devotions three prayers written many years ago by  Jacob Boehme (  1575–1624…an influential German Lutheran mystic…whose influence extended to John Milton and  Isaac Newton) , and entitled “A Morning Watch”. There is also a set for bedtime.
The first one goes like this:

ON WAKING

Living Lord you have watched over me, and put your hand on my head, during the long dark hours of night. Your holy angels have protected me from all harm and pain. To you, Lord, I owe life itself. Continue to watch over me and bless me during the hours of say.

The other two are captioned  ON RISING, and ON GOING TO WORK. All three are inspired by a very popular verse of Scripture – 2 Chronicles 7:14…….If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves…..

This morning I was led to read the story about King Solomon again, and like the famous singer Lauryn Hill who was ‘miseducated’, as I read about Solomon and then was led to from the Old Testament to the New Testament, I thought how much so many people have been ‘miseducated’ about the things of God. As yes, God does dwell among men in Christ Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. A reality which the great, wise and very rich, but very humble before the Almighty God, King Solomon found difficult to fathom. 

Perhaps if more of our leaders, in all spheres of national life, and not just the politicians,  really, really believed that God does dwell among men,  and  helped to  ‘exorcise’ from the minds of unbelievers, the  miseducation that He does not, Jamaica would become a special country, instead of being an especially challenging nation to manage. As it is hard to manage  a country where 150,000- 200,000 households  are allegedly guilty of ‘tiefing’ light; the implications of this reality for maintaining law and order are  hugely challenging.

JPS wants stiffer penalties for electricity thieves … – Jamaica Gleaner
jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=52311
Apr 15, 2014 – The Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) is calling for stiffer … there were about 150,000 to 200,000 households stealing electricity.

THE WORD OF GOD

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. He said: “ Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today. “Now, Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ And now, Lord, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true. “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive. (2 Chronicles 6:12-21 NIV)

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:12-16, 18-20 NIV)

Comment: A couple of thoughts. Firstly what would be so wrong if, calling the nation before God one day, in the presence of all our  national  leaders and ordinary people, the church were to call a nation to humble itself and repent and turn to God. The atheists and some groups in civil society would be outraged, as ‘this is not a theocracy’. But  do we really believe that without the power and forgiveness of an Almighty God, this country can be rescued from the madness into which we have descended?
Secondly, apart from the obvious and hugely important issue of  the consequences of sexual immorality before God and for society, the key point in the second reading, is that God really does dwell among mankind. As our bodies, if we are believers,  are ‘ God’s temple – His dwelling place on earth. The problem is that not even we in the church, the body of Christ, really, really believe that. For if we did, then the possibilities  for changing this nation would be literally ‘ beyond this world’.
O my God, ‘ If my people would just humble themselves……..’ then things would be so different. I pray God that one day it will.
Peace
LWJ

THE THIRD MESSAGE – Came early this morning, as The Lord woke me up ‘with a heavy hand’, and directed me to Isaiah 66:13.

” As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you”.

A very timely message coming at a time the last remaining member of  the generation on my Father’s side – he had 12 siblings – is mourning the loss of the  second of three children. The funeral was held yesterday. After having lost her husband, and a grandchild. Only God, alone in His mercy can comfort anyone in the midst of that kind of pain. Which is exactly what the Preacher, Bishop Daniel shared
in a wonderful sermon based on a Word from Psalm 46:
” Be still and know that I am God” vs 10. The very same Psalm which begins with the grand assurance:
” God is our refuge and strength,  ( an ever)  a very present help in times of trouble”.
And so the Bishop indicated that the God who calls us to be still, is the same God who called the children of Israel to be still in the face of mortal danger. And who has called so many others throughout history to be still and trust in Him, ” even though the earth give way”. Even though, what we consider as disaster, strikes, and we feel much pain, this God is a faithful God and will not leave us alone in out time of need.
This is the ‘comforting’ message, from Isaiah, coming in the ‘dead of night’,  which we need to keep in mind in the months and years ahead:  in Jamaica and across the world. For the same evil which is the root cause of  the breakdown in law and order in Jamaica, and which has spawned the terrible blight of the inner city communities where people are so ‘at risk’ to all kinds of miscreant behaviour, is the same kind of evil that promotes Sex Tourism and bestiality in Kenya. And which set of forces  is occasioning the ‘harassment’ of  Professor Bain because he has spoken the Truth; and the Truth hurts. It is the same evil at large in The Sudan which seeks to kill that young woman.  And without being paralysed by the reality and thought of Satanic influences, we underestimate that evil at our own peril, and the peril of our nations.

This is therefore a time, and has always been, when at Christians we, as Baptised children of God, must rely on no other but  on the power of the Risen Lord. And who in a sermon at the Confirmation at my church tonight shared by our Diocesan Bishop, The Right Rev. Dr. Howard Gregory, offers us comfort and an abiding assurance in the face of danger in the words of John:
” Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in me……” John 14-1-14

Words which were spoken when Jesus was preparing to leave and go back to His Father, after being crucified and raised with power from the dead. And at which time, our Lord was seeking to encourage His disciples with the assurance that the Power of the Holy Spirit would come upon them, and, on us in this generation also, and enable us to do ‘greater things then he had done’. As long as we ask according to His Name – in order that we may go on Mission to fight against evil and to bring the good news of God’s love to the world.  And not the foolishness of ” Name it and Claim it ‘ that some religious groups have mistakenly or deliberately drawn from this passage of Scripture. This assurance then, and comfort,  is what will keep us going. Not our power. But the Power and the might of the Risen Lord, living in us – the Temple of God about which we spoke earlier.
So let us be ‘of good courage’ as we face another week and proceed in the strength of The Lord; and see how much supernatural things will take place all over the world. Whether in The Sudan, Kenya,  or Jamaica.
Amen.

Hope in Nigeria, Pain in Kingston, and Rest 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) – A prayer of  the Decade of Evangelism.


NEWS

1. Even Michelle  Obama the American First Lady,got into the act – and locally a team of women with Senator Imani Duncan-Pryce involved – as  #BringBackOurGirls became a rallying cry for the International Community this week. Across the globe concerns were raised about the fate of the more than 200 school girls who were abducted in Northern Nigeria….Did you feel the earthquake@8:45 pm….. The latest news from the Governor of Nigeria’s Borno state is that he has information on the whereabouts of the girls. And also out of France came news the French President is organizing a  summit to deal  with the situation. We continue to pray for God’s mercy and deliverance for these youngsters and their families.

http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/nigerian-kidnapped-girls-sighted

The governor of Nigeria’s Borno state says he has information on the whereabouts of about 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist group Boko Haram.

Governor Kashim Shettima said he had passed reports of the sightings of the girls to the military for verification.

Shettima added that he did not think the girls had been taken across the border to Chad or Cameroon.

Earlier, France’s president offered to host a summit on Boko Haram.

“I suggested, with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, a meeting of Nigeria’s neighbouring countries” Francois Hollande said.

“If the countries agree, it should take place next Saturday” he added.

2. Back here in Jamaica terror reigned in an inner city area as marauding gunmen snuffed out the lives of five persons over a two day period.

Hell in West Kingston
Five shot dead between Tuesday night and yesterday

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Hell-in-West-Kingston_16623966


BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, May 08, 2014    113 Comments


  


This placard carries a strong message from residents of West Kingston who say they are tired of violence in their communities.

FIVE people were shot and killed in the Kingston Western Police Division between Tuesday and yesterday evening as gunmen continued their rampage in the city’s west end.

3. Finally this week witnessed the end of a long debate about a controversial Project to provide cheap electricity to the country. The Cabinet, under pressure from Civil Society,  took action and  ‘yanked’ the project from the Minister in charge and appointed a special team to complete the implementation. Again we pray for speedy action and completion.

http://jis.gov.jm/cabinet-appoint-381-megawatt-project-enterprise-team/

Cabinet will be appointing an enterprise team headed by Dr. Vincent Lawrence, to oversee the full implementation of the construction of a 381-megawatt energy plant in Jamaica by 2016.

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell made the announcement, on Tuesday, May 6, as he opened the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

“The enterprise team will report to Prime Minister, the Most Hon Portia Simpson Miller and the Cabinet. The enterprise team will be mandated to have the project implemented by 2016. That timing is sacrosanct,” Mr. Paulwell outlined.


THE WORD OF GOD

In the midst of these troubled times, The Lord send encouraging messages. The first one was about God’s faithfulness. A word we need to hear more and more as violence flares its ugly head; in Nigeria, in Kingston Jamaica, and all over the world. This is a God on Whom we can depend for mercy and for intervention, even when the situation seems hopeless. And so pray and continue to trust that God will work out all things in His own time.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – SENT TO MY CHURCH


Ever wondered about the great cycle of life. Every night we go to bed and then once again wake up the next morning;  and if you sleep well, completely oblivious of what took place during the long hours of the night. Last night the thought crossed my mind. And this morning I woke up with ‘ Great is thy faithfulness ‘ in my mind. And  ‘There is no shadow of turning with thee’.

We are so completely dependent on God’s love and mercy, as many , with His full knowledge and Sovereign grace and power – which we do even begin to comprehend – do not wake up next morning. And then, and then,  ‘ strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow’, as we start the day, and begin the great cycle of life all over again.

Then to tie it all together, last night, for my bedtime reading from Oswald Chambers’ ” My Utmost for His Highest’, perhaps the most well known devotional over the years, I read the following:


Judgment and the Love of God
The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God . . . -1 Peter 4:17
The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. Never preach the experience- preach the great thought of God behind the experience. When we preach, we are not simply proclaiming how people can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.

In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out- it is the sign of the love of God. Never sympathize with someone who finds it difficult to get to God; God is not to blame. It is not for us to figure out the reason for the difficulty, but only to present the truth of God so that the Spirit of God will reveal what is wrong. The greatest test of the quality of our preaching is whether or not it brings everyone to judgment. When the truth is preached, the Spirit of God brings each person face to face with God Himself.

If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.

Comment: One of the most severe of Christian disciplines that we all have to undergo, is to learn, sometimes very painfully,  that : ” Every element of self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God……..and that we must become ‘ completely weak and totally dependent on Him’, in order for God’s Power to be exhibited in us. Why?
So that no one shall boast  before The Lord, and that He, the Creator and Redeemer shall receive all the praise and the glory. Remember the story of Gideon! 

Only then shall we really understand  ” strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”. Only then will the people of  God, in this,  ‘ demon possessed land, ‘ with the Power of God,  be able to  ‘set captives free’, ‘ bring back the stray’, ‘search for the lost’, ‘strengthen the weak’, ‘ heal the sick’ and ‘bind up the wounded’. In Jamaica, in Nigeria, in Trinidad, in the USA, in the UK, in Ukraine, in Malaysia, in Korea. As that is our mission……to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth.
But first: ” Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew thy church that the church may renew the nation(s).
And we wait with confidence as ” Great is thy faithfulness”

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


THE SECOND MESSAGE – SENT TO PEOPLE OF INFLUENCE

Triggered by a spasm of violence which has rocked a small area in the capital city of Jamaica; and featuring  the words of a wonderful hymn which has been  in head for some time now. And also instructions from the Word of God about  patience and Whois in charge despite the seemingly hopeless situation – in Kingston or in Nigeria.



Last night on TVJ, I was struck by the bewilderment on the face of MP for Western Kingston Desmond McKenzie. And the tone of the conversation with the intrepid journalist who was conducting the interview bordered on hopelessness. As once again, gunmen  had struck down three persons in the constituency! A situation which represents perhaps the number one problem for most Jamaicans; and I would venture to say that the need for a job is not far behind. Yes the discussion on, and recent revelations about,  the project to provide cheap electricity, will attract attention and comment;  on main stream media and even more so on social media. Yes, the booklist for the new term, and the Goat Island’ issue – which has now ‘gone abroad’ and featured in the National Geographic recently- and yes, the sliding dollar and the stringent terms of the IMF agreement. But people are not losing any sleep over these matters. But crime now is a horse of a different color. Especially for the poor and the marginalized;  Franz Fanon’s and Norman Girvan’s ‘wretched of the earth’. And Jesus’ ‘ the least of my people’. And so the MP is bemused. Perhaps so too the Minister of National Security, the Police Commissioner and most of all the Prime Minster. What is to be done?

I suspect we sang it on  Good Friday at my church, not sure, but last night it became my ‘song in the night’. And so I woke up with it in my head. Right through the early part of my devotions, it came back like a recurrent decimal. So there must be something that The Lord is using it to tell us.

My Spirit Longs for Thee

My spirit longs for thee
Within my troubled breast
Though I unworthy be
Of so divine a guest: 

Of so divine a guest
Unworthy though I be, 
Yet has my heart no rest,
Unless it come from Thee:

Unless it come from Thee,
In vain I look around:
In all that I can see
No rest is to be found:

No rest is to be found,
But in thy blessed love:
O let my wish be crowned,
And send it from above! 
John Byrom

And as I pondered the meaning of this poem and hymn which was reverberating in my head, my mind went to a passage in The Book of Revelations about this ‘ divine guest”. And which passage of Scripture is preceded by some very profound words from John ‘the revelator’.

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:9, 12-18 NIV)

I would suggest we need to learn two things from this passage and about life in general and life in Jamaica today. Patience and perspective. In the sense that a large part of the reason why the Christian church has become relatively ineffective, at least in guiding the nation morally, has to do with the misguided notion that the God we serve is a God who fixes everything ‘ right now’. And closely allied to that misconception, at best, and deliberate insertion at worse, is the notion that God’s people ought not to suffer. And that is clearly not what John is teaching in his opening sentence of this passage. A ‘revelation’ that is of huge importance, believe it or not,  in how we conduct public policy, and build up expectations in our nation. As a large part of our problem in this nation, is the mindset of a people who want everything ‘right now’. The  insemination and birth  of which national psyche in the life of our people, has many midwives. Not the least of which is the nature of the kind of politics of ‘ promising the world and his cousin’,  we have practiced in order to gain state power. And many have learnt the lesson of wanting it ‘right now’, very well;  the ‘don’ – and so people die that they may rule –  many unscrupulous business people – and so taxes are evaded and super-profits made so that kith and kin may enjoy riches ‘right now’, both young and old in their relationships, young people in pursuit of the material rewards of life. And worse of all, many Christians in their unapologetic and scandalous  pursuit and expectation of ‘blessings from God’ ‘right now’. And so the ‘chickens are coming home to roost’. So bloodshed follows bloodshed, as Hosea prophesied.

Perspective is realizing that our proper response to the Jesus who died, was raised from the dead, and now sits on the right hand of the Father, is to ‘ fall down at his feet as if we are dead”. In the sense that for too long, we have  ‘formed the fool’, I cannot find a better Jamaican phrase, in how we have treated with ‘ the divine guest’ among us. In our response  now to God’s holy Word, when compared to the reverence with with our forefathers treated the Bible and its application to daily life.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV) is a perfect example of how we have missed an opportunity to  shape the values and morals of our people. As many in the political, intellectual, business and media sectors of our society,  and sadly some within the church,  have conspired actively to undermine the Word of God, and the presence of the ‘divine guest’ in this country to our detriment.
And so the murder and mayhem caused by children who have gone in an entirely different direction from that taught by the ‘divine guest’, now plague a nation and bemuse its leaders.

So what is to be done!

My spirit longs for thee
within my troubled breast…..ought to become a national prayer and a cry for mercy; from a God who is more than willing to have mercy on those who cry out to Him day and night. In faith, without doubt and with a repentant heart. May God have mercy on the people in Western Kingston and all of us. In Jamaica, in Nigeria, in Trinidad and wherever crime and violence rear their ugly head. n that hope we wait with patience and suffer with the ‘wretched of the earth’ and Jesus’ ‘ least of these my people’. For in the end we know that our ‘ redeemer liveth’ and will act to rescue tis nation. For His own glory and in His own time.
Peace.
LWJ

THE THIRD MESSAGE – SENT TO MY CHURCH

The reflection on the hymn continued and resulted in further revelations from The Lord ; about in Whom we find rest and peace, in the midst of trouble. And to Whom we need to turn in the midst of temptations and distractions. In order that our spirits may remain focused on Christ and to be mindful of our mandate to spread the gospel to the whole world – Nigeria, the USA

My spirit longs for thee
Within my troubled breast
Though I unworthy be
Of so divine a guest: 

Of so divine a guest
Unworthy though I be, 
Yet has my heart no rest,
Unless it come from Thee:

Unless it come from Thee,
In vain I look around:
In all that I can see
No rest is to be found:

No rest is to be found,
But in thy blessed love:
O let my wish be crowned

I have spent all week reflecting on this hymn. Singing this hymn in the days. Thinking about it in the evenings.

And this happened:

1. My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on you – John of the Cross

Comment:  Validation from  a famous Saint of yure – 16th Century. Author of two great poems. One of which ‘ Dark Night of the Soul’ was quoted recently by the Minister of National Security in his now famous ” Divine Intervention” speech. The other is ‘Spiritual Canticle’

2. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:7-19 NKJV)

Comment: My mind led me to this passage of Scripture for two reasons. One is that it is often used by the SDA church to justify, wrongly in my view, the need to keep the Sabbath. Two is that the whole topic of ‘Rest’  – God our true rest and healing    
http://www.anglicanhealingconference.com  – is the Theme for the Healing Conference this year.

3.Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (I Corinthians 10:1-11 NKJV)

Comment: Immediately on reflecting again on the Hebrew passage, my I was led to this other one. Which really needs little comment. Except to remind us to ‘very careful how we live’, as we have indeed been warned.

4.For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. (I Corinthians 9:19-23 NKJV)

Comment: This passage comes immediately before the # 3, and  I found it particularly challenging. As, the question of how ‘timid’ have we been ‘for the sake of the gospel’, looms large  indeed in this Word. For all of us!

So then my friends in Christ, it is a very serious thing to allow our spirit to become dry, by not ‘feeding on Christ’.  By not inviting the ‘ divine guest, continuously into our hearts; as then ‘no rest is to be found’. 
And the consequences, for that ‘lack of rest’….”For no mater how many promises God has made,  they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us, to the glory of God ( 2 Cor. 1:20)…….. are dire for both ourselves and for others who need to hear the gospel. And what makes us prone to forget. Basketball playoffs? World Cup ‘futbol’? Political intrigue? Technology in general, and smart phones in particular, and all the beguiling things on offer? The pleasures of life? The worries of life? Grandchildren in particular, and children and spouses? Church-work? Work? Whatever it is, it is a very dangerous thing.
Peace.
LWJ
May those who have died in Christ,  rest in peace; and those who have been ill and have been the recipients of God’s grace and mercy continue to heal and give thanks. For in Christ all find ‘rest’. Including the SDA congregations.

 

The Blood of Jesus is against you Satan; in Nigeria, in Trinidad and in Jamaica

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 mat renew the nation(s) – Prayer  for the Decade of Evangelism.

NEWS – that caught my attention this week

1.  A journalist brought it to my attention on Facebook. That the world, while keeping a focus on the missing Malaysian aircraft and the Korean boat disaster, and I confess myself to be among that lot, had not paid enough attention to the ‘ missing girls in Nigeria”.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/02/world/africa/nigeria-abducted-girls/

Nigerian police: 223 kidnapped girls still missing – CNN.com
http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/02/world/africa/nigeria-abducted-girls/
2 days ago – (CNN) — Nigerian authorities specified Friday that a total of 276 schoolgirls were taken last month by militants from a boarding school, but 53 of …

So reports coming out of Nigeria that these girls had been sold to marry, of forced into marriage, along with other atrocities,  indicated that the story did not gain the full attention of the international community; and the requisite action to secure their freedom. What a troubled world!

2. Just this morning news broke out of Trinidad and Tobago of the ‘assassination’ of a prominent lawyer in the early hours of Sunday morning. A story which was greeted with shock and horror in the twin island state; and which murder made the news in Jamaica, as the late Dana Seetahal was well known in the legal circles in Jamaica
http://www.worldbulletin.net
Trinidad and Tobago Stunned at Murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal
Global Voices Online ‎- 9 hours ago
Senior Counsel and former Independent Senator Dana Seetahal was murdered in Trinidad and Tobago early this morning, reportedly the …

…all of the happening at the same time that we here in Jamaica are trying to come to terms with the triple murder of a mother and two of her sons as the crime and violence continues to be a major issue in the Caribbean.

Triple murder in Porus – News – JamaicaObserver.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Triple-murder-in-Porus
5 days ago – MANCHESTER, Jamaica — A mother and her two sons were found murdered early Tuesday at Ramble district, Porus in south Manchester, …

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Triple-murder-in-Porus

What a troubled world indeed!

3. Jamaica needs much cheaper electricity if we are to compete in the international market and to provide our people with an adequate standard of living. And so the Government of Jamaica has embarked upon a project to provide cheaper electricity.  But there has been some problems along the way! And the Minister in charge of the project is under fire from Civil Society, the media and the Opposition. Claims and counter claims abound.  The Minister is adamant that what he has done so far is in the best interest of the Jamaican people. But those who want him removed, from this project,  are not impressed. And while this is taking place the project has,  at best, been slowed down. The matter is to be considered by the Cabinet tomorrow.
And so my country is going through quite a debate on this matter.

Paulwell vows to work with the people on megawatt project
Jamaica Gleaner ‎- 2 days ago
MANDEVILLE, Manchester:WITH SEVERAL individuals and entities criticising Minister of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining Phillip …

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140502/news/news4.html

What a troubled world indeed!

THE WORD OF GOD

So what did The Lord teach me, through His Word and by His inspired word this week in the midst of all this turmoil
This week I was chiefly  inspired to write to the members of my church family, based on how much the words of the two songs had gotten ‘into my head’ ever since Holy weekend.

THE FIRST ONE –  we cannot begin to understand the kind of grief that the mothers – and families – of those girls  who were abducted Nigeria are going through right now. But what we do know is that the God who died for all mankind, in Christ Jesus, loves them. And all who carry their sins and griefs to Him. Nor for that matter can we understand the grief of the family of the lawyer in T&T, or the family of the mother and two sons who were so brutally murdered in Jamaica. Or anybody else whose child is ill, or whose parent is ill or whose relative died suddenly this week, or after a long illness! But God sees and knows, and since He is the Creator of all of us, and our Redeemer, because He lives, raised from the dead, we know, that in Him we can face tomorrow. Regardless of what happens!

THE MESSAGE

This hymn, at least the refrain, ” Because he lives I can face tomorrow’, continues to be ‘ in my head’. Day and night! This morning I woke up with it.  Most mornings I use it to start my devotions. I thank God for our Rectors who have taught us to love the hymns of the church. When I think of Bishop Herman I remember ‘ Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine’; of Bishop Robert I recall the post Communion song which has become an anthem for the church, ‘  O Jesu, blessed Lord, to thee…’; and now of Father Kitson I will always remember , ‘God sent his Son, they call him Jesus….’ and more so ” Because he lives I can face tomorrow’.

For several reasons this morning, I thought of the song, and in particular, in the context of an old Jamaican saying that ” Trouble don’t set like rain”.

And as I reflected on the words once again, words of another wonderful song came into my head, ‘ What a friend we have in Jesus’. I believe, earnestly, that if we allow the messages in these hymns of the church to determine the the kinds of conversations we have, at home, at work, wherever, life would be a lot different in Jamaica.
May the Lord’s peace be with us always, in and through His Word, and through His inspired words.
LWJ

THE FIRST HYMN

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died, to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives

Refrain

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives

THE SECOND HYMN

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

THE SECOND ONE – some of the more traditional churches, unlike the Pentecostals and the Evangelicals, do not, as a rule, ‘plead the Blood of Jesus’ against evil. But this hymn about ‘the fountain of blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins’, inspired me to emphasize how much we need to ‘ plunge beneath that flood’, without ceasing. And to call upon His precious Name, without ceasing. And having seen the need to keep close to God, to talk with Him constantly, then and only then will we with confidence, be able to sing, ‘ because He lives I can face tomorrow’. Because this is a troubled world, and really and truly ‘ trouble don’t set like rain’ – trials more often than not, give  no warning

THE MESSAGE

I met her when she was well into her eighties. And she, ‘Miss Ivy’ died and went to glory when she was over 100 years. I had the privilege, for a  long time, of taking her  home after church. One of the many memories  that come to mind, especially at Easter, was her excitement in the car going back home after the service; when she would recite the following words from a famous hymn:

‘The Lord is risen indeed!
Attending angels hear!
Up to the courts of heaven with speed
the joyful tidings bear’.

With great excitement indeed. Even in her nineties! This thought struck me this morning, after the second of the two hymns that got ‘into my head’ over the Holy Weekend, became my ‘song in the night’, last night. That there has to be a passion, an excitement about the fact that:

‘There is a fountain of blood
drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

Especially when you combine all of these thoughts with the words of another great hymn which came into my mind as I began my devotions this morning:

‘ O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder….

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing
sent him to die – I scarce can take it in:
then on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
he bled and died to take away my sin:

then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee,
how great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee,
how great thou art! How great thou art!.

How does all of this add up?  Every fear, every unkind and uncharitable thought – as the battleground against satan is in the mind – every thought of being disobedient, every time we begin to lose faith, every time we are tempted to doubt if God can, every wickedness that enters our mind, every thought which is not noble and unworthy of a child of God, every vindictive and judgmental thought, every thought born of anger, or envy, or greed,  or malice, or pride – Lord have mercy – has to be plunged beneath the Fountain of Blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins. Every day! Every hour! Every minute! Constantly! It is a never ending struggle, and determination to please God. That’s what happens when we are ‘convicted of sin’ by The Holy Spirit.

Two things then happen.  One we begin to understand the hymn writer who cries out that, ” I need thee, every hour I need thee”. For the greatest ‘sin’ that a child of God can commit is to spend long hours without thinking about The Lord, or talking with Him. That is what the enemy is intent on doing. Causing distractions!  And there are many  ‘arrows in his quiver”.
Two, only when we actively ‘plunge beneath Blood of Jesus’, constantly,  in the midst of trials and temptations,  and find Peace in Him, regardless of our situation….because he lives I can face tomorrow ….will we with joy, and great excitement, be able to ‘ bear the joyful news’, to others. That Jesus Christ is Risen indeed!.
It’s a message that the world  needs to hear, in word and in deed.  Desperately, despite sounds to the contrary! But how we convey that message effectively depends on how often we ‘plunge beneath the blood of Jesus’, rather than falling prey to the ‘distractions’ of the evil one. Whether individually, or collectively as a church. As all have sinned – Bishop, Archdeacon, Canon, Priest, laity – and fallen short of the glory of God. That’s why ‘there is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins’.
Peace.
LWJ

THE THIRD ONE – is all about loving Christ for Himself, and His Righteousness, rather than for His gifts….the ‘all things added’. And which critique applies to the rapidly growing, and very misleading ‘ prosperity gospel’;  which essentially freed of its trappings, encourages people to love Jesus for what He can provide for them materially. A promise that is without merit in Scripture…..Do not work for food which spoils but which can give eternal life…

THE MESSAGE

This morning: 
God sent his Son, they call him Jesus;
he came to love, heal and forgive;
he lived and died to buy my pardon…

and then on reflection on the foundation of the Christian faith…..he lived and died to buy my pardon, my mind went to :

My God, I love thee; not because
I hope for heaven thereby,
nor yet because who love thee not
are lost eternally.

Thou, O Lord Jesus, thou didst me
upon the cross embrace;
for me didst bear the nails and spear,
and manifold disgrace,

And griefs and torments numberless,
and sweat of agony;
yea, death itself; and all for me
who was thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
should I not love thee well,
not for the sake of winning heaven,
nor any fear of hell;

not with the hope of gaining aught,
not seeking a reward;
but as thyself hast loved me,
O ever loving Lord!

So would I love thee, dearest Lord,
and in thy praise will sing,
solely because thou art my God
and my most loving King.

The words of this hymn, this single hymn, provided the inspiration for this Internet Ministry which began many years ago, and now goes out every Sunday night. To all denominations, to all persons and groups and institutions, locally and internationally,  who The Lord arranges for me to meet on my sojourn here in this life. According to His will and purpose. And so He provides e-mail addresses day after day. 

Many years ago, I was in Singapore attending  a Leadership Seminar on Evangelism organized by a group of Evangelicals – Haggai International – when one morning during devotions I witnessed something  I had never seen in my Anglican Church – it might have happened but I never saw it. Two men, not women, were quietly crying and calling the Name of Jesus;  not bringing any attention to themselves, not shouting Alleluia or any such thing. But just praising The Lord from the depth of their souls. It was a very moving experience for me, and I wrote back home to a dear friend in Christ and discussed the matter with her. Those days there was no i-Pad, or smart phone; one had to find an Internet cafe  and wait in line for a computer to become free.
In her wisdom, Rev ( now Cannon) Grace Jervis recommended that I spend some time reflecting on the words of this hymn. And so I did!. And the more I pondered on the love, and grace of this wonderful Savior – God sent his Son, they call him Jesus – the more I was moved to write about my experiences with Him.

What have I learnt over the years?  That the most severe, the most  difficult of  Christian disciplines – and there are many – is to  become obedient to The Lord’s command to,  ” Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all his righteousness; and all other things will be added”.  For our minds are,  for the most times focused on the ‘ all things to be added”. Yes,  we try to make ‘His Righteousness and His Kingdom’ our priority, but if we are honest, most times we fail miserably. And go right back to seeking the ‘all added things’.
Why? Because ‘stuff happens’. There is the light bill to be paid; children to go to school; mortgage to be paid; a family to care for; people get sick; money is tight; the stresses of life are many and varied and constantly coming at us; important decisions about life are to be made; disappointments happen; the unexpected happens; there is a business to run; there is a country to manage; the church needs money, and more priests, and the congregation is declining. Lots of stuff. And invariably we make them the subject of our prayers and not ‘God’s Kingdom”. Not God’s Righteousness”. Not seeking to know God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, for His own sake. And not for a reward, and an answer to our prayers for ‘all added things”.
Prayers like that which Paul offered up in the letter to the Philippians do not readily come to mind:

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:7-16 NIV)”

So in my experience, since we have great difficulty on our own, obeying  His command to ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God….”, God in his mercy and love provides for us in our weakness as revealed in the book of Hebrews.

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:4-13 NIV)”

It is,  therefore, a very wise church and child of God who can discern when God is administering discipline and humbly and graciously accept it. For the goal of our lives is Christ – and in Him holiness – and not His many, wonderful, and varied gifts that He dispenses according to His will and purpose. When as a church, and as individuals  we arrive  at that point then ‘ all fears are gone, because we know Who holds the future”. Then and only  then will our blessed and yet beleaguered nation lurching from crisis to crisis, find peace.
Lord renew thy church beginning with  me; Lord renew thy church that the church may renew the nation(s).
Pray God that we will get there one day by His grace as the discipline is severe and challenging and requires that we pray for one another constantly. So pray for me as I pray for you. Without ceasing.
Peace.
LWJ

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – finally a message sent to powerful people in my country, minutes before attending the funeral of one of our foremost Caribbean Academics, who most likely would have met the late Dana Seetahal from T&T. One who by the grace of God made the transition from the hallows halls of ‘enlightenment’, to cry of sinner, ‘ have mercy on me Lord, a sinner’. All in the context of the looming possibility of Jamaica missing  yet another opportunity, to allow the ‘wretched of the earth’, the poor and the needy, the meek and those who mourn for a better Jamaica, to live a better life.. Which is what at one level, the late Professor Norman Girvan lived and died for; and at another level completely, as observed during a very soul searching sermon by Canon Sirano Kitson on the Beatitudes at the funeral, what Jesus died for. To give all mankind  a new life, eternal life!  Including the abducted girls in Nigeria, the dead in Korea, and the murdered in Trinidad and Jamaica.