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”.
Nigerian police: 223 kidnapped girls still missing – CNN.com
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
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
5 days ago – MANCHESTER, Jamaica — A mother and her two sons were found murdered early Tuesday at Ramble district, Porus in south Manchester, …
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 …
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!
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.
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
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
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’.
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…
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.
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.