Brazil or Argentina, God or Sin? chose one as they both cannot co-exist!

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton..former slave ship owner, turned Pastor.

Lord renew thy church beginning  with me : Lord renew your church that the church may renew the nation – A prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

NEWS

1. World Cup Football – I don’t about you but can this beautiful game get any better in ‘ Samba ” Brazil? Can it get any more exciting than last minute Messi magic on Saturday, followed by last seconds Ronaldo magic on Sunday evening? Can it get more unpredictable than Ghana almost doing the unthinkable – beating the Germans, and Costa Rica, ‘Los Ticos’, winning against the mighty Azzuris – the Italians? What a World Cup indeed!  
http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/

2. The use of age inappropriate sex education material by the JFJ, among other more serious ‘sins’, including material which purports that vaginal and anal sex are ‘ pretty much  different nuts on the same bolt’,  to paraphrase a theme in an excellent satirical piece on the subject by Daniel Thwaites today, continues to be a major talking point in Jamaica. An issue also the subject of a  riveting column by  award winning journalist  Ian Boyne.
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140622/cleisure/cleisure4.html   -Thwaites

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140622/focus/focus1.html         – Boyne

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of the World Cup fever, how much time did I spend concentrating on what The Lord was saying this week. Hopefully enough, as one of the things I am learning, through trials and challenges –  which cause us to depend more and more on The Lord – is that Jesus was never fazed by what was happening outwardly around Him . But was always connected inwardly to His Father. This is my goal – to be able to be involved in the fullness of life here on earth, without bringing my Lord’s name into disrepute, whilst being eternally connected inwardly to Him. Lord have mercy on me a sinner!

So there were only ( main ) two messages that I sent this week. One to leaders in my country and the other to the membership of my Anglican Church.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent to leaders in my country, And the essence of the message is captured by a word from Proverbs and which appears in the discussion.

For a man’s ways are in full view of The Lord , and he examines all his paths – 5:21
A Word validated by a tweet sent last night:

@lucienforJesus: There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. Matt.10:26 #JFJsexeducationmaterial.  

The context is that all that is going wrong in Jamaica will be soon be revealed and then ‘sorted out’. Day by day! For He who has ‘all authority’, is very much in charge of the affairs of this land, even though recent events might move us to believe otherwise. And His purpose through the church, is to call men all men to repentance and obedience. A Divine Will which was first revealed to the children of Israel, and Who set out to Redeem them, even when they rebelled against their Creator God, time and time again, as we have done in Jamaica. So we thank God now and forevermore for Christ Jesus.

THE MESSAGE




The story about  JFJ (Jamaican for Justice) has been ‘gathering legs’ for a few days now. And news broke yesterday about an apology. Followed  this morning by an announcement of the resignation of Dr. Carolyn Gomes, the former Executive Director, from the Board of Directors of the the JFJ, in  a story carried by the Daily Gleaner.
As I pondered all of this, especially in the light of the Professor Bain vs. The UWI, into my heart this morning , out of nowhere,  came  words of a song which I have neither heard nor sang  for a long time. But I know it well, and can recall it being sung at my church by one of my favorite artistes,  trumpeter and singer Dwight Richards

Lyrics of the song – On Eagles Wing

Michael Joncas Wrote the hymn On Eagle’s Wings.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
Who abide in His shadow for life,
Say to the Lord, “My Refuge,
My Rock in Whom I trust.” 

Refrain:

And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
And famine will bring you no fear;
Under His Wings your refuge,
His faithfulness your shield.

Refrain

You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come.

Refrain

For to His angels He’s given a command,
To guard you in all of your ways,
Upon their hands they will bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

The fact I realized that this song came from Psalm 91, and one which I reflect on every night before going to bed, was of interest. But what really  triggered the inspiration to write this morning, was a recollection of one of the great ‘laments’ in the Bible. And one which comes directly from the heart of God, rather that which has occupied our minds in recent times; that  coming from the heart of man, former PM P.J Patterson, and most if not all Jamaicans.
In my New International Version, the lament is captioned ” The Song of Moses”, and features a section which no doubt inspired the song writer of  ” On Eagles Wings”.

THE WORD OF GOD

In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him. (Deuteronomy 32:10-12 NIV)

The context of this chapter of lament was the rebellion, the repeated disobedience, of the children of Israel, to a loving God who had ‘formed them’.
And so Moses, the servant of God, began by reminded them of the goodness and the greatness of God.

THE WORD CONTD.
Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the Lord ’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance. (Deuteronomy 32:1-9 NIV)

And having reminded the children of Israel of the nature of the God who they serve, including the fact that, it was the Holy One of Israel who carried them, as it were ” on  eagle’s wings’, they abandoned this God. and then ‘offered sacrifices to gods who recently appeared, gods who their fathers did not fear’. Amazing stuff!
And so The Lord acted, and they suffered immeasurably. Thus triggering the recording of a verse which I have for a long time felt speaks directly to our situation in Jamaica in respect of gunmen and murder. But first the continued abandonment.

THE WORD CONTD.

Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, they became heavy and sleek. They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior. They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. (Deuteronomy 32:1-5, 15-21 NIV)

…..and then the  consequence:

THE WORD…
How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the Lord had given them up? (Deuteronomy 32:1-5, 15, 16, 30 NIV)

There is more to the story, including a promise of Redemption, despite the repeated rebellion of God’s children, but the message this morning is clear.
That which is being played out in the JFJ story, is not just about Dr. Carolyn Gomes and whatever sins she may or may not have committed -we await further and better particulars. It’s certainly not about what took place under Minister Hanna’s watch. And it is not even ultimately about an attempt to, or the reality of,  inappropriate sex education material being ‘foisted’ on unsuspecting minors. Not at all. The deeper lesson we have to grapple with as a society is the consequences of  ” Jeshurun growing fat and kicking…becoming heavy and sleek and rejecting the God who made us”. Of a nation which over time, has witnessed the growth of a significant section of our people who believe that  there are smarter than the God who made us. That unlike the God of Proverbs 5:21, who declares that:

For a man’s ways are in full view of The Lord , and he examines all his paths:

a whole group of Jamaicans, foolishly, very foolishly,  believe that what they do in secret, and in the dark, will never come to light.  What madness, when the Scriptures warn us, and history validates the reality that,  in due course, everything comes into the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

Praise God that at then end of  the lament of Moses, God, through His servant promised to ‘make atonement for his land and his people. A clear prophetic Word about Christ and Him crucified. I pray God we will read and understand the gravity of the true nature of what we have done – rebelled against the Only One who, in Christ Jesus,  can carry this nation on Eagle’s Wings, and make us shine like the sun once again. Instead of suffering disgrace, after disgrace. And embarrassment after embarrassment. And bloodshed continuing to follow bloodshed.  And therefore the appropriate response, for all age groups in this nation,  is not just to lament, but rather to repent  of our foolish ways and trust and obey the Only One who can save us from the growing madness – Christ Jesus.
Peace
LWJ


THE SECOND MESSAGE – the first part of which, with the songs, was sent to our leaders. But then another message came which was sent to my church, as ultimately as children of He who has ” All Authority”, we the church have been given the role to call men to be ‘reconciled’ to God. Whether they are homosexuals, heterosexuals,  supporters of either group, leaders or ordinary citizens. Everybody!

THE MESSAGE

Last night, once again it hit me most forcibly. Jamaica is never going to be rescued from our current moral and social woes, unless Christians live the  ’empowered life’, that Jesus through His Spirit has given us. Former leaders may lament,  and may offer ‘wisdom’, but that in and by itself will make no difference. God has placed His children in ‘enemy territory’, and given us the message and ministry of reconciliation, with the Authority of the Holy Spirit Who indwells every baptized child of God. Bishop Howard gave a useful analogy recently of working out our salvation  in and through the Spirit – we need to so order our lives and minds, by faith in Christ Jesus, by concentrating on Him and Him crucified  first and then  on ‘suffering humanity’, and not the reverse, and so cause the Holy Spirit to ‘raise up like a fire in our lives’. There is no plan B my friends. We are it. And if we bear no fruit, then God will cause even the ‘rocks’ to praise Him, and to do His work. As He will not be left without a witness, but will always bring into being  a remnant, that will accomplish His good perfect and Almighty will. I pray then after we have turned up the volume in our hearts and praised The Lord in song, we will read carefully a most profound and very timely message from one of His Saints that He has raised up to speak a word to us in times like these.    

THE MESSAGE – written from yesterday, the songs. And completed today with the meditation which is dated June 20th 2008

No doubt because I went to bed after reading:

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. (John 17:11, 12 NIV)

……why this morning as I was about to start my devotions, these two sanke’s came into my heart. So I enjoin you to turn up the volume in your heart and sing, as something good is going to happen to someone to day. Praise God.

All The Way To Calvary
(written by Alfred Ackley)
(recorded by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir & Isaac Odeniran)



All the way to Calvary, He went for me
He went for me, He went for me
All the way to Calvary, He went for me
He died to set me free

Although I had so many many sins
Jesus took them all away
And He pardoned me

Although I had so many many sins
Jesus took them all away
And He pardoned me    



In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, 
We have the victory. Hallelujah! 
In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, 
Satan will have to flee.

When we stand in the name of Jesus, 
Tell me who can stand against us. 
In the mighty name of Jesus, 
We have the victory. 
Who can tell what God can do. 
Who can tell his love for you. 
When we stand in the name of Jesus, 
We have the victory.

In the name of Jesus, 
In the name of Jesus 
We have the victory, 
In the name of Jesus, 
In the name of Jesus 
Demons will have to flee, 
When we stand on the name of Jesus 
Tell me who can stand before, 
In the mighty name of Jesus, 
We have the victory. 

CHILDREN OF  ‘ALL AUTHORITY’

Chris Tigreen

” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. Matthew 28:18

IN WORD  There is no greater authority, not in this world or in any other. Our universe is governed by the Son of God, the Ancient of Days incarnate, the Alpha and the Omega. If being in the presence of rulers and celebrities gives us a thrill, how much more wonderful to know  Immanuel -God with us. Whatever impresses us, frightens us, threatens us, embitters us, or thrills us – all that we can imagine and more – is under His reign. He is the ultimate power.

That’s great, we might think. But what does it have to do with us The answer is glorious. This infinite power, ultimate authority, and King above all kings, is the very same One who intercedes for us. He is on our side. And if the ultimate Authority intercedes for us, who will overturn His intercession What request of His will be overruled? The greatest power in all the universe – over all the universe, in fact – is already inclined towards us, dedicated to working out our good, and available through our prayers. We might not notice the support if we are bent on our own agenda, but if we are bent on His, there is no obstacle that can obscure it.

IN DEED  Sounds too good to be true? Yes, it does. And it often appears that way. While the ultimate Authority reigns benevolently over us, we have trials and tribulations. Our children may have life-threatening illnesses. Our finances may come to ruin. Our security might be in danger. Our relationships might suffer irreparable conflict. It doesn’t always look as if He’s exercising His power.

But He is. The world He has placed us in is enemy territory, and we will not pass through it uncontested. When we focus on it, we will be discouraged and depressed . When we absorb it’s values and goals, we will be disappointed. And that’s why Jesus comes to His disciples and says all authority is His. We need to know that – and live as if we know it.

Peace
LWJ


THE THIRD MESSAGE – is really an add-on, as it was written to a friend and a few others with whom I have been having a beyond the headlines discussion on a topical matter. And so The Lord placed it into my heart to share with them with a view to educating ourselves about the Christian journey – all about making choices. Serious choices! Life therefore is not all about Brazil or Germany! Argentina or Holland. Or Columbia or Ghana. No life has some more difficult, and yet in some sense, ultimately, easy choices; that is if we wish to have life eternally. And not just settle for what this life has to offer – temporary fame or riches or pleasures!


THE MESSAGE 
I really had  no intention of writing tonight. Both of us were talking tonight about sports. My wife is a huge basketball fan. That basketball is done, Tiger Woods is recovering and Wimbledon is about to start.  All of this in the middle of talking about England facing the likelihood off going back home early from Brazil. So were watching – I call her ‘powder puff’ – Wozniacki play in one of the  tournaments in the UK that precede the British Open. After which  I began reading Chamber’s Complete Works and found this searching reflection on the Christian life entitled simply  ” Which”. Excerpts of which  I share with you in the hope that all of us may be better educated about the Christian Life


1. God or Sin

But God forbid thatI should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me,  and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

God or sin must die in me. The one elementary truth we are in danger of of forgetting is that the Gospel of God is addressed to men as sinners, and nothing else…………

2. Christ or Barabbas

And they crucified Him. Matthew 27_35

Christ versus Barabbas – we have to choose. For a long while we can ignore the sin and dwell on not the fact that God is our Father, but if we mean by that, that he forgives sins because He is loving, we make the Atonement  huge blunder and Calvary a mistake. What does Barabbas represent? The expedient  to Jesus Christ, something less less radical, less emphatic, less against what we want. What is the ‘Barabbas’ in your life and mine.

3. Christ or the Old Man.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him………Romans 6:6

What is our ‘old man”? The disposition of sin in us discovered by the incoming Spirit of God when we are born from above. A Christian experiencing the first work of God’s regenerating grace begins to discern this disposition, and the issue is  very clear that the old disposition must be crucified or the Spirit of God must be crucified, the two cannot remain long together……..

4. Christ or I

I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I but Christ liveth in me. Galatians 2:20 RV.

Christ or I? I means the religious I, the spiritual I, the pride of spiritual possession. Have we learned the glorious unmistakable privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that bis left is Christ’s flesh and Christ’s blood in our flesh and in our blood where once the world the flesh and the devil had their way?…..

5. Christ or the World

,,,by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

What is the world? The set of people with the ambitions, religious or otherwise, that are not identified with The Lord Jesus Christ……When the world comes before us with its fascination and its power, it finds us dead to it, if we have agreed with God on His judgment about sin and the world.

I pray God that the ‘myths’ that you might have harbored in your mind about the Christian Life have been dispelled. And further, that with ‘more and better particulars’,  your eyes might be opened to see and understand in a new way, many of the issues with which as a society, and indeed  as a world community, we are grappling today. For to view God as compassionate and merciful without understanding what led to the suffering and death of His only Son on Calvary – Sin- is indeed to mis-educated. Fatally!
LWJ

 

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