The Israeli Arab Conflict, Unfriendly Skies and God’s Wisdom

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 Anglican priest)

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation- A Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

NEWS

1. The Israeli Palestinian conflict in Gaza, which has now spread into the West Bank, continues to dominate the news here in ‘ the land of the free and the home of the brave’.

BBC News
Gaza campaign on pace to become deadliest Israeli conflict in recent years
Washington Post ‎- by Anne Gearan ‎- 12 hours ago
The rising death toll in the Gaza Strip conflict propelled U.S. and European diplomats huddled in Paris to call for an extension of a 12-hour …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/12-hour-pause-in-gaza-fighting-begins-as-promised/2014/07/26/37db9792-148c-11e4-8936-26932bcfd6ed_story.html

The latest news on CNN this afternoon is that both sides have been accused of breaking the ‘ humanitarian’ ceasefire brokered by the US and the Egyptians ; the Palestinians claim that six persons died and the Israelis reported the firing of rockets which fell into a home and injured a woman. Whatever the outcome, with 1000 Palestinians dead and 6 K wounded and thousands displaced, vs, 30 plus members of the IDF dead and two civilians dead, despite the claim of a ‘rain of rockets ‘ falling on their territory, Israel is danger losing the ‘propaganda’ war despite their military victories. With possible dire consequences for the future as the Jhihaddists are now all fired up and recruitment of many young Arab men into radical groups now the danger. How will Israel continue to legitimately defend itself while avoiding so much ‘collateral damage’ is one question? How long before people in the Gaza strip will be able to escape the air, land and sea blockade by the Israelis, thus making them prisoners in their own land, is another?

2. The pain and anguish suffered by the relatives of the downed Malaysian Airline M17 continued this week with the delivery of the remains to the Dutch, and other nations, by a military plane flying out of Ukraine. It will no doubt takes weeks and months, and reported even the use of DNA, to accurately identify the bodies and allow some closure, in respect funerals, for the relatives.
What will take a lifetime is the deeper understanding of this latest manifestation of ‘man’s inhumanity to man”.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Bodies of 40 Victims Returned to Netherlands in Solemn Ceremony
International Business Times UK ‎- 3 days ago
1000 relatives of the victims and members of the Dutch royal family attended the emotional ceremony..

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/malaysia-airlines-flight-m17-bodies-40-victims-returned-netherlands-solemn-ceremony-1458036

3. In the midst of all this disaster two other other planes went down this week with tragic loss of life, fueling fears about traveling by plane and causing more pain and suffering across the world

Taiwan TransAsia plane crash: Likely impact point discovered, says investigator
The Straits Times ‎- 2 hours ago
TAIPEI (The China Post/Asia News Network) – A line of trees about 500m away from the crash site of flight GE222 is suspected to be the …

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/east-asia/story/taiwan-transasia-plane-crash-likely-impact-point-discovered-says-investiga

Air Algerie crash: ‘Disintegrated’ plane found in Mali – CNN.com
http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/25/world/africa/air-algerie-crash/
3 days ago – (CNN) — French forces secured the site of a crashed Air Algerie flight in Mali, and found one flight recorder but no survivors, French President …

http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/25/world/africa/air-algerie-crash/

THE WORD OF GOD

What then did The Lord send through His Word of through His inspired word this week.

THE FIRST MESSAGE

First up was a note to leaders in my country featuring a meditation from one the most celebrated scientists of all times – Blaise Pascal. The message is clear. The human race needs a ” Mediator”. Much more than the need for one to end the war in the Middle East. News that is repeated in the second message also. Both sent to leaders in my country triggered by my understanding of the role of current events in helping us to understand the God who Created heaven and earth and all mankind.

THE MESSAGE

Recently, editorials in both newspapers, in attempting to ‘mediate’ between the two ‘warring factions’, so to speak, in this matter of the Buggery Law, have speculated, at best, about the ways of The Lord.
Perhaps, all of us, believers and non-believers who claim an understanding about God, should ‘listen’ to the words of one of the most celebrated scientists of all times, Blaise Pascal. Who more famously was an eminent Christian apologetic of his time, and the author of these profound words; ” The last function of reason is to recognize that there are an infinity of things which surpass it”.

AN EXCERP FROM ‘ JESUS CHRIST THE MIDDLE WAY’

Verse: Psalm 51:1…..Have mercy on me , O God, according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.

The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths…………Nor is he merely a God who providentially disposes the life and fortune of men, to crown his worshipers with length of happy years. Such was the portion of the Jews. But the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and the God of Christians, is a God of love and consolation, a God who fills the souls and heart of his own,a God who makes them feel their inward wretchedness and his infinite mercy………..

All who seek God apart from Jesus Christ…find no light to satisfy them, or form for themselves a means of knowing God and serving him without a mediator

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

The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness creates pride. The knowledge of our wretchedness without that of God creates despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle way, because in him we find both God and our wretchedness.

Comment: Perhaps this is why the Jews filled with pride about “Ersatz Israel”..greater Biblical Israel….and who have ‘stumbled ‘over Jesus, have lost their way, and feel justified in waging a war in which 70-80% of the casualties are civilians.
No doubt, the knowledge of Allah, without that of their wretchedness has spawned a theology which resulted in 9/11 and the continued waging of war against the Jewish state.
For those Christians who have lost their compassion for the plight of the gays, perhaps they too have forgotten their own wretchedness. For non believers, and those who presume to write confidently about the ways of The Lord , and who assume that God’s love and mercy is all that ought to apply in any and every situation that mankind faces, have forgotten that we can only know God through a Mediator. And His name is Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of all mankind.
So at the root of knowing God, is an acceptance that we need a mediator because of our wretchedness.
Until and unless we start there, then the sin of judgment and lack of compassion, in concert with the sin of lust and self-love will continue to haunt our nation, and spawn murder, immorality, error masquerading as the ‘ prosperity gospel’, injustice, corruption and drought.
May the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, and of Jesus Christ help us to perceive our own wretchedness and the desperate need for a Mediator between sinful man and a holy God.
Amen.
In Miami
Peace.
LWJ

THE SECOND MESSAGE – is up front and very personal. As Oswald Chambers in a very profound meditation locates in each one of us the propensity to do what is evil, based on ‘words’ from our Lord Himself.

OSWALD CHAMBERS

JULY 26

The Way to Purity
Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart . . . . For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man . . . -Matthew 15:18-20

Initially we trust in our ignorance, calling it innocence, and next we trust our innocence, calling it purity. Then when we hear these strong statements from our Lord, we shrink back, saying, “But I never felt any of those awful things in my heart.” We resent what He reveals. Either Jesus Christ is the supreme authority on the human heart, or He is not worth paying any attention to. Am I prepared to trust the penetration of His Word into my heart, or would I prefer to trust my own “innocent ignorance”? If I will take an honest look at myself, becoming fully aware of my so-called innocence and putting it to the test, I am very likely to have a rude awakening that what Jesus Christ said is true, and I will be appalled at the possibilities of the evil and the wrong within me. But as long as I remain under the false security of my own “innocence,” I am living in a fool’s paradise. If I have never been an openly rude and abusive person, the only reason is my own cowardice coupled with the sense of protection I receive from living a civilized life. But when I am open and completely exposed before God, I find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis of me.

The only thing that truly provides protection is the redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will simply hand myself over to Him, I will never have to experience the terrible possibilities that lie within my heart. Purity is something far too deep for me to arrive at naturally. But when the Holy Spirit comes into me, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was exhibited in the life of Jesus Christ, namely, the Holy Spirit, which is absolute unblemished purity.

Comment: the song dates me but, Nat King Cole’s, ” It’s not my brother Lord, it’s not my sister Lord, but me standing in the need of prayer” comes to mind as I write. So having read the above meditation on some very profound words from our Lord Jesus, the message is clear. It’s not just the Jews and the Palestinians who need prayer and the love of Jesus to transform their hearts. And it’s not just Dudus and Kartel who need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness. Not just the gays and the cross dressers. No, it’s all mankind who are in need of of Jesus, in whose presence we come to understand how wretched we are; and in need of salvation. That’s the key message of the Christian faith. That all have sinned, and fallen short of the imago dei in which we were made. Not just a few miscreants. The good news then, the gospel of Christ, then, is that Holy Spirit of God, imparted to us in baptism, can set us right with God again. Forever.

#ThankGodforJesus

THE FINAL MESSAGE

Finally, a message not sent to anyone, but one which touched my heart on the two occasions that I was led to reflect on it. As within this Word from the Book of Proverbs, lies the answer to the why mankind began and continues to suffer so much. Whether in Jamaica, the Middle-East or in war torn Ukraine.
The consequences of the rejection of the Wisdom of God, A sad feature of human life placed in proper perspective by a quote attributed to William Blake – one of England best known poets.

” Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rosseau; Mock on, mock on’ ’tis all in vain! You throw the sand against the wind, and the wind blows it back again”
Thus raising with poetic grandeur the seminal question of ‘what’s the point of ignoring, and even mocking God, when He controls your very life”. A reality which disturbs my very soul every time I consider the issue. As life could have been so much different in my beleaguered and embattled country, if men and women had just learned to ‘fear The Lord’ and obey His commands and learn from His wisdom.

THE WORD OF GOD

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” (Proverbs 1:20-33 NIV)

Thank God for Jesus, though we all have many, many sins, the Blood of Jesus has washed them all away, and through the Holy Spirit, imparted to us, by faith, and through suffering, the same righteousness is in our Lord Jesus. This then is the only way to end the conflict in this world. But not everyone believes, and so ‘bloodshed continues to follow bloodshed”. And the God of compassion and mercy continues to wait on us to accept His Wisdom in and through Christ Jesus. The only Mediator between God and man.

Tragedy over Ukraine skies, in The Gaza, in Jamaica and Christ The Divine Redeemer

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

1. Internationally two events caught my attention this week.
A) Madness over the skies of Ukraine, when according to some reports, Russian separatists, armed with sophisticated weapons by the Putin led Russian Government, shot down a Malaysian Airplane with nearly 300 persons aboard. Other sources have been more cautious, and merely reported what the two sides have said about the incident. What is undisputed is that something evil took place over the skies in Ukraine.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/russia-supplied-missile-that-shot-down-malaysia-airlines-plane-us-official-says-123578/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28357880

B) Tragic loss of human lives in the Gaza as Israelites and Hamas fought pitched battles in that area, resulting in mayhem in that Palestinian territory

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/07/20/333162646/humanitarian-truce-quickly-collapses-in-gaza-fighting-resumes

What struck me was the report that some 70% of the over 400 Palestinians who have been killed by the Israelites so far, are civilians. However in an interview on CNN, the Jewish leader Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that such casualties was the result of Hamas, placing civilians in danger by firing rockets and shooting from behind them. However the scale of the ‘collateral damage’ seem to support the view of some that the response of the Jewish State has been an ‘overkill’. But such is the complex nature of this seemingly never ending war, that truth also has become a casualty.
2. Locally one of the big news in Jamaica is the drought in the eastern and southern part of the island, triggering a recurrent debate about our capacity to store sufficient water for times like these.
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/official-says-jamaicas-drought-intensifying

The other one is a continuation of the story of the tragic loss of lives which featured in the International stories

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Negril-tragedy-_17196319

Negril tragedy – 3 children perish in house fire
Jamaica Observer ‎- 1 day ago
NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Three children died yesterday morning when fire … The Jamaica Observer understands that McKenzie’s mother and …

THE WORD OF GOD

In the midst of all of this tragedy, what word did The Lord send this week.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – SEND TO LEADERS IN MY COUNTRY. FEATURES A WORD ABOUT REPENTANCE, THE WAY BACK TO GOD, AS HARD TIMES, CONSEQUENT ON OUR PRONENESS TO ‘WANDER’ FROM GOD, CAUSE PAIN AND MISERY

Holidaying with two of four grandchildren on the North Coast. Lots of tourists in the hotel. And next door in two cruise ships that we saw docking on successive days.

@lucienforJesus: Carnival cruise ship visiting Ocho Rios Jamaica @souldancing #goodfortourism,#zoomlens, @JNFoundation @jamaica http://t.co/hN7XWDg2wE

Then on the day we are leaving, listening to Barbara Gloudon on http://www.rjrfm94 I was educated about the water situation in Jamaica. The problem is the south coast as the north coast has lots of rainfall and the rivers are flowing. And the studies do not support the building of another dam. Plus we are suffering from the El Niño effect – warming of the ocean off the coast of Ecuador which though decreasing the number of storms, also affects the rainfall.
Came back home and went to bed and was awakened at 4:00 am this morning, to read this Word. An abbreviated form of which follows

THE WORD OF GOD

This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought: “Judah mourns, her cities languish; they wail for the land, and a cry goes up from Jerusalem. The nobles send their servants for water; they go to the cisterns but find no water. They return with their jars unfilled; dismayed and despairing, they cover their heads. The ground is cracked because there is no rain in the land; the farmers are dismayed and cover their heads.

Although our sins testify against us, do something, Lord, for the sake of your name. For we have often rebelled; we have sinned against you. You who are the hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night? Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save? You are among us, Lord, and we bear your name; do not forsake us! This is what the Lord says about this people: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.”

“Speak this word to them: “ ‘Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for the Virgin Daughter, my people, has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow.

Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this. (Jeremiah 14:1-4, 7-10, 17, 22 NIV)

Comment: It’s not about Messi vs. Maradona. As interesting as that debate may . It’s not about ” Who shot the Sheriff (Ellington)” and why, to misquote Bob Marley, as topical as that may be -from The Lord. From me and The Lord – it’a all about a country needing to repent, led by its leaders, and return to the only source of goodness and mercy. To a God who has a proven record in this nation. Rescuing us time and time again from evil. Providing rain and good soil and a beautiful climate. A cherished land in which to live, and grow children. But we have abandoned Him, and the Word from Hosea applies to us. And to all nations who have rebelled against a loving God. So having repented, It’s all about the need to pray for mercy. For rain. For peace in our land. For mercy as people fly over troubled lands, that evil masquerading as nationalism may not cause planes to be shot down, nor for lands to be invaded by armed forces. Whether in the Middle East or elsewhere. Not because we are righteous, but because we serve merciful and compassionate God.

THE WORD OF GOD
Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away. (Hosea 4:1-3 NIV)

THE SECOND MESSAGE – SENT TO MEMBERS OF MY CHURCH BACK HOME IN JAMAICA, AS A CONTINUATION OF SUNDAY CAMERA – THE INTERNATIONAL VERSION THIS TIME – WHEN I TAKE PICTURES AFTER CHURCH AND SEND A SUMMARY OF THE SERMON TO PEOPLE ON LINE. AGAIN THE ISSUE OF REPENTANCE EMERGES.

Went to St. Thomas Episcopal Church in South Miami where my daughter and her family worship.

SERMON

By Rev. Amanda Lippe, from the Gospel reading on the Parable of the Weeds. Her focus was on the disappointments, poverty, trials, injustice and other ‘weeds’ which accompany us in our Christian sojourn in this land. And the grace and wisdom that God gives us to sustain us in the midst of these ‘weeds’ of life. Clearly that’s one lesson we ought to learn. But there is another. The issue of Sin, sown by the evil one, in the midst of the good seed. That which makes us so unworthy, why Christ suffered and died for us, and to whom we pray day and night for mercy. For ourselves and our ‘neighbors’. So in Christ we can thank God ” that there is now no more condemnation, for the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death” ( Romans 8:1-2 NIV). Praise God. And to which a very profound song, sang so beautifully by a lady with a soprano voice, spoke. ( I would love to hear our own Rev. “Grace” Jervis sing this song.

“O Divine Redeemer” Charles Grounod ( 1818-1893)

Michelle Esteves, Soprano

Ah! Turn me not away,
Receive me tho’ unworthy;
Hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from thy throne
Haste Thee, Lord to mine aid,
Thy pity shew in my deep anguish!
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Though righteous thine anger,
O Lord! Shield me in danger, O regard me!
On Thee, Lord, alone will I call.

O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
and remember not, remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!

Night gathers round my soul;
Fearful, I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry! Save me Lord in Thy mercy;
Come and save me O Lord

Save, in the day of retribution,
From Death shield Thou me, O my God!
O Divine Redeemer, have mercy!
Help me, my Saviour!

THE THIRD MESSAGE – COMES FROM A REFLECTION ON PSALM 84:6, AND REFERENCES THE BaCA VALLEY IN THE MIDDLE EAST AT A TIME WHEN THE WORLD’S ATTENTION IS FOCUSED ON THAT AREA ON ACCOUNT OF THE BLOODSHED TAKING PLACE THERE. BUT WHEN I READ THE MEDITATION BY ANNE BRADSTREET, THERE WAS A PERSONAL MESSAGE OF COMFORT FOR ME, AND I DARE SAY FOR ALL OF US WHO HAVE TRAVELLED THE ROAD OF REPENTANCE.

ANN BRADSTREET ( 1612-1672) Americas first woman poet
…. ” I have not studied in this you read to show my skill, but to declare the truth”, wrote Ann to her children, ” not to set forth myself, but the glory of God”.
MAY 13, 1657
Verse : Psalm 84:6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, hey make it a place of springs, the autumn rain cover it with pools.

As spring the winter doth succeed
And leaves the naked tree do dress,
The earth all black is clothed green.
At sunshine each their joy express

My sun’s returned with healing wings,
My soul and body doth rejoice,
My hearts exults and praises sings
To him that heard my wailing voice.

My winter is past, my storms are gone,
And former clouds seem now all fled,
But if they must eclipse again,
I’ll run where I was succored.

I have a shelter from the storm,
A shadow from the fainting heat,
I have access unto the throne,
Who is a God so wondrous great.

O hath thou made my pilgrimage
Thus pleasant, fair, and good,
Blessed me in youth and elder age,
My Baca made a springing flood.

O studious am what shall I do
o show my duty with delight;
All I can give is but thine own
And at the most simple mite.

FINAL COMMENT – Trials and tribulation abound in the world. Some of our own making in how we have treated the our environment with tragic consequences. While in many other instances, as in the Gaza, in Negril in Jamaica, and over the skies in Ukraine, evil rears its ugly head, as it has done throughout history. A story which is the message behind the Parable of the Weeds, as told by Jesus in the Gospel reading for the Anglican Church worldwide today. This then is the ‘big news’, and not only that in Britain women can now consecrated as Bishops in the church – a story which ‘trended on Twitter this week and provoked a lot of discussion.
All other stories in history find their relevance in this remarkable ‘teaching moment’ by Jesus. For if we do not recognize Sin, for what it is, a deadly weed in world created by God and declared ” Very Good”, or continue to be cautious in how we treat with it, then the significance of our Savior’s sacrificial death will continue to be lost on us. With tragic consequences. For unless, Putin, Netanyahu, Barack Obama, David Cameron, and our own Portia Simpson Miller, and the people of the world, in response to the Gospel of Christ and Him Crucified as preached by the Church, peace will continue to be a hope a truth a casualty. Whether in Jamaica, The Middle -East, in Ukraine or in Malaysia.
So the good news is that ” We have a shelter from the storm and a shadow from the fainting heat”, in and through Christ Jesus. But first we must appeal to the Divine Redeemer, and then, only then will we find peace in this world of Sin, as the ‘night gathers round the souls’ of those who died in the Ukraine, in The Gaza Strip this week, and those children who died in that tragic fire in Jamaica.

O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
and remember not, remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!

Night gathers round my soul;
Fearful, I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry! Save me O Lord.

Amen.

Germany wins the World Cup, Former Jamaican Governor General dies, and Christ The Redeemer

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 thy church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

NEWS

1. WORLD CUP FOOTBALL – so it’s all done. Germany who, as I posted today on FB during the game, played with the flair, creativity and purposefulness which was once the hallmark of the Brazilian style soccer, beat a plucky but clearly out of class Argentina – regardless of Messi-ed opportunities. Will the real Brazil come to the party next time? As the very unusually refreshing commentator, from a Christian perspective, said, as the camera zoomed in on the Statue of the Redeemer Christ, only He knows. But then he was referring to the outcome of the game in the dying moments before Goetze scored that spectacular goal. But for now let us celebrate with the Germans, and offer commiserations to Argentina…one wit wondered why the coach did not bring on Messi…and Lionel Messi, as the greatest show on earth, and one of the most competitive World Cups, comes to a close.

Germany claim football World Cup glory
Stuff.co.nz ‎- 5 hours ago
Germany has won the football World Cup after Mario Goetze broke a 112 minute goal-less deadlock with a volley late in extra time.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/football/10253888/Germany-claims-football-World-Cup-glory

2. Was there any other news this week…..Yes. A great Jamaican Patriot and former Governor General, and a man who trusted God, died.

Former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke is dead – News – Latest …
2 days ago … Former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke is dead. Sir Howard would have been 99 in October. He died this afternoon.
jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=54215

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=54215

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of the Messi madness and magic – for me however the Dutch player Robben was more deserving of the title of best player of the tournament – the exposure of the brittleness of the Brazilian defence by the ruthless Germans, the rising star of the Colombian player James Rodriquez, what Word or inspired word came from The Lord this week? A Word which made me consider deeply the goodness and mercy of God, the continued rebellion of mankind, aided and abetted by the enemy, and how much we need to thank God for Jesus. Daily, if not minutely.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – SENT TO LEADERS IN MY COUNTRY BROUGHT US RIGHT TO THE HEART OF THE NATURE OF SIN – REBELLION AGAINST GOD. AND AN APPEAL FOR MERCY….

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Doxology

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:32-36 NIV)

No, not this time, as the inspiration to send this to you did not come during my devotions. It may have started there, but as I was about to leave for work, it came into my mind. So as we contemplate the issues of the day, let us ask for mercy, for our own sins and for those of others, for God’s ‘paths are indeed beyond tracing out’.
For whatever sins former Commissioner Owen Ellington may have committed, the sins of adulterers and the homosexual offenders, the unforgiving and judgemental sins and sin of pride of many of us in the church, the refusal of many of our leaders to accept Christ as the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, those who commit murder and other vicious crimes, those who are guilty of ‘talking down the dollar’, if that is possible, those who ignore the plight of God’s people who live below Cross Roads, – almost prayed for mercy on the Brazilian fans, including yours truly, but this is serious business, although I am sure my Lord has a sense of humour – those who manipulate the lives of others for their own gain and perverted sense of pleasure and think that The Lord is not watching; for all these and for many others sins we pray for mercy on ourselves and on our country. I pray God that all of us will cry out for mercy today. For self and for nation. Then who knows what a merciful God may do! Send rain upon a dry and thirsty land. Send more workers into His vineyard. Even pour out His Spirit on a rebellious people, and cause them to turn back to Him, so that we may enjoy the kind of peace that passeth all human understanding. Who knows what can happens when people humble themselves before The Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in it! Who knows indeed!
Amen.

FOLLOWED BY AN APPEAL TO REASON BY TWO PROFOUND QUOTES FROM TWO IMPORTANT AGENTS OF GOD

THE SECOND MESSAGE – TO THE SAME GROUP

‘All unbelief is the belief of a lie” – Horatio Bonar

In case you were wondered what does the phrase ” bound over ” mean, The Lord provides an answer this morning. From a quote attributed to Horatio Bonar…author of the famous Good Friday hymn…” When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died…. which appeared beside a meditation on ” Responding with Faith” by Chris Tigreen, July 12, 2008. And which featured a verse about ‘doubting Thomas’……Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed…John 20:29

My understanding, by inspiration, is that God has given to all mankind, to each one of us, who He, ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, according to the Psalmist, the gift of freewill. And each one of us has used it to rebel against Him, ever since Adam first did so. All because we believed a lie, of one sort or another, according to Bonar. And so God has had mercy on us in Christ Jesus on the Cross of Calvary.
This may sound preposterous to the modern ear. But consider well a quote from another Saint, who needs no introduction, who God sent to guide us into truth – C. S. Lewis. And which quote appears right beside the passage about ‘doubting Thomas’ in my Classics Devotional Bible. Coincidence? Seriously!

“Christianity if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

The question then arises, what is Christianity? I offer you a simple but profound explanation – one which is an affirmation we make in the Anglican Church every Sunday Morning. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. So if Christ did die for your sin and mine – that cannot be of moderate importance. If Christ is Risen from the dead, so that all of us who believe, may live by the Power of the Holy Spirit, a victorious life over sin and death, that cannot be of moderate importance. If Christ will indeed come again, with glory to judge the living and the dead, have mercy, that cannot be of moderate importance.
So back to Horatio Bonar. If then you do not believe in Christianity, or do not believe that it is of infinite, and eternal importance, someone has lied to you. And you have believed it! If you wish to find out who has lied to you, read again, if you will, the Parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:34–30.
…..The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and and sowed weeds among the wheat….

And this enemy, is like a roaring lion seeking whom he will. In a nutshell then, the work of the church, empowered by God, through His Holy Spirit, is to rescue mankind, lovingly created by God, but who with the gift of freewill, has been led by the enemy, (lied to) to rebel against this same Creator. The good news then, is that in Christ Jesus, because of of His great love for us, God in His mercy and by grace – unmerited love – has opened a new way back to Him – reconciliation.

I would suggest, that this is the proper view, the kind of prism, through which the society should
view the work of the church. Not just as a part of civil society working together for a better Jamaica. But rather, as God’s agents, if we act in love and with mercy and live according to the Spirit and not by the flesh, calling a rebellious people back to the God who will judge all of us one day. And that my friends is of infinite importance.
Peace
LWJ
P. S. As we celebrate the life of one who believed that Christ died for him, Howard Felix Hanlon Cooke, at whose feet I had the privilege to sit from time to time, may His soul rest in peace as he goes to be with His Father in heaven, and ours.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – SENT TO MEMBERS OF MY CHURCH IS A LINK TO A WONDERFUL VIDEO ON YOUTUBE WHICH REVEALS HOW MUCH GOD LOVES US – DESPITE OUR REBELLION

A few days ago I awoke with Jesus loves me yes I know…..and now this morning comes another message of love on awakening. I can identify with everything in this wonderful video. I am sure you can too. And we all give thanks, ask God forgiveness for not trusting Him enough, and the whole church say Amen.
Peace, as we continue to trust Him and pray for rain. Not because, as Daniel prayed, we are righteous, but because God is a merciful God.
LWJ

THE FINAL MESSAGE -SENT TO THE MEMBERS OF MY CHURCH IS A SUMMARY OF A POWERFUL GOODBYE SERMON PREACHED BY A PASTOR AND THEOLOGIAN WHO TAUGHT AT THE UNITED THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE AND WAS A PART TIME PRIEST AT OUR CHURCH FOR THE PAST TWENTY THREE YEARS. AND ONE WHICH SPEAKS TO THE ‘CRAZY GENEROSITY ‘ OF A LOVING GOD

Today was a very special day at STAPC, as we said goodbye to Rev. David Kuck and his wife Mary after twenty three years of wonderful service to our church.
Fittingly David shared the Word.

THE SERMON

Based on the gospel reading about the Sower of the Seed, he made two great points. Firstly – Focus not only on what happened to the seed, but more so on the Sower. ON a God who is ‘crazy generous’ to sow seed so that everyone has a opportunity to have their hearts touched by the Gospel. And this was the essence of the life of our Savior. He sought after the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the ‘dregs of Jewish society’, the Lepers. And ultimately He gave His life on the Cross so that all mankind could have a chance to enter the Kingdom of God.
Secondly – this generosity presumes that some will not respond. Some will be so affected by things of this world and by trials, that they will ignore the gospel. Some will not be touched by the gospel. Only one out of three ‘soil’ bore fruit. But God is prepared to ‘waste ‘ the gospel on all so that some may respond. And ultimately this is what Jesus did on the Cross, ‘ wasted ‘ so to speak His life for all, and only some have responded to the free gift of the Atonement for sin. But such is the nature of the generosity of God. So too we in the church must accept that, not all our programs and projects will bear fruit. Not all our evangelistic…attempts to spread the gospel…. efforts will succeed. People will drift, the congregation may decline, but our job is to be faithful and press on, as God’s Word, will always achieve the purpose for which it is sent..a message from the OT reading.

All in all a wonderful note on which to end. Trust God, and continue to ‘sow the seed’, regardless of whatever success of failure may happen. As in the final analysis, we serve a God who is ‘crazy generous with His love’, perhaps in the same way that David and Mary were ‘crazy generous’ to stay so long with us. And so we thanked them in so many ways – as the pictures will attempt to capture.

Father Larius – sang for us, and led us in singing. We’re together again, something good is going to happen….during the peace, along with other songs. And then for post communion he sang ‘It is Jesus…..in my soul”. Great inspiring stuff, and people responded with lots of Amens…to the glory of God. And sang for the Kuck’s also…which was very special.

Challenge – the third verse of the Gradual…Spirit of God, descend on my heart

Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh;
teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
to check the rising doubt, the rebel sign;
teach me the patience of unanswered prayer

FINAL COMMENT – So as the World Cup ends, many will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, while others will, from now, begin to plan to go to Moscow in four years time, and others will keep the memories fresh in their minds. We, however, as children of God, who, while free to enjoy the spectacle of sport in its various forms, must remain focused on the mandate our Savior gave to us – to be agents of reconciliation in the world. And to sow the seed of the good news of the mercy and goodness of a ‘crazy generous’ God , as seen in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Christ Jesus. Whether we are at the top of our game as Governor General, or the winner of the of the World Cup. And whether God brings into our way, Brazilians, Germans, or Argentinians. All are in need of the Gospel of Jesus. Inside or outside the iconic Maracana Stadium! On the beach in Rio or on the top of the hill beside the statue of the Redeemer Christ; about which icon bathed in the beauty of the setting sun, the same commentator , about whom we spoke earlier, said, ‘ if this sight does not move you, then part of your humanity is gone.
I pray God then that the memory and the reality of the Cross of Calvary will move some hearts, so that the entire world may come to know the Savior of the world.

Brazil, win lose or draw: A Commissioner’s sudden movement: Militant Christians and a Compassionate God

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. World Cup Football now about to reach it’s climax in Brazil, continues to be a major, major, news item in my country. To the extent that many people would not even have noticed that the West Indies lost the first 20/20 cricket match to New Zealand this week. Or that both Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Yohan Blake, two of our track stars, turned in sub-par performances this week. For by now the entire world knows that the Brazilian star player Neymar will miss the rest of the tournament on account of a fracture of the spine which he suffered during the match against Chile. And that in the semi-finals starting next Tuesday, it will South America vs Europe, as Brazil will play Germany, and then the following day, Holland will be up against Argentina. Who will win? For me, it’s always Brazil. Win lose or draw. Even in the absence of Neymar and the twice yellow carded Thiago Silva – the captain.
http://www1.skysports.com/FIFA-World-Cup-2014

FIFA World Cup News, Results, Fixtures | Sky Sports
www1.skysports.com/FIFA-World-Cup-2014
Follow the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Sky Sports. … Neymar feared career was over · World Cup section · Fixtures and results · World Cup quarter-finals …

2. The second bit of news about which so many Jamaican are talking is a far more serious matter that World Cup Football. Sudden, very suddenly, this week, the Commissioner of Police resigned. With immediate effect! As he proceeded to go on leave, prior to his departure. The reasons given by him, and repeated by the Minister of National Security, were not plausible, and hence rumors and speculation abound. A very unhealthy situation for nation stretched to the limit, trying desperately to bring under some measure of control, one of the highest murder rates in the entire world. And in this respect, the Commissioner presided over a period of significant reduction in major crimes, including murder. So as the young people would ask; what’s up with the Commissioner? The nation awaits further and better particulars on this matter. And prays for an already beleaguered country.

3. The final news item perhaps had as many people outside our country discussing it, as did so many within. As reportedly 25,000 persons, one of the largest in recent times, attended a mass rally organized by elements in the church in response to recent calls for the anti-buggery law to be repealed, or at lest to be reviewed. And, more importantly, for a message to be sent both the International Community, and local supporters, that Jamaica is strongly opposed to the promotion of same sex marriage.
Thousands rally against tossing out buggery act … – Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/No-to-homo-agenda_17050490
7 days ago – POLICE last night estimated that around 25000 Jamaicans turned out in their black, green and gold to support the Jamaica CAUSE (Churches …

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/No-to-homo-agenda_17050490

THE WORD OF GOD

What then did The Lord inspire me to read this week, as I cheered on my beloved Brazilian team #maracanadream. And as I agonized over the possibility of yet another troubling moment for my country. All of this happening as the church militant took to the streets.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent to leaders in my country, addresses the matter of the compassion of God for a world populated by people ‘beaten and worn down by the wages of sin”. A feature of human life that transcends social class, lifestyle, gender, nationality, and race. And the Only answer to the problem. A life committed to Christ Jesus.

THE MESSAGE
The revelation began with new perspective on the story of the Good Samaritan. Progressed with a Word from Romans, and from John. And culminated on a reflection on the big news of the days.

Edited version of Chris Tiegreen’s Devotion for July 1, 2008.

COMPASSION OF THE NEEDY

Which of these do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? Luke 10:36

………..But eventually God makes us look deeper at this practical parable and see it as a striking picture of our world. In the big picture, our race has fallen into the hands of robbers; it has been stripped, eaten, and left for half dead. We have all been ravaged by the wages of sin, and we suffer. This parable is not just a lesson on what to do, it is an illustration of what’s been done for us. We stop asking which character we really ought to be and God shows us which character we really are. The answer He reveals is humbling. First and foremost, we are not the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan. We are the victim.

Everyone who has ever really known Jesus by faith has first known helplessness. We once lay beside he road and hoped someone would stop. He did. He was our good neighbor……The Samaritan in this story looks a lot like Jesus. So should we ( go and do likewise)

THE WORD OF GOD

You see at one time when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 NIV

Therefore Jesus said again, I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. i am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.. He will come in and go out, and find passage. The thief comes only to steal and kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:7-10 NIV

COMMENT – Commissioner Ellington’s’ surprising and sudden departure notwithstanding, he leaves with a sense of having accomplished what others have failed to do – preside over a significant reduction in crime in general and murder in particular. But the ‘wages of sin’ in respect of murder remains far too high. So the rising influence of the gay lifestyle! A lifestyle which the church, broadly speaking in Jamaica, though it believes it is sinful, is full of compassion for those so afflicted by the ‘wages of sin’. And is therefore strongly opposed to any attempt to promote homosexuality as an alternate lifestyle and equal to the God ordained heterosexual union. Hence the massive rally on Sunday night.
The problem for all of us, who have been beaten and left for dead by the wages of sin, which we inherited from the first disobedient human, Adam, is that unless and until we feel a sense of helplessness we will not turn to the Only One who can help us. Christ Jesus. So ‘four burner’ heterosexual men, people living together and not married, homosexuals, murders, thieves, and various others sinners, for whom Christ died when we were still sinners, all need Jesus. Anyone, therefore, who is telling them otherwise are representatives of the ‘thief who has come to steal and kill and destroy”. But Jesus offers life and life to the full. So as we wish Commissioner Ellington peace in his retirement, let us commit to ‘ go and do likewise’ what Jesus has done on the Cross. Have mercy on all who are beaten down by the wages of sin! And point them to the Only One who can help. And then and only then will murder go down much more in our country, and so too other sins, including homosexuality, infidelity, irresponsible fathers, broken family life. All of which are contributing to the ‘lament of Mr. Patterson’, and others here and abroad about the state of our dear country.
Peace.
LWJ

THE SECOND MESSAGE – Again sent to leaders in my country, was a follow up on the first. And deals with the need to get the balance right. Promoting righteousness on the one hand, as God in Christ has called us to be; and died on the Cross so that we could have a righteousness, ‘ not of our own’! And having compassion on all who we meet, as ” but for the grace of God, goeth I”.

THE MESSAGE

The instruction for us to have compassion for all who we meet, was very clear again this morning. Perhaps even more than yesterday.
Actually the story began last evening. As I drove home, I heard (most of it) Marilyn Facey’s part one of a two part feature story on homeless gay and transgender men living in the gully in New Kingston. And which story was carried on RJR’s flagship evening program ‘Beyond The Headlines’, hosted by Dionne Jackson-Miller.

The section which really challenged me as a Christian Physician, was the discussion about access to health care in general, and at the Comprehensive Clinic on Slipe Road in particular – where a lot of folks go to get treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. A picture was painted of multiple challenges; first the ‘Security’, then the ‘keeper of the dockets’, and finally the medical staff. Questions of confidentially, of hostile behavior to gays, and a of mocking attitude, were raised; all of which resulted oftentimes in a gay person not being able to receive the care for which he, in this instance, sought. Juxtapose all this with ‘ living in a gully’, being a nuisance to the surrounding society in respective of criminal and disruptive behavior, fleeing from persecution at home, society refusing to lease their premises to accommodate their migration from the gully to more comfortable lodgings, even when funds are made available; and we get a picture of suffering. Brought on by their own behavior admittedly, but also certainly to an extent by people who pass them by without any compassion. So what is to be done? The MP for the area, young Julian Robinson spoke about efforts by himself, the church, JFLAG, and other stakeholders, to make a difference. But clearly a lot more help is needed. And the same can be said for many other less ‘high profile’, homeless people in the city.

It is against this background that a Word about holiness before God, addressed to believers, but of relevance to all people regardless, came before me this morning. But also part two of a reflection on the story of the Good Samaritan. And I wondered, yes the rally to send a signal to the world about the Jamaican churches’ commitment to holiness and righteousness was important, but so too the need or an equally important signal for us to have compassion. Which to be fair, has always been the message from most of the churches. But we need to ensure that we get the balance right, as both messages are important.

THE WORD

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:1-9, 11-20 NIV)

CHRIS TIEGREEN

JULY 2, 2008

Edited version

……..The story of the Good Samaritan is an accurate picture of our world. Most people are missing the mark; few have found true meaning. They are many robbers who plunder, many priests and Levites who are negligent, and many innkeepers who will intervene if they’re paid for it. And, in a sense, every one of these is as miserable as the helpless victims lying by the side of the road. The only person in this story who could possibly have a satisfying life is the Samaritan. The others, in pursuing their goals, miss the ultimate meaning of them all.

Look at the story of the Good Samaritan as a parable of human nature. Do you want to be satisfied in life? Understand the robbers, priests and Levites, innkeepers, and victims; have compassion on them all for the misery they’re in. Above all, be like the Samaritan who shows tangible mercy. Be like Jesus.

A final comment. One: Now I understand why The Lord woke me up at 5:00 am this morning. To read and to pray and to write. Two: For me, Brendan Bain, the one who I know, unless he has changed, is a good example of what it means to a Christian who has compassion on those ‘beaten and left for dead’ by the wages of sin. But, who at the same time, stands up for righteousness. In that sense, and in that sense alone, perhaps those who are in the greatest need of God’s mercy and love, and who need to repent and turn to Jesus, could not have chosen a better person to persecute. After all there are no coincidences in life, as all things are subject to the One who Created man, and in Christ Jesus, showed His great mercy to all of us sinners. And who in all things, and at all times, and in all situations, calls sinful man back to Himself, and has mercy on the ungodly. So, therefore, should we, who claim Christ. As there are two messages that God in Christ sends to the world. Be holy as your God is holy. And be compassionate as God in Christ showed compassion. You cannot call for one without having regard or the other. Whether you are a gay rights activist or a member of the body of Christ, the church.
Peace.

THE FINAL MESSAGE – WAS A MESSAGE NOT SENT. FEATURING A MEDITATION FROM MARTIN LUTHER KING WHICH I WROTE DOWN YESTERDAY EXPECTING TO FINISH THE MESSAGE, BUT DID NOT. ALSO IN THE MIX WAS A STATEMENT FROM A CIVIL SOCIETY GROUP CALLING FOR TOLERANCE AND CAUTION ON BOTH SIDES OF THE DEBATE – ABOUT THE BUGGERY LAW. AND WHICH STATEMENT ATTRACTED A ENCOURAGING WORD FROM THE EDITORIAL OF THE JAMAICA OBSERVER. ALSO A COMMENT MADE IN A GLEANER EDITORIAL SPECULATING ON THE POLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS OF THE CHURCH RALLY.

In the midst of this, twice today, leaving my church to attend another church in an official capacity, a Word from the book of Romans provided a clear answer to both the Daily Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer editorials.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/JCSC-response-to-anti-gay-mass-meeting-comes-late-in-the-day_17081297

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140703/cleisure/cleisure1.html
And further, established a link to the Martin Luther King Jnr reflection on evil. A matter about which I have thinking a lot in recent times. No doubt accounting for a tweet posted this week on Twitter:

@lucienforJesus: We have no apologies to make for offering the light of salvation to a world in darkness. In fact we an apology to the Lord if we do not.

For the challenge for the church, living among unbelievers in a democratic society, and increasing pluralistic world, where ‘ let all ideas contend is the current mantra’, is that, whether they like it or not, whether they accept it, or not, the church militant, and the church obedient, and the church which has a focus on Christ and Him Crucified, represents God Almighty. And therefore our primary purpose is to call sinful mankind back to God in and through Christ Jesus. We, therefore, who are obedient to God, though we are a part of civil society, with as much voting rights as anyone else, are at the core, not a civil society group. And those who ignore our message, and persecute us in whatever form or fashion, are in dire danger of having God’s wrath visited upon them. It is that urgency, then, born out of love for our fellow human beings, including unrepentant and sexually active gays, unrepentant and sexually active people who elect to proceed with their union without the blessing of Holy Matrimony, and all other sins known or even unknown to mankind – but known by God. It is in this context that I advise us to consider well, the Word from Romans, and from MLK Jnr, the distraction from the true calling of the church by the Gleaner, and the ‘missing the big picture’, by the Civil Society Group, as reported by the Observer. For the wages of sin is death, and the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. And as Omar Khayyam once famously wrote:

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

THE WORD – the second reading at both ST. Andrew Parish Church, and Saxthorpe Methodist Church this morning.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-21, 23-25 NIV)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1-8 NIV)

MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR

That’s why I just love Brazilian football. Win lose or draw! From the early days of Pele, Pepe, Didi, Garrincha; to Socrates, Tostao, Revilinho, Gerson, Romario; and in recent times, Ronaldo, Ronaldihno and now Neymar and David Luiz. Why? Magic. Sheer magic! As was the case with David Luiz’s fabulous free kick that catapulted Brazil into the semi-finals of the greatest show on earth. Don’t get me wrong. Other teams play well, as evidenced by one of the best ever not to win a world cup – the Dutch team of 1974, featuring,Cryuff, Neeskins and Johnny Rep and company. And this Dutch has a good chance to win. Also, who can also forget the fabulous Spanish Team that won in South Africa four years ago. But magic comes out of ‘Samba-land’, and lifts one’s football spirit to a different level altogether.

But it was not football that was on my mind during my devotions this morning. Rather it was God’s grace and mercy and faithfulness and power in the face of evil, as I was led back to the story of the oppression of the Israelites by the Egyptians. And how God rescued His people by His mighty hand. How with an exhibition of power of a miracle working God, the Red Sea parted. How the Israelites went through unscathed, and how the Egyptian army, who had pursued them relentlessly, all drowned. Thus providing the inspiration for one of the most touching and instructive meditations I have ever read.

THE DEATH OF EVIL

Martin Luther King Jnr.
Verse: Exodus 14: 30 ” That day The Lord saved Israel from the hands of of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.

When the children of Israel were held under the gripping yoke of Egyptian slavery, Egypt symbolized evil in the form of humiliating oppression, ungodly exploitation and crushing crushing domination, and Israel symbolized goodness in the form of devotion and dedication to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Egypt struggled to maintain her oppressive yoke, and Israel struggled to gain freedom. Pharaoh stubbornly refused to respond to the cry of Moses, even when plague after plague threatened his domain. This tells us something about evil that we must never forget, namely that evil is recalcitrant and determined, and never voluntarily relinquishes its hold short of a persistent, almost fanatical resistance.

But there is a checkpoint in the universe: evil cannot permanently organize itself. So after a long and trying struggle, the Israelites, through the providence of God, crossed the Red Sea . But like the old guard that never surrenders, the Egyptians, in a desperate attempt to prevent the Israelites from escaping, had their armies go in the Red Sea after them. As soon as the Egyptians got into the dried-up sea the parted waters swept back upon them, and the turbulence and momentum of the tidal wave soon drowned all of them. When the Israelites looked back, all they could see was here and there a poor drowned body beaten upon the seashore. For the Israelites, this was a great moment. it was the end of a frightful period in their history. it was a joyous daybreak that had come to end the long night of their captivity. The meaning of this story is not found in the drowning of the Egyptian soldiers, for no one should rejoice at the death or defeat of a human being. rather, this story symbolizes the death of evil and of inhuman oppression and unjust exploitation.

The point here is that the evil of Sin, which has left mankind beaten and worn down, that comes along side us, whenever we want to do good, and which feature of human life left St. Paul wondered about who could save him from this wretched man that he was, and who all of us are, has a checkpoint. And that checkpoint is Jesus. But Sin is recalcitrant and determined, and never voluntarily relinquishes its hold on the human race. So unless we live by the Spirit of God, as offered through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, Police Commissioners will resign suddenly and unexpectedly with devastating consequences to a nation. Militant gays and their supporters – wittingly or unwittingly – will continue to push the homosexual agenda, and call for tolerance and understanding. Disobedient and impatient and those who leave out prayer and attention to the Word, Christians, will fall prey to the guile and enchantment of worldly lifestyle, the unscriptural prosperity doctrine…and so any other problems. But thank God, that He is a merciful God, and longs to have compassion on all those who would turn and repent and accept the free offer of His Son’s death on the Cross, and Atonement for Sin. That the wrath of God may no longer be over our heads. And that there shall no longer be any condemnation.
That’s the message that God has given the church, and we dare not keep it to ourselves, and let it reign only in the privacy of our own bedrooms, or only in our own private conversations.