Everybody ought to know who Jesus is: In Liberia, the family of James Foley and a grieving father in Jamaica

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do ; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton ( 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(s) – Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

THE NEWS

1. THE EBOLA CRISIS IN AFRICA.

A time of good news, and a time of bad news – to misquote Charles Dickens. Good news coming from the USA where the two health care workers who were airlifted to Atlanta, totally isolated from the public, were declared to be well, free of the virus and allowed to return to their daily activities. With no danger to society! In the sense that there is no evidence that Ebola victims will become carriers of the virus, with the dreaded possibility of infected others around them. Further, although they received the experimental drug, the ‘jury is still out’ as to whether or not, they having been treated with the drug, means ipso facto that it is the drug that cured them and not just great supportive treatment. A possibility which could mean that dramatically improving the quality of care in Africa could reap tremendous benefits in containing this awful modern day plague.

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/215682-us-ebola-victims-discharged-with-clean-bill-of-health
Bad news coming out of Africa that the rate of infection is rising fast in Liberia and just recently cases have been identified in DRC. The situation in Liberia has triggered ‘draconian’ measures to stem the spread of the disease. And at the dame time pondering the reality that they ‘exported ‘ disease to Nigeria where at least one doctor has died, and all others taken ill were in contact with the Liberian official who traveled to that country.
http://news.yahoo.com/liberia-finds-17-ebola-patients-fled-clinic-001751341.html

2. TRAGEDY IN JAMAICA.

In the ongoing spasm of violence which has bedeviled my country for years, four young people lost their lives suddenly this week. And a picture of a grieving father of one of the men who passed 11CSEC subjects ( Grade 11 exams …5th form) and 3 CAPE ( Grade 13…6th Form) is a portrait of the kind of pain which only the Biblical figure Job ( who lost his entire family) could have understood. #Lord have mercy

Man Loses Only Son Among Four Killed In Linstead

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140822/news/news1.html

3. EVIL IN IRAG AND SPREAD LIKE A CONTAGION ONLINE.

This week the world responded with shock and horror, and the awakening to the reality of ‘worse than Al Qaeda” , when the American journalist Robert Foley was
executed by beheading, and the video of this dastardly act, released on line by ISIS.
How will the USA and its allies respond to this new threat to West is something that will be answered in due course. So far it would seem that ‘nothing is off the table’, as reports are that even the Syrian government, is apparently anxious to get rid of them and talks of ‘co-operation’ between Syria and America were reported on BBC yesterday

http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2014/08/20/obama-condemning-journalist-killing-vows-relentless-against-islamic-state-expanding-conflict-predicted/QUL0bVQQNMaRbnanmDmUSO/story.html

THE WORD OF GOD

THE FIRST MESSAGE – EVERYBODY OUGHT OT KNOW WHO JESUS IS

In the midst of this horror of Biblical proportions, what did The Lord say through His Word and His inspired word this week. Perhaps the message in two sermons I heard this morning summed it all up. ” Everybody ought to know Jesus”! This profound and direct message was inspired by the Gospel reading in Matthew 16:13-20, when Jesus, having asked His disciples who people thought He was, turned to them and posed the same question. ” Who do you say I am “.
And I would venture to say that for, both those inside and outside of the church, this very same question is as relevant today as it was over two thousand years ago.
In this respect I have been very impressed with Oswald Chamber, author of the world famous devotional book, ” My Utmost for His Highest”, and his writings in the more comprehensive, ” The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers”. Heavily influenced by the tragedy of World War 11 and the reaction of his English country men and women Chambers discerned as he pondered on the life of Job, that:

….Misery is an exquisite degree of torture from which there is no relief; it is very rare. Job suffered in this way, and many people are doing so today on account of the war. We all experience these things in a passing mood, but with Job it is no mood, he is facing the real basis of life. That is why the book of Job is included in the Bible. His words are not the expression of the ordinary misery and melancholy, they are the expression of a man face to face with the foundation of human life, which is tragic. Every time Job opens his mouth he proves that the ‘bottom board ‘ of rationalism is gone, there is nothing reasonable about what he is going through.
The war has proved that the basis of things is what it Job discovered it to be – tragic, and men are being driven to realize the need for Redemption. Facing things as they are will reveal the justification of God in Redemption. No amount of sacrifice on the part of man can put the basis if human life right: God has undertaken the responsibility for this, and He does it on redemption lines. Job’s suffering comes from seeing things as they are; and, diseased and wild as Nietzsche was, his madness was probably from the same source. Imagine a man seeing hell without at the same time perceiving salvation through Jesus Christ – his reason must totter. Pseudo-evangelism makes an enormous blunder when insists on conviction of sin as the first step to Jesus Christ. When we have come to the place of seeing Jesus Christ, then He can trust us with the facing of sin.
When dealing with men like Job and the Apostle Paul we must remember that we are dealing with men who God uses to give us an estimate of things which we have never experienced. We cannot interpret Job in the light of our own moods; the problem of the whole world is mirrored for us in Job’s experiences.

Comment – Aspects of this profound reflection by Chambers surface in the next one; in how Christians ought to respond to the challenges of this world. For self and for others!. But we cannot help but see the truth of what Chambers argues in what is taking place across the world today; and this despite the tremendous advance in technology and knowledge. Achievements which one could reasonably argue ought to bring greater peace and security in the world. But no, the tragic nature of life keeping manifesting itself all around. In the face of the grieving father in Jamaica. In the horrific killing of James Foley. In the agonizing suffering of those who die from the Ebola virus. In the intractable war between the Jews and the Palestinians. In the violent reaction to the death of Michael Brown and in the untimely and soul sapping, nation destroying death of Mario Deane in Jamaica. Along with so much more acts of the tragic nature of life.
it is in this context and more, why ” Everybody ought to know who Jesus is”. For outside of Jesus and His Redemption, to whom all are being called, there is no basis for optimism about life as Chambers also wrote:
” Optimism is either a matter of accepted revelation or of temperament; to think unimpeded and remain optimistic is not possible. Let a man face facts as they really are, and pessimism is the only possible conclusion. If there is no tragedy at the back of human life, no gap between God and man, then the Redemption is of Jesus is ” much ado about nothing”. Job is seeing things as they really are. A healthy-minded man bases his life on actual conditions, but let him be hit by bereavement, and when he has got beyond the noisy bit and the blasphemous bit, he will find, as Job did, that despair is the basis of human life unless a man accepts a revelation from God and enters into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.”

So all who are children of God and ‘bought by the Blood of the Lamb”, have a duty to reveal Christ to others. As outside of a life with Christ, life is absolutely tragic. And the first thing is to point to Christ as one who can help in any situation; the more desperate the better. Regardless of whether the person accepts or know about sin or not. leave that part to God. Point people to Christ. In Liberia, in Ferguson USA, in Jamaica, in Israel, in Palestine, in the Ukraine. Everywhere! For all over the place people are hurting and confused and do not know who or where to turn. Whether it is relationships gone sour, finances down the tube, reeling from violence or even death of a loved one, children lost to drugs, or just lost. Tragedy is all around us.

THE SECOND MESSAGE

The second and complimentary word came from Chris Tiegreen’s 2008 One year Devotional.

KEEP WATCH

” Stay here and keep watch”. Mark 14:34

IN WORD Peter, James, and John had surely noticed Jesus’ distress on their walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, but they were blissfully unaware of the nature of the battle raging around them. They see only with their eyes. But Jesus is nearing the conclusion of a long warfare with the enemy, and the unseen war is most intense in this garden. Whether the Cross of Christ will or will not occur hangs in the balance between the bitterness of Jesus’ assignment and His submission to His Father. We know the outcome, of course, and all the suspense is lost on us. But the three disciples in the garden didn’t know suspense was in the air. They slept!

Life can give us the same illusion. We know it has its struggles, and we are distressed on occasions. But we are often blissfully unaware that there is a cosmic warfare going on around us, and it is always intense. We have been told to keep watch, but we keep falling asleep. Like the disciples, we may be thinking only about tomorrow’s issues while the enemy is waging a war over eternal issues. We think we have taken a midnight stroll in the garden; but our Commander has led us into a high-stakes battle. Regardless of our apathy or exhaustion, this is not a time to sleep.

IN DEED Whether we like it or not, when we put our faith in Christ we left civilian life. We try to revert to a peacetime lifestyle whenever we can, but the attacks of the enemy have a way of reminding us where we are. We are on the battlefield, and though we know the outcome already, our opponent, Satan, forestalls his final defeat as long and as vengefully as he can.
That’s why the New Testament emphasizes faith and prayer as much as it does. Faith is our weapon against the enemy, and prayer is our communication with the headquarters from which come all our resources. And until we have been called home to Jesus, His orders for us remain the same-keep watch.

Final Comments: If then, everybody ought to know who Jesus is, because the basis of life is tragic, as Job discovered, and as so many people across the globe are discovering, including the family and friends of James Foley, then Christians are involved in warfare. It’s as simple as that! As the evil one, Satan has no intention of allowing anyone to come to know Jesus. For that marks the end of His influence and capacity to push mankind to do evil – like beheading others in the name of Allah. Like beating Mario Deane to death in Jamaica, or shooting an unarmed man in Ferguson repeatedly!
So unlike the proponents of the prosperity gospel, Our Lord Jesus has shown us the way to humble service to mankind. Via the Cross. Through suffering. Through self sacrifice. Chasing after the American dream will get you the American lifestyle. But not the Kingdom of God! We have to make choices. And if we don’t, then life becomes tragic, and still Jesus will say with arms wide open, ” Come home, come home all who are weary come home”. Even in, and perhaps more so in our most desperate hour.
That’s His message to the people in Liberia suffering from Ebola virus – cry out to me. And who knows how The Lord will respond? Whether directly as a miracle, or through His disciples who He sends to the uttermost part of the world to assist those who cry out to Him. That’s why we as Christians need to keep watch as Satan is like a roaring lion going about seeking whom he will. Whether to encourage suicide, destruction from drugs, sink in the mire of sexual immorality and perversion, yield to the temptation of corruption, get caught up in gangs and drug runnings and murder, or be affected by life threatening diseases. And we are the only ones, despite the bravado and bombast of those who claim not to believe in God, who ultimately can help by leading them to Christ. The Only One who everybody ought to know. So let us stop ‘falling asleep on the job’, and behaving like pagans chasing after things and fame and fortune and rest. But rather, join others in the great struggle, the great warfare, to free mankind from the tragedy that a life lived without Christ.
Peace.
LWJ

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A Word from the Lord to Michael Brown’s Ferguson, Liberia’s Ebola torn towns, and Mario Deane’s Jamaica

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.

NEWS

1. The outbreak of the deadly fever caused by the Ebola Virus continues to dominate the International News. Even as the US and other Allied forces do battle with ISIS fighters in Northern Iraq. Just today yesterday, fear turned to panic as people stormed a clinic one of the slums in, Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, apparently afraid that those being quarantined there could affect others.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/kenya-bar-travelers-ebola-hit-countries-25011903
This kind of fear could have devastating consequences as infected patients have been ‘let loose’ in densely populated areas where sanitary conveniences are at a premium, and in some cases non-existent.
There are other problems too as the kind of work load that those who have the responsibility to diagnose the disease was brought into sharp focus in a letter written from Liberia, and brought to my attention by a friend who works with the UN.

The highly respected Economist posted a very informative article on the seriousness of the disease and the consequences for the Africa. A very sobering article indeed.
2000 people infected thus far and over 1000 have died. These are troubling times indeed for the entire world, as ‘what next ‘ is real issue.

The spread of Ebola in west Africa is deeply troubling for the region and the world
Aug 16th 2014 | KENEMA, LAGOS AND NEW YORK | From the print edition

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21612157-spread-ebola-west-africa-deeply-troubling-region-and-world-fever?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/feverrising.

2. The outbreak of violence in Ferguson Missouri following the shooting death of Michael Brown, is a cause for deep concern in the USA. In a probing article posted in the world famous Newsweek magazine on Twitter, the theme was that ‘there are two Fergusons’. And the twain do not mix. A serious challenge to the legacy of racial harmony that #Ihaveadream Martin Luther King Jnr pursued and for which he died.
So the racial tensions are running high in Ferguson and not many people have a handle on the solution to the problem; which cannot be the increased militarization of the Police Force, nor the continued violence. Who will broker peace in this ‘war’? The answer is literally and figuratively ‘ blowing in the fires of racism and distrust of whites”. Is there a role for the church in all of this?

http://www.newsweek.com/fergusons-fifty-year-fire-265137

3. Meanwhile ‘back home on the ranch’, in Jamaica, the fires lit up by the death of young Mario Deane whilst in the custody of the state continue to rage. A madman and a deaf-mute have been charger with ‘beating him to death’, whilst some of the police have been interdicted. People are calling for the Prime Minister to issue a statement. The party has countered that the leader has been behind all the moves by members of the cabinet to ensure the protection of those in lockups and that people are not arrested by minor offenses. Tensions are rising, and press releases by The Church and other civic groups have done little to assuage public anger. How will we, as a nation, how will Mario’s parents ever escape from this nightmare where sudden death at the hands of the Police is a real and present danger to many young youths across the nations. In the same way black youths in the USA are similarly at risk…#theygunnedmedown.

THE WORD OF GOD

In all of this tension and at a place where many people are at their wit’s end, what did the Living God reveal through His Word and His inspired Word. It’s a question posed by a Pastor in the USA, and posted on Twitter which triggered a message to a few chosen friends and leaders in my country, entitled:
#gonetoosoon in violent and highly unnecessary deaths…while in the hands of the state, by the hands of gunmen, on the roads

THE MESSAGE – PART ONE

The writer of the blog in link above raises the question of whether or not there is a word from The Lord about Michael Brown’s case in Ferguson, Missouri in the USA. The same question could be asked in Jamaica this Sunday, ” Is there a Word from The Lord about Mario Deane”?
” I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing”.
#theygunnedmedown…#theyleftmetodie…#theyrapedandkilledananda…..#theywearnohelmets

The same question could be posed about the many who have been brutally killed by wicked gunmen…#theyturnedbacktokillher…….
Is there a word from The Lord about sudden and violent death in Jamaica…#wenolongervaluelife
#gonetoosoon
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
LWJ

PART TWO –
At the urging of The Spirit of God, this morning I went and read the verse which triggered the question last night, ” Is there a word from The Lord”? – Jeremiah 37:17
The chapter begins with the sobering words: “…..Neither he nor his attendants nor the people paid any attention to the words The Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet” verse 2.

In fact if you go back and read the background to this chapter, the context is that, Jeremiah had received a word from The Lord about ” Israel, Judah, and all the other nations….”. With the hope that ‘ perhaps when the people of Judah heard about every disaster that The Lord planned to inflict on them each, each one would turn from their wicked ways and God would forgive them”.

But as throughout history, we can guess what happened. The King and his courtiers burned the scroll that was presented to them! So The Lord sent another word to Jeremiah, telling him to write another Word about the impending disaster, because the King refused to listen.
Further reading then documents the terrible ‘ Holocaust’ like disasters which descended upon the people of Israel; all because ‘ They provoked me to anger”, by disobedience… ‘worshiping gods that neither they nor you nor your fathers every knew’.

Finally at the end of Jeremiah, and the beginning of Lamentations, these words struck a chord in my heart:

” How deserted lies the city,
once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,
who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces
has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks.
Lamentations 1:1-2. NIV

If this sounds to you like Jamaica, and probably a prophetic word about other places which will reap their ‘reward’ in due course, no doubt we have come to this state of ‘bitterness in our soul’, all because we, ‘read our newspapers to see what men are doing, and not the Bible which teaches us what we ought to do’. And even worse, ‘ long for Mutty Perkins’, as I heard on Cliff Hughes’ program last night. A metaphor for how we have elevated our journalists to heights where they do not belong, and hopefully most do not desire to be, in the hearts of their listeners.

Which then brings me back to a Word about which I shared elsewhere this week. The Gospel reading in the worldwide Anglican Church for tomorrow! Matthew 15:21-28. A Word about a modern day Palestinian woman, a woman of Canaan ( whose land was ‘occupied’, given to Israel by God). Who then was clearly ‘ not a member of the Anglican or any other church’. But she had a problem. A demon possessed daughter! And for which she could find no cure. In the same way Jamaica has a problem, people #gone too soon, violently and suddenly; on account of wickedness and evil – at the hands of, and in the custody of the state, by the hands of gunmen, and by carelessness on our roads.
So she ‘heard’ about this stranger; this man who could cure her daughter. Not cure her of her many many sins! Just her daughter. So she appealed for help. Jesus appeared unsympathetic and uncaring. But she persevered! Why? Because she was at her wit’s end, and had nowhere else to go. And because she trusted He, who was, ‘The Living God’, her demon possessed daughter was healed.
The question is therefore in tis context, ” is Jamaica at her wit’s end, or is there someone else, something else, some other remedy, some other balm in Gilead, for which our anxious hearts are waiting”? Is the answer to be found in the teaching of Garvey, as I heard someone express yesterday on Dionne Jackson Miller’s program? Is the solution, ‘strong and decisive leadership by Portia and her ministers? In the sense that, as Cliff Hughes was advocating last night with his very limited ‘wisdom’, that what ‘ails the mastiff bitch’, that which happened in the lock up with Mario Deane, is a governance problem?
That is not my understanding. Not the Word that I heard! And apparently not the word that young Damion Crawford heard either; as reported in the newspapers this morning.
No, the problem is that we, as a nation and as mankind, are guilty of only reading our newspapers to see what men are doing, and what men can do, and what men have done. And not reading, and obeying the Word, about what men ought to do. And so, in the words of the prophet Hosea, ” ..bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of all of this, the land mourns……..my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge. Chapter 4. A prophetic word which is validated by the Word from Lamentations.

So will we, whether believers or non believers, who are collectively, ‘at our wit’s end’, as a nation, ‘give to Cesar what is his, and give to The Lord what is due to Him”. In the sense that yes, we call for better governance, yes we pledge to be better and more caring citizens using all our energies and intellect to fashion a new society. But, let us at the same time, ” trust in The Lord with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding”. For in some matters, only prayer can help. A deep longing for God to rule in the hearts of men and women in this country, who are ‘demon possessed’ and determined to rob, rape, beat and kill with impunity.
I pray God that like the troubled woman from Canaan, we who have heard about Jesus, who have His Word presented to us, day after day by the church, the body of Christ, with all its ‘many many faults, may turn to Him and ask for mercy. For our beloved Jamaica, and for the ‘entire human race’. Wherever there is pain and injustice and people who are # gonetoosoon from sudden and premature death.
Peace.
LWJ

FINAL COMMENT – The story in the Economist is the most sobering one I have read all week. So far we have been able to deal with the viruses which have appeared almost out of nowhere. So far!
But who knows when, even worse than Ebola will strike. People once thought that having contracted HIV was like ‘the end of the world’. How things have changed, and the world has gotten ‘comfortable’ with this now chronic illness.
But sudden and violent death continues to stalk the land. In Syria, in Norther Iraq, in Ferguson Missouri, in Montego-Bay Jamaica. And Ebola may yet prove to be much more devastating than we expect.
People are therefore in some cases at their wit’s end, in respect of long lasting solutions for the problems of the world. This is where a renewed church comes to the fore, as it should have been in the first place. Jesus still awaits people who trust in the Living God, in the same way the Canaanite woman did, to place their faith in the Only One who can makes things right Forever! And he is Passing by this moment, His gifts to supply. We entreat you then , on Christ’s behalf, to reach out and touch Him, as He passes by. It’s never too to cry out to Him:
” Pass me not, O gentle savior,
Hear my humble cry;
while on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by.
Amen!

The Yazidis in Northern Iraq, Mario Deanes in Jamaica, War in The Middle East and The Light of Christ

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(s) – Anglican Prayer for The Decade of Evangelism

THE NEWS

1. Something terrible happened in Jamaica during the week when we were celebrating our fifty second year as an Independent nation. Something really awful happened to ‘ one of us’. A young died while under the care of the state. Arrested for a small amount of marijuana, he was about to given bail when, and from then onwards the stories are conflicting, when it was denied. After that he was taken to hospital for injuries, claimed by the police to have been inflicted by other prisoners, and then later died. His relatives are outraged and incensed. So too his community where road blacks have been mounted. Two ministers of Government have issued statements expressing their regret, alarm and sadness, that such a tragedy could have taken place. Especially when moves are afoot, to eliminate the custodial part of the consequence attached to the smoking of small amounts of Ganja, and to replace it with a simple ticket and fine! Many others are shocked, and the issue triggered a raging debate across the nation about ‘who dun it’. As ‘stuff’ like that has no place in a civilized country. The link to the article below provides more information. And so a dramatic picture in the link to the tweet which I retweeted.

http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/mario-deanes-mother-questions-police-report-on-his-death

2. Something equally terrible, and on a much larger scale is happening in the mountains of Northern Iraq which triggered a response from the USA this week. A reportedly, well armed, well trained and disciplined Muslim group ISIS, has gained control of strategic areas in the North, and are rounded up men, enslaving women and beheading those who do not convert to Islam. many of these folks, over 40,000 now on Mount Sinjar are Christians fleeing from this persecution. And the terror is heightened by the ‘posting of the victims heads in public places. The USA and Britain has thus taken action to prevent what President Obama in a weekly address this week termed , the link is provided below, this potential genocide.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/09/world/meast/iraq-crisis/

3. Finally as madness erupted across the world, a man of God, Sir Howard Felix Hanlon Cooke, a former Governor General of Jamaica, and much beloved nation builder, was put to rest. With full national honors!

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Tribute-to-The-Most-Honourable-Sir-Howard-Felix-Hanlan-Cooke_17327442

THE WORD OF GOD

So what message did The Lord send in the midst of this International crisis, and local outrage. Two! One sent to leaders in my country exhorting them to ‘come into the Light’, as this Eternal appeal from none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is the only solution to the savagery , and ” man’s inhumanity to man’ which is so manifest in the world today. A matter of continued concern in Israel and Gaza, where minutes before another attempt at a 72 hour ceasefire, rockets rained down on Israel and Israeli jets unleashed their full power on Gaza. Who was responsible for the first attack? No one truly knows, but both sides continue to blame each other.
The other written but not sent to anyone, was all about seeking God’s wisdom, and the attendant benefits. For Israel, for the people of Gaza, for the ISIS in Iraq
and Syria, for Jamaicans and for the Americans

THE FIRST MESSAGE

This morning, I turned to Chris Tiegreen’s One year Devotionals, for my early morning meditation. And an expanded reading of the passage of Scripture from which Tigreen drew inspiration led me to this verse:
” This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:19-21 NIV.

Then into my mind came thoughts of the funeral of our beloved Sir Howard Cooke. And all the showers of praise which were posthumously heaped on his head. Especially his trust in God! But then, and he would be the first one to tell you, this is what defined this modern day Patriarch, rather than it being another part of his glorious resume. For Sir Howard was a Christian father, a Christian teacher, a Christian insurance salesman, a Christian politician, and a Christian Governor General. Unlike all, save perhaps one who served briefly, our prime Ministers and Premiers – from Manley to present day Simpson Miller. As sadly, in a reportedly Christian country, whose Anthem is a Prayer, and whose National Pledge invokes the power of God, we have not had one Political leader who has confessed Christ, Baptized in His Name, attended Church regularly, led the nation in prayer, and whose life’s journey has been a true manifestation of a disciple of Christ. Perhaps one of the above, maybe even two, but certainly not all.

The question some may pose, in the light of this observation, is who, even in the church, can claim, such righteousness? But then this is where the mercy of God and His grace comes in, as Tiegreen points out. But first, as I was led to reflect having pondered these things and red Tiegreen’s meditation, we have to ” come into the Light”. Repent of our sins, and accept Christ as Lord and Savior, as Sir Howard did; and as King David, the author of Psalm 32, and 51, famously did.

PSALM 32
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. (Psalm 32:1-6 NIV)

CHRIS TIEGREEN

LIVING IN THE LIGHT
Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly what he has done has been done through God. John 3:21

IN WORD Much has been made of the possibility of people in the church bringing discredit to the gospel. The line of reasoning is this: The gospel cleanses us from sin; therefore, when one of us falls into sin, the cleansing power of the gospel is discredited. But is that true? Does a sinning saint damage the gospel’s reputation?
That depends. Someone who claims to be right with God, but who clearly is not, may weaken the witness of the message. But someone who falls, confesses and repents – no matter how great the fall – only confirms the power of the truth. That person has demonstrated the meaning of grace.
Look at it this way: It’s easy to discredit a gospel of legalism; all you have to do is break its laws. But the only way to discredit the gospel of grace is to be perfect. Grace assumes that the laws have been broken by everyone already. Why would we be outraged when we see someone fall into sin? Our message of mercy presupposes that we will. It accounts for the depravity of the human condition. When we see sin and repentance, we don’t see a discredit to the gospel; we see the gospel in action.

IN DEED Jesus said that those who live by the truth will come into the light and their confession will be evidence that God is at work. He does not mean that those who live by the truth are those who never sin. He means that those who live by the truth will deal with their sin. They will bring it into the light and accept God’s forgiveness ( That’s what David did in Psalm 32: 1-6, and 51). That does no harm to the gospel; it affirms it.
Are you hiding your sin? The church unwittingly encourages its members to do so. But that denies the gospel. Bringing it openly to the Cross exposes the sinner as sinful but also exposes the gospel as powerful. may we always know the freedom to live in the light.

Final Comment: Does it really matter if our political leaders, and those in other spheres of national life ‘ come into the Light’; repent of their sin and accept Christ?
O yes, it certainly does. Think of what Sir Howard achieved.! Perhaps none captured his life’s work more succinctly than Boulevard Baptist Pastor, Devon Dick writing in the Daily Gleaner recently, when he made the point that, ” Sir Howard had a wide embrace for all”.
I would suggest that it is this kind of leader, ‘who has come into the Light’, which the country so desperately needs at this time. Someone who, having had his or her sins cleansed by the grace of God, in and through Christ Jesus, can ’embrace all who are doing tremendous harm to our nation’, and bring them into the Light.
Think of what a leader who has ‘come into the Light’, could do to help the members of the JCF, in the light…pun unintended… of recent and past events; and without passing any judgement, young Mario Deanes comes to mind! Think of what a leader with a ‘wide embrace’, could do to bridge the gap between Gays and Christians on the matter of the buggery law and same sex relationships! Think of what a leader who has passed through the ‘valley of political tribalism’, and has come into the Light of the gospel and repented, could do to rid our nation of this terrible scourge – perhaps even more troubling and virulent than the Ebola virus! Think of what a leader who has come into the light, could do to help this country to deal with the immorality in our music, the coarseness in our speech and the ill mannered way in which many of us treat each other; a problem so pervasive that a ‘values and Attitudes campaign ‘, was launched but failed to gain any traction. Finally think of the ripple effects that a leader who has come into the Light of Christ, and confessed his or her sin, and received grace, could have on ordinary men and women in this country, people of good will who are willing to make a difference and fear God.
Sir Howard did! It’s time for others to ‘come into the Light’. Regardless of how some in the church have ‘ misused the grace of God’. As, God’s grace is sufficient for all. But first you have to, like David, a man with many sins, ‘come into the light of the gospel and repent. That’s ( part of) the legacy of the death of Christ – Forgiveness for all who come to the Cross. That’s the true legacy of Sir Howard – a man who came into the Light of the gospel, and had a wide embrace for all

THE SECOND MESSAGE

As the heavens open and God sends rain on a dry and thirsty land on this INDEPENDENCE DAY, I was led back to the book of wisdom. We can well imagine David teaching his son Solomon, these words of wisdom. And he David had ‘gone through the fires of temptation’, and had much to offer his sons. But in this context, of a ‘dry and thirsty land’, where crime and violence, poverty and distress, immorality and corruption, have become the ‘Leitmotif’, of our beleaguered nation, what do we say to our people at a time like this. God provides an answer. For those in our schools! For those ‘sitting on our laps’! For those ‘sucking at the breast’! For those whose daily diet what comes at them via the smart phone, the television, the dance hall lyrics, the ipod! For those whose head ‘ bears the weight of the crown’; whether in Gordon House, in the Business Place, in the Media, in the ‘hallowed halls of Universities, or in the Church. Especially the Church!
I pray God my own children will heed this call. I pray God the many ‘sons and daughters’, that The Lord has blessed me to have will all heed this call. I pray God that those who I place ‘ under my tent daily’ will heed this call. I pray God that all of my people here in this blessed land, that ” there is nothing that is wrong with Jamaica, that what is right with Jamaica cannot fix’, as declared by the GG this morning to much applause, will heed this call.To the glory of God. He who alone sends rain, in His own time and for His own purpose. That man may learn that we cannot not live on ‘ bread ‘ alone, but rather on every Word of Wisdom that comes from the mouth of The Lord. And the greatest Word, made flesh, is Christ The Redeemer. For….In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3, 5, 9-11, 13, 14 NIV)

And as I end, the rain ends too, but the Word of God lives forever.
Peace
LWJ

THE ANSWER – SEEK GOD’S WISDOM

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.” Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:1-27 NIV)

THE THIRD MESAGE – Came in the ‘ dead of night ‘ last night. From the book of Jeremiah. And was all about people who continue to ‘love the darkness’ instead of ‘coming into the Light. As one day, for all nations, whether the ISIS in Norther Iraq, the Jews and the IDF, the Palestinians, the Americans or us Jamaicans, all who continue to ‘reject the Word of God’, will suffer the consequences in Judgement.
A passage of Scripture which a single verse captures its essence; and which verse came into my mind a few days ago, but I could neither recall the source nor the context.

” If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses”.
Jeremiah 12:5 NIV.

A major problem across the world, is that those who live outside zones of conflict, in the comfort of their living rooms, do not understand the ways of God. That, every nation on earth, whether Israel to whom God revealed Himself in a special way, or those nations that He used to ‘punish a rebellious people’, or any nation that has rejected the ‘Redeeming Blood of Jesus, will come to Judgement one day. All people across the Globe. This was the central message from Baptist Minister, Rev. Shuttleworth on TBS FM radio this morning, as I drove home from church. He quoted Jesus’ warning to those who rejected his disciples, that their lot would be worse than Sodom. Matthew 10:5 NIV. Thus making the point that what those who use this story to condemn homosexuality alone, fail to appreciate that the Judgement meted out to Sodom, will not be as great as that which will befall all nations that reject the message from the church about the Son of God.
And so God through Jeremiah warns us that we really don’t understand Who we are up against when we reject the Maker and Creator of Earth. And worse in a frightening Word last night God promised to:
” See I will send venomous snakes among you,
vipers that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you,
declares The Lord.”

GOD’S WORD LAST NIGHT

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? Your relatives, members of your own family— even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you. “I will forsake my house, abandon my inheritance; I will give the one I love into the hands of her enemies. My inheritance has become to me like a lion in the forest. She roars at me; therefore I hate her. Has not my inheritance become to me like a speckled bird of prey that other birds of prey surround and attack? Go and gather all the wild beasts; bring them to devour. Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard and trample down my field; they will turn my pleasant field into a desolate wasteland. It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares. Over all the barren heights in the desert destroyers will swarm, for the sword of the Lord will devour from one end of the land to the other; no one will be safe. They will sow wheat but reap thorns; they will wear themselves out but gain nothing. They will bear the shame of their harvest because of the Lord’s fierce anger.” This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbours who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 12:5-17 NIV)

Final comment: I pray God that all who read this message, in Jamaica and in far off lands, will ‘come into the Light of Jesus”. As war and savagery, torture and wickedness, further acts of inhumanity to man, rebellion against God with attendant consequences, await those who continue to ‘live in darkness’. A life without Christ!

God’s Wisdom: The True Independence and Liberation for Palestine, Israel and Jamaica

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(s)

THE NEWS

1. This week, my country Jamaica, celebrates the anniversaries of both our Emancipation from Slavery and our Independence from Britain – our former Colonial Master. It’s a time of much speech making by our leaders, exhorting a nation to pursue greatness by ‘standing on the shoulders’, of the ‘authors and perfecters’ of our modern nation. It’s also a time of merry making, gala shows in our major towns, and in throughout the diaspora, and our course partying across the nation. And the performance of our world renowned athletes including ‘Bolt’ and ‘Shelly-Ann’, but also rising stars like swimmer Alia Atkinson, and 400 M Hurdler Kalese Spencer, at the Commonwealth games in Glasgow, adds tremendously to the joy of the holidays and the spirit of celebration. Even as we agonize over a murder rate which is among the highest in the civilized world, and an economy which has not grown significantly in a quarter century, thus triggering grinding poverty, migration to more affluent countries, and terrible hopelessness.

Fear grips Negril West End after second murder

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Fear-grips-Negril-West-End-after-second-murder_17290834

2. The Palestinian Israeli conflict continues to dominate the news here in the USA. With no end in sight as the Israelis are determined to blow up all the tunnels that Hamas uses to attack their border communities. And the Palestinians are determined to end the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. In the midst of this war, the civilian deaths continue to rise, thus triggering condemnation by the a major UN Organization, as noted in the tweet below – an unusual move in this ‘ everybody tries to be balanced ‘ world.

@UNrightswire: UN #HumanRights Chief Pillay condemns continuing attacks on civilians in #Gaza:http://t.co/dYl6lkMe0q http://t.co/qbxFr9PvJb

THE WORD OF GOD

All week long the single most important thing that The Lord taught me, through His Word, and His inspired word, was to seek wisdom. His wisdom! And so the first message sent to my church at St. Andrew ( Anglican) Parish in Kingston Jamaica, was all about seeking the wisdom of God in the midst of war and murder.

THE FIRST MESSAGE

First the context: One Contemporary and Secular. The other The Word of God.
CONTEMPORARY

All week long we have watching, once again, war being waged far away in The Middle East , from the comfort of our homes. Every detail, the latest developments in the efforts to pursue peace, every expert on the conflict, is presented to us on HD TV. Yesterday the main news was the ‘ blunder’ of Secretary of State John Kerry; seeking the advice, and perhaps using the influence of the financiers of the ‘terrorists’ Hamas, labeled by the press as extremists, rather than the moderate Palestinians. And thus coming up with a “peace plan’ which apparently infuriated the Israelis, and did not achieve the much hoped for Cease Fire. So the blame game continues; as it has since 1947 when Israel declared its Independence.

GOD’S WORD.
On holidays, and worse, on holidays with grandchildren, one does not get much time to read the word during the days. Morning and bedtime devotions are ok, but that’s it. So yesterday, during a, ‘lull in the fighting’, so to speak, not in the literal sense, but rather in the high energy, high intensity activities, I got a chance to read. And I am now working my way through Proverbs. As I read chap 2:10, the verse, ” For wisdom will enter into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul, discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you”…especially wisdom and discretion, the clear intent of The Lord touched my very soul.

This verse touched my heart so much that I sent off an e-mail to leaders in my country, pleading for them to accept this wisdom from God, so that our nation may be rescued from evil. Having regard also that a few night ago, The Lord woke me up to read, in Isaiah, how the children of Israel rebelled against Him repeatedly, and His promise to rescue them, and the need for them to cry out to him day and night. For mercy! And the revelation that ‘every promise that God made is answered “Yes” in Christ Jesus, and then we say the Amen, to the glory of God. 1. Cor.1:20

The key in all to this however, as in all the Bible, we are called to ‘fear God’ and obey all His commandments. And then ‘wisdom will enter our heart…..”

So in that context came the revelation this morning about the real reason for the conflict in the Middle East, and who is at fault. And as we read, the thought came into my head that, the tragedy and the apostasy and the consequences thereof, that attends Israel on account of disobedience, is a metaphor for understanding the individual and collective problems of mankind across the world. Including our Jamaica.

The revelation comes from the Book of Judges. How did I get there. Definitely not on my own. For as I began reading this morning, Proverbs 2, after having had it as ‘a song in the night ‘ last night, ‘ wisdom ‘ , triggered in my mind, ‘ by faith (and the wisdom of God) Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, conquered kingdoms, administered justice…..’. In the great chapter( 11) on faith found in the book of Hebrews. In fact I did not even remember the names quoted above, including Gideon, but just ‘administered justice’.
And as I began reading the chapter on faith, Gideon came into my mind. That is how I ‘arrived’ there this morning.
What did I learn:
– Israel was under siege at the hands of the Medianites because they ‘did evil in the eyes of The Lord “.
– to the extent that they had to ‘seek shelter’ in ‘mountain clefts’…..modern day bomb shelters
– they could not plant any crops, as the Medianites, and the eastern people ‘ ruined the crops all the way to Gaza’. So this is where it all began.
-the Medianites and their allies so impoverished the land, that the Israelites cried out to God. Today they depend on the Americans to provide weapons of war, and ‘shield’s to protect them from rockets.
– When the Israelites cried out to God, ‘he sent them a prophet’. Now bear in mind that in this dispensation, the only ‘ prophet’ that The Lord will send to anyone in any kind of trouble, on account of disobedience or ignorance, is His Son Christ Jesus. There is no other. read the first fee verses of Hebrews carefully:

” In the past, God spoke…..through the prophets….but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son”. Hebrews 1: 1–2

– The entire account of the story of how Gideon rescued his people from the hands of the Medianites, can be summed up in a single Word. ” You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me, that her own strength has saved her….

– It is fascinating, given the Word from the OT appointed for this week in Genesis where ‘ Jacob wrestled with The Lord ‘, that before Gideon started his rescue mission, he too had a time of wrestling with The Lord .

– Finally , on a personal note, every night before going to bed, among other Psalms, I have been led to read Psalm 83. A Psalm where the writer calls out to God, not to be silent in the face of the imminent attack by the Medianites and their allies. And calls on God to ” do to them as you did to the Median…to Sisera…to Oreb and Zeeb. Both of the latter feature at the end of the story.

Final Comments: Regardless of diplomatic blunders, or attempts by successive Presidents to pursue peace in the Middle East, only Israel can find the peace it seeks. And only if they chose to listen to the prophet God sent to them, to turn them back to He who rescued them out of the hands of Egypt and the Median. Again and again!.
And by extension, regardless of how much money is poured into rescuing people from addictions to various substances; no matter how much resources are made available to us in Jamaica to fight against crime and violence; despite the breakdown of the Berlin Wall and the promise of peace in Europe; mankind will not achieve the peace it seeks until and unless all of us turn and accept He who died on the Cross of Calvary. Christ Jesus. Otherwise, we might feel that it is the Americans, or Bill Gates’ Foundation, the EU, Chinese industriousness, or the IMF/WB, or the new BRIC Bank, or Japanese help to fight climate change, or Human Rights Advocates, or ‘heaven forbid’ Dudus or Kartel, that has rescued us, and ‘ boast against The Lord, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and the sea and all that is in it.
Amen

THE SECOND MESSAGE – also sent to members of my congregation in essence makes the point that there are not many things that we have to learn about God. One is that He is very much a God who has compassion on all His created people. A God who more willing to ‘cover sins’, than He is ready to ‘judge sinners’. A God who sent His only Son to suffer and die, for the sins of “Adam’s helpless race”…all mankind lost in Sin. This character of God, is the kind of wisdom and knowledge that will be ‘pleasant to our souls’, and the wisdom that will cause ‘discretion
to protect us’, and ‘understanding to guard us’, in all our ways. Whether in Jamaica or in The Middle East!

THE MESSAGE

God’s Word is always rich in meaning and often beyond the full comprehension of man. But certainly one of the things we learn from this week’s reading in the gospel is , ” When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick”. Matthew 14:14 NIV
The point here, is that if we focus on the miracle of feeding the fish, and miss the fact that, it was out compassion why Jesus performed such a great deed, in the same way that out of compassion God rescued the children of Israel miraculously from Pharaoh, then we would not have learnt the lesson Jesus was teaching.
That we too ought to have compassion on the people in the news in Gaza, in Israel, in Ukraine, in Holland, in Malaysia, in Syria, in Africa where the Ebola virus is raging, and elsewhere wherever people suffer from various trials. But also in our own country, on people who we meet, people who do not share our faith in Christ Jesus, people who disagree with us on doctrinal issues within the body of Christ, those who rage against us for whatever reason, friends who have lost their way, family members who disappoint us, our own church members with whom we have disagreements, whether laity or clergy, those on the ‘other side of the debate on same sex relationships’, the corrupt and those corrupting the morals of our children, and the Kartels and Dudus’ of this world. And together with others, cry our for them and for our own many many sins, in the same way that the blind men cried out to Jesus, ” Son of David have mercy on us”. In the same way that Paul agonized over the lack of faith of his own Jewish brethren in the Epistle, and prayed for them.

Also having regard to the fact that Jesus warned us in Matthew 9:12 NIV, that ” It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy not sacrifice. For I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners”.

So yes, we worship ( and bring our sacrifices before ) a mighty God and Blessed Redeemer; yes we get involved in raising money for the church; yes we meet in fellowship with each other; yes we meet for Bible study; yes we meet together in Synod and at Healing Conference and for Clergy retreat and Cursillo: but if after all of that we are not filled with compassion for ‘sinners’, for those who Jesus cried our ” Lord forgive them for they know not what they do”, and do not share in Paul’s declaration ‘that I am a debtor to the whole world’, on account of the death of Christ, then, as church, we would have missed the point altogether.

For ultimately, a church that has the ministry and message of reconciliation, and a mandate to call unbelievers to be reconciled with God, our aim ought to be the same as Paul; to declare that ” I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God”. Acts 20: 26-27 NIV.

It is in this context then as church we ought to commit ourselves with Anglicans across the world to promote the Five Marks of Mission.

The Five Marks of Mission
To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
(Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p49, Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p101)
– See more at: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/fivemarks.cfm#sthash.OBz14OOI.dpuf

The whole will of God! All because, like Jesus, we have compassion on all persons who God place in our path as we go through life; all because we too have received mercy from God in and through Christ Jesus.
We continue to pray with compassion in our hearts therefore, for all those who are sick, those who grieve, and all who face trials of any sort. For mercy! From the Son of David, who is indeed, ” Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace”. And whose grace is sufficient for all.
Amen!

THE THIRD MESSAGE – came into my mind in three parts over the last couple of days. The first a meditation inspired by the wisdom of God as recoded in one of the most popular verses in the Bible Proverbs 3:5 and quoted above.

FOLLOW THIS PATH

G. Campbell Morgan ( 1863-1945)…a famous Bible teacher and evangelist, who pastored various churches in England including Westminster Chapel in London.
Verse: Proverbs 3:5

So simple and so clear is the statement, that interpretation is unnecessary. The reader, then, will be patient if for once this writer becomes reminiscent, and so a witness rather than an advocate. I distinctly remember the day when I left home to face life, amid its crowded ways, for myself. My father, whose philosophy was certainly that of the Hebrew wisdom, gave me these verses as providing a complete guide to life. Looking back over the intervening years I know he was right. In them there has been much of failure, many turnings aside from the straight highway, many devious and sorrowful wanderings from the true paths of life. All such failure, such turnings aside, such wanderings, have resulted from leaning to one’s understanding. The measure in which I have trusted Jehovah, and acknowledged him, has been the measure of walking the in the paths of real life. Doubt of God, pride of intellect, and independence of volition, these are the things which blight and blast. Paths chosen for us by God all lead onward and upward, even when they seem to us to turn about in inextricable confusion, and to move downwards to the valleys of humiliation and suffering. he is the All-Wise, and to him, wisdom is the way by which Love gains his victory.

The second part was triggered as a ‘song in the night. In the midst of a deep sleep, I was awakened to read God’s word, as my country and all nations seek peace. And having ‘put pen to paper’, the message continued as thoughts of wisdom kept flowing into my mind.

PART TWO
“The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools” Ecclesiastes 9:17 NIV
And they are foolish who do not fear God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth the sea and everything that is in it.
For those who fear The Lord the promise is that:
” Wisdom will enter their hearts, knowledge will be pleasant to their souls, discretion with protect them, and understanding with guard them”. Proverbs 2:10-11 NIV
And to fear God means to ” Trust Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways to acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5 NIV
Therefore it is not sufficient to call on His Name during an Independent Service, or message. It is not acceptable just to call for Divine Intervention when we are at ‘our wits end’. But, rather, as directed in the book of Deuteronomy to heed the cry of The Lord God of Israel:
“O that my people would fear me and follow all my commands all the time, so that it may go well with them and their children”
And in this dispensation, to do the work of The Lord and to follow His commands is to ” Believe in the one whom He sent”. The One who He sent is Jesus; and to believe in Him is to commit to serving Him, the Light Who ‘dawned’ on the people of Zebulun He who Isaiah described as :
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

PART THREE – really places a bookend to this word from God about wisdom. As ultimately all our struggles, whether in the Middle East or in Jamaica, whether in Ukraine or in Russia, whether in America or in Europe, whether in Africa or in Asia or South America, represent our ‘struggling with God’, in one form or another. And the central point is that God will always win. His way will always prevail. And every hardship, every illness, every trial and temptation, is meant to teach us to learn to depend on Him alone. Even in death! And not to lean to our ‘own understanding’. Otherwise war and sickness, poverty and wantonness, murder and immorality, greed and pride will reign in the hearts and minds of mankind. And no world leader, whether in Jamaica or in the Middle East, no matter how powerful or popular he or she may be, can make any lasting difference, until and unless people learn that ‘the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom’.

A SUMMARY OF SERMON BY FATHER ANTHONY HOLDER AT HOLY SACRAMENT EPISCOPALIAN CHURCH IN SOUTH FLORIDA THIS MORNING

Wrestling with God – from the story of Jacob in Genesis 32

– Jacob had many faults including stealing Esau’s birthright, and conning Isaac in order to receive the blessing that was due to the older child.
– He thought he was always in control and his destiny was in his hands
– he was on his way home and reached a point where he poured out all his belonging and sent them ahead of him and he was left alone.
– then he came ‘face o face with God’. And wrestled with The Lord. The text is unclear if the wrestling was with himself, another human being or with God Himself.
– he could not prevail against God, and was left a ‘wounded wrestler’, with a permanent reminder, having had his hip dislocated, of his encounter with God
– having wrestled with God he underwent a name change – Israel – and became the father of the children of Israel
– we too wrestle with God when we face trials, when bad things happen to good people, when we face illnesses, when we have important decisions to make and sometimes sleep eludes us. And we come to know God more and more in that wrestling.
– we also come to appreciate that God will always have his way with us as man cannot wrestle with God and prevail. So we need to trust Him more and more even when we don’t understand what is happening to us.
Amen.
Peace
LWJ