By Chikunguyna or ISIS or Domestic Violence we are laid low, but in Christ Jesus we are more than Conquerors

I read my Bible to see what men ought to; 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).

NEWS.

1. The Chikungunya Virus, or Chik V, unleashed its full wrath on the Jamaican populace this week. What is man? Some may very well have asked themselves this transcendental question, as they went to bed, ‘hail and hearty’, only to awake in the middle of the night, with such severe pain that they could not reach the bathroom. Thus there were many ‘accidents’ across the nation this week. For this and other reasons – the terrible itching, the bad feelings – people became afraid, panicked, and very angry, and thus poured out their wrath on the Ministry of Health team which, from their early pronouncements about the numbers, apparently underestimated the virulence of this terrible illness. And some folks even wondered whether or not, such a tiny mosquito, which the Health Team quite correctly asserted as the agent which carried the disease, could cause grown men and women to be come virtual cripples so suddenly. This was the, ‘talk of the town’, in my country this week, as the Ministry of Health team, sought to allay fears about an, ‘air borne illness’, among other speculations, and also to ramp up activities to deal with conditions in which the offending mosquito could breed,

Yes, the offensive launched against ISIS by the US and its allies, and in particular the strategy of attacking the sources of income viz the mobile oil refineries, was noted. So too the ongoing discussion in the USA on domestic violence triggered by the ‘Rice’ incident. The ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which has spawned fears far and wide continues to be big news and potential danger for the entire world; even in the Caribbean where this week both the Jamaican and Bahamian authorities issued releases denying the the Virus had reached their shores. But in my mind Chik V trumped everything else in terms of its impact on a nation.

THE WORD OF GOD
So in the midst of the Chik V epidemic what did Word did the Lord lead me to read and what inspired word came to my attention. Two points! The need for prayer, and the need for constant communication with God. For what really is man! As in a flash, in a heartbeat, life can change dramatically and drastically. Whether you live in ‘gated communities’, with 24/7 security, or whether you live in the inner city exposed 24/7 to unhealthy conditions; whether you are ‘high and mighty’ in your country, or whether you are part of the ‘common folk’. Doesn’t matter really, as mosquitoes find their way into every ‘ nook and cranny’, and more importantly, so does sin – into every human heart. In fact, for whatever reason radio rjrfm94, did a re-broadcast of the interview with the former ‘selector’ which was aired last week, and about which I wrote, as I travelled to church. So again this morning I listened to ” Rondelle Positive” sharing His story about how he gave orders, incorrect orders, to the dance hall crowd; and how they carried out these instructions under his ‘authority’. In this context then his hit song, ” More than a Conqueror”, which according to him, has greatly influenced a lot of people, including even Rastafarians, had its genesis, and I had a chance to listen and to reflect on the powerful words.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – Captioned ‘ A Prayer I pray every morning’…One of three… sent to two persons for whom I pray constantly.
ON RISING
Rule over me this day, O God, leading me on the path of righteousness. Put your Word in my mind and your truth in my heart, that this day I neither think nor feel anything except what is good and honest. Protect me from all lies and falsehood, helping me to discern deception wherever I meet it. Let my eyes always look straight ahead on the road you wish me to tread, that I might not be tempted by any distraction. And make my eyes pure, that no false desires may be awakened within me.
THE SECOND MESSAGE – SEND TO THE SAME PERSONS
ON GOING TO WORK

Give me, dear Lord, a pure heart and a wise mind, so that I may carry out my work according to your will. Save me from all false desires, from pride, greed, envy and anger, and let me accept joyfully every task you set before me. Let me seek to serve the poor, the sad and those unable to work. Help me to discern honestly my own gifts that I may do the things of which I am capable, and happily and humbly leave the rest to others. Above all, remind me that I have nothing except what you give me, and can do nothing except what you enable me to do.
Please remember to pray for me as I pray for you.
Peace
LWJ
THE THIRD MESSAGE
ON WAKING
Living Lord, you have watched over me , and put your hand on my head during the long, dark hours of night. Your holy angels have protected me from all harm and pain. To you, Lord, I owe life itself. Continue to watch over me and bless me during the hours of day
Comment : one of the Psalm to which I turn, in particular, in times of trouble is Psalm 27. And the Psalmist prays that ” I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…….For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling”. The point which I believe the Lord is saying to all of us, is that we need to keep in constant communication with Him. For as the Chik V illness has shown us, very dramatically, and as I have often quoted Oswald Chambers, ” The basis of life is not reasonable, but wild and tragic”. And therefore only our belief in The Atonement of Christ on Calvary can bring us peace in the midst of this Life of uncertainty. And therefore these prayers keep us grounded in the Lord, so that when the Day of Trouble comes, in whatever form, we who believe, will not have to turn and search for the Lord, but rather, like the songwriter, admit and accept that, ” I must have my Savior with me, for I dare not walk alone”. Always!

THE OTHER MESSAGES – SENT TO MY CHURCH FAMILY
THE FIRST ONE – IS REALLY AN AFFIRMATION OF THE FACT THAT WE CANNOT MANAGE WITHOUT JESUS, AND THEREFORE OUGHT TO LAMENT WHEN WE ARE SO DISOBEDIENT. AS THIS IS WHAT THE CHIK V ILLNESS, PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD AND OTHER CALAMITIES HAVE TAUGHT US, IF WE WOULD JUST LISTEN CAREFULLY.

Here’s the sequence of how this message developed. First in preparation for Bible Study on Tuesday night, I read, early this week, the four lessons appointed for Sunday. They are all about obedience. Then yesterday this:

TUESDAY MORNING

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Refrain:
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT
Then last night I tweeted:
@lucienforJesus: Belief is a wholesale committal. It means making things inevitable cutting off every possible retreat. Belief is as irrevocable as death-OC

@lucienforJesus: Belief is the abandonment of all claims to merit. That’s why it is so difficult to believe #OswaldChambers

…..after reading Oswald Chambers’ Complete Works on the subject of Belief and other issues.

Then this morning the following excerpts from a passage of Scripture, which in my mind, is perhaps unrivaled ( strong words) in its teaching on the need for the Christian disciple to focus on Jesus, and that He alone is sufficient – I am the Bread of Life as recorded in John 6:25-39. And which passage is followed by the powerful declaration that:
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing…..

THE BREAD OF LIFE – CHRIS TIEGREEN

I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty – John 6:35

……Perhaps we hunger for the wrong kind of bread. Jesus says,’ He who comes to me will never go hungry’. Many of us appeal to jesus for the goods of this world, the fulfillment of our own agendas, or the circumstances we would like to have. To us, Jesus is a means to another end – our goals. If this is our story, Jesus is never satisfying.
Perhaps we hunger for the right kind of bread, but don’t meet Jesus’ conditions for receiving it. Jesus says, ‘ He who comes….he who believes’. Both of these conditons imply that we meet Him on His terms, not ours. We try to come with part of ourselves, but not all. We want the benefits of the Son of God without abandoning ourselves to Him. ….@lucienforJesus: Belief is the abandonment of all claims to merit. That’s why it is so difficult to believe #OswaldChambers….
If this is our story, Jesus is never satisfying us either.

But to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and who come to Him without reservation, trusting in Him as the source of all righteousness and strength, He satisfies. Those whose whole life is reoriented around Him and who desire nothing else will never want for anything. He is not our means to get bread; He is the Bread.

Finally, perhaps for us to gain a deeper perspective on the depths of our predicament as we hunger and thirst for Christ and Christ alone, and Him Crucified, a meditation on Disobedience. One which I have been led to read, time and time again. And I am sure many of us can identify with some, if not all, these profound and insightful prayers.

Perhaps the words of John of the Cross, a saint of yure, which I found nestled in the passage from John, in my devotional Bible, could shed some light on the reasons for our continued lament about our proneness to disobey God.

” My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on you” ( The Bread of Life – my words)

A PERSONAL PRAYER FOR OBEDIENCE – JOHN BAILLE
Verse: Judges 2:17

Holy God, to whose service I long ago dedicated my soul and life, I grieve and lament before thee that I am still so prone to sin and so little inclined to obedience:

So much attached to the pleasure of sense, so negligent of things spiritual:
So prompt to gratify my body, so slow to nourish my soul:
So greedy for present delight, so indifferent to lasting blessedness:
So fond of idleness, so indisposed for labor:
So soon at play, so late in prayer:
So brisk in the service of self, so slack in the service of others:
So eager to get, so reluctant to give:
So lofty in my profession, so low in my practice:
So full of good intentions, so backward to fulfill them:
So severe with my neighbor, so indulgent with myself:
So eager to find fault, so resentful at being found fault with:
So little able for great tasks, so discontented with small ones:
So weak in adversity, so swollen and self-satisfied in prosperity:
So helpless apart from thee, and yet so little willing to be bound to thee.

O merciful heart of God, grant me yet again thy forgiveness. Hear my sorrowful tale and in thy great mercy blot it out from the book of thy remembrance. Give me faith so to lay hold of thine own holiness and so rejoice in the righteousness of Christ my Savior that, resting on his merits rather than my own, I may more and more become conformed to his likeness, my will becoming one with his in obedience to thine. All this I ask for his holy name sake. Amen

THE SECOND – SPEAKS TO THE FACT THAT CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO LIVE A SUPERNATURAL LIFE, AS WE SERVE A SUPERNATURAL GOD. AND THE FAILURE TO DO SO, AND BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN OUR WITNESS, COMES ABOUT WHEN WE
FORGET TO BE IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH GOD – ON ACCOUNT OF DISTRACTIONS.

I have long since stopped wondering about these things and just concentrate on being obedient.
So this morning, as I began my devotions thanking God for mercy and how He has been with me – Jehovah Shamma, I was led to the Psalm which reports on how God is always with us, searching us, ‘even if we settle on the far side of the sea’. Psalm 139:9 NIV.
Then immediately, my mind went to the Acts passage where Paul reveals how God made the entire human race and settled them in different places, so that they may seek Him, and even find Him, for in Him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:16-34.
An interesting passage of Scripture filled with all kinds of challenges for Christians living in this world where they are so many ‘idols’. But more importantly, as the message develops, was that on the other side of my Devotional Bible was a meditation from Francis Schaffer. In which she lamented the fact that we live in such a naturalistic age ( 19912-1984). And even though we are ‘Biblical Christians’, and therefore supernaturalists, we run the danger of the spirit of the age infiltrating our thinking, and perhaps even without recognizing its coming…like a fog creeping through a window open half an inch…

Then I recalled another meditation which has left an indelible mark on my soul. Hitherto I have refrained from sending it out to the general congregation because of the ‘mischief’ it may start. But today I am led to share a further thought on the whole issue of the supernatural life with you who are leaders in the church, as I believe, that though, clearly not gospel, Evelyn Underhill wrote under the power of The Holy Spirit. And such a unapologetic and determined focus on achieving this ‘temper of spirit’, will lead our church, and indeed our Communion, more and more to the One who Paul spoke about in Acts viz. ” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. i.e Christ and Him crucified, in Whom and from Whom, all power and supernatural might flows, and to Whom we give all the glory and praise. Amen.

THE ONLY TRUE APOSTOLIC LIFE
Evelyn Underhill

Verse; 1 Samuel 12: 19

What then is a real man of prayer? He is one who deliberately wills and steadily desires that his intercourse with God and other souls shall be controlled and actuated at every point by God himself, one who has so far developed and educated his spiritual sense, that his supernatural environment iis more real to him than his natural environment. A man of prayer is not necessarily a person who says a number of offices, or abounds in detailed intercessions, but he is a child of God, who is and knows himself to be in the deeps of his soul, attached to God, and is wholly and entirely guided by the creative Spirit in his prayer and work.

This is not merely a bit of pious language. It is a description, as real and as concrete as II can make it, of the only really apostolic life. Every Christian starts with a chance of it, but only a few develop it. The laity distinguish in a moment the clergy who have it from the clergy who have it not: there is nothing that you can do for God or for the souls of men, which exceeds in importance the achievement of that spiritual temper and attitude.

It is only through adoration and attention that we make our personal discoveries about him……….I think that if you have only as little as half an hour to to give each morning to your private prayer, it is not too much to make up your minds to spend at least half that time in such adorations. For it is the central service asked by God of human souls, and its neglect is responsible for much lack of spiritual depth and power.

In the flood tide of such adoring prayer, the soul is released from the strife and confusions of temporal life; it is lifted far above all petty controversies, petty worries and vanities – and none of us escapes these things. It is carried into God, hidden in him.

THE FINAL MESSAGE – POSES THE SAME QUESTION WITH WHICH WE STARTED. WHAT IS MAN, AND WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE. ESPECIALLY AS WE ARE CONFRONTED WITH A TERRIBLE DISEASE. IN THE END THE ANSWER IS THAT WE ARE MADE CHILDREN OF GOD IN CHRIST SO THAT WE MAY BECOME AGENTS OF HIS LOVE AND MERCY AND CALL TO ALL MANKIND TO BE RECONCILED WITH GOD. FOR WE CANNOT MANAGE WITHOUT HIM. REGARDLESS OF HOW SAFE WE MAY THINK WE ARE ON OUR OWN, OR BY WHAT WE CONSIDER TO BE OUR ‘STRONG TOWERS’. AS, LITERALLY OVERNIGHT, THEY CAN DISAPPEAR.

Who am I? What is my purpose on earth. Two questions that perhaps many have pondered on deeply from time time. Especially in the midst of perplexing situations, What is man, as we consider the suddenness and severity of the Chikungunya virus and other illnesses, is perhaps a more frequent response.?

This morning while praising the Lord, I was led to John for an answer. In fact two answers.
The first lines of John’s gospel paint such a majestic picture, that even many non-believers cannot help but commit them to memory. ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ……….”. All of which lead us to the profound revelation that, ‘all who receive Jesus and all who believe in his name”, He gave the right to , ‘ become children of God’. Not to be called, but to become! There’s a huge difference between the two statement. That’s the first point – in Christ we have become children of God. – with all the attendant blessings and responsibilities.

But there is a second, related, and perhaps insufficiently discussed point. That ” John came as a witness to the light.”…and that, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. After John!
As I pondered these things, two passages of Scripture came into my mind. “But I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to myself”. John 12: 32

” All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 2 Cor. 2:18-20.

It is also very instructive that these verses are preceded by”

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Cor. 2:16-17
In fact the caption in the NIV – The Ministry of Reconciliation – heralds the onset of very clear instructions why we are ‘the ambassadors of Christ’. In the same way that John was ( is). viz…..” Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men”………” For Christ’s love compel us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”.

Final Comment: Food for thought isn’t it, as we spend so much of our time worrying about other matters. Important matters! But how do they compare with, or even affect, our central mission, which is subject only to our will to be obedience – to lift up the name of Jesus in all we do, and to ‘try and persuade men’. And God in Christ will do the rest…draw all men to Himself.

Peace
LWJ

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Reduction in the rate of Murder in Jamaica: Seeking The Higher Ground in Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to ; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton ( for slave 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. A new Commissioner of Police was installed recently. This amidst a significant drop in the previously dreadfully high murder, has brought some kind of hope to a country which has suffered so much and for so long from this national disgrace and International embarrassment. For behind the national concern about a loss in GDP and other economic indicators lies a terrible story of human tragedy and grief. This scourge, this plague, on our blessed island, is the number one concern for all Jamaican, whether residing here or abroad. It will take sometime for people to begin to feel safe again, but the downward trend in the crime data is more than encouraging.

Murders Down 8.2 Per Cent
Published: Friday | August 22, 2014 8 Comments
THE PLANNING Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has reported an 8.2 per cent decrease in the murder rate for the period January to June 2014.

The PIOJ’s deputy director general, Richard Lumsden, says the rate declined to 18.2 per 100,000 of the population, down from 19.9 for the corresponding period in 2013.

Murders down 8.2 per cent – News – Jamaica Gleaner – Friday …
jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140822/news/news6.html
Aug 22, 2014 – THE PLANNING Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has reported an 8.2 per cent decrease in the murder rate for the period January to June 20

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Police-Commissioner-Dr-Carl-Williams–acceptance-speech

The other news items I came across this week were interesting but nothing that stayed with me for a long time. Yes the Ebola crisis continues to be a big problem in Africa and could turn out to be a major International epidemic and most folks are happy to see the response from President Obama. In Jamaica we are in the throes of a new epidemic caused by the Chikungunya Virus, which has become unfortunately a major political issue in respect of how the Ministry of health has managed the situation thus far. And ISIS continues to read its ugly head in the Middle-East and more and more countries are coming on board in the war against this extreme group. Including some who make for strange bedfellows with the USA.

THE WORD OF GOD

This week, no doubt triggered by the installation of a new Commissioner of Police, and the good news about the reduction in the murder rate, I was led to write a heartfelt message to the Minister who has presided over the reduction in the murder rate, reminding him of an important event in his life, and in the life of the nation, and imploring him, as our Prime Minister declared at the end of her speech to the PNP’s annual Conference today, to ‘seek even higher ground’. I felt it necessary to include this note, which was copied to others in the Political Directorate, and therefore not entirely private, in this Sunday night Ministry, as the stakes are high, and the future of this country hangs in the balance. And therefore the campaign to change the hearts of our leaders, so that we may become more and more a nation of people who fear God, and fight against evil, of various sorts, must occasionally become public. To the glory of God!

THE MESSAGE

In a moment of weakness, at time of deep personal grief, and during a period when the entire nation was grieving. you cried out to God; for like the Psalmist, at that point, you knew that, ‘ My help comes from the Lord’.
We may argue about the time when the decline in the murder rate began. But what is not in dispute is the reality that under your watch, praise God, we have witnessed a significant drop in this plague on our land.
You may well recall the story of Gideon, and how the Lord chipped away at his resources, lest when he won the battle against the Medianites, he and Israel might not be tempted to boast that it was on account of their strength why they had prevailed
If then with a heart not yet fully and completely surrendered to God, the Holy One of Israel could bless you and through you Jamaica, how much more would He cause showers of healing to fall on this blessed isle, if you were to deny self take up your cross and follow Jesus. And even more so with the help of praying and obedient colleagues and a new Commissioner: all prepared to deny self and follow Jesus
Food for thought isn’t it. As at the end of it all no one will be able to boast before the Lord. For the battle is not ours but the Lord’s.
We continue to pray for mercy.
Peace
In obedience
LWJ

Following the sending of the note above, the Lord led me to write three other notes, inspired by a quote from C.S. Lewis – one of the great thinkers of all times, and a man of God. All of which were sent to leaders in Politics and the Media
and captioned
– Food for thought isn’t it, especially if we are passionate about rescuing our country.

Perhaps my experience this morning, as I was rushing to church, might help in our understanding of the forces of evil which have beset, our nation. And in order to fight successfully against it, we have to seek the ‘higher ground’ about which the songwriter speaks. The words of which hymn, ” I’m pressing on the upward way…….Lord plant my feet on higher ground”, the PM used to close her speech today.
Not sure of his name, but he was now a Gospel artiste, and was being interviewed on #rjrfm94. He was, in his previous life a ‘selector’ in the dancehall culture. Which means that he selected the songs to which his patrons danced, and thus created a vibe for the ‘session’. What he revealed was that in that context, in that dancehall scene, as a selector, he spoke with authority, and whatever he told the people to do, they would obey him. Take off their brand new and expensive clothes, dance in a particular way, and even get a policeman to ‘fire’ the government gun, until even when the bullets were finished, the lawman’s finger was still clicking, clicking, clicking. So on reflection on this ‘madness’ he realized that God wanted him to have the same authority to do good and not evil, and so he turned to the Lord – my interpretation.

THE FIRST MESSAGE

It was only a few pages into the book — if it hadn’t been near the front, I may never have found it — when John Piper uncorked this revolutionary little claim from C.S. Lewis. It’s only a six-word sentence — but the context’s essential, no doubt. Here’s “We are far too easily pleased” in its native surroundings, from the opening salvo of Lewis’s remarkable sermon “The Weight of Glory”:

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (26)

Comment: The events which led me to this famous quote by one of the world’s great thinkers and Christian apologist, is not important. Interesting yes, but unimportant. What is important is that I was led. #TheLessonfromthestoryofGideon
Peace
LWJ
THE SECOND ONE – SENT THE NEXT DAY

..during the war in Angola, the battle cry was , ‘ a luta continua’. And so the ‘baying hound of heaven’, continues to seek the souls of men and women, as I woke with these thoughts in my head after last night’s message.

‘ far too easily pleased’, in the sense that the pursuit of the legitimate, and in the right context, God given gifts, ought never to become our ultimate goals; regardless of how noble, in some cases, they may be. For they cannot begin to compare with the joys of heaven; and as we are reminded in the Scriptures, The Kingdom of Heaven or eternal Life, which begins right here on earth when we commit and surrender completely to Christ Jesus

No doubt that’s part of the reason, if not the whole story, why I was led to tweet this week :

@lucienforJesus: A man’s god is that for which he lives – Martyn Lloyd-Jones #BeCareful ….

Having said that, I was reminded of a verse which is pregnant with meaning. And which I ‘bucked up’ in Barnes and Nobles recently, whilst perusing a book on, or written by, Bill Clinton, in which, one of several letters written to him by a Roman Catholic Priest who had considerably influence on him, was quoted.
The verse is from the book of Jeremiah the ‘weeping prophet’ -perhaps there is a message there too. The context is, another one of Israel’s exiles. And so The Holy One of Israel, through the prophet, encourages His people to prosper wherever they are, regardless of the circumstances – almost like Ronnie’s injunction to ” grow where you are planted’, if I am quoted him correctly.

” Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city, to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” – Jeremiah 29:7 NIV

No doubt the theologians would have a lot more than I to say about this passage. But what I gained, in the context of this discussion about ‘ being far too easily pleased’, is simply this: that the two great commands are always to be in our minds. To love God and to love neighbour. But in loving neighbour, in seeking to rescue our country, whether through the efforts of the ( 180 year old ) media, or through the political directorate,, we should always bear in mind, that even in ‘this city’, ” To love the Lord with all our heart”, and all that comes with that injunction, promises to come, and the joys of following Christ even now, must come first.
I end with a note of levity, as I know it will not happen, but also seriousness as that ought to be our motto, as the PNP Conference takes place this weekend.
Perhaps their new slogan ought to be ” we put God first”, and not people. As we cannot help people, no matter how well intentioned, unless we put God first. No doubt the media too, ought to reconsider their mandate, as Bishop Howard urged them to do recently. And to seek a ” higher ground’, than just informing, entertaining and educating……http://www.stylzfm.com/interact/news/45-gleaner-news/4425-the-gleaner-has-much-more-to-offer.html#.VB131348KrU

All of this happening because we are far too easily pleased, and our goals set at far too low a level, in the grand scheme of things.

Peace.
LWJ

THE THIRD MESSAGE – ON THE FOLLOWING DAY

A Final Message came as I continued to read the Jeremiah passage. The plan that God has for this nation is to prosper us and not to harm us. And all the calamities and trials that confront us, and have been out lot ‘for God He knows how many years ‘, have come as a result of our ‘being far too easily pleased”.
And therefore we have not ‘sought the Lord with all our hearts. Thus one of the greatest unfulfilled promises came into my mind, when in Deuteronomy, God ‘cried out’ as it were, to encourage His (disobedient) people, and I am going here from memory:

‘O that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and obey all my commands all the time so that it may go well with they and their children forever”.

I am tempted to reference the Minister of Youth and Culture on this one, but clearly this injunction is far more catholic in it’s intention than a single aspect of government. And if this promise does not convince us that we are far too easily pleased, I don’t now what will.
O God have mercy on us. O Christ have mercy on us.

O Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end. Be Thou forever near me my Master and my friend. I shall not fear the battle if Thou be by my side, nor wander from the pathway if Thou will be my guide…..

Final Comment – God’s power is real. As during the week I found myself singing on the way to work, ” I have decided to follow Jesus…..no turning back, no turning back. Further, one morning whilst praising the Lord, I was led to the famous passage in the book of Acts, where the disciples in the church, in response to persecution cried out to God:

“Now Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. Acts 4:30-31NIV

So may He use this Ministry to perform miracles in this country, and may He enable all who serve Him, in the midst of evil, to speak His Word with great boldness.
Amen

The American response to ISIS terror and God’s response in Christ Jesus to SIN

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.

NEWS

1. So America under Obama’s watch is going back to war without using the ” W ” word. And if you listen to some voices, the USA should stay out of the fight with ISIS and leave the Arabs and others in the Middle-East to sort out their problem.
One voice which is hard to ignore, belongs to the celebrated economist Jeffery Sachs. And whose voice is not unfamiliar to many Jamaicans given his ‘star ‘ role in the once very influential ‘ Breakfast Club’ hosted by the late Anthony Abrahams and Beverley Manley. He argues inter alia, that other more pressing issues ( hunger poverty and disease ) in the region ought to take priority over ISIS

The problem is that we live in a media saturated world, and it is hard for anyone with a conscience and the power to made a difference, to ignore those pictures of Iraqi Christians, and other minorities, fleeing for their lives on the mountains in Northern Iraq- CNN ought to get some kind of prize for that coverage. Especially when we learn of the beheading of children who refuse to ” change their allegiance”, and other such atrocities. Further, what apart from terror is the end game of ISIS? This is not a group simply fighting to establish and maintain an Islamic State, but rather one that has clear intentions to forcibly convert others. And if not, ” off with your head”. Imagine if we had the same ‘ early warning ‘ coverage of the atrocities which took place under Hitler’s watch in Nazi controlled Germany, how quickly that war would have ended. Or how much sooner the Americans would have gone to war. Long before Pearl Harbour! Evil of the sort that ISIS represents has no place in a civilized world, and must be driven out lest it take root and infect the entire Middle East, and beyond.

Let the Middle East Fight Its Own War on ISIS Huffington Post ‎- 4 days ago
We should understand from the start that the US had a major hand in creating the new ISIS monster. The US funded the Mujahedeen in …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/let-the-middle-east-fight_b_5798242.html

Yes, other news caught my attention. The funeral of the late Minister of Government Roger Clarke and the tremendous outpouring of grief, love and respect. The continued mayhem occasioned by gunmen in Jamaica, in the USA and other parts of the world. The heightened fears over the spread of the Ebola Virus in Africa and what it is doing to the Tourist Product in that continent. As the fact is that as Bob Marley famously wrote ( there is ) ‘ so much trouble in the world’.

THE WORD OF GOD

So as we reflect on so much trouble in the world and the role of the church in renewing the nations, what Word or inspired word did The Lord speak about this week to His people through this medium.
Two messages stuck in my mind. One very short. And the other, just a bit longer. Thus making this Sunday Night Ministry one of the shortest ever ; a joy to the ears of many. Although whatever I write is always in obedient to the Spirit.

1. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. John 7:63 NIV.

The context here, and hence the link to ISIS, is the continued warning by Jesus, that ” man cannot live by bread alone”; and that ‘flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God”. That teaching was extended in His advice to ( especially those who come to Him by night ; because they are afraid of what others might say, or do ) Nicodemus that, “no one can enter the kingdom unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
So in the same way that flesh, no matter how great that person is, or was loved, or was heralded – all those with ears to hear let them hear – counts for nothing in the sight of God; and must die, and be made anew by the Power of The Holy Spirit. So too the unadulterated and unfettered evil that ISIS represents, as did The Fourth Reich, as did the Pol Pot Regime, as did the Mau Mau, must be removed, so that new life can be breathed back into the Middle-East.

2. The message below is really an extension of the word that reminds us that we cannot serve God unless we are ” Spirit filled”. And thus we cannot ‘renew the nations’. Thus the kind of anemic Christianity, dim faith, and languid prayers which attend the preaching and acceptance of the prosperity gospel; which properly understood is an attempt to ‘serve The Lord by coming through the back door”. That is, without the suffering, that marked the lives of the early Christians like Paul and Peter. And whose teaching and witness by the Power of The Holy Spirit, transformed civilizations, much less regions and nations. This then, the ” Spirit filled ‘ life, is what is needed, and has always been the case throughout the long history of pure Bible based Christianity across the ages, if we are to defeat ISIS, the forces of evil causing murder in Jamaica and continued mayhem in parts of the USA, the despoiling of our young women and children, and the ever widen gap between the rich and poor across the world.

THE MESSAGE

Last night whilst listening to song after song of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and praising The Lord, for some unknown reason I ‘happened’ upon one of my favorite pictures and tweeted it with the following caption:

@lucienforJesus: https://t.co/0BFH715PIV one of my favorite pictures. Think of Pentecost and The Holy Spirit descending on the disciples #tonguesoffire

Then this morning whilst praising The Lord with the words from the Benedictus in the old prayer book….that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies might serve him without fear…I was led to the famous speech by Joshua as he approached the end of his life. And during which (chapters 23-24) charge to Israel, among other things, after recounting their long and glorious and event filled history as guided and protected by God alone, he spoke these remarkable prophetic words after he had declared who he would serve ( As for me and my house……)

” We too will serve The Lord, because he is our God. Joshua said to the people,” You are not able to serve The Lord . He is a holy God, he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake The Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you”. Joshua 24:18-20 NIV
After which Joshua made a covenant for people at Shechem ” a stone to be a witness against us”

Comment: One of, if not the greatest challenge, that we as children of the Resurrection, and partakers of the New Covenant established by the Blood of Jesus, is to remember that ” You are not able to serve The Lord”. And in fact the Word of God in 2 Corinthians 1:21, says that : ” Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come”.
In fact properly understood, the entire Old Testament after Joshua, is a history of a people rebelling against God, and God in His mercy rescuing them. Again and again, until ‘ in the fullness of time God sent His Son”.
The point here is that every day, every minute, every Sunday morning, lest we forget, we need to give thanks to God for His Holy Spirit; Who alone empowers us to serve God. For as the songwriter reminds us in that wonderful hymn, we are all, ‘prone to wander’, and serve ‘gods from beyond the river’.

This week I was led to reflect and write about on a meditation from E. F. Bruce the preeminent evangelical theologian in the post World War 11 era and who lived in Scotland. An excerpt from which I share to underscore the importance of coming to church, and more importantly, living a life of ‘ sincere heart-devotion’ to Jesus, Whose Holy Spirit living with and among us enables us to worship and serve God. For otherwise we would have suffered, the same fate as the children of Israel, as ‘ without the Holy Spirit we cannot serve The Lord’.

………..’God is spirit’: it is not merely that he is a spirit among other spirits; rather, God himself is pure spirit, and the worship of which he takes delight is accordingly spiritual worship – the sacrifice of a humble, contrite, grateful and adoring spirit. This affirmation of our Lord’s was not entirely new; it but crowns the witness of psalmists and prophets in earlier ages, who saw that material things could at best be the vehicle of true worship but could never belong to its essence. Sincere heart-devotion, whenever and wherever found, is indispensable.’

Peace
LWJ

Final Comment: In the same way that the weight of the evidence in the Bible, is captured in that wonderful hymn, the words of which were in my heart as I awoke one day this week; ” I must have my Savior with me, for I dare not walk alone”. In the same way we need to understand that the weight of human history teaches us that we dare not let evil flourish for a moment. For evil left unchecked anywhere is an affront to the God who made the earth, and declared it, not just good, but ‘very good”. And the same God who in Christ died on the Cross, to defeat the evil which had infected mankind and the creation, is the same God who calls on us, the Body of Christ to fight against evil anywhere. Whether it be in a country, in the music or entertainment industry, in the Justice system, in commerce, in a community, or in the hearts of mankind – out of which flows all kind of evil. For the Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.

American plane crashes in Jamaican waters, ISIS Terror in Iraq, Road Deaths in Jamaica and Jesus the Master of the Storm

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 by the Anglican Church.

NEWS
1. I don’t normally write about road safety issues, as I am deeply involved in that aspect of national life in my country, and really don’t wish to come over as pushing my own agenda. But the death of a mother and her five year child on the way to school this week really shook me up. And sent me to the throne of grace appealing for mercy in a special way. A situation further aggravated by the fact that during a seven day period the police reported twenty road fatalities; the most we have had in Jamaica for a long time. Thus triggering the kind of pain and grief across the nation which can never be fully fathomed, as only God in heaven can help in such a situation.
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Mother–5-y-o-daughter-killed-in-Portmore-crash_17467160

Mother, 5-y-o daughter killed in Portmore crash
One dead, another injured in hit-and-run accident

2. High drama over the skies in Jamaica unfolded late this week, resulting in the crash of a single engine plane which took off in the USA, and the presumed death of a husband and wife. All of this sent panic waves across the country as we were wondering if this ‘out of control ‘ aircraft would come down in a thickly populated area, and cause much damage to life and property. In addition, jets were scrambled both in the USA and in Cuba to try and ascertain the cause of the malfunctioning aircraft. But when the ‘dust had settled’, what we were left to ponder was the tragedy of three children grieving the sudden death of both of their parents.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/06/us/unresponsive-plane-crash/

3. All of a sudden ISIS ( Islamic State in Syria) is upon us and the western world is literally ‘scrambling’ to find an answer to this new potent, well armed, and well trained terrorist group. In the meanwhile, people are being beheaded publicly, large swathes of land in Northern Irag and Syria are under their control, and huge numbers of ‘infidels’ have been killed or have had to flee for their lives. All of this leaving grief and pain and terror behind, and if the Saudi government is to believed, if we are not careful, further terror spawned by this group, a la Al Qaeda and 9/11, may soon visit western cities.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29100285

And as we consider this snapshot of the problems of the world, fully cognizant of the challenges that continue in Ukraine, in the Middle-East, in Ebola affected African nations, and murder most foul in Jamaica – a woman killed in ‘broad daylight’ by her former lover – we ponder the human tragedy and the grief in homes across the world.

THE WORD OF GOD

What Word or inspired word did The Lord point me to consider this week in the midst of so much heartache and grief across the world.

The first message was an unexpected meditation. Unexpected in the sense that I happened upon a July 16 reflection from Chris Tiegreen’s 2008 Devotional Book.
The subject? The sudden storms of life!

MASTER IN THE STORM

” You of little faith, why are you so afraid”.
Matthew 8: 26

IN WORD One of the hindrances to a faithful response to Jesus in the storms of our lives is our acute awareness that He let us get into the storm to begin with. We would rather have a Savior who didn’t sleep in the back of the boat. We would prefer that He navigate us around the storms rather than deliver us in the middle of them. But our God has never guarded His people from storms. He even lets us suffer in them sometimes. Why?
Jesus could have navigated His company around that storm. it blew up without warning, but The Lord of creation isn’t surprised by anything. He knew about this storm. But if He had let the disciples avoid it, they would never have known Him as the Master of the winds and the waves. They would not have asked the question: ” What manner of man is this?” ( vs 27). They would not have known Jesus as their Deliverer that day.

IN DEED Jesus lets us get into the middle of storms so will will know Him. When we avoid the dangerous waters, we avoid the Deliverer. When all is well, our faith only needs a Jesus who is asleep in the boat. While that may be more comfortable to us, it subverts the purpose for which we were created. We were meant to know Him, and whether we like it or not, some of His characteristics can only be discovered in the deep, treacherous waters.
When we think we prefer our comfort to the storms of life – a universal tendency for us humans, by the way – we are actually choosing stagnancy over fulfillment. We must realize that we can’t really know the Deliverer unless we need deliverance. We can’t know our Redeemer unless we need redemption. We can’t know our Refuge unless we experience danger. Do we really seek comfort and ease? No. Deep down we want real faith. We want to know the One who accompanies us – even in storms.

Comment: This is a hard reflection to deal with even if you are mature Christian and sudden death visits your home; and snatches away your partner for life, your only child, or your best friend. No one except God Himself can provide comfort in those situations. And like Job, many wonder why for years. We cannot begin to understand that kind of grief, and should unlike Job’s friends, keep quiet and pray and be there for such persons. But with the full assurance that we serve an awesome God, and a God whose love is unfailing. Why He allows some to live, and some die, both believers and unbelievers, is a mystery that only He can solve?
Why He allows a group like ISIS to both rain and reign terror in the world; why He chooses not rescue a mother and her five year old child from sudden death, and why He did not rescue that husband and wife who died in Jamaican waters, only He knows. But in both those cases, and others which do not result in disaster, a sovereign God is calling people back to Himself; and to know Him in and through Christ Jesus. For in the final analysis, what the world needs to know, whether President Obama with all the might of the American army at his disposal, or the the allies of the USA in the Middle-East and Europe, is that the only Master of the storms of the world is Christ Jesus. And despite all the precautions we take, as we say in Jamaica, ” trouble nuh set like rain”; in the sense that trouble unlike impending inclement weather, does not give any warning, and often ‘blows up like a sudden storm’, in our lives. And the life of a Christian is inevitably full of ‘trouble’, as The Lord wills it. So that we can know Him as Deliverer, Redeemer and Refuge.
This runs contrary to the popular but quire erroneous ‘ prosperity, name it and claim it gospel’, which is causing so much havoc in the life of Christians across the world; and which ultimately has no power to fight against evil in this world. The kind of evil which has spawned ISIS; which has triggered the prolonged high level of murder and violence in my country; and the kind of evil which has militated against peace between the Jews and the Palestinians, and has resulted in so much loss of lives and human misery, for decades. As only in and through those who have come to know Christ through suffering, and being rescued in the storms of life, as Deliverer, Redeemer and Refuge, will the Spirit of God flow like streams of living water and rescue a nation and a region from evil.

THE SECOND MESSAGE – is short and in two parts. One of which I tweeted to folks on my TL this week

Part one:

The opposite of joy is not sorrow, but unbelief – Leslie Weatherhead ( An English Christian theologian 1893-1976)

This profound quote does not need much discussion. The simple fact, and the weight of Scripture, properly understood recommends it, is that true Joy in life only comes when we place our trust in God, in and through Christ Jesus. ‘ All else is like sinking sand”. And will be revealed, fully, when the storms of life inevitably visit us. Just watch how those who seem to be happy and rejoicing and even denouncing any talk of, and rejecting any thoughts and teaching about, God, respond when ‘trouble arrives”. As it will one fine day. Out of the blue! So even in the midst of the storms, in the midst of pain and grief and sorrow, the true believer can still experience the Joy of knowing that the Sovereign God of Heaven and earth is still in control. Regardless of the circumstances and apparent devastation!

Part two:
I suppose that’s the reason why The Lord led me to reflect deeply on the words of the Psalmist this week.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

A Word from The Lord which no doubt inspired the song writer to pen the words of this deeply inspirational song which has serves to shore up the flagging faith of many people across the world in times of trouble.

Be still and know that I am God,
be still and know that I am God,
be still and know that I am God.

I am the Lord that healeth thee,
I am the Lord that healeth thee,
I am the Lord that healeth thee.

In thee, O Lord, I put my trust,
In thee, O Lord, I put my trust,
In thee, O Lord, I put my trust.

Final thoughts: Increasingly, if we believe what the Bible has to say about the ‘end of times’, trouble and violence, a rejection of the Word of God, disobedience to parents and other symbols of authority, and other manifestations of a world ‘ leaning on its own understanding’ together with the brokenness of a world separated from God by Sin, will manifests itself in various ways and forms. And the God who The Anglican Lord Bishop of Jamaica, The Rt Rev. Howard Gregory warned a nation during a sermon to mark the 140th anniversary of one of the oldest newspapers in the Hemisphere – The Daily Gleaner, that we as Christians are called to be ” a watchman”, and suggested the media ought to rise to the same high calling in a nation, expects us to challenge evil wherever it raises its ugly head. And to comfort the dying and rescue the perishing! But we cannot do that on behalf of a people until and unless we are prepared to eschew a life of ease and comfort, and ‘ take up our Cross and follow Christ into battle. Yes, we can even pause for a minute and celebrate with Serena Williams for winning her fifth US Open Tennis final today. Yes we can celebrate with whoever wins the men’s final tomorrow, whether with the Nishikori or Cilic. But such celebrations whether in sports or otherwise, should be a blip in our lives and not the goal. Our goal is to attain what Christ has called to be – holy, as God is holy. To find Joy in self-expenditure and suffering for others. To love God and neighbour as ourselves. To ‘join with Paul in suffering for the gospel”. And to be a watchman for a troubled nation and world. All other ideas about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is ‘of man’, and not of God.
Peace.
LWJ

The sudden death of Minister Roger Clarke, Dance-Hall Queens and Jesus is more than enough

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) – Anglican Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

1. The big news in my country was the sudden death of a very popular Minister of Government, The Hon. Roger Clarke. On the way back home, having had corrective surgery to his back, whilst waiting at the gate to board the plane in Miami Airport, he fell ill and later in the emergency room of a local hospital. He was the Minister of Agriculture, but more importantly truly ” the people’s choice”. A good and generous soul was he, full of biting wit, and unafraid of challenges from any quarter; be it the media, the opposition, the opposite sex on the dance floor, or his drinking partners. But through it all he harbored malice to none, and thus was loved by most, and if not loved, at the very least, admired. So all Jamaica will miss him, and most of all his family and dear wife.
UPDATE: Roger Clarke Dies Of Suspected Heart Attack

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=55091

Many commentators and officials have written about this wonderful but imperfect human being, but one of the best articles I have seen, was penned by our wawrd winning journalist Ian Boyne
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140831/focus/focus1.html

2. Not big news, not dramatic news, but the front page of the Jamaica Observer caught my eye. For two reasons! One, the particularly egregious nature of the outrageous behavior of some of our women. And two, the fact that on the night before, I had posted on facebook a concern about how we have corrupted our music in the Caribbean, with the attendant consequences.

Dancehall Madness
New practice at parties could be dangerous

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/entertainment/Dancehall-Madness_17446800

Yes the Ebola crisis continued to attract my attention, especially with reports of spread to Senegal, and just today, a case was reported far away in Scandinavia. Yes the volatile situation in the Middle-East continues to trigger much prayer, as is the case with the ISIS and other group in Northern Iraq. So too the continued ‘bloodletting’ in my country, as cases of murder flash across our television sets, even though we thank God for the reduction in the numbers.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word, or inspired word, came from The Lord this week, as a nation mourned the loss of a real patriot, a gentleman, a man full of mischief and unafraid of controversy, and as we continue to be amazed at the moral decline that has gripped our nation for far too long? As what madness, what fit of foolishness, what craziness could provoke a young woman to descend to such a level, to suck on multiple bottles as if in the heat of sexual activity? In public or in private for that matter! As the ‘The Old Bard’, William Shakespeare once famously wrote, ” Something is wrong in the state of Denmark”. Terribly wrong and sick! And the explanation from one ‘expert in the dance hall culture’, that women, having been ‘crowded out ‘ of their space in the dance-hall by the more creative men, are resorting to these acts to attract attention, is only an observation, but certainly not the full explanation.
So I wrote on the morning after Roger Clarke died to some leaders in my country, and mourned, not only for Roger, but for my country. As,too many, far too many, have elected to ignore the fact, the revealed fact, that Jesus is more than enough for all our needs. And Jamaica would be a far better place if we would only listen and obey the gospel message that Christ is indeed as the lady in the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir sang so beautifully, the Jehovah Jireh. And more. So much more!!
THE MESSAGE

Check out this video on YouTube:

I did not know him that well to be so sad. And yet a deep sense of sadness has overtaken me. Perhaps it was because he was so near home. Just a few minutes away really. Yet so far. So eternally far! Life is really very tenuous indeed. And the basis of life so tragic. So very tragic! So as I worshiped God with the help of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir to ease the pain in my soul, and realized that the sense of sadness is not for Roger alone, but for all those to whom we as children of God are called to minister, and to urge them to be reconciled with God in and through Christ Jesus.
And pray God that they will listen and heed the call as life is so tenuous and tragic.
Then as I wept inside for my country, The Spirit of God led me to a passage which I have not read for a long time. And I am not sure of the full meaning in this context, but I am being obedient.

” As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, ‘ Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed! Then,
they will say to the mountains
Fall on us!
and to the hills, Cover us
For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Luke 23:26-31 NIV

The song before the one above in the link, Nothing is impossible with God, has often ministered to my soul. But tonight it is the far more quiet and serene and delivered with such power and passion’, ‘Jesus is more than enough’ which caught my attention.
A final thought. This morning, for no apparent reason I happened upon a meditation written very far from August 28th – July 8. And right beside it was an intriguing quote from one of the best minds of any century:
” There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that cannot be filled by any created thing but only by the Creator” – Blaise Pascal
God willing I will share the actual meditation entitled ” Holy Hunger ” on Sunday night. We pray for the soul of this true Jamaican patriot. Of that I am sure. And for the comfort that only God can bring to his wife and family and colleagues.
Peace
LWJ

THE SECOND MESSAGE

As promised, the meditation, which interestingly speaks about a certain type of hunger.

July 8 HOLY HUNGER CHRIS TIEGEN 2008 DAILY DEVOTIONAL

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Luke 6:21

IN WORD Hunger doesn’t feel very blessed. it feels like discontentment, and that makes us feel guilty. But there is a holy hunger that God blesses, and whether we know it or not, all of us have have felt it acutely.
Deep in the soul of every man, woman, and child is a void that nags us for attention. We think it is a sign of dysfunction, and we try to heal it ourselves. Some of us fill it with food, but the sense of taste is only satisfied for a moment. Some of us try and fill it with moving from place to place or possession to possession, but the sense of adventure constantly craves a new direction. Some of us try and fill it with relationships, but that void can’t be lastingly filled with another person. Some of us recognize that nothing has ever filled it and perhaps nothing ever will, so we get counseling to try to determine the psychological source of this persistent pathology. if we can’t fill it, we try to deny it; if we can’t deny it, we try to change it; if we can’t change it, we try to fill it again. One day, if we’re spiritually sensitive, we understand: It’s a holy hunger, and only God can fill it.

IN DEED Jesus says the hungry are blessed. Why? Because the truly hungry have given trying to to satisfy themselves with the wrong things. They’ve found that gratifying the senses isn’t ultimately gratifying, and that pursuing meaningful relationships isn’t the ultimate in meaning. They’ve found that all our raging appetites are really a sad reminder that we have a deeper hunger for the eternal. That God-shaped vacuum that Pascal spoke of can only be filed with God – not possession, not people, not places. God may freely bless us with all these things in abundance, but only after we’ve found our commitment in Him alone. he is no enemy of the things He’s created, but he opposes them becoming the focus of our lives. Those who have quenched their hunger with the things of this world have settled for empty calories; they’re ultimately satisfied. The Blessing of true hunger leads us to Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Comment – As I read the final few thoughts of the meditation, the Spirit of God reminded me about a passage in Jeremiah which was once, a long time ago a very popular passage of scripture for me.
” My people have committed two sins;
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that can hold no water”.
Jeremiah 2:13 NIV

What’s the connection between Roger Clarke’s seemingly untimely death and the kind of behavior reported on by The Jamaica Observer, which is a manifestation of what has overtaken the Jamaica , and indeed the Caribbean culture? A feature of Regional life which is playing havoc with family life – and its multiple attendant problems including violent behavior – and badly affecting our International image!

The answer is simple yet very profound. Contrary to the received and oft repeated wisdom of the day, ‘What you see in life is not necessarily what you get’. And in the same way that life was moving swiftly to a climax for Roger Clarke, and he had no idea, – ” call me tomorrow’, was one of his last words to filter back home – what was about to overtake him, so too all of us.
Like it or not, deny it until the proverbial cows come home, supernatural things are happening around us and we have no idea what is taking place. The Christians at least have some warning, and indeed an assurance in the famous line from Elijah:
There are more that are with us than those with them. But outside of a life with Christ, the inevitable consequences of your actions today, are not readily apparent.
I wish, all those young ladies, who God loves so much and for who in Christ He died a cruel death on a Cross, could read and understand this meditation from Tiegreen.
For that misunderstood hunger that makes them seek to attract attention in this degrading way, and for which they seek to fill it, literally and metaphorically, with bottles, or whatever, is deep down nothing short of a hunger for God Himself.

And the beautiful thing is that God knows that ” it is from dust that we are made”. Full of sin and misplaced priorities! And longs for us to turn to Him and repent!
It is that kind of hunger then, that those of us who have been taught, and are still learning, sometimes very painfully, to seek God, and God alone first, will have to cultivate for others who are attempting to, quite unsuccessfully to ‘fill their lives with things and people’, instead of God. And this principle of life cuts across all classes and cultures. For if we are not forever vigilant, it will affect the happily married man and woman as much as the dance hall queens. The less than discerning Christian, as much as the unbeliever. For ultimately, God calls to Himself, in Christ, only those who would ‘deny self’, and ‘take up our individual crosses’, and follow Him. And to deny self, is to direct our yearning to be with, and like Christ, and Him crucified, as St. Paul did. Only after that, will be receive the promised, ‘all other things”.

So Jamaica and the world, need to learn from the tragedies that ended the lives of Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston and so many more. People, creative and talented people who sought to fill their lives, the God-shaped vacuum in their souls, with other things. And that in less dramatic and less apparent, but O so real, the same tragedy may be in the making for many of us, who hunger for financial success, for a happy marriage, and for a great life which causes no one any trouble.
But do not hunger for God and God alone. For only such a committed soul, can ultimately hunger for the souls of those who are lost and lonely, even in the midst of company. Only a soul that hungers for God can be obedient to the words of the songwriter and more importantly the Word from Ezekiel and :
‘rescue the perishing, and care for the dying”.

And are we not perishing and dying in my country and across the world.
Peace
LWJ