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
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
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.
New practice at parties could be dangerous
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!!
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.
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.