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
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 …
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
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!
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.
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
– 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
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.
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.