I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what are doing.
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew thy church that the church may renew the nation(s)
1. Teenager held for questioning in the murder of a mother and two sons.
I am not sure why this particular story affected me so badly, as it would not be the first time that such a young person had been either accused of, or convicted for, the most heinous crime that one can commit against another – murder. But it certainly did. Perhaps it just came at a time when, as noted below, so much else was happening in country. No doubt the fact that this wicked act took place in a town where I have worked for over 35 years had something to do with it. But for God’s sake man, why did such a youngster commit such a wicked act! And not just him, but others, at ages 16, 17 , 18, and now 19. At that age I was in love with, as the song says, ‘a beautiful woman’, who would at age 22 years become my wife. At that age we were into soccer and partying and champs, and making sure to attend church on a Sunday, no matter what time you got in on a Saturday night. Not wickedness! And if wrongs were committed, as were not ‘angels’, certainly not of that extreme nature. So what has gone wrong in my country? Only God He knows. But all I know is that the situation is terrible, despite the good news about which we read this week, that violent deaths are down 22% year to date; murder down 17%; and police fatal killings down 53%. And the police hope that we will achieve below 1000 murders this year – for the first time in many years.
@rjrnews: Police probe abduction and murder of nurse: The police are probing the abduction and murder of a nurse in Whi…http://t.co/hRoLnOvQe2
@rjrnews: Gunmen in St Elizabethe kill student – others injured: A 16 year old student is dead, while two other persons… http://t.co/aVu9Frvui6
Yes other news came to my attention – the evolving debate on the NHT’s purchase of Outameni, with further ‘revelations’, and counter claims featuring at the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Annual Conference today; the ongoing ravaging of the society by the medium term effects of the Chickunguynya Virus, and the constant fear of Ebola reaching our shores; the ongoing wicked acts committed by ISIS; the tragedy of the EVD outbreak in West Africa. All these came to mind, but 19 and a murderer, at least an accused murderer. That’s just so sad. Not sure why but sam Cooke’s wonderful song, which dates me I know, but so what, came to mind.
She was only sixteen, only sixteen
I loved her so
But she was too young to fall in love
And I was too young to know
How are ever going to help our young people preserve their youth, and consequently protect our women and children from marauding gunmen, especially when in a debate on the age of consent this week, we were told that 25% of children in Jamaica were born to young girls ages 12 – 19. And in that age cohort, at 16, the numbers spiked dramatically.
THE WORD OF GOD
So in the midst of this pathos and angst about my country, what Word, or inspired word did the Lord send this week. The first four messages are short ones. The first, second and third are prayers that I have been using for years. In the morning and at bedtime. There are six of them. I was moved to share three this week with members of my WhatsApp family. The essential message I believe which courses through the three prayers, is a realization that we depend on God, and God alone, for our protection at night and our our guide during the day. A point that will be made again in the final message. All our hopes and desires then to rescue our young men and women from evil; all our plans and strategies must be rooted in this one central fact – that ‘ unless thee Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain”. Psalm 127:1 NIV. This is not a palatable nor welcome message in today’s modern age. As it runs counter to to the spirit of the age, the zeitgeist, that encourages us to ‘pull up our own bootstraps’, and to, ‘chart our own destiny’. Which when stripped of its sophistry, is really a ” New Age ideology’, seeking victims. In the same way all other philosophies and ideologies, have in the past led people astray, much to the pleasure and satisfaction of the evil one. So even though may find it ‘ impractical’, we are not ‘ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of their souls”. And God knows how much the souls of the young and the old in Jamaica are in jeopardy.
A Morning Watch
Verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14
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 harm and pain. To you, Lord I owe life itself. Continue to watch over me and bless me during the hours of day.
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 may not be tempted by any distraction. And make my eyes pure, that no false desires may be awakened in me.
As I began my devotions this morning this Word came into my mind:
I am not ashamed of the gospel…. Romans 1:16. Read it and keep it and this prayer in your heart today. For the glory of God.
Vs. Luke 24:15. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked with then
I thank you, O God, for your care and protection this day, keeping me from physical harm and spiritual corruption. I now place the work of the day into your hands, trusting that will redeem my errors and turn my achievements to your glory. And now I ask you to work within me, trusting that you will use the hours of rest to create in me a new heart and new soul. Let my mind, which through the day has been directed at my work, through the evening be wholly directed at you.
THE FOURTH MESSAGE – sent again to my WhatsApp friends, features one of my favorite hymns. O Jesus I have promised….
And the accompanying message is all about the fact that we are all in need of a Savior, because of the evil thoughts that flow from our sinful minds. And which minds can only be cured by the acceptance of the Atonement for sin wrought by Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. So no gunman can by himself, be cured of evil. Whether thoughts or action! No young girl, no young man, no older man, can be cured of the kind of wanton immorality which leads to the levels of teenage pregnancy in any society – with the attendant social problems. One of which is murder! So yes, the Minister of Youth and Culture needs to act, and so too the Minister of Health, and others include the Minister of National Security. But it will all be on little and certainly no lasting avail, until and unless the hearts of men and women are changed. That’s the history of the world. Why do we think we can change it with a few well thought out and properly implemented programmes.
My bedtime reading last night was Mark’s (7:17-23) version of : ” For within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts……..” And I remember crying ‘ unclean, unclean’, in the same way that the lepers of old were required to announce their presence. And then thanked God for mercy in Christ Jesus, ‘ for He is all our righteousness, and we stand complete before a holy God only because of Him’. Then into my head came.
‘ Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Cross I cling, Naked. ….Helpless…..Foul I to the fountain fly. Wash me Savior lest I die.’
Then this morning, and during the night too, the first verse of this great hymn came into my head.
O Jesus I have promised
to serve thee to the end:
be thou for ever near me,
my master and my friend:
I shall not fear the battle
if thou art by my side,
nor wander from the pathway
if thou wilt be my guide.
Let us all pray without ceasing, for our own sake, and for the rescuing of our country, that Jesus may be by our side and be our guide, this day and forever more. Amen
THE FINAL MESSAGE – sent out to leaders in my country, features the writings of a famous poet. A very timely message indeed for this age, when it would appear that, people are gone mad. And the world is indeed steadily going backwards. For a simple reason!
Someone famously said that ‘a picture is worth more than a thousand words’. So true! But sometimes one finds a few words, penned by a master, which speaks so much more to one’s heart and soul, and captures the essence of an age, far better than any picture can. This morning I ‘happened’ upon T. S. Eliot ( 1888-1965) , Nobel Laureate and ‘ arguably the most influential English writer in the 20th century…American born and Harvard trained, he settled in London and became a British citizen and famously wrote: ” Those who talk of the Bible as a monument of English prose are merely admiring it as a monument over the grave of Christianity”.
And the following excerpt from one of his poems, in my mind, speaks so eloquently about the state of my country, caught up , ‘ in an age which advances progressively backwards’. As you read the poem think B.C and A.D.
All of this after being led to read the Psalm appointed for this Sunday in my, church. And in that Psalm (90) is a pearl of wisdom.
vs 12…”teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”.
THE MOMENT OF MEANING
T. S. Eliot
Verse: Zephaniah 1: 14….”The great day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly.
Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there”
Then came, at a predetermined moment in
time and of time.
A moment not out of time, but in time, in what we call
history: transecting, bisecting the world of time,
a moment in time but not like a moment of time,
A moment in time but time was made through that
moment, for without the meaning there is no
time, and that moment of time gave the meaning.
Then it seemed as if men must proceed from light to light,
in the light of the Word,
Bestial as ever before, carnal, self-seeking as always before
selfish and purblind as ever before,
Yet always struggling, always reaffirming, always resuming
their march on the way that was lit by the light;
Often halting, loitering, straying, delaying, returning, yet
following no other way.
But it seems that something has happened that has never
happened before: though we know not just
when, or why, or where.
Men have left God not for other gods and worship gods, professing first
And then money, and power, and what we call life, or race,
The church disowned, the tower overthrown, the bells
upturned, what have we to do
But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards
In an age which advances progressively backwards?
As I wrote the words: Men have left God …into my mind immediately came a Word from B.C, from the Jewish experience which preceded that, about which Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote:
” For the Lord’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted inheritance.
In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling place
He shielded him and care for him…..
The Lord alone led him;
no foreign god was with him……
Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
filled with food, he became heavy
He abandoned the God who made him
and rejected the Rock his Savior.
They made him jealous with their
and angered him with their detestable idols.
They sacrifices to demons, which are
not God –
gods they had not known,
gods that recently appeared,
gods your fathers did not fear…..
The Lord saw this and rejected them
because he was angered by his sons and daughters.
I will hide my face from them, he said,
and see what their end will be
for thy are a perverse generation,children who are unfaithful.
Deuteronomy 32: 9-20 NIV
It is in this context then we can understand the love and mercy of God, when Jesus declared on the Cross of Calvary, ” Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. That’s why we love the Lord Jesus and worship Him, as He is all righteousness, and we stand secure before God only in Him.
Comment: Briefly! I would suggest that somewhere in this profound piece of literary writing, can be located the reason for many of our social, economic and moral problems. An so too the solution!