KC Fennel, Lloyd Bogle and Crime data; The best of times and the worse of times. And an unchanging God revealed in Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.

Lord renew thy church, beginning with me; Lord renew the church, that the church may renew the nation(s).

THE NEWS.

1. Between the two daily newspapers in Jamaica, the story was featured prominently, on the front or inside page at least three times. And triggered widespread discussion in our country. The heartbreaking story of Jamaican man who went to the UK at age seven, lived there without returning to his native home for over fifty years, and having returned, found himself stranded in Jamaica. Unable to return to the only life that he knows! All because he never took the time to apply for a British citizenship – a privilege to which he was entitled under British law.. The good news is that ‘all’s well that ends well’, as the exposure touched the hearts of local British officials, and so he was grated a visa to return the UK.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Stranded-Jamaican–Lloyd-Bogle–gets-British-visa
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Stranded-man-encouraged-by-British-High-Commission-s-intervention-in-his-case_18258674

2. On Twitter, in the mainstream news, even in the famous Half-Way-Tree square usually reserved for mass gathering when our Olympians ‘strut their stuff’, on the world stage, Kaci Fennell was the ‘talk of the town’. If you followed the discussion on social media, ‘just give her the crown from now’, was the prevailing mood, as everyone expected this strikingly beautiful and someone who possessed the legendary ‘ wow factor’ to win the Miss Universe. With ease! Well for whatever reason, that was not to be, as ‘our Jamaican girl’, came in fifth. Behind Miss Columbia the winner, and runner-up Miss USA. A disappointing end indeed, but what an excitement! But was she robbed of the title? According to one newsroom, there was a raging controversy at the end of it all. Who knows! However, ‘win, lose or draw’, our KC is a winner.

3. Last year we celebrated, and gave thanks for ‘divine intervention, as there was a significant drop in the rate of homicide in Jamaica.’. Or did we really! In any case ‘ murder’ is again the number one problem in my country, according to the latest crime data released this week, even as we give thanks for the reduction in the numbers for tother serious crimes. Information which was shared on TVJ news during the week.

.SERIOUS CRIMES JAN , 2015 – JAN 24 VS 2014
1. Murder is up by 31%….76 vs 58
2. Shooting down by 18%….70 vs 85
3. Rape down by 27%….32 vs 44

Yes, President Obama’s state of the union address provided some memorable moments and quotable soundbites. Yes, the issue of freedom of the press is still a live issue following the recents events in France- an excellent satirical review was shared in The Daily Gleaner yesterday by Daniel Thwaites….www.go-jamaica

but none of them struck me quite as much as the top three news items

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word or inspired word did the Lord send in the midst of the “Good, The Bad and The Ugly” side of Jamaica life this week. Inspiring hymns to remind us of the faithfulness of God, in the midst of a troubled world. A focus on the Word of God in a time when, in a heartbeat, gunmen can destroy those whom you love and turn your entire world upside down; and when disappointments come, as they surely, will God is the only constant in our lives. And also to remind us, that we have citizenship in heaven and a relationship with the Creator and Redeemer Father, that no one can take away from us.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent out to my WhatsApp contacts, really does not require much comment. Only a commitment to regularly, and without ceasing, call upon the Only One who can help us in this confusing world. Whether you are KC Fennell, Lloyd Bogle, or Minister Bunting, our hardworking Minister of National Security, but who does not quite understand, along with others in the body politic, against whom we are fighting….not flesh and blood, but power and principalities of evil, as recorded in the book of Ephesians – The Word of God.

The Message

I opened my hymnbook this morning and found one of the all time great teaching hymns of the Church. Written by Bernard if Clairvaux, one of the great Saints of the church (1090 – 1153)
Jesus! The very thought of thee
With sweetness fills the breast:
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in thy presence rest…..

There are five other verses including:

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall how kind Thou art,
How good to those who seek!

But keep the first one in your heart today, and always, commit yourself, make yourself available to Him, without seeking any reward except to delight in His presence, and you will experience great peace. Even in this confusing world of Trials Pain and Suffering.
O Jesus: the very thought of Thee..

THE SECOND MESSAGE – sent out on WhatsApp, and features a hymn, which in essence represents the foundation of the Christian message. That we are to love Jesus, not for the ‘prosperity that some seek, or the ‘ fame’ that others desire, and not even to ‘go to heaven and escape the fuss and fighting’, but all because He suffered and died for me and for you. Praise God! And anyone who learns this lesson well, will be empowered to help to rescue this country out the ‘misery’ of shame and disgrace occasioned by wicked men armed with guns. And allow us to celebrate in peace the exploits of K C Fennell, Alia Atkinson…our golden girl in the pool…and the contributions of so many others.

The Message

My mind was led to this wonderful teaching hymn, as I began praising The Lord with the words of Praise to the Lord the Almighty. The message from the words of this foundational Christian hymn, is that if you love Jesus for any reason which does not have His Atonement for our sins on the Cross at the center of it all, you have built your ‘ house on the ground without a foundation’. And when the floods and torrents of life come, that house may collapse and be completely destroyed. Luke 6:46.

THE HYMN

My God, I love thee; not because
I hope for heaven thereby,
nor yet because who love thee not
are lost eternally.

Thou, O Lord Jesus, thou didst me
upon the cross embrace;
for me didst bear the nails and spear,
and manifold disgrace,
And griefs and torments numberless,
and sweat of agony;
yea, death itself; and all for me
who was thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
should I not love thee well,
not for the sake of winning heaven,
nor any fear of hell;
not with the hope of gaining aught,
not seeking a reward;
but as thyself hast loved me,
O ever loving Lord!

So would I love thee, dearest Lord,
and in thy praise will sing,
solely because thou art my God
and my most loving King.

Then the Lord sent a ‘follow up’…. which ought to cheer the hearts of all of us, who struggle daily with our many, many sins. And thank God for Jesus!

Think about it in the context of Psalm 130: 3-4. The Psalm appointed for our service next Sunday.

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness ;
therefore you are feared.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – again sent out to WhatsApp, triggered a message of thanks from an Anglican Pastor who does not normally listen to ” Praise and Worship Music”. But his soul soared as ” My God is awesome” touched his soul. In the same way, that ” My God I love thee! Not because I hope for heaven…..” a hymn we sing in the Anglican Church touched the hearts of my Pentecostal friends on WhatsApp, who are unaware of these kinds of hymns. All for the glory of God.! As really and truly everybody ought to aware of the awesomeness of a good God. Even, and especially, in ” valley of despair”.

The Message

Watch “My God is Awesome” on YouTube – My God is Awesome: http://youtu.be/22qo19WmOqI
As reflected this morning on a meditation on :

” Simon, Simon. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail…..Like 22:31
A voice in my head said ‘ somebody needs to hear this’.
For the writer Chris TIEGREEN reminds us of the awesome truth, that even though Simon denied Chris three times, and apparently failed Christ, as many of us have done, repeatedly: Jesus does not dwell on the individual failures, as bad as they are, but sees the big picture. That momentary faltering does not determine the final outcome. He, Christ, does not dwell on the toddler who stumbles; He knows us as the nature adult who walks… So don’t let your failures define you; as that’s how the enemy wants to measure you, that’s why he asks to sift you. Trust Jesus He has prayed for you. And remember how Simon Peter became great and help to strengthen our faith. And as I read ‘ My God is awesome’, came into my mind, and that somebody ought to watch and listen to this video which highlights the fact that Jesus heals us when we are broken. And strengthens us when we are weak. Amen

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – again sent out on WhatsAppp….features a promise about the Word of God, that I will send out during this week and discuss next Sunday. But for now the message is that we have to learn to trust and obey – the God who is faithful in His love for us. Even to death on a Cross! So we must learn to walk in His Word. And not merely the news of the day, which will be replaced by other and more important news tomorrow – “and the papers used to wrap fish”…according to a local wit…The Hon. Barbara Gloudon…an outstanding journalist, play-writer, and wonderful human being – but the Word of God stands forever.

GM: The Lord continues to do amazing things. Yesterday He led me on a journey about the vital importance of the Word. About which I will write in the regular weekly internet message tomorrow night ( google my name and the blog will appear).
Then as I began praising the Lord for watching over me last night: ” 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….”: from On Waking…. the first part of, A MORNING WATCH, by Jacob Boehme; the words ‘ trust and obey’, came into my mind. So I went looking for the song in an old Song Book and found this:

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.

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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.
Refrain

I pray God we will all spend quality time in The Word, which is Living and Active, very active, each day. And thus learn to Trust and Obey The Lord in every circumstance, and become truly happy, only in that Peace which comes from being in Christ Jesus.

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Genocide in Nigeria, Blanket Freedom of Speech under fire, A Hot Button Issue, and God’s Grace and Mercy

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what me are doing.

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).

NEWS

1. Two issues dominated world news this week, at least from my perspective. The extent to free speech ought to be protected. And, the second of which caught my eye, how western media in general, and western leaders in particular have treated with murder of almost genocide proportions in Nigeria vs a much smaller scale of homicide which took place in France recently.
For even though the Nigerians have attempted to down play the scale of attacks by Boko Haram, from all accounts hundreds if not thousands of people died in the most recent attacks. A situation which has prompted neighbors Chad and Cameroon to join Nigeria in combating the murderous attacks from the Jihadist group.

http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2015/01/female_village_defense_force_r.php?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

and increasingly there are calls for US to become more involved in combating Boko Haram
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/evil.of.isis.and.boko.haram.must.be.confronted.us.administration.told/46164.htm .
In all of this however, the most heartbreaking and soul searching issue which has emerged, is the barbarous use of young girls strapped, spoils of the war, with explosives and sent into crowded areas, where they are blown up by remote control, together with everyone around them. Really, what kind of evil mind could plan such a wicked act! Repeatedly!

So yes, there was a murder suicide in my country where a common-law husband used the service revolver belonging to his policewoman girlfriend, to kill her and then shot himself to death. With their four year old son on the bed beside them. Yes, there was more drama in Europe this week, as the Belgian authorities, took pre-emptive action against a terrorist cell group. And also death visited a mall in Melbourne, where a friend of mine had to take cover, all of this being reported live on facebook…triggering lots of prayers and thanksgiving after the ‘rescue’. But Oh my God, 2000 reportedly murdered in a few day! What kind of world do we live in really.

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of evil, what ought to be the response of the church, according to the Word of God which I read this week, supported by inspired words. Two were sent out by WhatsApp. Another one to my church family, and a two others that almost did not make it. All of them essentially address the question of should the church respond to evil and temptation. And there main instructions emerge in these messages.
1. When faced with evil and Sin, this is not a time for the church to seek its own comfort, but to accept the Suffering and Pain which God sends to help us to grow in grace. So that we can witness about Him in this evil world.

2. When faced with difficult and controversial Issues, accept God’s Truth, before considering any other reaction.

3. When face with Pain and Suffering, regardless of its origins, the proper Christian response is to offer Compassion and seek mercy. Not judgment.

I believe that if we hold these instructions in careful balance, regardless of whether we are confronted by mass murder, International neglect of the poor and marginalized, complex philosophical issues, or ‘hot button’ problems, The Spirit of God will grant us wisdom and grace to persevere and help others through these challenging times.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent out on WhatsApp and really needs no comment. Save and except to reinforce the extent of God’s mercy and forgiving Spirit. A God who is ” merciful even to the wicked and the ungrateful”

The Bible warned us that they will ‘ invent ways of doing evil’. Which is exactly what the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram did last week. Sending young girls strapped with explosives into crowded markets in towns in Northern Nigeria and then blowing up the ‘ sacrificial lamb’ and everyone around her.
That’s precisely why we need Jesus in this life and the next. As only He can protect us from evil without; and if we are honest, the terrible evil thoughts we often harbor within, towards others. And only He will judge such evil in due course.
In that context then, the song in my heart this morning as I awoke carries a special message for all of us in times like these.

I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR
I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can Peace afford

Refrain
I need thee, O I need thee
Every hour I need thee
O bless me now my Savior!
I come to thee

And the verse which meant the most for me:

I need thee every hour;
stay thou near by,;
temptations lose their power
when thou art near

I need thee, O I need thee..

When you locate this wonderful hymn in the story of the Prodigal Son, a meditation about which I was led to read this morning, then we really get a glimpse of how much God loves us. Regardless of the evil we have done. Amazing! Even Boko Haram. Even the Muslim terrorists in France. And carefully read, the second son represents our human nature – unwilling to forgive the ‘ wicked son’. But, thank God for Jesus, out Father in heaven is always waiting to forgive. And forgive. And forgive.
Thus the meditation opens with these grand and profound words:
No other religion pictures its deity like this. No other faith can claim a God who zealously pursues his children.
Perhaps the key to all of this evil, and to life, is to be found in a verse in Luke 15 (7)which proceeds the story: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety- righteous persons who do not need to repent. ”
I really need that kind of God. So does Jamaica and France and Nigeria. In fact the whole world. Muslims, Atheists. Everybody. Do you?

THE SECOND MESSAGE – again sent out on WhatsApp. I really hope and pray that our National Prayer Breakfast, borne out a need to combat evil in one of the darkest hours of the nation’s life, may be replicated all over the world. Wherever evil exists! In France, or in Nigeria. For as explained in a profound piece of writing in today’s Daily Gleaner, the hand of God ‘ hovered over the nation’ and inspired the start up of the NLPB.

And in this message, the instructions about eschewing comfort in times like these are made very clear.
Prayer Breakfasts And Dons Who Hear From God
Published: Sunday | January 18, 2015 5 Comments

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20150118/cleisure/cleisure2.html

In a short while I will leave home to attend yet another National Leadership Prayer Breakfast. The name says it all; leaders in government, civil society and church gathering together to pray, to fellow and the listen to a Word from the Lord.
And as I woke up early this morning:
Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart Lord Jesus. Come in today, come into to stay, come into my heart Lord Jesus.
Then I was led to read the story of how Naaman was healed of his leprosy in 2 Kings 5. And two verses struck me.
1.” When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: ‘ Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is s prophet in Israel.
2. Where have you been Gehazi……now turn your mind back to the garden of Eden in Genesis 8:9 ….Adam and Eve were hiding after having
disobeyed the Lord, and let Sin come into the hearts of all of mankind. ‘ But the Lord said, Where are you….
Now back to Gehazi who had disobeyed his master and his the money taken from Naaman after Elisha had refused to take gift which was offered earlier.
‘ Your servant did not go anywhere,’ Gehazi answered
But Elisha said to him, ‘ Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from the chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money, or accept clothes….. Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you.
Message to the church. ‘ God’s spirit is watching us, and ‘ envies intensely…according to His Word. And since Jamaica needs to know The Living God of Power, Compassion and Mercy, now is not the time to seek comfort and glory for ourselves. But rather to suffer as Christ did. So that Jesus will indeed come into our hearts today. And healing will take place in the land. Amen

THE THIRD MESSAGE – sent to my church family at St. Andrew Parish ( Anglican) Church, is a follow-up to the Second message. featuring a very special hymn and instruction about two issues which modern western civilization and misguided churches, would have us place on the sidelines, rather than being a vital part of the Christian journey. Opposition to Sin, and acceptance of Pain and Suffering!

THE MESSAGE

Then on my way to the Pegasus, reflecting on what was just revealed to me and anticipating a strong ‘Word’ from the preacher, the message to the church was made more clear.
Based on Gehazi’s response to temptation….I need thee every hour; stay thou near by; temptations lose their power when thou art nigh. I need thee, O I need thee….and that given his relationship with Elisha, he was part of the forerunner of the modern church, two similar challenges face the church today.
1. Not just a call to suffer, or a commitment to suffer, as none of us can or will suffer like Christ did, but rather a call to ‘have the the same mind which was in Christ Jesus’……the same attitude…. Who though he was by nature God….emptied Himself…made Himself nothing…became a humble servant…even to death on a cross. This is the crux of the matter, as like Gehazi, far too many of us, all of us, are more interested in a comfortable life, than to be ‘disciplined by God’, in one form or another. And every child of God will be ‘disciplined’, according to Hebrews 12. Therefore the words of Elisha ring throughout the centuries: ” now is not the time to seek comfort and glory for ourselves.
2. According to Chris Tiegreen, Naaman left his ‘sin’ , his leprosy, behind in the river…..as result of God’s mercy and Naaman’s obedience. According to the Word of God, Gehazi’s disobedience, like that of Adam, resulted in ‘Sin clinging to him. To Adam. And to all of us. Again this is the crux of the matter. Far too many of us, no longer spend sufficient time contemplating the depth of our sinfulness, before a Holy God. And therefore forget about His Grace, become presumptuous, and thus treat with the sins of others, as if we too are not, desperately, in need of God’s grace and mercy. O my God: Guilty, very guilty, very very guilty!

Then this morning, with instructions to ‘ feed my sheep’, Hark my soul….came into my mind….say poor sinner lovst thou me……and if you love me, ‘feed my sheep’. Words of a hymn which the Lord sent to sustain me in one of the darkest periods of my life. And as I sat there, waiting for the kettle to boil in the early hours of this morning,….can a woman’s tender care….led me to the original passage in Isaiah.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast, and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget you, I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands”. Isaiah 49:15-16. NIV

This then is the ‘blessed assurance’ then we have as we ‘ walk with God through Pain and Suffering’, in this life, for the sake of Christ. That, on the Cross, God in Christ, has borne every suffering, every pain, every disappointment, every separation from loved ones, every doubt, every act of persecution. And has therefore not ‘forsaken or forgotten us’, in our desperate hour of need. And all of us are called to have this ‘mind of Christ’. For this is the only way, appointed by God, that we may grow in His grace, and carry out “The Ministry of Reconciliation”. That all mankind…that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.. Isaiah 49:6…..may come to know and love the One who says: ‘Say poor sinner lovst thou me”.

O Jesus, O for grace to love thee more.

Hark, my soul, it is the Lord!
’Tis thy Savior, hear His Word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
“Say, poor, sinner, lovest thou Me?”

“I delivered thee when bound,
And, when bleeding, healed thy wound;
Sought thee wandering, set thee right,
Turned thy darkness into light.

“Can a woman’s tender care
Cease toward the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
Yet will I remember thee.

“Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.

“Thou shalt see My glory soon,
When the work of grace is done;
Partner of My throne shalt be:
Say, poor sinner, lovest thou Me?”

Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love Thee, and adore:
O for grace to love Thee more!

THE FOURTH AND FIFTH MESSAGES – which I thought had been sent out to my family, were hijacked in Cyberspace. And had to be rescued. Seriously!
The first one is a reminder of Sin; and therefore a follow-up to the Third message.

Trust me, I really was not planning to write about any ‘hot button’ issue this morning. And to stir up any controversy! In fact, I woke up with Isaiah’s, :
” You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you”. Isaiah 26:3 NIV

And then I began preparing, in my devotions, for the worship service tomorrow, and turned to the readings. One of which is 1 Cor. 6:11b-20. So, as is my habit, I read the entire passages for context; and which passages in the NIV are entitled, ” Lawsuits among Believers”, which ends with 11b…and thought briefly, very briefly about Professor Bain, and then dismissed the thought..and “Sexual Immorality”, which ends with vs 20.

So then what do you do when you are challenged with the very Word of God. I chose to be obedient and write.

One more thing. As a young man growing up with older boys, I was taken to a ‘Red Light” area, and told that unless I had sex with a prostitute I was not yet a man. My mother’s prayers saved me, ” and I fled from sexual immorality”‘. Like a thief! Literally! So thank God, at least in that respect, I am still a boy. I pray God then, that the prayers of the Saints will keep the church from error in this age.

Finally as I write, memories of Eli’s sin, in the OT reading comes into my mind. That he failed to restrain his sons when they committed sins, …made themselves contemptible….about which sins he was well aware. And what God prophesied against him through the young Samuel. Coincidence? Lord have mercy on my soul if I have called that which is evil, normal; in my life, in the life of my family or in the life of anyone else. For then, like the prophet Ezekiel, who was called to be a ‘watchman’, if I failed to warn the wrongdoer, and he dies, then his ‘blood’ will be on my head…..I will be held accountable. Have mercy!
Finally, finally, this is the same person who wrote about being patient with others yesterday, as we are all in need of God’s grace and mercy. So this message is certainly not about judging anyone, whether in respect of ‘hot button issues’ or others, as all sins mentioned are important, but rather obedience.
Peace.
LWJ

If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6‬:‭1-20‬ NIV)

THE FIFTH MESSAGE – sent out to my family…or so I thought…is also a follow-up to booth the Third and Fourth messages. In the sense that, the proper response to Pain and Suffering, and God’s revealed Truth, is not condemnation, nor insensitive remarks, regardless of how true they may be, but rather to show mercy, and to act with Compassion. And in the end God’s Glory will be revealed in very mysterious ways indeed. That is why we must be careful, as children of God, who have been rescued by Grace, how we respond to events in France, in The Middle East, in West Africa, in the USA, in Nigeria, and in our own home country Jamaica. As ultimately this world will be rescued by a God of Compassion. Not a god of Vengeance and Evil.

THE MESSAGE

As I continued my reading of Rev. Timothy Keller’s ” Walking with God through Pain and Suffering”, this evening, I was moved to write, with the same compulsion, as I was moved to write this morning. You will soon see why.

EXTRACT FROM TIMOTHY KELLER’S BOOK – WEEPING

……. The point is this…suffering people need to be able to weep and pour out their hearts, and not immediately be shut down by being told what to do. Nor should we do that to ourselves, if we are grieving. A man who lost three sons at various times in his life wrote about grief in ‘The View from a Hearse’:

“I was sitting , torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly, he said things which I knew were true.
I was unmoved, except to wish he’d go away. He finally did
Another came and sat beside me. he didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. he just sat beside me for an hour or more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left.
I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.”

My brother, Billy was a gay man who had AIDS. My parents were Christians who held on to the church’s historic teaching that homosexuality is a sin. When Billy took a turn for the worst and was moved into a hospice, my parents, then in their seventies, moved nearly a thousand miles, slept at nights on a pullout couch in a relative’s den, and for seven months stayed beside Billy and cared for him fourteen hours a day.
They did not confront him about or even bring up their differences. They fed him sips of juice and spoonfuls of yogurt. They served his most basic needs. Eventually he brought up the issues that had divided the family for many years. He was able to do so because my parents had created a climate of care in which such a frank discussion felt safe to have. We talked them through with truth and tears, and many relational and spiritual issues were resolved.

Comment: Almost makes you fell like crying doesn’t it.
So here are two messages. One speaks to the truth about Sin. And the consequences! The other speaks to the heart of the Gospel message; that God cares, in spite of, and in the midst of the Sin. We need to keep both aspects of the nature of God in careful balance, lest we lose our way. On either side!
Peace.

LWJ

Peace.

LWJ

#JeSuisCharlie, but I am also a child of God in Christ Jesus. Madness in Paris, Peace in God

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).

NEWS

1. What a week! The eyes of the world community were fixed on the horrific events that unfolded in Paris and its environs this week. And due to the advanced technology, you could virtually sit in your house and watch the drama and the madness; witness the Pain and the Suffering, and ponder on the state of the world. When the dust had settled, twelve persons were brutally murdered at the Office of the Satirical magazine named Charlie Hebdo, including the senior editors and cartoonists, and many many injured seriously. The three well armed and obviously highly trained Muslim gunmen, who carried out this heinous crime, “in the name of Allah’, were later to die in a hail of bullets as ‘martyrs’. All because, the magazine had, repeatedly, used satire in cartoon form, to ‘ mock Allah’. A magazine which was known to target just about anyone, including Roman Catholics and senior Government officials. Then the madness continued, as another ‘cell partner’, reportedly killed a policeman, took several persons hostage in a Jewish store, and he too perished in a hail of bullets. But not before executing four of the hostages and injuring others. Consequently hash tags triggered by the event went viral, including # JeSuisCharlie – officially now the most tweeted hash tag in history #Notinmyname and #JenesuispasCharlie

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/01/09/world/europe/links-between-the-charlie-hebdo-suspects.html?smid=pl-share&_r=0

Yes Boko Haram continued its deadly attacks in Nigeria, and other acts of violence were noted across the world, but the events in Paris consumed most if not alll of my attention.

THE WORD OF GOD

So in the midst of so much Pain and Suffering, so much angst, in Paris and in the western world, about the Muslim extremists, Jhihaddists , possible cells of terrorists just waiting to execute another set of mass killings, what Word or inspired word did the Lord send this week?

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent out to members of my church family at a time when I was just begging to grapple with the extent of the wickedness which took place in office of Charlie Hebdo, and later on in the Jewish store. While at the same time, certainly not by coincidence, I was reading an extremely well written and nuanced book on Pain and Suffering by Rev. Timothy Keller – a New York Times best selling author. A book I had referenced in the message last week. One of the tweets which I sent and quoted last week spoke to the reality that evil continues to mutate all the time. And the essential lesson we have to learn as a fallen race, since Adam, is that, evil cannot be conquered by man. Evil cannot be fully rooted out and destroyed. So when checked in the act of killing Osama Bin Laden, and having alqueda degraded, evil simply mutated into ISIS – a major international concern at this time. And into which body, the Parisian gunmen had links. So the folks in France, bewildered and shell shocked, on the one hand, and determined to preserve their democracy and liberte, on the other hand, need Jesus, who only can conquer evil. And not only more demonstrations of solidarity, and more intense monitoring of evil men within France, and the capture of the highly dangerous and well armed female terrorist on the run. Of equal importance, so do all of us in Jamaica, and in the far reaches of the world, as evil abounds everywhere, and in different forms. That’s why the call to be very courageous, and very determined to ‘dwell in Christ’, as we are weak, But He is Strong, and very Able. To defeat evil!

THE MESSAGE

Every so often, as I begin my devotions, I open the hymnbook, this morning it was for some strange reason , ” The Songs & Hymns of Fellowship”, and reflect on whatever song that appears. This morning there were about three. But finally I settled on:

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand:

At that point my mind carried me to the great promise in Deuteronomy: ” The Eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…..”. Then right opposite was a continuing Word from the Lord this morning as set out below. My thoughts went like this. I don’t know what resources many persons in Paris have to cope with the recent events which has triggered over 2.3 million Tweets with the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie. As such a horrific murder scene must bring back memories – the quality if not the same quantity – of the evil unleashed in Europe during the Nazi years. I don’t know what kind of God, the Muslims serve which could trigger such barbarity, even among extremists, a sentiment expressed in a Tweet I sent out – @lucienforJesus: My God was crucified Your God was only ridiculed My God suffered and died to destroy evil #JesusChrist #JeSuisCharlie Who really is your God.

And then reality set in, as memories of the Crusades in Europe in dark years, and the burning of witches in the ‘name of God’, came flooding back.
But all this suffering, including the heinous crime committed in our country, recently where an elderly woman, a stalwart in her church and in her community, was brutally murdered, reportedly by two teens, has been brought in to very sharp focus by a book I am currently reading. And would strongly recommend to you all! ” Walking with God through pain and Suffering by Rev. Timothy Keller – a New York Times best selling author. One of the Tweets I sent out during the reading, yet unfinished, of this book, was : @lucienforJesus: The main reason that Christians insist that God can be trusted in the midst of suffering is that God himself in Christ suffered on the Cross.

So in the midst of this suffering that many of us are going through, and witnessing all around us, in Jamaica and far away in Europe, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Liberia and other countries in West Africa, the Word of God comforts us this morning. And helps us to comfort others in this “journey of life of travail’, which will only end, when we ” land safe on Canaan’s side. Until then:

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (‭Joshua‬ ‭1‬:‭5, 7-9‬ NIV)

….but only, as the text suggests, if we , ” Make His house a house of Prayer, and not a den of robbers”. Which was the message in a meditation I read recently on this last verse from Matthew; a passage that speaks to the condition of our heart and our need to be in constant communication with God, and not allow, the thief, who has come to ” steal and rob and to destroy” ( my understanding), to distract us and lead us astray, to fret and worry and try to solve our problems on our own. Which is what the children of Israel did, eventually with disastrous results. Which is what “Fallen mankind” did, and which fateful action in Eden, has triggered so much Pain and Suffering in this world. Including#JeSuisCharlie. So rest assured, that these things will continue to happen as we ” Pilgrim through this barren land”. Our response, as children of the Cross of Christ and His Mighty Resurrection, the Atonement for The Fall, is to accept, and to tell others, that ” I am weak, but God is mighty”. And thus we will always be in need of His Everlasting Arms, so that we can heed Joshua’s call to be ” strong and courageous”, in the face of evil, and in our journey in this ” barren land”.
Peace
#MyGodisAble

LWJ

THE SECOND MESSAGE – and third messages were sent out on the same day. In fact the very same morning. One to my church family, by regular e-mail. The other by WhatsApp to another group of persons. The message here is threefold. One, that from the Christian viewpoint, The Glory of God is there to be observed by all who would care to see! And therefore to be acknowledged, and in which Glory we are to rejoice. In this tradition and understanding, there is no need to protect God from ‘infidels’. In fact, God allowed ‘wicked men’, to crucify His only Son, Christ Jesus; so that evil could be conquered. Two, It would appear that, at the very least, in the eyes of some Muslims, and not all of them are extremists, The Name of Allah is to be protected, at all costs. As if, in some shape or form, Allah’s Glory is somehow diminished by ridicual and mockery. Three, increasingly in Europe and other areas of western civilization, men and women do not see any need for God. And deny His Glory about which the Psalms exults :

” The heaven declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voices is not heard.
Their voice goes out to the end of the earth, their words to the end of the world. Ps. 19:11-4 NIV
These three starkly different viewpoints on the nature and glory of God, I would suggest, result in the ‘world of difference’ between the Western Culture and the Muslim one on the one hand. And on the other hand, has profound consequences for how Christians treat with Pain and Suffering, vis-a-vis measures adopted by the secular world. Differences which are destined to play out more and more, in full public view, in this ‘dark world’ filled with grief and pain. A scenario which was brought into too very sharp perspective by the events which spawned #JeSuisCharlie

THE MESSAGE

The constant theme that threads right through the book I am reading, ” Walking with God through Pain and Suffering”, is the stark difference between the worldview – understanding of the ‘big question’ of what is the purpose of human life – of the ancient world, the so called dark age of Medieval Europe and increasingly that of modern secular Western Civilization. And how we treat with Suffering brings things into very sharp perspective! But that’s for another discussion or message.
I am closing in on the end of the book now, and last night…. watching television is such a huge distraction and more often than not a grand waste of time…… before dealing with ‘Suffering and Glory’, the writer, and I suppose all who have tried before, struggled with an explanation of ” The Glory of God”. At the beginning of which struggle came this:

” According to all branches of Christian Theology, the ultimate purpose of life is to glorify God……..Many of the popular churches ( I presume in America about which he can speak with some authority) teach that God will make you happy, healthy, and prosperous, that He is there for your personal benefit. If we tacitly accept that view of things, we may find it offensive to hear someone say that tragedies and evil can honor and glorify God. And indeed, to simply say such a thing to someone who is watching their mother or a child die from cancer would be confusing and cruel.

C. S.Lewis, in his book Reflections of the Psalms, confesses that for many years after becoming a Christian he was confused and embarrassed by God’s call to to us to glorify him and rejoice in excellencies….among humans such a desire for praise would be despicable……However, Lewis began to think about how praise and glorifying worked in other ways…….From there Lewis reasons that God commands us to glorify Him because it is only by doing this that we will ever find the rest, satisfaction and joy in Him that we were made for. He directs us to do this not only because it is simply right but also because we need it. The Psalmist tells us that it is ‘fitting….to praise him”…33:1…147:1…..

The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod, which means ” weight” – literally God’s weightiness…the English word ” matter” is the equivalent…same lexical range ( love that phrase…first time seeing it)…..Matter means ‘ as opposed to the immaterial’…but it can also mean ‘ importance’. And therefore when the Bible says that God is glorious, it means that He should matter, and does matter, more than anything else or anyone else. And if anything matters to you more than God, you are not acknowledging His glory. You are giving glory to something else……..

There is one more thing to say about God’s glory – it is His absolute splendor and beauty. The word for ‘glory’ in the Old Testament means importance, the word for ‘glory’ in the New Testament ( the Greek word doxa) means ” praise and wonder; luminosity, brilliance, or beauty.” Jonathan Edwards once said: ” God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but it being rejoiced in…….Glorifying God does not mean obeying Him only because you have to. it means to obey Him because you want to – because you are attracted to Him, because you delight in Him…….
So to see God as glorious is not only to admit his incomprehensibility and beyondness, and make Him the thing that matters the most, but it is also to work your heart so it finds him the most pleasurable and beautiful thing you know.

And then this morning I got up with ” thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart”. In the Name of Jesus! Then try and try as I could, although the words were quite familiar, and the tune also, I could not recall the name of the hymn. So google came to my rescue and allowed me to reflect deeply on the words of one of my favorite hymns. All of which verses, and indeed words, speak to the “glory of God” in even a much more profound way than all the theologians. All because Jesus, put away His Glory, and in the midst of Pain and Suffering, ‘asked for the love of my poor heart”.

And so I write, and I write, and I write! All “for the Glory of God”.”

“” Lord renew thy church beginning with me: Lord renew the church, that the church may renew the nation(s)…especially France and Jamaica at this time.

I pray God, that the words and the message of ” My God, how wonderful thou art”, in the context of the discussion on Pain and Suffering, and the changing worldview of modern societies, in which our children and grandchildren are being nurtured, may guide us to deeper appreciation of, and love for, the God who we serve in and through The Crucified Christ. Amen!

My God, how wonderful Thou art,
Thy majesty, how bright;
How beautiful Thy mercy seat
In depths of burning light!
How dread are Thine eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
By prostrate spirits day and night
Incessantly adored!
How beautiful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awful purity!
O how I fear Thee, living One,
With deepest, tenderest fears,
And worship Thee with trembling hope,
And penitential tears!
Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord,
Almighty as Thou art;
For Thou hast stooped to ask of me
The love of my poor heart.
Oh then this worse than worthless heart
In pity deign to take,
And make it love Thee, for Thyself
And for Thy glory’s sake.
No earthly father loves like Thee,
No mother, e’er so mild,
Bears and forbears as Thou hast done,
With me, Thy sinful child.
Father of Jesus, love’s reward!
What rapture it will be,
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,
And gaze and gaze on Thee!

THE THIRD AND FINAL MESSAGE – sent out on WhatsApp is a continuation of the theme of the second one, and expands of the concept of a ‘dark world’; a situation which the events of #JeSuisCharlie forces us to think about deeply. Even if we would rather not. As those who don’t believe in God, I would argue, cannot believe in nor accept the concept of evil. A very dangerous presumption in today’s World indeed.

THE MESSAGE
People in France take great pride in their secular lifestyle, their democracy and their liberty. Many of them see no need for God or Jesus Crucified. But they don’t understand that they too like us live in a dark world. Pray God that the recent events which spawned the now world famous #JeSuisCharlie will help them, and we in Jamaica too, to at least stop and think again.
LIGHT AND TRUTH
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46
We live in a dark world ( Colossians 1:13). The Bible is very clear and consistent about that. Our understanding was darkened ( Ephesians 4:18); we are surrounded by darkness ( Ephesians 6:12); we ourselves have done deeds of darkness (Romans 13:12); our motives are dark ( 1 Corinthians 4:5); and we even when we see God, we see Him very dimly ( 1 Corinthians 13:12). In fact, Paul goes so far as to say that we were darkness ( Ephesians 5:8).
This is insulting to the human ego, to say the least. We think we’re fairly well educated and wise. We even have an intellectual era we refer to as the Enlightenment. So when Jesus implies that He has come into to the darkness we might wonder where all this alleged darkness is? Aren’t we all pretty bright folks? No, Jesus is the only light this world has ever seen. We can’t find illumination any where else. He is the One through whom God once said ” Let there be light, and there was light”. We’re the ones who have shrouded this planet in a sinful haze of spiritual blindness. He came back into it with all the radiance of a million suns…. .
Do not dabble in the wisdom of this world. This world no longer has anything to offer you. Its interpretations are but shadows; its knowledge untouched by the light of the truth. Reject it. Do you want understanding? Open your mind exclusively to Jesus and let him shine – CHRIS TIEGREEN
In that sense #JeN’estPasCharlie but rather in Christ a child of God. The only Light of the world.

The problem of : Pain in Indonesia; Evil in Jamaica. And the promise of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)

NEWS

1. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/04/world/asia/airasia-disaster/

Once again the worst nightmare of any family became a reality over the pass week. Another plane crash. Initially no sightings of the ill fated plane. And then dead bodies! More dead bodies! And still more dead bodies and parts of the plane were recovered. Thus destroying the hope and sending so many families of the passengers on Air Asia QZ5081into grief and mourning. What a disaster! What a calamity! What a way to start the New Year with Pain and Suffering.

2. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20150102/lead/lead2.html

The news of the brutal murder of a retired Nurse, who was a stalwart in the community and a prominent member of the local Baptist church, sent many into shock.
What kind of evil mind could carry out this kind savagery. Her husband had left her for a short time, and came only to find his wife in blood with stab wounds and dead.

Yes, there were other stories which caught my attention, but these two really ‘rocked me’.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word or inspired word did the Lord send as the year closed, and a fresh new one opened its blank sheet ; already being filled with grief and pain?

Three WhatsApp messages and the reading of a very profound book by Rev. Timothy Keller, a New York Times best selling author helped enormously.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent to a growing number of folks on WhatsApp, most of whom are not part of this Sunday night Internet Ministry; thus opening up another avenue for ministry in this chiefly young people’s territory. To the extent that this evening one of my ‘little daughters’, who grew up in my hand and is no longer going to church, wondered, aloud, if I wasn’t too old for WhatsApp, when I requested her number with a view to encouraging her return to the God who she loves.

In terms of the content of the message, I believe you will see as the entire ‘blog’ unfolds, that the God was preparing me for the message in Timothy Keller’s book on Pain and Suffering. A Book that, so far, I am not yet finished, revisits the whole matter of the Fall of humankind, and how what took place between Adam and God, Sin- which is really rebellion against God, and deciding to be your own master – allowed entry of Pain and Suffering into the world

THE MESSAGE
I woke up with this song in my heart thus morning. And then recalled a meditation by Oswald Chambers wherein he made the point that it only when we are born again that we are really convicted of sin. I pray God that as we sing this song today we will truly be convicted of sin. First ours, and then that of others. And pray boldly that both may be rooted out completely. To the glory of God.

All The Way To Calvary

All the way to Calvary, He went for me He went for me, He went for me All the way to Calvary, He went for me He died to set me free.
Although I had so many many sins Jesus took them all away And He pardoned me Although I had so many many sins Jesus took them all away And He pardoned me

OSWALD CHAMBERS

If we walk in the light, as he is in the light….the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
To mistake conscious freedom from sin for deliverance from sin by the Atonement is a great error. No man knows what sin is until he is born again. Sin is what JESUS faced on Calvary. The evidence that I am delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. It takes the last reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that is, the impartation if His absolute perfection to make a man know what sin is…..

THE SECOND MESSAGE – sent to my WhatsApp contacts, again is a preparation for the ‘revelation’ from
” Walking with God, through Pain and Suffering” , at a time when the whole world is trying to make sense of the crash and loss of life of several Air Planes; and locally everyone is trying to explain how evil, fully grown, can cause so much Pain. As is the case with cruel death of that retired Nurse in Jamaica; or the many children who killed in Newtown last year in Connecticut. One of the searching issues which Keller raises in His book, is whether our understanding of The Creator God, is that He made us so that He may provide us with a comfortable life; or whether He made us for His own Glory. The answer to which question, largely determines our response to Suffering and Pain. In this context then, Chris Tiegreen’s meditation, bookmarked by two profound questions, prepares us for a deeper understanding of God; which is precisely Keller’s intent.

THE FINAL PRODUCT

CHRIS TIEGREEN
Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher – Luke 6:40
…….Did you choose to follow Jesus just to become better or become new?. You may have a clear assumption of what a good Christian is. Scrap it. That’s not necessarily the model that Jesus puts before you. He puts Himself before us send says, ” This is what you will be like if you continue with Me and allow Me to fully train you. You will be different and you will be good; you will both be loved and hated; and you will both be blessed and crucified”.
Do not expect the Teacher to train you toward your own objectives: a comfortable life, exemption from pain, a just-above-average morality. Expect Him to train you for battle and for glory. It’s His divine challenge. Are you up to it?
Comment: This experience of ITS ALL ABOUT JESUS began last night. So there is more to write. But, have mercy, what a question to begin the except! And what an even more searching question to end it.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – again sent out on WhatsApp, poses an existential question of how do we regard Jesus? How do we see His authority? As a large part of the problem, as explained by Keller, is that in recent times – the last three hundred years or so – many persons in Western civilization, on account of advanced technology and better understanding of science, have ceased to believe in a God, whom they consider they no longer need. And further, believe that the problem of Pain and Suffering does not accommodate a belief in a good and Omnipotent God. So for them, Jesus and the Word of God, is no longer like oxygen – a matter of life and death

THE MESSAGE
Thank you all for your best wishes for a New Year, blessings and expressions of appreciation. In the words of one of the greatest hymns ever written:
To God be the glory! Great things he hath done….

ULTIMATE AUTHORITY

CHRIS TIEGREEN Jan. 1

VERSE: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End
There is no greater claim to authority than this. Those who would take the words of Jesus as good suggestions, spiritual advice, recommendations for s moral and happy life, or any other such expression of human wisdom must consider this verse – He is the Alpha and Omega….. When this truth grips us discipleship takes off. There can be no casual reading of the Gospels when we understand that the words of Jesus are words not only of a great Teacher but God Himself….
Ask yourself these probing questions. Do you hear His words casually, as though they are mere suggestions? Or do you voraciously consume His teachings as the key to life, depending on it for your very existence? Are His words like a fragrant aroma – pleasing, but not entirely necessary? Or are they like oxygen – a matter of life and death? They were true before the foundation of the world and they will be true for all eternity. Savor them well.

SO WE COME TO KELLER’S ” WALKING WITH GOD THROUGH PAIN AND SUFFERING”.

As reported above I have not yet finished the book. But as I have read and have been ‘touched by a word’ I have Tweeted. So here goes:

@lucienforJesus: If you are looking for a book to help you counter the #Prosperity Gospel, Timothy Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is it

@lucienforJesus: Unlike the current moment in which the existence of suffering and evil makes Christian faith vulnerable to criticism and doubt …#Keller

@lucienforJesus: ….early Christians pointed to the pain and adversity of life as one of the main reasons for embarking on the faith #Keller.@Petchary

@lucienforJesus: Suffering dispels the illusion that we have the strength and competence to rule our own lives and save ourselves #TimothyKeller

@lucienforJesus: People ” become nothing through suffering ” so that they can be filled with God and His grace. #TimothyKeller @FaeEllington @souldancing

@lucienforJesus: Before we get the joy and love that help us to face and overcome suffering, suffering must first empty us of our pride…… #TimothyKeller

@lucienforJesus: . idea of Deism is that God created the world for our own benefit and now it operates on its own, without his constant or direct involvement

@lucienforJesus: If you believe that the world was made for our benefit by God, then horrendous suffering and evil will shake your understanding of life. #TK

@lucienforJesus: JRR Tolkien The Lord of the Rings – Always after a defeat and respite evil takes another shape and grows again. #9/11 #ISIS #Thank ForJesus

@lucienforJesus: Evil is the condition which results when some good thing that God made is twisted or corrupted from its original design or purpose……

@lucienforJesus: …..#Augustine and later #ThomasAquinas #FreeWill #TimothyKeller….so now we get a glimpse of why certain things happen

@lucienforJesus: So there can be good without evil, but evil, being parasitic, cannot exist without the good on which it preys…..#Eureka #TimothyKeller

@lucienforJesus: One the deepest desires of the human heart is for love without parting – Timothy Keller. Only the Resurrection of Jesus gives that assurance

It’s hard and perhaps a bit dishonest to try and summarize what one has gleaned from a book which has so much more to reveal. But already one can see that the thrust of the book is to counter the growing phenomenon in Western Cultures, with devastating effects on families, community and institutions, of the notion that Deism, which is a unconscious indifference to God, or Atheism, which is a manifestly conscious rejection of God, can serve mankind as well as Traditional and Bible based Christianity at any time. But especially in times of Pain and Suffering. Keller addresses, as C.S. Lewis did, The problem of Evil – adequately described by JRR Tolkien in one of the Tweets above. And also the Problem of a ” moral outcry against evil and injustice’, when Atheism, properly and honestly understood, has to ‘borrow its sense of morality from God’. And based on this argument, advances the position that, the ‘Nones’ – those who do not believe in any religion – have lost the philosophical debate, and are now in retreat, contrary to what people like Keron King would have us believe, The next fall back position is to assert that God ‘probably’ does not exist…and the same verdict holds here too

On the positive side of the discussion, is that assertion that Christianity did a better job of assisting persons in times of Pain and Suffering ; from both the doctrinal position of the joys promised in the Resurrection of Christ. And the practical experience of having Christians minister to persons in the times of plagues and other trials, risking and sometimes sacrificing their own lives, while the ” ancient humanists’ ran away to ‘save their own skins’; the philosophy of the age, which is rapidly taking over the minds of Western culture. The paradox being that Christianity flourished in the early days of Western Civilization for these reasons, but is under ‘pressure’, in the present age, as many are asking ‘ why would a good and omnipotent God allow suffering”.

The final point, so far in the book, is that The Fall explains much of human suffering and pain. Even the existence of death. And thus, as fellow travellers in this age of The Fall, we need to be mindful of the power of God, in and through Christ Jesus, to ‘make all things new”; whether in this age, or in the age to come. And that promise is the ultimate consolation, which ‘ parting from loved ones’, through evil, brings. Whether in Indonesia, or in a sleepy village in the western part of Jamaica.

Peace
LWJ