Chaos at a Passport office in Jamaica, The Irish Vote, ISIS in Iraq and Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church

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 thy church that the church may renew the nation(s)

NEWS

1. Chaos as citizens respond to hike in passport fee.

Passport hike pushed back

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Passport hike pushed back
As chaos reigned at offices of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) across the island yesterday, the Government announced it has push…
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The big news of this week in my country was the absolute chaos which ensued at the PICA office in Kingston as there was a mad rush to apply for passports before the date of the prosed increased in the cost to own this precious document. Some are blaming PICA for the short notice – a few days – while others like myself wonder why our people have to descend to this kind of behaviour. The television clip of a young lady being hauled quite unceremoniously over a high fence, and news of children being injured, poses all kinds of questions about the kind of society we have here in Jamaica. Was it really the desire to save a few dollars, in a challenging economy, that triggered this action of action; are people suffering that badly that they would assemble from 4:am in order to get a ticket so that they would be processed early; how many folks would willingly pay much more than the proposed hike for less important things in life ; was there another and more compassionate and sensitive way that the Government could have acted, especially in these harsh economic times; have we learnt anything from this madness?

2. The National spotlight focusing on our abused children continues and this video from JIS gives us an update on the Governments’s response.

FOCUSING ON SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN.flv – Jamaica Information Service

FOCUSING ON SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN.flv – Jamaica Information Service
People should accept their civic responsibility to report cases of child abuse.
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However, I found an article by award winning journalist Ian Boyne on this issue, riveting. it appears in today’s edition of The Daily Gleaner, and poses serious questions to Church, Civil Society and State about our response to this serious national issue. I would urge all to read it, as although poverty alone cannot explain away a lot of what is taking place, equally so moralizing alone, or adopting harsher laws alone,will not work either, says Boyne. I agree with him. We need the fabled wisdom of Solomon to solve this issue. And what a day to contemplate this kind of challenge! Pentecost;the birthday of the Church.

3. America is exporting ‘sexual anarchy’. So says Dr. Kay Bailey, a member of The Jamaica Coalition for a healthy Society, in a well researched and cogently argued article which appeared in the Daily gleaner today.

US exporting sexual anarchy

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US exporting sexual anarchy
Barely 12 weeks after his appointment as United States special envoy for human rights of LGBT persons, Randy Berry is currently paying a visit to Jamaica…
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This defense of the God ordered marriage between a man and a woman, coming during a week when the Irish voted overwhelmingly in national vote, to allow same sex marriages. And also on the heels of the recent visit of Randy Berry, Obama’s special envoy on LGBT issues to Jamaica. No doubt some will pose the question back at Obama, ” What a gwaan Mr. President”. Why ‘big up’ the gays so much? However the Gleaner editorial appearing on the same op-ed page of Dr. Bailey’s article argues that this international move to lobby for same sex marriage is a Human Rights issue; and therefore ought to supported by all.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word or inspired word did the Lord send this week, in the midst of the chaos, the controversy and on Pentecost?

The first Message – sent out by WhatsApp.

Watch “I Know Who I Am Lyrics” on YouTube – https://youtu.be/tKo3KFi7osk
A worship song to praise the God who in Christ calls us to live a life of victory regardless of how others regard us for we know who are. O praise the Lord. For in him ‘ I know who I am’

The great difference between Christians and non-believers, and even people of other faiths, is that because our salvation has been purchased by the Blood of Christ, ” We know whose we are, and therefore ‘who I am’.”. There is no greater philosophical, existential, national, social or moral way of separating us from other. We know who we belong to – Christ Jesus. And that single fact affects our response to all that is happening around us. Whether it be family issues and how we treat with our own children or the children of the less fortunate, controversial issues of human sexuality, issues of justice for all, and the crushing and dehumanising effect that poverty has on our people. And more importantly, not just our response to issues in the society, but how people view our actions. Lastly, because we know whose we are, we know that acts of wickedness are not the final word about life. So though we mourn with those who mourn, we have no ‘ enduring city’ in this life, and so our hope is built on a different and more solid hope – Christ, who is the Resurrection and the giver of Eternal Life.

The Second Message – again on WhatsApp. And features a song of both lament and victory – empowered by the Pentecostal Holy Spirit. Features a Word of promise from The Living God, which we as a people have ignored, and hence our ‘feeble’ attempts to right an egregious wrong that is at the heart of the problem of child abuse – disobedience to the Word of God. For what Boyne fails to argue, at least in today’s article, is that the very same ‘dirty old men’ , who are ‘purchasing sexual favors’ from ‘girls who hail from economically challenging circumstances’, are victims of living in a society which no longer fears God, and Judgement. But we know that, ‘ it is apointed for all men once to die, and then the judgement’. In the meanwhile, as Church, as the body of a compassionate and merciful God, we do our best to lift people out of both the moral and economic quicksand which is ‘sucking’ the very life out of our people. Both young and old!

MESSAGE
These are dangerous times for young people who are not rooted and grounded in the Word of God. Children are being killed. Jobs are hard to come by. And influential people with access to mainstream media, and skilled at using Social Media are posing serious questions about the existence of God. Some with clear agendas; others genuinely searching for The Meaning of Life in a Democractic Society. But ultimately all being led astray by, ” the lying lips and deceitful tongues”, of the ‘ roaring lion ( Satan) seeking to devour whom he will’.
What shall we do to protect our young ones, and rescue even those, who having been led astray, are like the ‘Pied Piper’, successfully leading others away from a Loving and Merciful God?

The key thing to remember is that, ‘ the battle is not ours but the Lord’s’. And the only weapon, and we don’t need any other, otherwise praise and glory will not be given to God, is to ‘ lift up the Name of Jesus’, in all that we say and do. And this same Jesus ‘ will draw all men unto himself’.
In this context then, in the midst of agonizing over the ‘ foolishness’ of turning away from God, and leading others astray, and then ‘ marching’ to protect our children, a Word and a song cane into my heart. Again!

Deuteronomy 5:29 NIV

Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

There Is a Balm in Gilead
By: African American Spiritual

Sometimes I feel discouraged
and think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.

If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus and say, “He died for all.”

So let us be of good courage. and not become weary of doing good, become discouraged and feel like giving up on frustration. And reminding everyone we meet, that Christ died for all. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
For we too were once disobedient, and ‘enemies of God’, when we too followed the ‘ spirit of the air’ which is at work in those who are disobedient. But thank God for Jesus, who died for all, including those who are leading our people astray, so that we may enjoy eternal life – a life of victory over the many and varied temptations offered by the Master of deceit, Satan. And which temptation to disobey God, the Creator of all life, born and unborn, is at the root of the problem of child abuse and teen murder.
Peace.

THE THIRD MESSAGE – features a question for all mankind. Do you want to see Jesus? And further, do you know who He is? The great fact that we celebrate on Pentecost is that The Holy Spirit has come to reveal all Truth. And to convict people of Sin, Righteousness and Judgement. So the battle to convince people about the futility of desiring same sex marriage is not our but the Lord’s. And the question of Justice for all then becomes not a just a Human Rights Issue but one of Mercy and Compassion and Justice. All of which the God of the Prophet Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Christ Himself spoke about. But always within the context of obedience to the Creator of heaven and earth, the sea and all that is within it. In effect, for us to seek Christ first, to want to see Jesus, and the the Holy Spirit will reveal all things to us. For the problem that Obama and his envoy faces, and even the Irish and others, is that they have elected to seek Justice for all first, and perhaps last also. And do not wish to see Jesus. At least not the One who died for the sins of all mankind. No doubt they and the writer of the Gleaner editorial today, feel that the force of their argument has greater merit that the Word of God. But then again, that’s not a new position for mankind to adopt. For men full of the rightness of their cause, crucified the Son of God. And to their amazement, out of death came Life, and Life more abundantly. The message of Pentecost for all then, is that it is time ‘ to pour contempt on all our pride’. In the light of the ‘wondrous cross’.

Last night my ‘ song in the night’, as I slept, was the well known prayer by St. Paul. ” I want to know Jesus”; as recorded in Philippians. Then I woke up with the two songs we sing at the start of our service on a Sunday morning. One of which is, ” Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus”.

As we are gathered Jesus is here
One with each other, Jesus is here
Joined by the Spirit, washed in the blood
Part of the body, the church of God
As we are gathered Jesus is here
One with each other, Jesus is here

Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him
Open our ears, Lord
And help us to listen
Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus

Philippians 3:10-11 NIV
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

What do I make of this? As I thought about it, a verse of Scripture from Revelations came into my mind.

Revelation 2:4 NIV

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

In the midst of the mad rush of life, listening and responding to the news of the day, attending to our own needs, the needs of family and attending to the pressing needs of others, if we are not careful we can become guilty of ” forsaking our first love” – Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. And who is more that enough for all our needs. St. Paul, from whom we have learned so much about the Christian faith had no such problems, as he was determined to know Christ, as his first priority in life. And everything else he considered ” rubbish ” – including his reputation and position in the church of the day, and all his earthly possessions. We too should have the same focus.

And then, only then can we declare like St. Paul, ” I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some”.
Which was the attitude, ‘ the same mind which was in Christ Jesus’, that we ought to have if we are going rescue our country from #TeenMurder and other social and moral ills.

Note also, ‘ as we are gathered Jesus is here’, that Christians do not, and cannot operate alone. We need each other to see Jesus and to spread the Gospel of forgiveness of sins and of eternal life – right here on earth and the life to come in heaven.
Then can you believe that as I went searching for this passage in 1 Cor. 9:22, in my devotional Bible, I came upon:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Amazing! Peace.

THE FINAL MESSAGE – there were two others, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll stop here, as this message features Pentecost. For in the final analysis, although this Ministry goes out to believers and non-believers alike, it is the renewal of the Church which is really going to make a difference in my country and indeed the entire world. Whether the problem is ISIS and the apparent ‘cowardice’ of the Iraqis, the war in Syria, the controversy on human sexuality, poverty alleviation efforts across the globe, equality among the sexes, workers rights, climate change, child abuse, it is the children of the Resurrection of Jesus, who empowered by the Holy Spirit can make a difference. And how? ” Feed my sheep”. Remember that God has the whole world in his hands. Including child abusers! So they too need to be ‘fed ‘ with the Word of God. It is then left up to them, and the Power of the Holy Spirit to work out whether they and others accept of reject the Word. Our role is to ‘spread the tidings all around’. And be of good courage.

THE MESSAGE

This Sunday, in my Anglican Church, along with other denominations that follow a Liturgical Calendar, we will celebrate Pentecost. The wonderful day when the promised Holy Spirit was ‘ poured out’ on the early church. And which Third Person of The Blessed Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit, continues to ‘ Teach us all things’.
As I read the passage in John, one of four Scriptures appointed for Sunday, into my mind came one the most powerful hymns of the Church.

THE WORD OF GOD
“……And with that he breathed on them and said, ” Receive the Holy Spirit “……John 20:22

THE HYMN ( FIRST VERSE)

Breathe on me, breathe of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love,
and do what thou wouldst do.

Then I sat there pondering on what does God love! And the answer came swiftly.

“…… Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘ Do you love me?’. He said, ‘ Lord you know all things; you know that I love you’.
Jesus said ” Feed my sheep “….John 21: 17 NIV
God loves ” His sheep”. And God in Christ Jesus died for all His sheep. Remember the song:
“In his hands, he got the whole world in his hands”.

So let us commit to feeding everyone we meet today, with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That Jesus saves. In how we live, and what we say. Whether it be family, friend, neighbors, stranger, persecutor. Whoever! Wherever. For to ” Feed my sheep” is what the Holy Spirit came to do in and through us, to the glory of God.
And as I wrote, this wonderful song below, came into my heart. So my friends, it is not ganja, medical or industrial, that will ‘ save Jamaica’. Not the much talked about Logistics Hub. Nor expansion of the Tourism Industry, nor an Export led economy. All may have a role to play in growing our economy and improving our standard of living.
But only you and I, ” feeding God’s sheep”, will be able to ” Save ” Jamaica, and help it to ‘ play it’s part in advancing the whole human race.

THE SONG

We have heard the joyful sound:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Bear the news to every land,
Climb the steeps and cross the waves;
Onward!—’tis our Lord’s command;
Jesus saves! Jesus saves

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