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)
Hot Jamaican underdogs face six-time winners Mexico in Gold Cup final
Hot Jamaican underdogs face six-time winners Mexico in …
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania:Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz are on a mission. Today at 7:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. local time), the history-making senior men’s football…
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The only news in town this week was the Gold Cup finals which just ended. Score? Jamaica 1: Mexico 3. This after playing so well defensively for the entire tournament, only for our vaunted defenders to make two huge and costly mistakes, for which we paid dearly. It should have been 1-1. Extra time would have beckoned. And who knows what might have been. But despite the obvious disappointment, we played well as a team. Arguably even at a higher level of quality that when we qualified for the World Cup. So we give thanks to those who played out their hearts, and made us proud. Also to the coaching staff and all who played a role in allowing us to share the world stage – The Gold Cup is a big thing – for a brief moment.
THE WORD OF GOD
So in the midst of this excitement, hope, and now disappointment mixed with feelings of pride, what Word did the Lord send this week. Two messages! The first one issues a warning which is timely. Be careful that we do not install in our hearts any other ‘King’ but God. And although the Word speaks about idols, things our hands have made, our sporting heroes and heroines can, if we are not careful, ‘remove God’ from the throne of our hearts. A very bad idea, at best, and at worse a very dangerous thing. For in many countries, especially in the UK and other parts of Europe, Football – played by the likes of Chelsea, Man U, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool – has become their ” Religion”. And at which altar they worship every Saturday! Hopefully after his performance in London this week, Bolt is nearly back to his best form; hopefully Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce will cop the gold medal at the World Games in Beijing China, next month. But though we celebrate those who made us proud as a nation, we must be careful not to make them ‘idols’ and provoke the Living God. For these are indeed dangerous times in our nation – with one more police officer shot dead this week – and only complete obedience to a compassionate God will make a difference.
THE FIRST MESSAGE
GM: Recently, I have been spending quality time with the Prophets in the Bible. Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Amos and Hosea. And I have noted that time and time again, these men, appointed by The Living God to speak on His behalf, spoke about Israel turning to worship idols. Things they made with their own hands! Things that could not hear or talk or move on their own. And then turned around and worshipped that object. For the prophets of old, brought up on the stirring Word from Deuteronomy 6:4-5:
Hear ye O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength:
this apostasy must have sounded like madness.
But two experiences come to my mind which raise the question of whether or not, in this age, the prophets of old, would have challenged my nation to repent.
1. We were all seated in the Canadian Embassy waiting to have our various measurements done prior to receiving visa, when right beside me a young lady exclaimed: ” It is not fair “. How do they expect me to sit here with nothing to do, and won’t allow me to have my ( smart) phone?
2. Most of us would have seen the movie ” Home Alone”. The original and the sequel. Do you recall the young man’s answer to the question of whether or not he knew how to use the Television? ” I am a teenager: Television is my life”.
Compare this kind of lifestyle in the 21st with the instructions a good God gave to His people centuries ago:
These commands I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Smart phones, television and other kind of technological advances have become a way of life in the modern world. There is no turning back! But there is a legitimate question to be answered by all Christians. Have these very useful things become ” our life”? In the sense that, do we spend too much time with them rather than with the Word of God. And since I am one of the chief offenders, Twitter will go, Facebook occasionally. I will answer my phone from now on and use WhatsApp. That’s it. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. No, was never a TV person in the first place. More quality time for God’s Word and loved ones.
The challenge that we as children of the Light face, is that for many young men living in inner cities, at #WrongAddresses, is that for them their idol is the gun. And for Muslim extremists, their idol is #terror.
And unless we have the ” miracle working ” power of The Living God in us, we will be no match for this kind of unbridled evil.
In this context then, the readings appointed for my church for next Sunday, are of fundamental importance. From Psalm 114, where the ” earth trembled at the presence of the God of Jacob”, to the Gospel in Mark where Jesus walked on water, and when ” all who touched him” were healed “, we read of God’s miracle working power.
But the reality is that this power, in large part is not being demonstrated in today’s world. The question is why? Have we even made our Religion, our denomination, our understanding of the faith, even our time of devotion….nothing is to interrupt me…our idol, with no room for the Crucified Christ to enter.
These are dangerous times in the world. Jamaica is under siege from the gun. Increasingly America and other Western Societies #IamCharlie are under siege from terrorist groups.
God’s miracle power and mercy are available to those who trust in His Son’s Atonement on Calvary, and who live by His Spirit. But not to those who cling to worthless idols, and who disobey His Commands – to love Him with all our heart. And love our neighbor as ourselves.
I pray God, for the sake of our own souls, and for the wider good of all mankind – His mercy is available to the vilest offender, in #Jamaicalandwelove or in #ISIS – we will turn away from whatever is our idol and turn to Him, who makes the earth tremble at His Presence. And therefore all evil will tremble at His Presence and at the presence of His anointed ones.
THE SECOND MESSAGE – contains the same warning, but in a different context. The context is the ‘ Rock that makes men stumble’; Christ Jesus. For despite our disappointment that we did not win the Gold Cup, a far greater problem confronts us individually and as a nation. Did we ‘stumble’, did we lose our way with God, by ignoring the death, resurrection and Ascension of His Son Christ Jesus. Or have we placed our trust in Him, and found the assurance that, ” we will never be put to shame’, to be absolutely true? Whether as newly married couples, joyful grandparents, or football aficionados! For when the final whistle is blown, when the ‘ninety minutes of life’ are over, and we all come face to face with the Creator God, the discussion will not be about the Mexico Jamaica match in 2015, but rather all about our response to the shed Blood of Christ our Savior.
Disobedience my friends is not a good thing. And we are all guilty. But thank God for Jesus, mercy is available. Even after, one, or two, of three or countless mistakes and sins. But not forever. And no man knoweth when the Son of Man shall return to Judge the World.
THE SECOND MESSAGE
GM: Last night, in the dead of the night came this Word. First in Isaiah and in the St. Paul’s Epistle to the early church in Rome.
THE WORD OF GOD. ROMANS 9:33 NIV.
See, I lay in Zion a stone that makes men stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.
Then the following thoughts came into my mind. As a photographer I just love weddings. There something so special about capturing the magical moment of joy shared by the couple, now ‘one flesh’, as they leave the church. And my wife and I will share in that privilege this weekend.
As a father, having raised my two children, the joy of my life is now my grandchildren. Two of them, with their parents came to visit us recently, and the other set are here, and by God’s grace we will see them this weekend.
As a former (school boy)footballer, I joined with an entire nation in celebrating the performance of the #ReggaeBoyz at #CopaAmerica and now at #GoldCup, and wait with bated breath the finals this weekend.
But, but, life, according to this ‘ song in the night’ from St. Paul, and revealed to God’s chosen people, in the midst of their repeated rebellion against the Living God, life despite its many joys and trials is not about our personal experiences, but rather in the final analysis, whether or not we ‘ stumble’ over the rock who is Christ.
That’s all that matters after 20, 30, 40,50, 60, 70, or more of life on earth, if God so disposes. Regardless of whether or not you have children, or if your party is leading in the polls, or is in charge of the government. Regardless of where you live – in the quiet suburban North America, battle torn Iraq, or #quadrupleMurder Jamaica. Regardless of the success of your sports heroes: #Serena #Messi #UsainBolt.
The problem is that Israel ” stumbled” because they sought to serve God without the knowledge of the need for a mediator between God and man. By zeal and not by faith.
I fear the same thing is happening to many who claim Christ, zealously in #Jamaicalandwelove. For to have Christ living in our hearts by faith two things must take place.
One, we must need Him desperately – for the salvation of our sinful souls. For we can only sing and really praise God, when like those who penned the Sanke, sang:
Oh, I love that Man of Galilee
Who has done so very much for me.
He has forgiven all my sins, put the Holy Ghost within.
Oh, I love that Man of Galilee.
Oh, I love that Man of Galilee.
Two, God will not permit any other rival in our hearts. Not wife, not husband, not children or grandchildren, not…….
I close with a troubling Word from St. Paul as he ends the painful reflection on the status before God, of his fellow Jews. Troubling, nor for Him, as he is confident of the outcome. Chapters 9-11. But troubling for all of us who are not daily challenged by our status before a Holy God – Disobedience. For unless we understand that, like the children of Israel, we have indeed ‘ stumbled’ repeatedly, then we will not turn and ask God for mercy. The kind of mercy that only the Blood and Resurrection of Christ can provide. For us, for the church, and for this #QuadrupleMurder #WrongAddress nation.
And in that respect, all that I and so many are looking for to this weekend, is of no consequence whatsoever.
THE WORD OF GOD
For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them. Romans 11:32 NIV.
This weekend then, and everyday, pray for mercy.
” Lord have mercy on me a sinner”.