Of Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Rejoicing in Jamaica, and wanting to know 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. The very public unravelling of the life of Bill Cosby has left me with a great sense of disappointment. Not sure why, as all men ‘are like grass”. But Cosby was such an icon, such a example of what was good about America, and the heights that a black man could attain in a racially troubled society. So this week I mourned the ‘loss of innocence’ about Cosby.

Bill Cosby Scandal – NBC News

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Bill Cosby Scandal – NBC News
Continuing coverage of sexual assault allegations against the legendary comedian
View on http://www.nbcnews.com
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2. Donald Trump a long shot for the President of the USA, was a big news item this week on CNN.

Thus triggering the question: Would America really vote in this man with such extreme and right wing irrational views and risk another world war? Would they really be that crazy! The world waits with baited breath.

Trump’s Latest Anti-Immigrant Remarks Are More Irrational Than Ever

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Trump’s Latest Anti-Immigrant Remarks Are More Irratio…
Presidential candidate Donald Trump painted himself further into a corner Wednesday by spewing another batch of anti-immigrant rhetoric on CNN. In …
View on http://www.huffingtonpost…
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3. Despite the high profile nature of the above items of news, the best news for me this week, was the rejoicing of a community in the southern part of the island over the capture of a notorious gunman who had reported killed four people in that area. Including two brothers! it made the news last night on Television, but there is no report in the print media so I can’t send a link. But the video clips in TVJNews showed people rejoicing that this wicked man was no behind bars.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what Word or inspired word did the Lord send this week, as we contemplated both the local and international news. One very dramatic word was that, ” temptation is going to be with us forever”. And temptation both for the believer and the unbeliever! The manifestation of which were very much in evidence this week. Another message reminded us that ” the dawn will come’, one day. So in the midst of the madness of the possibility of Donald ” trumping”, good sense…could not resist that… and people suffering immeasurably from murder most foul, the Lord reminds us that he is still Sovereign over all the earth. And the full expression of this Sovereignty was revealed in the Life, Death and Insurrection of Jesus. And therefore our principal goal in life is to ‘get to know Jesus’. Nobody else, no matter how rich and how famous and how wicked!

THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent out on whatsapp.And speaks to the faithfulness of a loving God. A Theme which used by a preacher at my church today. My friend Ian Boyne is concerned about ‘reverse discriminating’, and the possibility of the loss of religious freedom in America, as a direct spin off of the Supreme Courts decision. And pens a excellent article in today’s Gleaner. But he worries too much, as ‘this is indeed my Father’s world”, and He is still Sovereign.

Jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20150712/ian-boyne-religious-liberty-vs-gay-rights

GM: This morning as I began my devotions, the hymn, ” This is my Father’s World “, came into my head.
Having read the words, of this instructive hymn, the words of one the all time great hymns of the church, which has, and continues to provide much comfort to all mankind, came into my heart.

And as I reflected on the profound reality, revealed in the third verse, that God’s presence is available each day , ‘ to cheer and to guide’, words of another hymn came to mind.
I don’t know how often you take Holy Communion, or Lord’s Supper in your Tradition, but in my Anglican Church, every Sunday is Communion Sunday. And I look forward to that experience with great anticipation, using the words of the final hymn below, as a guide.
For in that Blessed Sacrament, ” I see my Lord face to face “.

I pray God that as we continue to journey with Christ, each day more and more, His Presence will indeed be with us, and we will ‘ see Him face to face’.
And who knows, that because of our faithfulness, a faithful God will cause ‘ showers of refreshing ‘ to fall on our dry and thirsty land. Spiritually, Morally, Socially, Economically and Physically. #DivineIntervention
Peace.

THE FIRST HYMN
1
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
2
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
3
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

THE SECOND HYMN
Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face;
Here would I touch and handle things unseen;
Here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,
And all my weariness upon Thee lean.

Here would I feed upon the bread of God,
Here drink with Thee the royal wine of Heaven;
Here would I lay aside each earthly load,
Here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven.

I have no help but Thine; nor do I need
Another arm save Thine to lean upon;
It is enough, my Lord, enough indeed;
My strength is in Thy might, Thy might

THE SECOND MESSAGE – the effects of a prolonged drought is a major issue in my country. This week, the Lord sent ‘showers of encouragement’. And other messages. Including one about praying for a revival in our land – a fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. Of far greater long term benefit than rain!

GM: Last night as we were preparing for bed, “Rain, Rain”, my wife exclaimed joyfully as ‘ showers of refreshing’, about which we hoped for, yesterday, fell without any warning, and blessed a dry and thirsty land. Praise God!

Yesterday, I spent some time, again, in one if my favourite Psalms, and the one appointed for reading in my church this Sunday. Why? As a Chalice Bearer in my church, one who serves with the Priest in the Sanctuary, participating in the sharing of Holy Communion, our prayers, on a Sunday morning, in preparation for worship, before the service begins, includes verse 6:

‘ Will thou not turn again and quicken us O Lord, that thy people may rejoice in thee’.

Which is clearly a prelude, and a promise of The Messiah, Jesus the Christ, for Whose coming the early disciples awaited: and with great joy, received. And sadly, the present day Jews are still waiting for Him who has already come. But as we read the verses, and we can locate the trials of our ‘ dry and thirsty land’ ( Physically, Morally, Spiritually, Socially and Economically) in the midst of Israel’s lament. All because, as our Rector pointed on Sunday, we, like the Israelites, have made bad choices – turned away from the ways of the Lord – and are suffering the consequences. But we know and pray to a God who is full of compassion and Mercy: and which Mercy was fully expressed on the Cross of Calvary in the Atoning death – for the sins, the rebellion against God, of all mankind – of our Savior, Jesus Christ

Therefore, in the same way, we prayed for ‘ showers of refreshing’ and received it last night, and who knows how much more will come, let us give thanks, and pray fervently, not for The Christ, for He has come already, but pray instead for a Revival, a fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. And who knows, what a mighty Work God will carry out in this #GetTheGuns #StagnantEconomy #GascylinderPressingDance #AbsentBabyFather #Prosperitygospel #BlueMovies #WaterEveryOtherDay country.
THE WORD OF GOD: PSALM 85:1-7 NIV

You, Lord , showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, Lord , and grant us your salvation.
Prayer: ‘O God, wilt thou not turn and quicken is again, that thy people may rejoice in thee’.
…..Shekinah, is all I hope for. Peace

THE THIRD MESSAGE – specifically for those of us who ‘breasts are troubled’ about world events and local ones too.

GM: I woke up this morning with just a few words of this blessed hymn/poem in mind….unworthy though I be. But enough to jog my memory and for me to find it in my hymnbook. And then to wonder what the Lord was saying this morning.
And it did not take long for a famous quote from of the most influential Bishops of the early church, Augustine of Hippo ( 354-430….one who is credited with making the grace of God, the theme of theology in the West) to come into my mind. #ObamastrugglingwithGrace.

My Spirit Longs For Thee
My spirit longs for thee
Within my troubled breast
Though I unworthy be
Of so divine a guest:

Of so divine a guest
Unworthy though I be,
Yet has my heart no rest,
Unless it come from Thee:

Unless it come from Thee,
In vain I look around:
In all that I can see
No rest is to be found:

No rest is to be found,
But in thy blessed love:
O let my wish be crowned,
And send it from above!
by John Byrom

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless unless it rests in you”….Augustine of Hippo.
Then I read the Gospel appointed for reading in our church for this Sunday, . and found this passage, which is further on in Mark 6, than the actual reading.
http://bible.com/111/mrk.6.30-34.niv The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Finally some words from a meditation by Martin Luther King Jr, which I found nestled in the Book of Amos, a chapter of which forms part of the four sets of readings for this Sunday.
A reflection which speaks a word to all whose ‘ breasts are troubled’ in this #10outof10Commissioner #BruceJenner #GodisdeadAtheist #BillCosbydisappoints #ChildrenwithTwo’Mothers’ #DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists #Cancerstrikesagain #HumanTrafficking painful and confusing world

HE WHO TURNS BLACKNESS INTO DAWN
Verse: Amos 5:8

Midnight is a confiding hour when it is difficult to be faithful. The most inspiring word that the church may speak is that no midnight long remains. ….Our eternal message of hope is that dawn will come. Our slave foreparents realized this. They were never unmindful of the fact of midnight…..
Faith in the dawn arises from the faith that God is good and just. When one believes this, he knows that the contradictions of life are neither final nor ultimate. He can walk through the dark night and the radiant conviction that all things work together for good for those that love God. Even the most starless midnight may herald the dawn of some great fulfilment.
Comment: So whatever is causing our ‘ breast to be troubled’, although we ‘ unworthy be’, invite Christ into your heart, and be assured, that one, one glorious day, we will all find rest in Him. For as the Psalmist declared, and as the rain came the night before,
http://bible.com/1/psa.121.1-2.kjv I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord , which made heaven and earth.
So in the midst of our troubles in life, let us remain faithful to a God who has proved Himself faithful in sending His Son to die for our sins, so that in Him we may find Rest.
Peace.

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – powerful one which will provide a lot of encouragement for anyone going through a period of trial and temptation.

GM: I already had in mind that which I was going write this morning. But the Gospel reading for this Sunday at my church confirmed it. And so too a Word from the Acts of this Apostles, to which I was led this week.

It all has to do with the reality of evil in the world; around us and within us.
And the fact that ‘ sophisticated’, and enlightenment 21st century people deny that reality. But Jesus and the early church faced evil, ‘ head-on’. And so too must we who bear His Name and likeness! But only in His strength.

THE WORD OF GOD.

TOMORROW’S GOSPEL Mark 6:7-13
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits……
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

FROM ACTS 5:12-16
The Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people……
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
One day this week, as my wife and I watched the the very public unraveling of the life of one of our favorite actors, Bill Cosby, on CNN, a deep sense of sadness overcame me. And I exclaimed. 24 women! To what end? Without missing a beat, beside me, came the answer. Power!
Last night, just by ‘ chance’, I watched a BBC documentary on the horror of the War in Serbia: and the genocide and other acts of atrocities which were carried out on former neighbors, The Bosnian Muslims. Have mercy! The title : Srebrenica Revisited. Again why, in the name of God, why perform such evil again another human being.
Power? No, Satan. The Living devil.
This week I shared a part of this meditation with someone who was under attack from evil, and needed to ‘ listen to it’. I promised to send the entire reflection. But the Spirit of God led me to share it with everyone. And also provided context. For Satan is indeed like a roaring lion seeking whom he will. But thank God for Jesus, in whom and through whom alone, we can be protected from the evil desires which have destroyed the reputation of Bill Cosby, and brought untold pain and grief to families across the world, through murder and rape. And we in #QuadrupleMurder #TeenDeath #ChildAbuse Jamaica are very familiar with both manifestations of this kind of evil. Let us then turn to Jesus and find protection from evil. For the devil uses the unsuspecting and the unprotected to do extreme evil. But it is his main desire to wound Christ by temping the children of God.

A TIME OF TEMPTATION

F.B. Myers ( 1608-1674…an English Pastor who, among other things, published a number of Devotional Books on Biblical characters)

Verse: Lamentations 3:19

You will be tempted to the end of your life, and the nearer you live to Christ the more you will be tempted…..
The one who sees the heavenly vision is the one whom the devil will tempt to the uttermost.
God will permit it because temptation does for us what the storms do for the oaks – it roots us – and what the fire does for the painting on porcelain – it makes us permanent.
You never know that you have a grip on Christ , or that He has a grip on you so well as when the devil is using all his forces to attract you from Him; then you feel the pull of Christ’s right hand.
As long as the soldier slinks outside the battle ( O Jesus I have promised…. I shall not fear the battle, if thou be by my side… comes into my mind), he faces little danger, but let him plunge in and follow his captain and he will soon have the bullets flying about him. Some of us have had a good time because there was no use the devil wasting powder and shot on us ; we have not been doing him any harm. But once we begin to wake up and set to work for God, the devil will set a thousand evils to worry us…..
The nearer you get to Christ the more you have to do with temptation. The closer you get to the heart of the fight the more the devil will torment you…..But the virulence of the temptation means not that you are declining into Sin, but that you are advancing in holiness; and that the devil is afraid of you and only hopes to wound Christ by hurting you.
Peace

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