Of Celebrating with Usain Bolt in China: Of praising Christ across the world

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

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

THE NEWS

1. Bolt wins again. And it was almost as if the World Games in Beijing China was ‘not happening’ as far as American Television was concerned. So I had to turn to Twitter and facebook to catch some of the excitement that such a phenomenal win – against all expectations as Gatlin had been winning everything and in very fast times too- except Jamaicans who know that Bolt is a #BigOccasionMan.

http://espn.go.com/olympics/trackandfield/story/_/id/13493294/usain-bolt-beats-justin-gatlin-win-100-meter-title-world-championships

By the time many would have read this message #RealShellyAnn might very well have provided #Jamdown with yet another Gold Medal; to add to the bronze we got in the Men’s Shot Putt from #HeAlmostWonGold from O’Dayne Richards.

Yes, there were other newsworthy stories : The brave Americans and one British man in France; An American Actress and gay rights advocate ‘taking on’ Presidential candidate Tom Cruz, asking him why he did not seem to be concerned about ” lots of Gays being killed in Jamaica”. Seriously! I wonder where that came from; and of course the Donald Trump phenomenon continues with recent polls showing him moving even further ahead ‘low energy” ( his words) Jeb Bush. But this 100M race had been anticipated all summer long. And it did not disappoint. So that’s the big news in Jamaica, as I returned home this evening.

THE WORD OF GOD.

So with all this excitement in the sir, what Word did the Lord send or inspired word?
All through the week ” Keep your focus on Jesus”. For if truth be told, Boltmania can easily become a ‘distraction’ for Christians, whose main focus is to be One with Christ in all that we do. And to give Him all the honor and glory as we seek to spread the Gospel of His Atonement for Sin on the Cross of Calvary, His Resurrection so that in Him we too may be raised to a new life, and His Coming gain to Judge the Living and the Dead. So yes, let us celebrate Bolt’s famous victory, but understand that the greatest Victory in the lfe of Humanity was won on the Cross of Calvary. Amen.

The First Message – sent out on WhatApp – essentially poses the question, ” How much do you love Jesus”? And do you love Him to the point where ‘there is no remedy’ but to die ‘to self’ for, and in Him?

GM: Last night’s bedtime reading of the Word was very dramatic, as in Acts 20, St. Paul declared that he was ‘ innocent of the blood of all men’. And he did not hesitate to give a reason for this confidence.
Earlier on in the chapter he told the leaders of the early church, that his only role in life was to complete the task that his Lord Jesus Christ had given him – ‘ the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace.
And later on, in justifying his claim to be ‘ innocent of the blood of all men, he declared: ‘ for I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

This Word raises several questions for us 21st century Christians. How much do we love the Lord Jesus? Why do we love Him? Do we understand that if we do not testify to others about their need for Salvation, purchased by His Atonement for Sin by His shed Blood on Calvary, then ‘ their blood will be on our heads’. viz. Their unrepentant sins which will lead to eternal separation from God in this life and the life to come? Do we understand what it means to ‘ proclaim the whole will of God – that all men should hear of and understand, and long for a relationship with the Crucified, Risen Ascended, and soon Coming Christ?

I love weddings. I went to one a couple weeks ago. And I am going to one, God willing, this week. There is so much joy at weddings, as ‘ love is in the air’. And there is no ‘ remedy’ for true love, as both husband and wife would willingly die for each other.
Last night, inspired by St. Paul’s love for and obedience to Christ, I read a beautiful reflection on this love, which touched my heart deeply. I hope it will touch your soul also. But remember always that we love, so that others may come to love Him too. And be rescued from Satan and life in hell, unto Eternal Life with The Almighty God. And that’s the Gospel Truth.
No matter what CNN or The Gleaner or Google may tell you.

SATURATED WITH THE SPIRIT

Hilary of Poitiers ( 315-368…formerly a pagan, who became a Bishop in the early church and one who defended the doctrine of The Trinity against those who held a position that Christ was ‘ created by the Father’, and therefore not eternal)

Verse: Acts 20: 24.

Hoisting My Sails

The chief service I owe you, O God, is that every thought and Word of mine should speak of you. The power of speech which you have bestowed on me can give me no greater pleasure than to serve you by preaching your gospel……

Saturated in His Love

Although I am dust and ashes, Lord. I am tied to you by bonds of love. Therefore I feel I can speak freely to you. Before I came to know you, I was nothing. I did not know the meaning of life, and I had no understanding of myself. I have no doubt that you had a purpose in causing me to be born, yet you had no need of me, and on my own I was of no use to you.
But then you decided that I should hear the words of your Son, Jesus Christ. And that as I heard his words, you enabled his love to penetrate my heart. Now I am completely saturated in his love and faith, and there is no remedy. Now, Lord, I cannot change my attitude to my faith; I can only for for it.
May this attitude to the love of Christ be yours and mine today, by God’s grace. So that we may spend our lives testifying to His Grace and Mercy according to the gifts God has given to each one of us. And to whoever He places in our lives. So that we may like St. Paul, declare that ‘ we are innocent of the blood of all men’.

THE SECOND MESSAGE – on WhatApp, features a song, which continues the theme of ‘keeping a focus on Christ’

GM: I woke up with this song in my heart.

Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior
Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Refrain:
Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition,
Help my unbelief.

Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.

Thou the spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee,
Whom in Heav’n but Thee.

Then read the Psalm appointed for the worldwide Anglican Church for next Sunday. Psalm 84. And verse 10, on particular, touched my soul.

” Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

Then I thought of, at one level #DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists and what he represents ; and at another level #Member of Parking Everard Warmington and his outrageous behaviour, and what he represents. Thought of our celebrated recording artiste #Etana and her video #WrongAddress and how the #desperateforajob young lady almost succumbed to the lure of sexy dancing in nightclub to survive. About a sermon I heard last Sunday on :
” Be very careful, then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil “. Ephesians 5:15.
Thought about life here in rich America where your every desire can be satisfied; and you can live our dreams without any regard to The Word of God.
Perhaps, on reflection, this is why the song came into my heart this morning, and the words from the Psalm, as we do live in ‘ evil times’. Times where money and power can buy anything. Perhaps even a Presidency, for US$ One Billion, as DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists is reported to have said. Then ‘ all hell’ will indeed ‘ let loose’. In America and the world!

So, if you are like many others, who are disturbed about #QuadrupleMurder in Jamaicalandwelove, #TeenagePregnancy in Jamaicalandwelove and #GrossImmorality in Jamaicalandwelove and the madness which the candidacy of DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists represents in America, all of us need to decide ‘ in whose courts shall we live’? In the ‘ tents of the wicked or of the Lord’?
Once we have made that decision, whether we are politicians, teachers, nurses, lawyers, students, bankers, doctors, work in IT, Management, part of ground staff, whatever job we have, even if we are unemployed, matters not, we should all implore the Lord to:

Pass me not today, O blessed Savior
Hear my humble cry…..
For the times are indeed evil. And the Devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he will.
And only God in His Mercy can help us.
Peace

The Third Message – sent on WhatApp features a wonderful song which if taken seriously will help us all to ‘keep our focus on Christ’ at all times

GM: The words of one of my favorite hymns are never far from my heart:

” O Jesus, I have promised
to serve thee to end….”. And they came into my mind this morning during my devotions.
Why? I had read about it before, but it came up again yesterday during my holiday reading of a good book. The remarkable story of Christian love in the early Church.

” The Greco-Roman world tended to despise the poor, but Christians gave generously not only to their own poor but to those of other faiths…… During the terrible urban plagues of the first two centuries, Christians cared for the sick and dying in the city, often at the cost of their own lives “. An excerpt from Rev. Timothy Keller’s New York Times bestselling book ‘ The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism’.

In fact Augustine the Bishop, and one of the Fathers of the early church, who greatly influenced Western Democratic ideals, in his seminal book ‘ The City of God’, makes the point that, because of how Christians cared for the sick and dying, while the aristocrats ran away to save themselves, the ordinary Romans responded by accepting Christ as Saviour. And hence the rapid spread of Christianity in the early centuries.

So when I turned to the readings for the Sunday in my church and found the famous chapter where Joshua posed the question to the children of Israel: “Chose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….”, I understood why the Lord raised up this song in my soul, on this day, in this country, the USA.
The point is that if one is not very, very careful, ‘ the god of this age’, which rules in America, the ‘ almighty dollar’ will lead even the most devout Christian astray. For the blind pursuit of it can foster selfishness, greed and personal ambitions, all of which have and can lead the Church far from the self-sacrificing ideals of the early Church.
And this kind of culture presents many other temptations which can destroy the soul of a child of God.
This is why it is so critical to spend quality time with the hymns of the church, in addition to The Word, which have so much to teach us about spiritual warfare and the battles which confront us in our journey with Christ.
I leave you with one more thing to think about as we live out our Christian life in this age. Did you know that:
” Recently a large array of scientists and philosophers ( in America) signed A Declaration in Defense of Science and Secularism, which called on the leaders of our government ‘ not to permit legislation or executive action to be influenced by religious beliefs’?
So when we promise Jesus to ‘ serve him to the end’, let understand what like, Joshua, who declared, ‘ as for me and my house we will serve the Lord’, we are committing to do.

1
O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my Guide.

2
Oh, let me feel Thee near me;
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
The tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,
Around me and within;
But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,
And shield my soul from sin.

3
Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
Oh, speak to reassure me,
To hasten, or control;
Oh, speak, and make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul.

4
O Jesus, Thou hast promised
To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory
There shall Thy servant be;
And Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Oh, give me grace to follow,
My Master and my Friend.

5
Oh, let me see Thy footmarks,
And in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
Is in Thy strength alone.
Oh, guide me, call me, draw me,
Uphold me to the end;
And then to rest receive me,
My Savior and my Friend.

The Fourth Message – sent on WhatsApp was a ‘ birthday gift ‘ from the Lord. Reminding me and all of us of the need to be One with Christ at all times. In good times and in bad times. So Gatlin ought to stop placing his focus on beating Bolt, but rather on ‘knowing Christ’, if he is not there yet.

GM: This morning as I began my devotions with the On Waking prayer by Jacob, the Lord placed on my mind a special gift, on a special day, which I share with you.

Jacob Boheme

On Waking

Living Lord, you have watched over me, and out your hand on my head during the long, dark hours of night. Your holy angels have protected me from all harm and pain. To Lord I owe life itself. Continue to watch over me and bless me during the hours of day.

And now for the blessing! Words from Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John came into my mind.

” I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – the one you have me – so that they may be one as we are one. ” John 17:11 NIV

As we give thanks for protection from all evil by the ‘ power of the name of Jesus’, do not miss the profound implication of ‘ so that they may be one as we are one’. For one of the great challenges in the age of ‘ rugged individualism’, is to pursue the notion of ‘ personal salvation’. Here Jesus says absolutely not. ( And when Jesus says no nobody can say yes). For He died so that all who find Salvation through Him may become One – the body of Christ. That’s why St. Paul could declare that ‘ if one is hurt we all hurt’.

That’s why we should feel pain and pray without ceasing for the persecuted church in China, in Pakistan, in India and other parts of the world. That why we should all feel pain and pray without ceasing when ‘ doctrinal’ differences affect the witness of the Body of Christ. When people believe that they can stay home, or even come to Church, and ‘ privately’ ‘ worship’ God.
In plain Jamaica language, Jesus is saying ‘ no sanke don’t sing so’.

Finally, all of this, I believe, began last night with a mediation – an excerpt of which I share – by Oswald Chambers.

……..Never allow anything that divides or destroys the oneness of your life with Christ to remain in your life without facing it. Beware of allowing the influence of your friends or your circumstances to divide your life. This only serves to sap your strength and slow your spiritual growth. Beware of anything that can split your oneness with Him, causing you to see yourself as separate from Him. Nothing is as important as staying right spiritually. And the only solution is a very simple one- “Come to Me . . . .” The intellectual, moral, and spiritual depth of our reality as a person is tested and measured by these words. Yet in every detail of our lives where we are found not to be real, we would rather dispute the findings than come to Jesus.

I pray that : as we confront the disturbing sentiments which run deep in the psyche of some Americans, and which are being revealed by the phenomenon of DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists; that as we confront the very present reality of #QuadrupleMuder in Jamaicalandwelove; as the world prepares to deal with the phenomenon of ISIS; as we confront the reality of pedophilia and its multiple manifestations currently in the news in the USA, hunger and poverty and disease across the world, all on account of Sin, we may indeed be one with each other and with Christ, as Church. So that The Holy Spirit of God, may indeed ‘ pour out through us’, as promised, to bring Justice and Righteousness and Peace to a dying and suffering world.
The Fifth Message – sent on WhatsApp is a bit different as it is a “praise message’. Underscoring the fact that our chief mission in live is to praise God and bring Him honor and glory ; far above what we give to Bolt and #TeamJamaicaBeijingGames.

GM: Perhaps because it was my birthday yesterday why the words of the Psalmist came into my mind last night. Twice. As I gave thanks deep in my sleep to a loving God. And in the more familiar King James Version which I memorised early in my life.

” Bless the Lord O my soul,
let all that is within me bless his
holy name.
Bless the Lord O my soul
and forget not his benefits;
who forgives all your iniquities,
and heals all your diseases.
Psalm 103:1-3

And as I read about this wonderful God who is worthy of so much praise: Yahweh, The Great I Am, The Holy One of Israel, The God of Abraham, The God of Issac, The God of Jacob, and Father of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; the God who ‘ redeems your life from the pit and crowns you love and compassion’, this thought/question came into my mind.
How can we convince 21st century individuals who are ‘ hip and smart’, self sufficient and cannot identify with The Word which located them ,’ in a pit’, from which they need to rescued?
I would suggest that this issue ‘ of the need to be rescued’, the need for Salvation, is the great challenge of the age for Evangelists, and equally so for those disciple young and old Christians.
For unless you come to appreciate this need deep in your heart, it is very difficult for you to love Jesus, and Him Crucified.

Thank God that such a task is given to the Holy Spirit, Who alone can ‘ convict’ people of Sin. And as I thought about this question, and a few individuals in this WhatsApp ministry who I pray will commit themselves to Christ one day, The Spirit of God led me to one way many, if not most people, come ‘ know and love Christ’.
The answer is located in one of several Psalms I read and reflect on regularly before going to bed. One of two repentance Psalms written by David. 51 and 32.

” Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle”. Psalm 32:9
T
he message here is that God in Christ, on the Cross of Calvary, by the shed Blood of our Savior, is ‘ Softly and tenderly calling for us to to come home to Him’, to repent and turn to Christ, the Son of God and Co-Creator of heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that is within it. For all have sinned and fallen short of his glory.
For those who continue to ignore his Word, or who having come to a clear understanding, continue to be disobedient, then the God ‘ who wilt not let us go’, according to the words of the hymn writer, will in His great compassion sometimes, send ‘ trouble ‘ to bring us to our ‘ senses’.
For as the Psalmist reveals, this is a God who:
” ..will not always accuse,
not will he harbor his anger forever,;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquity ”
103: 9-10 NIV

Let us then, depending entirely on the Power of the Holy Spirit to convict people of Sin, and the need for Salvation, which is to found only in Jesus the Christ, so live our lives in oneness with Christ – seeking Justice for all, and promoting Righteousness and Peace – and spread the Word that Jesus Saves; so that all who we meet, and love, may join in praise of our wonderful God. And not wait until trouble comes to turn to Him The Holy One of Israel, The God of Jacob; who alone can save us from evil and trials.

O Bless the Lord O my soul,
and let all that is within me
bless his holy name.
Praise God.
Peace.

Finally, A Message for all times. Sent out on WhatApp. A focus on Holy Communion/Lord’s Supper. For in that Holy Sacrament we ‘ see our Lord face to face’. The Hope and Joy of every believer. In this life and the next. With or without Bolt; with or without #RealShellyAnn; with or without #DonkeyManOneforTheFuture.

GM: Went to a wedding last evening. Took lots of pictures. Heard the groom, my brother-in-law spoke so lovingly about his ‘ queen ‘ the bride. What joy to be married to the love of your life!
Then this morning, as I began my devotions, the words of a hymn which stirred my soul several times yesterday, came to mind. It’s all about Jesus, ‘ The Love of every Christian Heart’.

The First Verse.

Jesu, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills the breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see
and in thy presence rest.

Then I turned to Gospel reading in my church for tomorrow. And the very same theme continued. ‘ Jesus, the very thought of thee’.

Read it carefully and see if your soul is not stirred with the thought of ‘ in thy presence rest’, as John explains one of the foundation doctrines of the Church. The importance of Holy Communion/Lord’s Supper.

THE WORD OF GOD

http://bible.com/111/jhn.6.52-63.niv Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

So whose Presence would you prefer to be in day by day, and or rising each morning? The love of your life, or The Love of your Heart?
Actually there is no need to choose, as if you love Jesus first, all other loves, which are gifts from Him anyway, will become even sweeter.

So today we thank God for ‘ young love’. But even more so, that ‘ whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, remains in me, and I in him’. And O what a Joy to be the very Presence of God.
No wonder then that the hymn writer was inspired to pen these words. Words which I ponder on every Sunday morning before going to church.

THE FIRST VERSE

‘ Here O my Lord, I see the face to face;
here faith would touch and handle things unseen;
here grasp with firmer hand the eternal grace,
and all my weariness upon thee lean.
So, as the summer holidays end, and life happens again, let us give thanks that in Jesus we have a Friend. And in Him alone we find true Peace. And true Joy.
Amen.

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