God, Prayer, Climate Change and Croaking Lizards

GM: GOD, PRAYER,  CLIMATE CHANGE AND CROAKING LIZARDS

I  have two friends on Twitter who are non – believers. Atheists? Not sure. But serious doubters about God and Jesus and Elijah and ‘ Chariots of Fire’, etc.
One, Dr. Michael Abrahams,  who featured in the previous message,  is a colleague: a well respected Gynaecologist, but  is more famous as comedian. Recently he wrote a satirical piece on Prayer. That praying to God, will give the same results as if we were praying to a croaking lizard!
Then this evening in a #breakingnewsstory #Dionnejacksonmiller host of the popular evening program on #rjrfm94 #BeyondTheHeadlines declared her great fear and dislike of croaking lizards. Despite the fact that they are useful in the fight against the mosquitoes which carry the dreaded Zika Virus; the original topic that triggered the news item when someone sent a text recommending the their effectiveness. ( My house has been lizard proof for years. And I am the official croaking lizard killer. Or else no peace)
So I tweeted at Michael provokingly:

So DJM  you definitely would not be praying to any croaking lizard. Right! @mikeyabrahams @djmillerJA @Petchary @souldancing #BTH

And predictably Michael responded with:
@lucienforJesus @djmillerJA @Petchary @souldancing The outcome would be no different: yes, no or wait.

And the follow up:

@lucienforJesus @djmillerJA @Petchary @souldancing Intercessory prayer is a colossal failure.

One more thing. A couple days ago, Petchary and I, the other bon-believing  friend on Twitter, and an Oxford scholar,  had a conversation on Twitter about Climate Change, Creation and Sin. And she was astounded, and ‘ parted company’ with me, philosophically, on account of my assertion that there was a connection.

Then last night, before retiring to bed, I opened Oswald Chambers’ Complete Works, ‘randomly’ and found this:

CLIMATE  AND SPIRITUAL LIFE

November 26,1916, Zeitoun (Egypt World War 1) Sunday Morning Service

And he woke, rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39 (RV)

This verse is a picture of of our own spiritual life; there are occasions, such as this war, when it looks as if God is asleep, as if all our prayers were of no use; there are breakers ahead and it looks like destruction. But when He awakens in us, He calms the storm and rebukes our unbelief.

The life of Our Lord exhibits the influence of character on climate. It is easy to make this absurd, but looked at from the attitude of the Spirit of God, you find there is an amazing connection between the storm and distresses and wild confusion of the earth just now,  and the waywardness and wrong of man;  when the waywardness of Man ceases and the sons of God are manifested, then ” the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God”. ( Romans 8:19-23)

The Bible reveals that there is a close connection between character and climate. Ruskin ( one of the great Russian writers) is almost the only writer who recognizes it, and in this respect he is akin to the great prophets. The reason for the connection is fundamental. According to the Bible revelation, God created man a mixture of dust and Deity, and when the Redemption comes to its full scope, the whole earth is going to partake in it. Because man’s body and his earthly setting have been affected by sin,  we are apt to think that being made out of dust of the ground is his shame; the Bible implies that it is his chief glory, because it is in that body the Son of God was manifested.

Comment: Two things. One is the mystery of how God uses seemingly  ordinary conversations to show us a glimpse of His Glory. For if anyone can only see a coincidence between Dr. Michael Abrahams’ questioning of God’s Sovereignty,  and an answer provided by our, apparently random,  reading of Oswald Chambers’ struggles to see God at work in the horrors of WW1,  and  Jesus calming the raging storm, in response to the Intercessionary prayers of the terrified  disciples, then such a person is stifling his  or her conscience.

And  two, the powerful message  of God awakening in us, is so profoundly reassuring. But such a growth, such a development, as Chambers taught,  only comes about the more we pray.

For prayer nourishes the transcendent nature of the God who lives in us in and through Christ Jesus. And when He is fully awakened in an individual, and in a Church, no power, no storm, no trial,  on earth can resist Him.
I pray God, that despite the supernatural attempt to confuse and discourage, over the centuries, not just today, God’s people will persevere in praying without ceasing. For in such a way, is a nation, and a civilization, and the very creation itself,  rescued from the wages of Sin, by The One Who died on Calvary. Christ Jesus!
#TheFiveMarksofMission of the Worldwide Anglican Church.
Peace

The New Testament understanding of Prayer according to Oswald Chambers

GM: WHAT’S THE GOOD OF PRAYER?

When a man is at his wit’s end it is not a cowardly thing to pray it is the only way to get in touch with Reality #OswaldChambers

As long as we are self-sufficient and complacent we don’t need to ask God for anything  only when we are powerless that we  listen to Jesus

When a man is in real distress he prays without reasoning he does not think things out he simply spurts it out..#OswaldChambers

The three Tweets above, from last night’ reading about Prayer in Oswald Chambers’ The Complete Works’,  capture  the essence of one, and perhaps the most widely held, view,  of one of the most hotly debated questions, even among non religious people, in life. What really is the good of prayer?

And God knows that there are a lot of things that bring us to our wit’s end.
A family member, a dear friend, or even one of us in this ministry ( which goes out to both Christians and non Christians),  afflicted with cancer – one of the most dreaded diseases that confronts mankind. News of the sudden  death of a loved one – motor vehicle crash; murder; unexplained catastrophic illness causing death in deep sleep.
The sudden death of a previously good relationship! The sudden demise of previously thriving business! A previously well behaved child that suddenly, ‘ lick his head’, as we say in Jamaica ( become wayward and uncontrollable). And the list goes on.
Pushing even the previously very vocal and assured  Atheist, or non religious person,  to ‘ bawl out’ to an unknown but very real God.

But Chambers and other theologians contend that ‘ crying out to God’, is a limited understanding of the ‘ good ‘ of prayer.

” When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God,  ( Jesus Christ) is begins in him. And he can either starve that life or or nourish it.
Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our Lord nourished the life of God in  him by prayer; He was continually in contact with his Father.

We generally look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves, where the Bible idea of prayer is that God’s holiness and God’s purpose and God’s wise order may be brought about, irrespective of who comes or who goes. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament….

It is not so true that ” Prayer changes things ” as that prayer changes me, and then I change things; consequently we must not ask God to do what He has created us to do. For instance, Jesus Christ is not a social reformer; He came to alter us first, and if there is any social reform to be done on earth, we must do it.

God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of Redemption alters the way a man looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man’s disposition…..

The good thing of praying is that it gets us to know God and enables God to perform His order through us, no matter what His permissive will may be. ( God’s order is that there should be no sin, no suffering, no no sickness, no limitation, and  no death; His permissive will is all of these things. God has so arranged matters that we are born into His permissive will, and we have to get at His order by an effort of our own, viz. by prayer.

Perhaps that’s the reason why two days ago, before I left home to attend a special meeting convened, at the highest level in our nation,  to deal with the rising numbers of sudden death on our roads, and then to go into the heart of an inner city, at an altogether different level in my country to care for the sick, on behalf of my Church,  in the midst of extreme poverty, The Lord placed this prayer in my heart:

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

For without ‘ life anew’, which comes  through belief in, and obedience to, Christ and Him Crucified, prayer has no power to help us, even and sadly, especially  when,  we are at out wit’s end. That’s the Gospel Truth.
Peace

Interview with Usain Bolt: Lifting up the Name of Christ

GN:  USAIN BOLT, A GIFT TO JAMAICA: JESUS CHRIST, A GIFT TO THE ENTIRE WORLD

Some of the folks on Twitter last evening were not amused as they watched Usain Bolt, one of the most famous persons on planet earth,  being interviewed on #TVJ, Television Jamaica, during the airing of one of it’s most popular programs, Profile.
One tweet below captured the views of many who expected to hear from Bolt,  exciting details of his many great performances.

Suh hold on. The entire interview is about his love life? #Profile

But the host, Ian Boyne, perhaps the most celebrated journalist in the island, and host of the award winning, and one of the longest running programs on television, had a plan.
A plan captured by a tweet from a female sports journalist which I retweeted.

#NoBabyModdaDrama that’s right boy @usainbolt #Profile @televisionjam

For Ian Boyne’s plan, masterfully executed in part one of this drama, (and Ian knows drama, perhaps better than #TNT) was to show the world that you can be a superstar and still be morally grounded. A hot issue in today’s #ChrisGayle, #ElChapolinkingwithmoviestars, #Odom #TigerWoods era.
So, no #babymotherdrama. No #sleepingwithamarriedwoman, no #galinnabundle (hear that #Beenieman). No disrespecting the institution of marriage. #Marriageisforlife.

Why! Not because of any fear of #badluckfollowinghim but because he  received a gift from his parents.
#Noarguinginfrontofthechildren, #Stablemarriage, albeit eventually after living together and dad having three children with three different ladies. #Wasnotperfect but still instilled in him #Goodvalues.

And most importantly, as we have seen time and time again after his many victories with his making the sign of the cross,  #UsainBolt fears God.   And not only knows, but is obedient….admits that he strays from time time, yes, like any young man… to the Bible.
So Bolt’s owes his success in life to the many gifts he has received. Talent from God, supreme trust in his coach, and moral foundation from his parents.

Then last night before retiring to bed, as is my usual habit, I read the Reflection for the day from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. And found this:

January 10
THE OPENED SIGHT
To open their eyes,……that they may receive….. Acts 26:18

…… The first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words-  “that they may receive remission of their sins”.
When a man fails in personal Christian experience, it is nearly always because he has never received anything. The only sign that a man is saved is that he has received done from Jesus Christ.
Our part as workers for God is to open men’s eyes that they may turn themselves from darkness to light; but that is not salvation, that is conversion – the effort of a roused human being.
I do not think it too sweeping to say that the majority of of nominal Christians are of this order; their eyes are opened, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is one of the neglected factors in our preaching today. When a man is born  again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision.
People register their vows, and sign their pledges, and determine to go through, but none of this  is salvation.
Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, viz., remission of sins.

Then follows the second mighty work of grace – ” and inheritance among them which are sanctified.”  In sanctification the regenerated soul deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s interest in other men.

Comment: I pray God, that all us may come to accept this truth, that salvation is a gift from God. In the same way that Usain Bolt received gifts from God, parents and coach. And that we,  having received,  ” remission of our sins”, by the shed Blood of The Lamb of God may dedicate our lives, solely to Jesus Christ and His interest in other men and women.

That’s the only way the #Babymother  drama and all that comes with it, will end in #Jamaicalandwelove. For when we accept the Biblical Truth that,  ” we are not our own, for we have been bought by the price of blood”, then we as Christians,  will dedicate our lives to advance the interests of the  marginalized, the poor, the vulnerable, those bruised and battered and crushed under the weight of Sin,  injustice and oppression. Through the power of the Holy Spirit.  For the sake of Christ, and to the Glory of God.
Peace.

Then the song I’ve singing since yesterday at church came into my mind.

Give Glory to God church
Give Glory to God…..

Give Glory to God, man
Give Glory to God….

Give Glory to God world
Give Glory to God

Of shockingly bad behavior abroad and God’s message of Hope for Jamaica’s future

GM: ALL OF GOD’S PROMISES AND PLANS ARE FULFILLED IN CHRIST JESUS

Chris Gayle’s controversial, and in my view,  outrageous, and  explicit attempt at   propositioning a  female Australian reporter ( invited her out for a drink) in full view of millions of people, does not define us  (Jamaicans)  as a people.

Neither did the  bloody ‘ reign’, and predictable end (locked up in an American jail) of ‘ President’,  Tivoli Don and convicted  drug kingpin Christopher ‘ ‘Dudus’ Coke,  define us as a people.

Perhaps in the same way that  the outrage and xenophobia associated with #DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists campaign does not define the American people

For that matter, the exploits and fame of even our superstars, dead and alive,  Bob Marley and Usain Bolt, although they have made the country popular and strengthened, and some would even say, created,  ‘ Brand Janaica’, do not define who we are as a people.

For me, what defines us as a people, is not the  alarmingly high murder rate, unacceptable levels of indiscipline,  ill mannered and uncouth behavior, causing so much pain and confusion  in a society, which on the face of it, depending on which  narrative you follow, seems to be operating without any moral compass. But rather the huge resevoir of goodness still present in our people, on account of the teachings and practice of ordinary humble parents and grandparents,  who ‘ in the fear’  of a Loving Father God, and gratitude to a  Saviour,  ‘ tek de case Puppa Jesus’,  laid the foundations, which has allowed our country to survive and even flourish in the most difficult of circumstances.

So how did I get there on a morning when I really didn’t plan to write a message?.
Last night this Word came into my head. At least the part that speaks to ‘ pray for the city, for if the city flourishes, you too will flourish’.
A Word that validates the understanding that many advocate: salvation is not personal alone but finds a greater fulfilment in community. In that context, the Biblical teaching  that,  ‘ we are our brother’s keeper’, and which guides our nation’s desire to eliminate murder and violence, finds inspiration, and makes sense. In that context, the story of the Good Samaritan becomes ‘ real’. In that context the ‘ prosperity gospel’ is exposed as an impostor and interloper,  attempting to dilute God’s plan for His Commununity of Faith.
But this Word for my beleaguered,  confused and confusing land of my birth, beset with so many ills, yet alive with so much good and potential for greatness as a people, carries more than an instruction, but thanks be to God,  a Word of Hope. That the same plans that a Loving God, had and has for His Chosen People, The Children of  Israel, punished on account of rank disobedience, are the same plans that He, a Loving God, has for my people, who deep in our souls, ‘ fear God’. And all nations who fear The Living God! Despite the outward and egregious manifestations of evil which greet us daily in both the electronic and print media, and lately, social media, to which this ‘ blog’ makes a humble and inspired contribution.

For the plans Father God has for us, ‘ are plans to prosper us, and not to destroy’.  And that Plan is Jesus and Him Crucified on Calvary. Full stop! There is none other.
And then, and only then, when we acknowledge, ‘ with all our repented hearts’,  that God has rescued us in Christ Jesus, will we be ‘ found by God’. And have peace in our troubled land.

THE WORD OF GOD

http://bible.com/111/jer.29.4-14.niv This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” ……..

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

And then words of this profoundly important song came into my head during my sleep.
Peace

People need the Lord. For real! Like very seriously!  Not just Chris Gayle and ‘Dudus’. Everybody. And the Australian reporter too. And Maria Sharapova. And Oral Tracy a popular sports journalist in Jamaica ( ‘ Many of of us owe our very existence to inappropriate behavior’) Seriously!  On public television #TVJ #AllAngles #djmiller

Of Piers Morgan, Chris Gayle, The ‘ Watchman’ Church and Jesus Christ

GN: CALLED TO BE A WATCHMAN EARLY IN THE NEW YEAR

Even Piers Morgan, the successor of Larry King Live,  has taken an interest in the Chris Gayle saga – the Internationally celebrated West Indian Cricket star,  who famously invited a female reporter,  whilst being interviewed on live television, for ‘ a drink’.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3388902/PIERS-MORGAN-Ellen-DeGeneres-sexist-pig-treating-Chris-Hemsworth-like-slab-meat-night-just-bit-fun-Time-cut-hypocrisy-ladies-consistent-sexism.html?ito=social-twitter_dailymailceleb

This, after complimenting her on her eyes and  expressing his delight to be in her company.
A faux pas, at least in my opinion, which has landed him in trouble in Australia,  where he is currently playing ‘ big bash’ cricket, for which he is earning mega bucks.

So what does all of this furore, all of this, ‘ making a mountain over a mole hill’, as one sports journalist, echoing the sentiments of  many, male  and female Jamaicans, have to do with Christ and Him Crucified and the Christian journey ?

A lot! For if our life is not ‘ beyond reproach’, how are we ever going to, with any moral authority,  challenge the Chris Gayle’s and Maria Sharapova’s ( read Pier Morgan’s blog)  of this world?
And God knows that Chris Gayle plain ‘ out of order’ behaviour, represents only the ‘ tip of the iceberg’, in respect of how we human beings have  learned to  treat, or mistreat, each other. The ultimate example of which, is not just disrespect for the opposite sex, but a wanton disregard for the sacredness of human life! About which we, very sadly, know a lot in my country.

So this morning, I was led to read and reflect on God’s call for The Church to be a Watchman. To be the moral compass for a society and a nation! And the consequences of disobedience for  those to whom the Church is sent with a call for Righteousness. Also,  equally the consequences of our failure to warn the disobedient.
As we read this powerful Word from the Prophet Ezekiel, it may do us well to consider,  how effectively can we challenge others to do better, in this age, if those to whom we are sent, or go on our own, do not have any respect for our lifestyle. Regardless of  our claims to be ‘ in Christ’!
And in the language of  some of those who support Chris Gayle’s madness,  ‘you see me’. In other words, ‘ do you understand what I am saying!

THE WORD OF GOD

http://bible.com/111/ezk.3.16-21.niv At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.   “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

I close with a continuation of the last message. And an inspired word which  provides a bookend for this one.
For as the great Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy,  to whose meditation I was led to read and to reflect on deeply  for some time now,  when God calls, there must be a vast difference  in the life we once lived.
A new kind of living which Chris Gayle et al would find challenging, even if they cannot identify with it. A ‘ new man in Christ’, who can be a ‘ Watchman’ for his or her family; for his or her community; and for his or her nation. Otherwise what’s the point.
( A thought which ‘ flesh and blood’ did not place in my mind) Otherwise who will the Lord send!
As such an understanding of life only comes when we,  like, the former slave ship owner, John Newton, have had  an Encounter with The Risen and Ascended Christ. And have our entire lived changed. Forever! ( Stopped my wild career)

GOOD AND EVIL CHANGED PLACES
LEO TOLSTOY
Verse: Luke 23:43

Five years ago I came to believe in Christ’s teaching, and my life suddenly changed;  I ceased to desire what I had formerly desired, and began to desire what I formerly did not want.
What had previously seemed good to me seemed evil, and what had seemed evil seemed good.
It happened to me as it happens to a man who goes out on some business and on the way suddenly decided that  the business is unnecessary and returns home.
All that was on his right is now on his left, and all that was his left I’d now on his right; his former wish to get as far as possible from home had changed to a wish to be as near as possible to it. The direction of my life and my desires changed, and good and evil changed places.

Final comment: Unless you were born a Saint, this story,  hopefully, will touch your heart. As it did mine. Otherwise people like Chris Gayle will go unchallenged. As unless good and evil have changed places in my life and yours, who belong to Christ, or who have that aspiration, then who can really be a ‘ Watchman’ for our troubled nation. The Judiciary System! The Police!  The Government! Civil Society! The Media!
Seriously!
Thank God for Jesus, in Whom we have all our Righteousness. And in whose Name we, the Body of Christ, can call people to a better and unending Life.
Peace.