The Murder of Policewoman in Jamaica: And Jesus asks ‘ Do you wish to get well’?

GM: FORGIVE THEM FATHER FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO

Wicked men pumped six bullets  into a policewoman two days ago. After battling for life,  she died yesterday. I may have met  her, as she worked at the office of the Commissioner where I go for meetings regularly. #RoadSafety.
In fact my colleague and I,  on hearing about the incident on arrival at the Commissioner’s office that fateful morning,  briefly reflected on the state of our nation. And quietly in our hearts offered a prayer.

The reaction to this, yet another act of egregious wickedness in my country,  has been swift. Condemnation! Condolences to the bereaved family and the police force! A determination to find the killers!  Led by the Prime Minister, and other leaders in the society, including the Commissioner of Police.
And one which was a bit unexpected, but no doubt reflecting the sentiments of significant section of the Jamaica people; a reexamination of the option   of hanging by the new Minister of National Security. Predictably the Human Rights Activists have already voiced their opposition to any such move.

So my country is in mourning once again. And some would wish to go back to the days of ‘ Gunfight at OK Coral’, #Nationwide News,  by arming the citizens. So that ‘ bad man’ would think twice about pulling a gun on anyone; unlike the present circumstances where they attack with impunity. And are often never brought to justice!

With all of this stuff swirling around in my head, I began my devotions this morning and  opened my hymnbook, randomly, searching for a familiar hymn, and found a Word from the Lord in another one.

” Thou camest, O  Lord, with the Living word
that should set thy people free;
but with mocking scorn and with crown if thorn
they bore thee to Calvary.

Refrain

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus;
there is room in my heart for thee.

Verse four of a very instructive hymn, a favorite,  which begins:

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown
when thou camest to earth for me;
but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
for thy holy Nativity.

O come to my heart Lord Jesus…

And the message, on reflection from the Lord about the state of my country, and indeed the whole wide world continued in the readings in my church for tomorrow. And I am down to preach in an another inner city community where my church has a presence.

” A certain  woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul “.  From Acts 16: 9-15.

Also from one choice for the Gospel, there are two possible readings, I tweeted this yesterday.

Check out @lucienforJesus’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/lucienforJesus/status/726018200849268736?s=09

And  from the other possible reading for the Gospel this struck me:

” When Jesus saw him lying there  and knew that he had been there for a long time, he said to him, ‘ Do you want to be made well’. ” From John 5:1-9
( Lord have mercy on stubborn hearts).

Finally and perhaps the most dramatic one of all taken from a story that even ‘ the vilest offender’ knows.
The story I read in a meditation from Chris Tiegreen yesterday of Paul’s conversion as he reported to King Agrippa in Acts 26:12-13

” With this in mind, I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, when at mid-day along the road, your Excellency I saw a bright light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shinning around me and my companions. ”

Keep in mind the staggering thought,
‘ blighter than the sun,  as we then end up in the Epistle, the New Testament reading for tomorrow, and read these prophetic words.

” I saw no temple in the city ( of God, the New Jerusalem), for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb ( Jesus Christ Crucified). And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb……

But nothing unclean will enter it…..only those who who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
From Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
And from my bedtime reading this week:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God will be with them;
he will wipe away every year from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away ”
Revelation 21:3-4

Comment: Always when the Lord speaks it is quite simple to understand. And we don’t have to be any great Theologian to understand this message. Essentially that God who is The Light of the world, in Christ came to dwell among mortals. And thus  ‘spoke’ a Living Word that would set us free – from death, Sin , pain and grief.

But we chose instead to watch TV, because TNT ‘ knows drama’. And what better way to spend one’s life than to experience drama! We chose to watch porn! We choose to watch CNN 24/7! We chose to experience dancehall Monday – Sunday.#WeddyWednesdays. We chose to watch ESPN sports and SportsMax and other sports stations in our ‘ man cave’ with our friends; American Football, English and Spanish Soccer, and live from one Olympics or World Cup Soccer Finals, vicariously through the life of Usain Bolt or Lionel Messi, to another. We have elected to listen to the voices of our political leaders, our businessmen and women, our intellectuals, our entertainers, and ignored the Word of God.

And so because we have, chosen, unlike Lydia who worshipped God and paid attention and God opened her heart to the Scriptures, to ignore the Lord, we have been given spiritual #Lemonade #Beyonce to drink.

And so the land mourns. Yet again! And we would turn to hanging and Gunfight at OK Coral. Really!  And yet He Who is The Light of the World, and in Whom there is the Promise of no more mourning, continues to speak a Living Word to a troubled nation, despite what we did to Him at Calvary, and what we continue to do in our hearts and homes and bedrooms,  and a troubled world, saying:

‘ Those who I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone heard my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:19-20.

It is a great mystery why the death, at the hands of evil men, of an innocent hard working policewoman should be an event which causes us to refocus our minds and hearts. But she would not be the first, not will she be the last. For who can fathom the mysteries of this life. Only God! The Light of the world.

The question then,  is, as a nation, do we really wish to get well?  Or die a slow death like the proverbial frog, watching drama on TNT or #AGoodWife while the Living Word of God Who only can heal this nation,  goes ignored.

O come to my heart Lord Jesus. For there is so much room in my wicked heart for thee.
Peace.

Of Prince, Bolt, Trump and of God’s Mercy

GM:  O GOD HAVE MERCY FOR OPEN SHAME IS UPON US

A few nights ago, during an  unscheduled power outage,  evil men committed a dastardly crime; shot and killed a well known and elderly businessman in a rural community. And so once again, a nation mourned.

Then this morning, I opened the Bible, randomly,  and Daniel spoke a Word across the ages to our situation.

THE WORD OF GOD

” I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying,

Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning away from your ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as of this day. falls on us, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery they have committed against you.
Daniel 9:4-7 NRSV

And ” open shame “, which Daniel used twice in his prayer, reverberated on my head. Open shame! Open shame!

For that’s exactly what has been on display in this country. For years now!  Sam Sharpe country! He who taught the slaves about equality with slave owners, in the sight of God. He who taught, as a Baptist Deacon,  about the love of God in Christ Jesus. He who paid the ultimate price  in pursuit of justice and freedom.

In the same way, the people of the USA owe so much to the early settlers who were Christians fleeing Europe to escape  persecution. So America is not ” Wall Street” country, nor a Jewish controlled country, nor Donald Trump’s country, but God’s country. And my God how they have strayed!

So we owe so much to The Living  Word of God, Jesus Christ. And therefore Jamaica is God’s country. Not JLP nor PNP country. Not Bob Marley’s country nor Peter Tosh. Not the country of #Sub19UsainBolt or #RealShellyAnn. And thank God definitely not Prince’s country #MayhissoulRIP. But God’s country.

And Open Shame is the cry. How we have molested our young children! How we have disrespected our women;  our mothers and grandmothers. And equally so,  how they have disrespected themselves. With their ‘ open nakedness’. With what often escape from their lips. And with how they ‘ carry on” in the streets.  I  won’t even ‘ go there’ with the lady caught on #TVJ declaring allegiance to her party, and willingness to sacrifice. Literally!  For that sounds like pure hype.

Open shame in how we have pledged allegiance to party, to leaders and to promises. Open shame in how have ‘ worshiped’ Dons, Entertainers, our Sports Stars and Cultural Icons but failed to pledge allegiance to ‘ The Lamb of God’.

Open shame in how some  fathers have neglected their children and their mothers. Open shame in how some young and not so young women, are doing exactly what the men are doing.
And worse!

Open shame in how we have disrespected and ignored the Church, sacred places of worship, and sacred days. And open shame in how some of us, in the  Church,  are doing precisely what unbelievers are doing. Sometimes with impunity. As if God wears pyjamas! And open shame in how,  we who have been rescued by the Blood of Jesus, have become so lukewarm, so grudging in how we give, so calculating in how we serve, and so reluctant in we share  the good news of The Gospel with others

And so the land mourns. In the same way that Hosea, the Prophet who wrote the book that follows Daniel, prophesied.

Hear the word of the Lord,
O people of Israel ( of Jamaica)…..
There is no faithfulness or loyalty,
and no knowledge of God in the land.
Swearing, lying and murder,
and stealing and adultery break out;
bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns.
Hosea 4:1-4 NRSV.

Then this morning I heard about a motor vehicle crash in which a motorcyclist died. And the cronies of the dead man, allegedly proceeded to murder the driver of the vehicle.
And so the land mourns!

What is to be done? #Danielgodsurelywilldeliver had a Word.

” Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the city which bears your name. We do not present our supplications before you, on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercy.
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord , listen and act and do not delay! For your city and your people bear your name. “.
Daniel 19:18-19

May the Lord hear our cry,  as we turn and pray for mercy.
Then the words of Psalm 61 entered my mind:

http://bible.com/111/psa.61.1-3.niv Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
Peace

War and earthquakes on earth, war in heaven and Christ The Victor

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men a doing.

Lord renew thy.  Church.  Beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the. Church may renew the nation(s).

Because we know what it is to fear the Lord we try to persuade men.

NEWS

1.  As a reminder of the nature of the broken world we live in, news broke, and broke our hearts in Jamaica, of a young woman, eight months pregnant who was brutally murdered by a gunman.

Pregnant woman killed in Hanover

2. As another reminder of the broken universe in which we lie, news broke this evening of a massive earthquake in Ecuador which so far has claimed the lives of 233 persons.

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/17/americas/ecuador-deadly-earthquake/

THE WORD OF GOD

It is in the context the of personal and national tragedy, a common story across the world, that I am persuaded that the Lord  sent a reminder about ” war in heaven’, and the what we would call ‘ behind the scenes’  war between God and Satan. A contest which has resonance for the universe; and which battle is finished, but not completed. This together with reminders about what it mean to experience The Lord, and also the widespread influence of Narcissus – he who spent too much time looking at himself.

THE FIRST MESSAGE  – sent out on WhatsApp features an article on Narcissism by a colleague and meditation by an evangelist of yure, on the opposite, viz focusing on God. Perhaps the most important struggle for all human beings in this age. An age of brokenness and pain and grief. Because who refuse to live under the Cross of Calvary.

GN: From self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness
I read something last night, and plan to share soon, about the book of Revelation,  which helped me to understand, very profoundly,  that there are two different conversations taking place in this world.
One dominated by our absorption with self, and what man is doing; and greatly facilitated by the media and the  entertainment  industry. Which in a collective sense, is what narcissism is all about. A topic, at least in respect of individuals,  which engaged the mind,  and wit,  of a colleague,  Dr. Michael Abrahams, who in addition to being a well respected Consultant in his field, is also an entertainer,  a blogger of some note, and a social media star.
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20160411/social-media-and-unmasking-narcissism
And  a deeper understanding of which human tendency,  presented itself to me last night in this soliloquy, of sorts, , as I continued reading John Stott’s classic ‘ The Cross of Christ’.

” There was once a nymph named Narcissus,
Who though himself very delicious;
So he stated like a fool
At his face in a pool,
And his folly today is still with us”.

The point is that @Mikeyabrahams while making an interesting observation about individuals,  and their behavior on social media, is apparently completely  oblivious to a more profound issue.  That a significant  part of the human race, and worse, elements within God’s Church, are  far too absorbed with self, and not with Jesus.
The other conversation is  dedicated entirely to lifting up the precious Name of Jesus. And seeking Him and Him alone.  Again a profound understanding of which desire,  presented itself to me during my lunchtime devotions today, in this fashion.

EXPERIENCING THE LORD

A.B. SIMPSON ( 1844 – 1919…founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada…. built a congregation in New York City…wrote seventy books

Verse: Matthew 17:8

Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, now it is his word;
Once his gift I wanted, now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, now himself alone.

Once t’was painful trying, now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half of salvation, now the uttermost;
Once t’was ceaseless holding, now he holds me fast;
Once t’was constant drifting, now my anchor’s cast.

Once t’was busy planning, now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once t’was anxious caring, now he has the cares;
Once t’was what I wanted, now what Jesus says;
Once t’was constant asking, now tis ceaseless praise.

Once I hoped in Jesus, now I know he is mine;
Once my lamps were dying, now I know he’s mine;
Once for death I waited, now his coming hail;
And all my hopes are anchored safe within the veil.

All in all forever,
Only in Christ I’ll sing;
Ev’rything is in Christ,
And Christ is ev’rything.

For unless our minds are entirely focused on Christ and Him Crucified, we will  never appreciate life beyond Justin Spieth – who aside from his stumble yesterday is set to take over from Tiger Woods as the latest golf star. Life in the wider world outside the USA and Donald Trump. Life beyond waiting for the windfall of $Ja 18000 or less, as promised as part of tax reforms measures and to stimulate growth in the economy, as promised by the new administration. Life beyond the revelations about the alteration in the  lineage of  The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Justin Welby. And life beyond the final episode of American Idol, and the reality of the fact that the  Gunners, Arsenal, my team, are unlikely to  win the BPL this year after being favourites.

So yes, there is absolutely  much more to life that what CNN presents.
As  the  story behind The Book of The Revelation which  I read in John Stott’s The Cross of Calvary, explains so much about our contemporary society and its values.  And seriously challenges the Church not to conform to the zeitgeist, the spirit of this age, which is leading masses of people away from The Truth. By distraction and other methods. For Christ  is the only Truth. All of which in an attempt to prevent people  from truly ‘ Experiencing The Lord’, and fall prey to the temptation  to be  absorbed, like Narcissus,  with what man ( and Angelina Jolie)  looks like, and can  achieve and experience.
Peace.

THE SECOND MESSAGE – sent out on WhatsApp and features an introduction to the war between God and Satan. And the seductiveness of the world in which we live today. Al geared to distract us ( with a great reminder from a glorious hymn)  from looking at God, and instead,  like Narcissus, looking at self. With disastrous consequences for this world!

GN : Satan the persecutor, the deceiver and the seducer. Thank God for Jesus in whom we have the Victory
So as I listened to the news this morning, and tweeted about a pregnant woman who was shot to death last night, I was once again, rudely reminded, of  the reality of evil in the world.
And so we turn to John Stott’s classic book on The Cross of Christ, as promised. Edited of course! Remember also the Chapter : The conquest of Evil.

” No book of the New Testament bears a clearer testimony to Christ’s victory than the Christian apocalypse which we know as ‘ the book of Revelation….
Written almost certainly during the reign of Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96), its background is the growth both of the persecution of the church ( now systematic rather than spasmodic)  and the practice of Emperor worship, the refusal of which by Christians, often sparked off fresh outbreaks of persecution.

What the book of Revelation does, in keeping with apocalyptic genre, is lift the curtain which hides the unseen world of spiritual reality and to show us what is going on behind the scenes…..

My concern, however, is to reach the vision of Chapter 12, which in some ways seems to be the centre of the book. John saw a pregnant woman…who was about to give birth to a Son whose destiny was to ‘ rule all the nations’ ( chapter 5). He is evidently the Messiah, and she the Old Testament Church out of whom the Messiah came.
An enormous and grotesque red dragon, identified in verse 9 as the devil or Satan, stood in front of the woman, ready to ‘ devour her child the moment it was born’. But the child was ‘ snatched up to God and to his throne…..
War in heaven followed in which the dragon and his angels’ were defeated….

This, then, is the situation. The devil had been defeated and dethroned. Far from bringing his activities to an end, however, the rage he feels in the knowledge of his approaching doom leads him to redouble them. Victory over him has been won, but painful conflict with him continues. And in this conflict he relies on three allies who now appear in John’s vision in the guise of two ugly monsters and a lewd and gaudy prostitute. It becomes evident that all three are symbols of the Roman empire, although in three different aspects, namely Rome the persecutor, Rome the deceiver and Rome the seducer…..
Then in  the last three chapters are described the final destruction of Satan and death, the new heaven and new earth, and the New Jerusalem, in which there will be no tears, death, pain or night, as God establishes his perfect rule.
The devil had not changed his strategy. Although the Roman Empire has long since passed away, other persecuting, deceiving and corrupting structures have arisen in place.

– Some Hindu and Muslim countries…. to propagate the Gospel and profess conversion are offences punishable by imprisonment and even death. #PakistanAttack
– In most Marxist countries ( written in 1986) restrictions are placed on the teaching of the young and on all religious activities specially registered buildings.
– As for  the ‘ beast from the earth’ and the ‘ false prophet’ , he is  active through other religions, new cults and secular ideologies.
– As for the ‘ great prostitute’ the assault on traditional ( i.e. Biblical) Christian morality has now penetrated the defences of the church itself. On the sanctity of human life ( e.g. in relation to abortion and experimentation with embryos) the church tends to be equivocal.

There is no united witness against the immorality of indiscriminate weapons. #WMD
Divorce is increasingly tolerated, even among Christian leaders.
Sexual lifestyles other than strict heterosexual monogamy are not always condemned ( to put it very mildly…. my words). And we continue to enjoy in the West a level of affluence which is insensitive to the plight of the desperate millions.

The message of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Chris has defeated Satan and will one day destroy him altogether. It is in the light if these certainties that we are to confront his continuing malicious activity, whether physical ( through persecution), intellectual ( through deception), or moral ( through corruption). How?

1. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
2. Proclaim Jesus Christ.. proclaim the Cross. ..still the Power of God to turn people ‘ from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God’.
Both in our own lives, and in the mission of the church it is only the Cross by which Satan had been defeated, which can prevail against him.”

It is in this context then I believe I was led to read prayerfully,  and reflect on deeply, the words of this profound hymn. For the challenge in this Stephen Curry GSW #multiplerecordbreaking, Netflix – getting more expensive – Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton #Demdebate,  Warmington now a Minister #Dontyoudarecross, #MissFluffyDiva, we are very prone to wander from the Cross of Calvary.
And the Satan the persecutor, Satan the deceiver and Satan the seducer will breech our defenses and lead to the #Chibocgirls and #Killingmotherandchild.
Peace, as we patiently endure and ‘ dwell in the secret place of The Most High’. Night and day. Without ceasing lest we perish. Or be corrupted. Or be deceived and become distracted.

The Hymn

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above

I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above

THE THIRD MESSAGE – again sent out on WhatsApp reminds me of Sir Winston Churchill famous statement which he made after Britain had defeated the Nazis in The Battle of Britain. ” Its’ not the end of the war. it’s not even the beginning of the end; but it is the end of the beginning.” And so Satan has been defeated in heaven. By The Blood of The Lamb. But the war is not yet over! But the end is in sight. And so we just have to endure the persecution, the deception and the seduction of the veil one until Christ comes again. Until then there will be wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, murders, disobedient children, people running after other gods, which are no gods at all, but idols. Until Christ comes again, in glory, to judge the living and the dead. So we know how the story will end. Regardless of how it appears now. Praise God!

GM: THE REAL STORY ABOUT HEAVEN AND EARTH AS WE CONSIDER #MOTHERANDCHILDDEAD

Last night I arrived in my nighttime devotions at John Stott’s famous Revelation chap 12. The first section!  And just now, inspired by the words of a wonderful hymn:

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
For thy Holy nativity:
O come to my heart Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee:

I was led to read the section, which began thus:

“War broke out in heaven…”
And as I read the following thoughts came to mind. That we haven’t even begun to understand how ‘ de ting set’. How the universe operates! Growing up as a young man listening to Bob Marley, our great reggae music icon, we got a glimpse of the extent of evil operating in  #TribalWarinnaBabylon and #Mantomanissounjust. And when we consider the influence of #TaylorSwift and #JustinBieber in #TedCruzChildreninAmerica and #VybesKartel in Jamaica perhaps we don’t need to wonder why people have no concept of what’s really happening in the Universe. And have become so distracted. Or that the #WorldSeries baseball is really ‘ the world’ or just that America for some is ‘ the world’. In the same way that we have been seduced ( reduced too, as spell check tried to write) to think that what CNN reports on as happening on earth is the only reality.

For when we read chapter 12 of the book of Revelation, we get a clear picture of why a gunman, in an act of egregious evil,  would kill a pregnant mother. A crime which shocked our nation just this week. And the treatment of which news item triggered  a lively discussion on Twitter last night between Twitter personalities Emma Lewis and Yaneek Page last night #waypassmybedtime.
These two of many give the gist of the discussion

Check out @yaneekpage’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/yaneekpage/status/721176646733012992?s=09

Check out @Petchary’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/Petchary/status/721196140876664832?s=09

And why there is tribal war in Syria, why genocide occurred in Rwanda,  as I read years ago in “Left to Tell ” by
Immaculee Llibagiza, and why the only hope for this world is Christ The Victor.
For as I tweeted at the same time, but outside the conversation,
” When they call to me, I will answer them “. Ps. 91:15 whenever. In the quietness of their homes or publicly in church, wherever.

That’s why,  armed with the knowledge of how ‘ de ting set’, how The Universe is affected by ” The Blood of the Lamb “, we need to submit to Christ and cry out, bawl out to God in and through Christ Jesus,  every hour. And that’s why Christians can experience Joy, and celebrate with thanksgiving,  even in the midst of evil, for we know that in Christ Jesus, there is Victory over Sin, Death and Satan.

That’s the good news about which the hymn writer wrote in the fourth verse of that instructive hymn.

Thou  camest, O Lord, with the Living Word
That should set thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart Lord Jesus !
There is room in my heart for Thee.

And now to ( beginning of )   the culmination of all history as revealed by The Word of God:

http://bible.com/111/rev.12.7-17.niv Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.   Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.   They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.   Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

OF TAYLOR SWIFT, BOB MARLEY, EVIL AND CHRIST THE VICTOR

GM: THE REAL STORY ABOUT HEAVEN AND EARTH AS WE CONSIDER #MOTHERANDCHILDDEAD

Last night I arrived in my nighttime devotions at John Stott’s famous Revelation chap 12. The first section!  And just now, inspired by the words of a wonderful hymn:

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
For thy Holy nativity:
O come to my heart Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee:

I was led to read the section, which began thus:

“War broke out in heaven…”

And as I read the following thoughts came to mind. That we haven’t even begun to understand how ‘ de ting set’. How the universe operates! Growing up as a young man listening to Bob Marley, our great reggae music icon, we got a glimpse of the extent of evil operating in  #TribalWarinnaBabylon and #Mantomanissounjust. And when we consider the influence of #TaylorSwift and #JustinBieber in #TedCruzChildreninAmerica and #VybesKartel in Jamaica perhaps we don’t need to wonder why people have no concept of what’s really happening in the Universe. And have become so distracted. Or that the #WorldSeries baseball is really ‘ the world’ or just that America for some is ‘ the world’. In the same way that we have been seduced ( reduced too, as spell check tried to write) to think that what CNN reports on as happening on earth is the only reality.

For when we read chapter 12 of the book of Revelation, we get a clear picture of why a gunman, in an act of egregious evil,  would kill a pregnant mother. A crime which shocked our nation just this week. And the treatment of which news item triggered  a lively discussion on Twitter last night between Twitter personalities Emma Lewis and Yaneek Page last night #waypassmybedtime.

These two of many give the gist of the discussion

Check out @yaneekpage’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/yaneekpage/status/721176646733012992?s=09

Check out @Petchary’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/Petchary/status/721196140876664832?s=09

And why there is tribal war in Syria, why genocide occurred in Rwanda,  as I read years ago in “Left to Tell ” by
Immaculee Llibagiza, and why the only hope for this world is Christ The Victor.

For as I tweeted at the same time, but outside the conversation,

” When they call to me, I will answer them “. Ps. 91:15 whenever. In the quietness of their homes or publicly in church, wherever.

That’s why,  armed with the knowledge of how ‘ de ting set’, how The Universe is affected by ” The Blood of the Lamb “, we need to submit to Christ and cry out, bawl out to God in and through Christ Jesus,  every hour. And that’s why Christians can experience Joy, and celebrate with thanksgiving,  even in the midst of evil, for we know that in Christ Jesus, there is Victory over Sin, Death and Satan.

That’s the good news about which the hymn writer wrote in the fourth verse of that instructive hymn.

Thou  camest, O Lord, with the Living Word
That should set thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart Lord Jesus !
There is room in my heart for Thee.

And now to ( beginning of )   the culmination of all history as revealed by The Word of God:

http://bible.com/111/rev.12.7-17.niv Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.   Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.   They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.   Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

Satan the Persecutor, Deceiver, and Seducer: Christ The Victor

deceiver and the seducer. Thank God for Jesus in whom we have the Victory

So as I listened to the news this morning, and tweeted about a pregnant woman who was shot to death last night, I was once again, rudely reminded, of  the reality of evil in the world.

And so we turn to John Stott’s classic book on The Cross of Christ, as promised. Edited of course! Remember also the Chapter : The conquest of Evil.

” No book of the New Testament bears a clearer testimony to Christ’s victory than the Christian apocalypse which we know as ‘ the book of Revelation….

Written almost certainly during the reign of Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96), its background is the growth both of the persecution of the church ( now systematic rather than spasmodic)  and the practice of Emperor worship, the refusal of which by Christians, often sparked off fresh outbreaks of persecution.

What the book of Revelation does, in keeping with apocalyptic genre, is lift the curtain which hides the unseen world of spiritual reality and to show us what is going on behind the scenes…..

My concern, however, is to reach the vision of Chapter 12, which in some ways seems to be the centre of the book. John saw a pregnant woman…who was about to give birth to a Son whose destiny was to ‘ rule all the nations’ ( chapter 5). He is evidently the Messiah, and she the Old Testament Church out of whom the Messiah came.

An enormous and grotesque red dragon, identified in verse 9 as the devil or Satan, stood in front of the woman, ready to ‘ devour her child the moment it was born’. But the child was ‘ snatched up to God and to his throne…..
War in heaven followed in which the dragon and his angels’ were defeated….

This, then, is the situation. The devil had been defeated and dethroned. Far from bringing his activities to an end, however, the rage he feels in the knowledge of his approaching doom leads him to redouble them. Victory over him has been won, but painful conflict with him continues. And in this conflict he relies on three allies who now appear in John’s vision in the guise of two ugly monsters and a lewd and gaudy prostitute. It becomes evident that all three are symbols of the Roman empire, although in three different aspects, namely Rome the persecutor, Rome the deceiver and Rome the seducer…..

Then in  the last three chapters are described the final destruction of Satan and death, the new heaven and new earth, and the New Jerusalem, in which there will be no tears, death, pain or night, as God establishes his perfect rule.

The devil had not changed his strategy. Although the Roman Empire has long since passed away, other persecuting, deceiving and corrupting structures have arisen in place.
– Some Hindu and Muslim countries…. to propagate the Gospel and profess conversion are offences punishable by imprisonment and even death. #PakistanAttack

– In most Marxist countries ( written in 1986) restrictions are placed on the teaching of the young and on all religious activities specially registered buildings.
– As for  the ‘ beast from the earth’ and the ‘ false prophet’ , he is  active through other religions, new cults and secular ideologies.
– As for the ‘ great prostitute’ the assault on traditional ( i.e. Biblical) Christian morality has now penetrated the defences of the church itself. On the sanctity of human life ( e.g. in relation to abortion and experimentation with embryos) the church tends to be equivocal.
There is no united witness against the immorality of indiscriminate weapons. #WMD

Divorce is increasingly tolerated, even among Christian leaders.
Sexual lifestyles other than strict heterosexual monogamy are not always condemned ( to put it very mildly…. my words). And we continue to enjoy in the West a level of affluence which is insensitive to the plight of the desperate millions.

The message of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Chris has defeated Satan and will one day destroy him altogether. It is in the light if these certainties that we are to confront his continuing malicious activity, whether physical ( through persecution), intellectual ( through deception), or moral ( through corruption). How?

1. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
2. Proclaim Jesus Christ.. proclaim the Cross. ..still the Power of God to turn people ‘ from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God’.

Both in our own lives, and in the mission of the church it is only the Cross by which Satan had been defeated, which can prevail against him.”

It is in this context then I believe I was led to read prayerfully,  and reflect on deeply, the words of this profound hymn. For the challenge in this Stephen Curry GSW #multiplerecordbreaking, Netflix – getting more expensive – Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton #Demdebate,  Warmington now a Minister #Dontyoudarecross, #MissFluffyDiva, we are very prone to wander from the Cross of Calvary.

And the Satan the persecutor, Satan the deceiver and Satan the seducer will breech our defenses and lead to the #Chibocgirls and #Killingmotherandchild.

Peace, as we patiently endure and ‘ dwell in the secret place of The Most High’. Night and day. Without ceasing lest we perish. Or be corrupted. Or be deceived and become distracted.

The Hymn

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take an

Panama Papers, Greed/Idolatry and The Cross of Jesus

SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS HAPPENS WHEN WE CHOSE NOT TO LIVE UNDER THE CROSS

I don’t have a choice. I have to exercise. So I walk in the mornings. Not everyday. But most days. As I walked one day this week I got to thinking. About ‘ fading are this world’s best pleasures’. And how the pursuit of, and desire for, those pleasures, has influenced many to turn  away from ‘ living under the Cross of Christ Jesus’.

They are not many of these pleasures ! In fact very few. Greed, which the Bible terms ‘ idolatry’ is one.

” Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: formication, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed ( which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient “. Colossians 3:5-6 NRSV.

Then I read about the #PanamaPapers. And wondered! About this issue of tax evasion and tax avoidance, in the context of this matter of greed. I left it there. Until this morning!
When, on preparing a sermon, at least thinking about it, on Saul and his ‘ Damascus Road ‘ experience, I,  literally ‘ happened’ upon a ‘ word’ from Thomas Merton. One of the leading theologians of this age. And what struck me in the first paragraph, and there are four of them, was:

‘ I locked my eyes, and made my brain my tomb’.

ST. PAUL
THOMAS MERTON
Acts 9:3-4

When I was Saul, and sat among the cloaks,
My eyes were stones, I saw no sight of heaven
Open to take the spirit of the twisted Stephen.
When I was Saul, and sat among the rocks,
I locked eyes, and made my brain my tomb,
Sealed with boulders rolled across my reason!

Now, when I came upon this profound word, I was looking for another passage. Why? I begin my devotions with a set of prayers each morning. Three of them! On Walking: On Rising: On Going to Work.

The first one begins like this:

‘ Living Lord, you have watched over me, and put your hand on my head, during the long dark hours of night…’

And as I gave thanks, saying ‘ you alone Lord’, this Word came into my head.

‘ …remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens to the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ’. Ephesians 2:12-13 NRSV

Wow! ‘ without God in the world’. But thank God for Jesus

The big problem, is not that people, like St. Paul, who was ‘ spiritually blind’ until he had an encounter with the Crucified and Risen Christ, have not heard the Gospel, but as Thomas Merton points out they,   ‘ have made their brain their tomb’…and sealed it with whatever rolled across my reason.

And it all began with Adam! He,  who,  rather than using his God given ability to think and reason and choose to be obedient to God, did the opposite. Made the wrong choice! And so ‘ the brain of the entire human race became our tomb’. Including yours truly, and all within and without this ministry!

For what else can explain why people would choose idols over God. Remember the ‘ golden calf’ which Israel worshiped. Right after being rescued by the Power of The Living God from the Egyptians! Unless we, not them, we, ‘ had made our brain our tomb’.

And so  it continues. Voting for Carnival, with our feet,  literally, over Sunday morning worship of a God who watches over us during the long dark nights And so Bacchanal, so ‘ bruk out  Dancehall! The beguiling influence of Hollywood.  Sex without commitment and outside of Holy Matrimony as ordained by The Living God. Power over the lives of other human beings; from The African Slave Trade  to Hitler’s Third Reich, to  Apartheid, to Pol Pot’s’ killing fields in Cambodia,  to Cults to ISIS to #BernieSandersFightAgainst  Unbridled Capitalism And some would argue ‘ Garrison Type ‘ Politics in Jamaica,  the creation of Ghettos in America, and having huge bank accounts in Cayman ( some super wealthy, not all. Some like #BillGates et al, give away most of their wealth #BeyondTheHeadlines on #rjr94fm #Djmillerja today)  while people starve in Africa.
We were all there:

” You were dead  through the  trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in those who ate disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and  senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.
But God…   who is rich in mercy……made us  alive in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1-6 NRSV

The challenge for us in the Church, is that it is not only unbelievers and those outside the church who are ‘ spiritually blind’. As Saul was before:

Verse 2. St. Paul by Thomas Merton

When I was Saul and walked upon the blazing desert
My road was quiet as a trap.
I feared what word would split high noon with light
And lock my life, and try to drive me mad:
And thus I saw the Voice that struck me dead

For just this week, I shuddered mentally and emotionally as I read:

” …..I know your works; you are neither cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, neither cold or hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:15-16.

The point here is that lukewarm Christians want to ‘ hedge their bets’. To ‘ have their cake and eat it’ .  Hold on to the ‘ fading pleasures of this world’. And follow Christ also. And the Crucified One will have none of it. ” Take up your Cross daily and die to self” says He. If you wish to follow me.  For that’s also spiritual blindness, and making ‘ our brain our tomb’. And making the wrong choice. Who knows then what ‘ light might strike us at high noon’ or worse, ‘ spit us out’ of His Church!

Then this wonderful song which I first heard and committed to memory in Singapore where this ministry had its genesis, came into my heart. It’s actually a prayer which I sang and prayed today.
That God would open the eyes of all our hearts. As He did for Saul. So that we may truly see Him in all His Glory. Anglicans, Sabbath Keepers, Methodists, Moravians, Baptists, Roman Catholics, United Church, Pentecostals, Church of God, and all Evangelicals.
And help to rescue this nation and this world from #PanamaPapers #RefugeesinEurope #DonaldTrump #WallStreet #LukewarmChristianity

THE SONG

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy