After the EGYPTAIR disaster what Hope: Christ the Solid Rock

ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK I STAND: EVERYTHING ELSE IS SINKING SAND

Whenever I hear about a plane crashing and people dying, and the fate of the passengers on #EGYPTAIR  reminded me of it, one  of the things I think about,  is the absolute terror that ‘ condemned ‘ folks must feel, when they sense that there is no hope of surviving.

And this absence of hope, on the one hand, and conviction that ‘ better must come’, on the other hand, is the driving force for the large scale migration to  North America, in particular, and Europe to a certain extent,  over the centuries.

For most, the ‘ tipping point’ has been economic; but for many others, violence has played a major role.

Perhaps the many young people in my country,  who a recent poll suggest would vote ” with their feet”  against the policies being pursued in Jamaica,  and migrate ‘ in a heart beat ‘ to the USA, have been plagued by both factors. Regardless of the reasons, however, the reality is that they see no hope for them in this place.

So when I read the Epistle for tomorrow in the worldwide Anglican Church, again, the first time when I read it, the ‘ penny did not drop’, I understood, very clearly the only true basis for peace in this ‘ broken world’.

A world that ” bold and necessary ‘ tax policies, according to the IMF, giving a ‘ thumbs up’ to the new government’s much heralded #1.5 election promise, cannot in and by itself fix. A policy that  according to the opposition leader, in her response during her budget speech, has brought #Tax-perity and will not result in Jamaica entering the ‘ promised land ‘ of #Prosperity. And so the politicians argue, and the cynics would say ‘ play games’,  and ‘ Jah kingdom goes to waste’- in the words of one of our famous reggae artist.

So where is the Hope going to come from for a nation rocked by violence day after day, and night after night.
Last night night’s latest episode on TV  featured a woman boasting that ‘ mi stab him’. The end result of which,  was the death of a young boy, who allegedly hit her son! A nation and a world where cancer takes away our loved ones every day.

Only in Jesus, declares the very Word of God.

THE WORD OF GOD –  NRSV

Therefore, since we are justified through faith, we have peace God through out Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
And not only that, but we boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produced endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love had been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

So we have access to God’s peace ‘ which passeth all human understanding ‘.
The kind of peace that ‘ a body to die for ‘ cannot give – although many by their actions ‘ vote otherwise ‘. The kind of peace that ‘ money ‘ cannot buy. Nor can music, even it ‘ blows your mind’, or marijuana for that matter!  Not even the birth of a long awaited child.

But having access alone will not bring us the Peace which Jesus offers. We have to,  as the Psalmist recommends, ” dwell in the secret place of the most High”. (91). Or ” One thing I asked of the Lord…..to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”. (27)
And ‘ I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than dwell in the tents of the wicked ‘. (85)

All of which came into my heart as I wrote.
But how do we dwell in God’s house continuously when,  ‘ there is so much to do’. A family to care for, a country to govern, professional duties to be carried out, justice to be dispensed, human rights to protect, people to be interviewed on radio, Facebook Twitter…..time for relaxation #Fridaynightmovies.

Two answers came to me!
One, a popular Word  from Jeremiah given to the children of Israel when they were in exile:

” Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you in exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because of it prospers, you too will prosper”.
Jeremiah 7. NIV.

The other from a meditation by Chris Tiegreen which greeted me as I opened his book randomly yesterday.

” Stand firm then ( on the mighty power of the Lord) Ephesians 6:14.

So Jeremiah validates our efforts to contribute meaningfully to the community in which we live, including caring for our families. But warns that all of this is for the Glory of God. So that we be careful not to end up ‘ worshiping ‘ our families, our jobs, our efforts to secure human rights and justice and our political parties and our ‘ downtime’ and pleasures.

For  against such  ‘madness’ is the essential warning from the other popular Word from Ephesians. Stand Firm, against the  wiles of the evil powers of this world; not just  flesh and blood like Donald Trump.
For the goal of such evil is to ‘ steal, to kill and ultimately to destroy’.

Therefore bringing down a plane filled with people is not the ultimate goal. But rather to tempt us away from ” dwelling in the secret place of the Most High”. And therefore drawing us away from the access to the only True Peace that is available on earth.

So what does Tigreen recommend as we engage in ‘ spiritual warfare ‘ with evil. And Stand Firm!

”  Pray for God’s Kingdom to come; refuse to be swayed by false philosophies or umbilical ideas about God; cling to the truth and unshakable faith; know your Scripture and use your knowledge often; and ground yourself thoroughly in the gospel and share it readily”.
And we ought to recall, from the passage in Romans, that the Christian life is about ‘ building character ‘. And having the ‘ same mind which was in Christ Jesus ‘. So suffering ( for Christ…and not because of our own foolishness) is an important part of the process of ‘ dwelling in the Most High’

There is much here for us to consider. And I leave you with a profound word from.a famous Russian author who was a child of God:

The devil wrestles with God, and the field of the battle is the human heart – Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

And a hymn which came into my heart as I prepare to preach on this topic tomorrow in an inner city where hope is fast disappearing.

For nothing, ‘ neither life nor death, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future’,   can separate us from Gods Peace and Love that is in Christ Jesus.

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Refrain.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand

Peace.

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Trump in America, Murder in Jamaica and Pentecost

WHERE THERE IS NO VISION THE PEOPLE CAST OFF ALL RESTRAINTS. PROVERBS 29:18 RV

Have you ever read something, and realize that it explains everything?
Well, last night, I read this introduction to a reflection by one of  my favorite theologians, Oswald Chambers, and came to that conclusion.

For one,  it explains fully and completely, the hottest topic in #Jamaicalandwelove; crime and violence in general, and specifically murder,  and murder most foul.
And a debate,  and search for solutions,  has engaged the minds of some of our best known media personalities.

Fae Ellington’s #cnntweet, about which I wrote a few days ago. Ian Boyne’s  column in the Gleaner on Sunday.
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20160508/ian-boyne-hanging-straws

And :
Michael Abrahams: Jamaica IS an extraordinarily violent country http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20160509/michael-abrahams-jamaica-extraordinarily-violent-country#.VzHHOqDyWoM.twitter

There is another one I saw last night; Erica Virtue’s ” I am tired a yah” which perhaps in its passionate appeal for a change, captures the longing that many Jamaicans have for peace, tranquility and justice

But in order to understand why the Word from Proverbs is so profoundly wise, you have to journey with me to where it all began. In Genesis!

The first time I read this passage, many years ago,  I became so emotional and frightened, that I had to seek counseling from my spiritual father and  mentor, the late Bishop Herman Spence. And since then I have more and more understanding as I read this Word, to which I was led a few nights ago.

http://bible.com/111/gen.6.5-8.niv

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord .

The point here is that from ‘ day one’, mankind has lost the vision that : God is our Creator, God is our sustainer, God is Sovereign over all the earth, and God in Christ is our Redeemer and one Day will become our Judge.

And since then,  ‘ having cast off all restraint’, we have been subject to His wrath. #TheFlood. But for #Noah.
And in this dispensation, #Judgement. But for #TheBloodofJesus.

And you can apply the same principle to our music and entertainment. For there too, like ‘ taking the life of another human being’ #murder, literally, we have ‘ cast off all restraint’.
For nothing is taboo anymore! Nothing is off limits. And as they say on the streets,  in my country ‘ everything is everything’.

Apply it also to relationships:  yesterday a patient told me that she had terminated her relationship with a man because he was ‘ no good’. Had fathered thirty-five children!

And so Oswald Chambers writes with great wisdom, inspired by Proverbs.

……” where there is no vision….” When once we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless, we cast off certain restraints, we cast off praying, we cast off the vision of God on little things, and begin to act on our own initiative…

And for those intellectuals who believe they can solve Jamaica’s problems ‘ overnight’, like how Donald Trump plans to make America Great again by being ‘ smart’, another inspired Word from Chambers urges caution:

” When Thought is young, life looks simple, so does History, and man’s explanation is correspondingly simple and glib ( Don’t forget the glib).
But when Thought has passed its romantic days and has been made to face Life as it is, and History as it has been recorded, and the human soul in all its tragic features and triumphs, it is staggered, for all these forces are wild and untameable.
This way of Thought then becomes dim and perilous, and the human spirit cries out, ” Oh that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat.

Perhaps, in a profound way, that’s the cry from our Minister of Finance as he came face to face with murder most foul at a funeral recently. And was seen on national television lamenting the ‘ poverty of the mind’ of our people.
And which triggered these tweets.

Check out @lucienforJesus’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/lucienforJesus/status/729641834650083328?s=09

Check out @lucienforJesus’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/lucienforJesus/status/729646858318979072?s=09

Check out @lucienforJesus’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/lucienforJesus/status/729648912944889856?s=09

Perhaps, in a profound way, that’s the cry from Michael Abrahams and Erica Virtue. And who knows, even the supporters of DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists  – as they seek for a simplistic ‘ salvation’.

Sunday, in my church, and in many of the traditional churches, we will celebrate, again, Pentecost. The birthday of The Church! The Divinely inspired institution, with all its ‘ warts’, whose mandate, empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit is to spread the Gospel. The Good News,  that in Christ,
‘ there is now  no more condemnation’.

And that in Christ,  God’s Redeeming Love can help us as individuals, and as a nation to ‘ restraint ourselves’, become new in Christ, and truly begin to love God and neighbor.

That is the only way murder and crime will end in Jamaicalandwelove, and in the world.
But the existential  question is ” Do we wish to get better”? Or continue the debate outside the Church!

“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 be by my side,
Nor wonder from the pathway, if Thou wouldst be my guide”….. comes into my mind as I close.

And so does ‘ Your grace and mercy…. brought me through.
I’m living this day because of you….I want to thank you and praise your name…. Your grace and mercy brought me through….a song a Pentecostal patient and an Anglican doctor spoke about yesterday. And she sang a few words. And ‘ Glory ‘ was in that place.
Peace

Mother’s Day, Hope and Calvary

GM: THE LINK BETWEEN MOTHER’S DAY, HOPE AND CALVARY

It had happened before. And yesterday also. A realization of the Cosmic importance of the last sentence in Jacob Boheme’s Morning Watch:

“Above all,  remind me  constantly
that I have nothing except what you give me, and I can do nothing except what you enable me to do.” 

Perhaps, who knows,  that’s why the words of this very touching hymn came into my mind on  this blustery May morning:

I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Refrain

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

Refrain

And as I read the line ” If I falter, Lord, who cares”, two thoughts entered my mind:  my mother, and tomorrow is Mother’s day; and a verse and reflection about Hope yesterday which triggered a couple of tweets on Twitter.

So what’s the link with all of this and  Jacob Boheme’s prayer line, the essence of which is  captured by the last verse of a wonderful Communion hymn,  which I use as a prayer almost every Sunday morning in preparation for Holy Communion?

1. Here,  O my Lord, I see thee 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

3. I have no other help but thine; nor do I need
another arm save thine to lean upon:
it is enough , my Lord, enough indeed,
my strength is in thy might, thy might indeed

It’s all about the Hope which  the child of God has, and about which Peter encourages us to share with others.

” Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. ” I Peter 3:15

And in my country and certainly in the USA,  the level of violence in both, and the threat, and reality,  of violence from terrorists, in one, is greatly affecting the hope for the future of our countries.

Two things which happened this week  validates this observation.
In my country, Fae Ellington is a household name. Among many other notable achievements,  she is a highly respected media practitioner. So when CNN,  in response to the killing of the two missionaries last week, attempted to label Jamaica a violent place, she tweeted, back @cnn,  and essentially’ begged to differ’; using a quote from her Pastor, Rev. Astor Carlyle.

The result of which, using Twitter language, was that the tweet began to ‘trend’; being  retweeted over 500 times and up to yesterday, when we spoke,  had been seen by over 43,000 thousand persons worldwide.

Not everyone agreed with her! In fact many questioned why someone of her stature could posit such ‘ foolishness’. For in their view Jamaica is a thoroughly violent country. But the debate was well and truly joined, as many responded in agreement.

The other was the riveting CNN special, #We’vegothim which was repeated several times,  on the killing of Osama Bin Laden’s by US seals, on the anniversary of that dramatic event. With the chilling reminder for all the  wannabes,  that ‘ the last face that he Bin Laden,  saw before leaving this earth,  was that of an American’ ! #POTUS.

Both of these happenings, for me, captured the sentiments of a deeply troubled people; in Jamaicalandwelove and in the USA

And inspired by Chris Tiegreen’s reflection on the Word from Peter I tweeted.

For most  people an absence of hope means too much expectations this #temporallife has to offer and not #eternallife

Check out @lucienforJesus’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/lucienforJesus/status/728556198522327040?s=09

Check out @lucienforJesus’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/lucienforJesus/status/728555283883024384?s=09

For ultimately, Hope comes from trusting in a God who can ‘ raise the dead’, and Who only can and has defeated Evil and Death and Sin on Calvary. So there is no power that depress the soul and spirit of anyone who trusts completely in that God. As He alone, through the gift of The Holy Spirit can impart that Hope, and the Love which He calls us to have for our neighbors.

Be he or her, Republican or Democrat ( yes even, and perhaps especially Donald Trump we are called to love)! A member of the JLP or PNP! Muslim or Christian! Straight or Gay!  Martin Luther’s Dream, black, white, yellow….all of God’s children… and stop abusing them. For Jesus loved them all and died for us all on Calvary.

This is why I always remember my very special and wonderful mother ( my very special father also). For it was she who introduced me to Jesus. It was my mother, and I have vivid memories of sitting in her lap, who read to me from then,  the separate  Gospel  books, ‘according to Mark’, and Matthew…

My dad went around doing good to all and sundry, but it was my teacher mother who taught me that ‘ if I falter’, she cared. But more importantly, Jesus cares. There were others along the way, like my mentor of blessed memory, Bishop Herman Spence. But it all began with my blessed petite – size four shoes – soft spoken ( never heard her quarrel with my dad) beautiful, inside and outside, mother.

And so for all those who ‘ mothered’ by leading others to Christ, by Word and by deed, and who have ‘ mothered’ by doing good on Twitter ( Hi Emma)  Facebook, in the Community, in the home, in the school, in the Church, and gave someone Hope, happy mother’s day tomorrow.

And who knows perhaps the Lord will hear our prayers and have mercy on Jamaica and America, and send ‘ times of refreshing’ on our countries.

For when ‘ we falter He cares’.  Far more than any mother can.  And He had shown us this on Calvary! That’s the ultimate reason for our Hope. For we are weak, but He is strong!
Peace