A Christian Perspective on  Evil and #TurkeyAttack

​GM: THE DEATH OF EVIL IN CHRIST JESUS ON CALVARY 

Continuing to read Rev. Timothy Keller’s classic book, ‘ Walking with God through Pain and Suffering ‘, in the aftermath of #OrlandoNightClubShooting, I arrived a very important chapter. And it begins like this:
” The ‘ problem of evil ‘ is well known. If you believe in a God who is all powerful and sovereign over the world and at the same time is also perfectly good and just, then the existence of evil poses a problem…..Is He willing to prevent evil but not able?. Then He is impotent. Is He able but not willing?

Then He is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then this evil?”
A series of questions which date back the early philosopher Epicurus, and which contention occupies the minds of secular western thought in this age.

And so Rev. Keller ‘ mounts a defense ‘ of a Loving God; whose love and mercy and conquest of evil became fully manifested in the Suffering and Crucified Jesus. Fully man and fully God!
No doubt that’s why the Lord led me to reflect very deeply, again,  on the words of this very instructive hymn. And write to some young Christians about it.
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; 

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. 

(Refrain) 
The Email 
One of the many lessons young Christians need to learn, is that God will discipline you. In order that you will become better disciples. Your ultimate goal, I hope, and recommend. And He will do so again and again until you are ready. So don’t resist the chastening, otherwise you’re illegitimate children regardless of #MichaelManley’s efforts.
I recommend, therefore, that you spend some time in Hebrews 12:1-12. And accept God’s will for you. Which is to be holy, so that you can share His love with those who don’t know Him, nor have accepted the Atonement wrought on the Cross by His Son.
What triggered all of this? A Tweet last night!
Always after a defeat and respite evil takes another shape and grows again. #TimothyKeller. #ThisworldneedsJesus #OrlandoShooting 
And which profound reality of evil was the subject of a chapter from Rev. Timothy Keller’s Book, ” Walking with God through Pain and Suffering”. He was making the point that Secular  Western society, in which most of you find yourself, often cite the presence of evil, as proof that a ” All loving, All Powerful God ” could not exist. It’s a very ‘real’ argument, and I would suggest, you  purchase a copy. And in the midst of which he quoted this line from The Lord of the Rings. My reaction to it, is that, ” evil cannot always continue to re-organize itself, as there is a checkpoint in history”. And that checkpoint is Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness. About which I’ll write in the next WhatApp message.

It is therefore only when you are ‘disciplined’ that you fully come to accept the words of this powerful hymn. Otherwise evil will either overcome you, or you will not be of much help to anyone when evil strikes.
Peace

LWJ

“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.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.
Before I end with a meditation on Evil, the Psalm appointed for this Sunday in my church,  has proved to be a very profound teaching lesson for me. Especially in this context of God disciplining His people. For oftentimes, although we are called to trust God in all circumstances, we can become overconfident and forget the lesson taught by an important passage of Scripture.
” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not all all! For he says to Moses, 

‘ I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

and I will have compassion on

whom I have compassion.’
So it depends not on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Romans 9:14-16 NIV 
So there can no boasting before the Lord, except in Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness. Not our goodness. Not our obedience. Not because ‘ we know how to pray’. Only because of His mercy. Otherwise He will ‘ hide his face ‘, from us to teach is this very point. Which the Psalmist learnt well.
http://bible.com/111/psa.30.1-12.niv 

I will exalt you, Lord , for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 

Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.

 You, Lord , brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

 Sing the praises of the Lord , you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

 When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”

 Lord , when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. 

To you, Lord , I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? 

Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, Lord , and be merciful to me; Lord , be my help.” 

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. 

Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
So although, in the Gospel reading Jesus declares that ‘ he has given us authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy’, we must careful not to carried away. For evil does not disappear easily! My words!  And therefore we are to rejoice that our names are written in heaven, less we get complacent. The Word of God.
So back to the problem of evil. In Orlando. In #Jamaicalandwelove with marauding gunmen terrorizing a nation. In #TurkeyAttack where 41persons were killed and 239 wounded. And the whole world is praying for mercy. 
And which evil played a part in #Brexit, as ordinary Britons are said to worried about  thecontinued immigration ( of all kinds of people) to their country. And who knows,  such xenophobia might play a role in the US elections, if fears are ‘ properly Stoked by Donald Trump.
So is J. R. R. Tolkien correct on evil.

That : Always after a defeat and respite evil takes  another shape and grows again?
No, says Martin Luther King Jr in ” The Death of Evil. A reflection which in my Devotional Bible is right beside my current bedtime reading on the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. And the comforting words which come to us across history:
” But Moses said to the people. Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, you only have to keep still.”

Exodus 14:13-14. Words which kept me sane yesterday in the midst of evil.
THE DEATH OF EVIL – EDITED
Martin Luther King Jr 
Verse : Exodus 14:30
…….. Pharoah stubbornly refused to respond to the cry of Moses, even when plague after plague threatened his domain. This tells us something about evil that we must never forget, namely that evil is recalcitrant and determined, and never voluntarily relinquishes its  hold short of persistent, almost fanatical resistance.

But there is a checkpoint in the universe: evil cannot permanently organize itself. So after a long and trying struggle, the Israelites, through the providence of God, crossed the Red Sea. But like the old guard that never surrenders……. and the turbulence and momentum of the tidal waves soon drowned all of them.
And this checkpoint we know is Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness. So let us, even fanatically, resist evil, in our country, in our hearts and in our world. But less we forget, it is the Lord who fights for us. Not our own strength and wisdom; the challenge that the secular world faces. And why they have no answer to the ‘ problem of evil’.

So, we just need to ‘ Be Still’; and ask for mercy. Without ceasing! And stop the boasting before the Lord, and the presumptuousness. Lest He turn His face from us, and we become fearful. And vulnerable to evil!

O Jesus I have promised 

To serve thee to the end.

Be thou forever near me, 

My Master and friend.
I shall not fear the battle 

If thou art by my side.

Nor wander from the pathway 

If thou wilt be my guide.

( Words of a wonderful hymn which came into my mind just now…..have mercy)

Peace

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The Problem is not so much #Brexit but #Denomexit

GM: I ARISE TODAY TO BE OBEDIENT TO THE WILL OF GOD; UNITY OF THE CHURCH

I ‘happened’ upon this meditation this week. On two separate occasions!

At a time when the big talking point worldwide, is #Brexit; the decision by the British to Leave the European Union.

The reaction to this breakdown in the unity of one of the most powerful trading blocs in the world was swift.
The British currency lost 8% of it’s value! Stock markets across the world lost value! As investors and the common man alike responded nervously to this ‘ divorce ‘. These uncharted waters! This strange valley!

And who knows what long term effect may accompany this decision. The breakup of Great Britain! Reduction in remittances to Jamaica! Changes in our bilateral agreements!

In this respect,  the Christian faith has much to offer the world in troubled times. As regardless of the circumstances, death, sickness, financial ruin, persecution, relationship issues, Crime and Violence blighting a nation’s future, road deaths robbing a nation of it’s human resources, in Christ, we are assured, that even ‘ in the valley of the shadow of death’, we will ‘ arise again’.
So let us be of good courage as we face this uncertain future wrought by #Brexit.

I ARISE TODAY

Patrick of Ireland ( 390-461….helped to share the good news in Ireland. #StPatricksDay)

Verse: Psalm 23:4….though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From the snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar or anear,
Alone or in a multitude

However, there is a second, and in my mind, a more important lesson we need to learn from #Brexit. And an old Jamaican saying captures it very well.

” Take sleep and mark death”.

In the sense that we need to learn important lessons from life’s events.
And it cannot be by coincidence that I sent the following email to some praying friends this week. Why! A dear friend and patient who is a Seventh Day Adventist died recently, and I’ve been requested to give a tribute at the funeral. I,  an Anglican, and she a SDA.

Thus were the seeds sown about the importance of the Unity of The Church.

And this, not in the context of an international crisis, of sorts, but a local one. The continued high Murder  rate, and level of Violence and aggressiveness, which in combination, is blighting the future of Jamaica! A reality which is causing many to #Jamexit.

The Email – edited

When I receive a revelation from the Lord I don’t normally consult. So this is not a plea for deeper understanding but for prayer for more revelation.
It began in Church yesterday, after Holy Communion. Reflection on ” Here O my Lord I see thee face to face……and on thee all my weariness lean”.

So I prayed about, and pondered on,  what understanding of Jesus can unify the Church. For example, an acceptance that we are all wretches. For our Lord was sent by the Father to call sinners to repentance…….

That Jesus died for all mankind; no one is excluded from grace.

Then it continued last night, as my ‘ song in a difficult night’ was Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17.

And as I read 13-17, ‘ things He said on the night before He died, that would bring ‘ peace’, even in the midst of persecution ( end of 16), twice, one with a twist,  the declaration appeared ‘ that the world may believe that You sent me’. One  in 17, following a prayer ‘ that they all may be one… in us.
And one in 13, ‘ that you love one another. Just as I have loved you …..by this every one will know that you are my disciples.

So the issue of unity,  so that the world ( on Twitter, in Majesty Gardens, our next door neighbour, the Gay community, ragamuffin) may know that God, in love, and sent Jesus to call sinners to repentance on Calvary,  ought to occupy and exercise our ‘ Elijah in the cave ‘, mind, a lot.

Everything else then depends on the work of the Holy Spirit, once we are faithful to our mandate – to be one with each other and with God in Christ. The great challenge for the Church in every age! And therefore not to get distracted with ‘ other mandates ‘

So how do Adventists, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, Church of God, Methodists, United Church, Moravians, Anglicans and all Evangelicals achieve this Unity?……..
Peace.
LWJ

Comment: One of the great scandals, and one of the  causes of it’s loss of influence in our societies,  of the Church over the centuries, has been the lack of Unity. This was never the intention of Jesus. For His Prayer is very explicit. That in order for the World, the unbelieving people, to truly know that He was sent by The Father, we the Baptized need to ‘ one with each other, as Christ was one with the Father’.

So all the crusades in the world, all the evangelistic missions, all the fasting services, will be of little moment, in the building of God’s Kingdom, if we are not one with each other.

For ‘ it is not by might not by power,  but by by God’s will’, that people are convicted of Sin and  drawn to ‘ follow Christ ‘.

Therefore, this concept of the Adventist Church out there doing ‘ it’s thing’; and the Roman Catholics, Church of God, Anglicans, United Church, Moravian, Baptist, Methodists and all the Evangelicals doing ‘ their thing’, has no precedence in the New Testament. And flies in the face of the High Priestly Prayer of Christ.
In the same way that a Christian cannot exist by her or himself. No matter how ‘holy’, they maybe.

And our society which has descended into the vortex of the ‘ valley of the shadow of death’, literally, cannot be rescued by a fractured and divided church.
The frightening thing,  is that despite the ‘ hype’ surrounding the new Prime Minister, the debate about who ought to be the next Leader of the Opposition, the role of the IMF, the IADB, the EU ( less one star), there is nobody else, no other institution, ordained by God to rescue a ‘ broken world’.

One may very well then pose the question, what does it mean to be ‘ one in Christ ‘?

But I would respectfully submit that, such a response betrays a lack of a sense of urgency, and a continued desire to be disobedient and to ‘ chart our own course ‘.

For our only response to a Prayer from God Himself, is to be determined through prayer and waiting upon the Lord, to,  with all the power available in our souls, pursue this Unity of The Church. At all cost!
Then God Himself will ‘ direct our paths’. But first the desire to be obedient must be in our hearts.

So in pursuit of this Unity, and to rescue our nation from madness, ought not the Adventists and the Roman Catholics, the Baptists, the Methodists, The United Church, the Church of God, the Pentecostal, the Anglicans, and all  the Evangelical churches praying and fasting, at least in the first instance, about this God demanded Unity?

If not, like #Brexit, you believe that you can go it alone. And while that kind of attitude may or may not be beneficial to the Brits on the long run, we know that disobedience to God, always leads to disaster. Everytime. Ask Pharoah!

And a missed opportunity to witness to the love that God has i for this broken violent world in and through Christ Jesus. In Whom alone, we find Unity.
Peace

It’s not just Brexit ! It’s Christianity – Remain or Exit at your Peril

GM: ONE DAY GOD WILL WIPE AWAY EVERY TEAR; THE ETERNAL HOPE OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM

I began writing this message during my early morning devotions yesterday.  Put it on pause and went work and had to deal with the tragedy of two sons, two brothers, who died in a car crash in Florida. In my office!

And at another level, process the news of  the death of three persons who died in a crash in Jamaica the evening before.  #PainandSuffering

And so I continued to write last night and finished this morning.

THE MESSAGE

After the debate about the reasons behind the #OrlandoKillings – Muslim extremism, hate crime, closet homosexual dealing with his own demons, or all of the above – and the responses – consolation or ‘insensitivity’ – long after that debate has died, the pain and the grief and the suffering will continue.

So too the debate in my country on the best way to put an end to a culture which has spawned the hashtag #QuadrupleMurders!

For long after we decide whether to allow more citizens, properly vetted, to carry a gun, the latest proposal, or institute community policing, or to ‘ get the guns’, or grow the economy, or to put in place the right social policies, or to convince the USA to stem the flow of weapons from their country, or to ‘ fix family life’,  the pain and the grief of the families of relatives who have been murdered, will continue.

And in almost all cases, whether in
increasingly secular America or ‘ God fearing ‘, Jamaica (according to what we say, but not what we do) the Church of Jesus Christ will play a major role in offering comfort and in the burial ceremony for the dead.

Regardless of what kind of life that person lived, even self confessed atheists! For despite their often much trumpeted unbelief in God, and little interest in Christian spirituality, the relatives will always find a way to have a Christian funeral. Reality!

In the midst of this reality, in the instance case crime and violence, but for many others it is Cancer, broken or ‘ troubled’ relationships  or injustice, which is the cause of the suffering, we turn back to Rev.Timothy Keller. And his book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering!

Consider the this declaration:

The secular view ( Remember the ‘ Immanent Frame…I am in charge of my own destiny…. Really!) of life does not work for most people in the face of suffering.

Which is then followed later on by another critique:

” But perhaps suffering’s  main challenge to secular culture is that it reveals the thinness of the World Story they give to their adherents…..every culture must give its people a story, an overarching narrative, about what human life is all about”.

Then Keller,  drawing on the work of a prominent writer,  shares the view that a cultural narrative must achieve two things.

One, give people hope. And two, enable a society to cohere ( to be cohesive, to work together for the common good….my words) instead of  atomize into a million individual parts.

And further that at the heart of every story is a big idea, ” what life is all about”, that enables the people of a society to identify themselves.
And in that respect the writer, Andrew Delbanco, traces, in his view, the three. big ideas of the American culture – God, Nation and Self. With Self the now dominant Big Idea! Leaving God in the ‘ wake ‘; there,  but unimportant.

The challenge for all countries who seek to penetrate, with their goods and services,  the biggest market in the world, is that trade and relationships with the USA is a two way street. And along with KFC, Burgher King and Pepsi come secular American Big Ideas about the importance of self, and the diminution of the importance of God. So too trade and relationships with the European Union #Brexit or not!.

And such Big Ideas often hitch a  ride on the back of CNN, Netflix and iTunes, and Foreign Direct Investment and loans from Multilateral Institutions

Therefore if Christians wish to maintain a viable presence in Jamaica,  and penetrate the secular culture in North America,  we have to face this reality. And encourage each other with profoundly powerful words from St. Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthian Church:

” For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world ( Savy media presence, and sophisticated arguments). On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
2. Cor. 10:3-5. NIV

And the only divine power available to Christians to demolish strongholds of Secularism is the Name and Word of God, which come together in the person of Christ Jesus.

” Thy Word and thy Name O God, thou has exalteth above all things, declares the Psalmist.

Our challenge then as children of God, living in a broken world,  where violent crime can erupt in a moment, where disease can decimate entire villages( Ebola), where hurricanes ( Wild Gilbert, Katrina) and earthquakes and Tsunamis can kill and maim and disrupt the lives of thousands at a time (New Orleans is yet to recover from Katrina), where sudden death is literally a heart beat away, all leading to tremendous Pain and Suffering, is to represent Christ. The Suffering Savior,  to all who are in need!

This is the Big Idea of Christianity via a vis the ‘enthronement of self’, the ‘ small and unsustainable idea’  of the secular world. A world where Self and Nation ( and probably Messi and Christiano Ronaldo and Lebron and Curry) rank above God.

And this Big Idea tells us that the greatest cause of Pain and Suffering is Sin and Death. Both of which were defeated on the Cross of Calvary. And thus our hope in this Big Idea of God, is that one day, in Christ God Himself will  ‘ wipe away every tear’. So death and pain and suffering on earth do not have the final say.

In this hope, and armed with the love of God, early Christians in the Roman empire, when their own people abandoned them when pestilence struck, Christians remained to care for the sick, and to die with them. And by this Christianity took root in the Roman empire and spread across the world according to Augustine in his Classic Book ” The City of God”.
All because we have a better Hope in Christ Jesus than the secular world. And that we cared.

It is this Hope then, that ” By His Stripes we are healed”, we as representatives of the Suffering and Crucified Christ can offer God’s love to all humanity in the midst of their suffering,  and encourage them to Trust in a loving God and not ‘ self actualization’ – the buzzword of the 21st century.

Whether in Secular North America and Europe! Whether in religious Muslim countries! And whether in marginally Christian countries like Jamaica where people ‘ fear Father God, but are not prepared to ‘ follow Christ’, the Suffering One.

But first we have to sing, and accept the precious words of one of  the all time great hymns which came into my mind this week.

1
I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
  And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith,
  And be closer drawn to Thee.

Refrain

Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
  To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
    To Thy precious, bleeding side.

2
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
  By the pow’r of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
  And my will be lost in Thine.

3
O the pure delight of a single hour
  That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God,
  I commune as friend with friend!

4
There are depths of love that I yet may know
  till I cross the narrow  sea;
there are heights of joy that I yet may reach
till I rest in peace with Thee.

The Rainbow Flag and the Cross of Jesus

GM: Lift high the Cross of the Crucified Christ; all other flags are like sinking sand

Before the Lord inspired the creation of this, praise God, continuously growing WhatsApp ministry ( with one email group), He led me, many years ago to start an email ministry, which is still sent out on a Sunday night.

And that one, which most of you do not see, begins like this:

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.
( A quote from an old saint)

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)
( A prayer crafted by my church for a Decade of Evangelism many years ago)

Because we know what it is to fear God we try to persuade men.
( The Word of God)

This morning, I am led to use these three quotes as context, as I share what the Lord has placed on my heart in a part 11 response to the #Orlandokillings.

And in particular the response to a Tweet from the Jamaican Attorney General which triggered a ‘ massive ‘ outpouring of both condemnation and support.

Further, an online , clearly unscientific, but useful poll, which made at least one leading personality,  wonder why would anyone support the sentiments expressed in the ‘ controversial ‘ Tweet. And which reality was equally puzzling for the US embassy officials who authorized the raising of the flag, and puzzling indeed for lots of Jamaicans who felt a sense of unity with the US in this their time of grief.

THE WORD OF God

” Fools say in their hearts, ‘there is no God.’
They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts;
there is no one who dies good.
God looks down from heaven on mankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.”
Psalm 53.

How did I receive this Word, a warning,  which is the essence this message ? The Lord woke me up in a mysterious way,  and I opened my Bible randomly, seeking Him, and found this Word.

And when you juxtapose this Word with a quote from a book about which I have mentioned several times, we get a clearer understanding of this #RainbowFlag controversy.

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering – by NY Times bestselling author Rev. Timothy Keller

Recall that Keller’s main argument is that Western Secular Society has done a poor job in preparing it’s people for ‘ Shakespeare’s inevitable and prophetic suffering society; where :

” Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry,
New sorrows strike heaven in the face”.

So consider this quote from his book:

In the early modern era, Christianity was ascendant in Europe and in the New World colonies as well. But over the next five hundred years, things changed. As philosopher Charles Taylor asked, ” Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable……
Religion and faith have decreasing influence in public institutions. Belief on God is allowed but regularly challenged as problematic and seen as just one option for life among many others.

Taylor coins a number of unique terms to describe contemporary secularity. He says that today we live inside an ” immanent frame “, the view that the world is a completely natural order without any supernatural…… immanent against a ‘ transcendent ‘ one….

Because there is no transcendent supernatural order outside of me , it is I who determine what I am and who I will be”.

Comment: As Keller continues, he links this rise in Secularism and disbelief in God to the death of a belief in Evil, in Satan and in Sin. And therefore an inability of Western Society to deal with the inevitability of Suffering and Pain.

I would suggest that, as we all know, for whatever reasons, perhaps to justify their lifestyle, many members of the LGBT community, and elements within the ‘ political wing’, those promoting the Gay Agenda, do not believe in God. They have thus  joined forces with, or are an active and integral part,  of Secular Western Society which in reality is  part of the ‘ Immanent Frame ‘. Viz, ” human beings ‘ run tings’ not God.

Further, elements within that community, and those who support them as they find nothing wrong with such a lifestyle, have conspired to  successfully insert this ‘ alternate view of human sexuality ‘ into the very Church of Jesus Christ. At least in some churches in the US and Canada and Europe.

Thus,   either ‘ revising ‘ or completely ignoring the Word of God.
In this context then, there is a worldwide movement now, led by the USA and Europe and Canada,  to elevate same  sex unions to the same level as Christian Marriage;  one of several Sacraments of the Church. The others include the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.

And the reality is that, like it or not, understand or not, The Rainbow Flag, for many Jamaicans, represent an intent to spread this Immanent Frame. This godless worldview!  And not the hoped for unity with a community in grief. For despite our many and internationally recognized sins, we are, for the most part, a people who ‘ fear God ‘.

It is in this context and for these reasons why I ‘ contributed ‘ to the discussion on Twitter with the following tweets.

tweets:

First #Badtiming Then #Ifnotnowwhen. #CondemnOrlandoKilling #Rainbowflag Two separate issues #SupportUS #Resistpressure
@Petchary @oohalam

https://t.co/z28R7ZocJV and I cannot be accused of being  insensitive  as this blog was tweeted from Monday @Petchary @oohalam @djmillerJA

In the middle of this controversy, the challenge for my people is twofold.
One is move past ‘ fearing God’ to believing in the ‘Blood of Jesus’,  that was shed on Calvary for the Sins of all mankind. For at the heart of the objection to the Gay lifestyle and the Rainbow Flag is a fear that if we ‘ encourage ‘ that ‘ kind of thing’, then we too might suffer the Judgement which was the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But you cannot in the eyes of a Holy God, condemn one Sin, and ‘ hug up’, very comfortably, literally and figuratively ‘ a trailer load of girls ‘. Or lie and tief and murder, and believe that God will spare you because you are not Gay.  Seriously! No, my friends ‘ no sanke don’t sing so’.

In this context then I received this Word during my lunchtime devotions yesterday.

” In the presence of God and of Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear…..” 2 Timothy 4:1-3 NIV

Two, is to ‘ get over ‘ judging people.
Pay more attention to the ‘ beam in our own eyes’, than the fault we see on others. For as one wise person said, if we can’t make ourselves the kind of person we ought to be, why spend so much time trying to ‘ fix’ others.
For Judgement belongs to God alone.

Our role is to ‘ get next’ to suffering humanity and tell them about the love of God in Christ Jesus. That all our many sins, have been Atoned, ‘ paid for ‘, by the Blood of Jesus. And hence ‘ there is no more condemnation ‘ by a merciful and loving God, for those who believe in Christ and turn and repent.
Whether in Orlando, in London, in #Quadruplemurder Jamaica in #Pakistankillings or in war-torn Syria.

And to encourage people to believe and sing songs like this, because we fear God, thus we try to persuade all men. In times of suffering and pain, and in good times.

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;
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.
(Refrain)

3. His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.
(Refrain)

#OrlandoKillings: A Christian Response

GM: Death in Orlando: Life in Christ

The question is not,  how did the #OrlandoKiller manage to kill so many people by himself! But rather what kind of twisted mind, and what kind of worldview would move someone to carry out such an act of  egregious wickedness!

At another level, the question is not, how did POTUS handle this recent act of terror committed by a Muslim extremist, or whether or not Trump’s campaign will benefit from this madness, but  rather a more existential arises;  how does humanity deal with evil?

Do we  ‘fight fire with greater firepower’, ‘ bomb the hell of out them’,  and  put up a wall to protect our borders?  Do we, on the other hand,  with patience, seek a greater understanding of another culture, thus avoiding the ‘blame game’, and the ‘hate response’? 

Or  do turn to the Word of God for answers to complex questions?

In this respect three Words came to mind, as I pondered on the Headlines which I would imagine all the world’s newspapers would be carrying on such a morning as this. #OrlandoKillings.

The first is the same Word which came when I reflected on the untimely death of a young patient.

” Praise be  to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”. 2 Cor. 1:3-4. NIV

Therefore at time like this, our first consideration is not to ‘ reason why’, but rather to offer comfort to the bereaved, the injured and the confused and shocked Gay Community in Orlando and beyond. To offer prayers on behalf of the dead, the anguished families and even the victim, his family and his community.

The second response is to  reflect deeply on the Gospel appointed for my Church on Sunday which I was led to read this morning. It’s a well known story about a ‘ madman ‘, a man into whom a ‘ Legion’ of demons had entered. The ‘ Gerasene Demoniac ‘: found in Luke 8:26-39.

And at the end of the day the ‘ people…. found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind’.
So regardless of warped ideology, twisted theology, or just plain wickedness, for ‘ out of the hearts of men cone all kind of evil’, only Jesus can, in the final analysis ‘ bring people back to their right mind’.

Finally a Word to both those in the Church and those outside who mistakenly believe that homosexuality is special sin, and that homosexuals deserve whatever ‘ comes upon them’.

REPENT OR PERISH

At that very time there were some present who told him ( Jesus) about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the their sacrifices.
He asked them, ” Do you think that because those Galileans suffered in this way they are worse sinners than all Galileans?.
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did”.
Luke 13:1-5 NRSV

The point here, is that in the final analysis, it is not where you live, what religion you belong to, who you vote for, what kind of lifestyle you lead, or whether you go to church on Saturday or Sunday! The reality, whether you accept it or not, whether you believe it or not, and it is  our ( the disciples of Christ)   mandate to tell everybody, is that only two things in life matter. Judgement before the Crucified Christ, and whether or not you have repented of your sins or not!

So forget about Trump and President Obama. Forget about whether or not Muslims are more evil than anyone else. Forget about whether or not the Gay and Lesbian lifestyle is more sinful than any other. And concentrate on living a repentant life before a God who died on the Cross for all mankind. Or we too will perish.

For all have sinned, and all have fallen short of the Glory of God. And the wages of all sin is death, but thank God for Jesus, the gift of God is Eternal and unending and a Resurrected Life, in Christ Jesus. Once we turn to Him and Repent!
Whether in Orlando or in Afghanistan!

And that new life begins right here on earth, and guides us to offer compassion and mercy to all who need Jesus. The entire human race!

What a friend, indeed, we have in Jesus!
All, not just some, All our sins and griefs to bear.

In fact yesterday at Church, having reflected on the ” Holy Communion” hymn before going to Church:

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 …

I spent a while at the altar,  just ‘ pouring on the Everlasting Arms, all my weariness’.

I pray God,  that on this very testing morning for the entire human race, we may pour out on Jesus, all ‘ our weariness’ about a sick, confused and broken World.
Peace.

A Staggering Question: Can ‘Dudus’ become a Saint?

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GM: O for Grace to love Thee more. Part Two

The challenge for modern man,  whose life expectancy is much greater than, in the days when war and pestilence routinely killed people in their thirties and forties, is that we are asking the wrong ( existential) question.

A situation compounded by our expectations,  honed and shaped by life in a material world, where the good life is measured by, for example, whether you have the latest Samsung cell phone ( the Galaxy Xcover 3 Value Edition would do very nicely thank you) or if you are still bothering with the old iPhone.

And if that approach to life  remained in the secular world, it would bad but not too much of  a problem! But the challenge is that such a world view has invaded the Church of the Crucified, Risen and Ascended Christ. Have mercy!

So, the great staggering existential question which, not just Ezekiel, but the entire Bible, from Creation through the Fall, to Redemption and Judgement, poses, is lost on modern man: Can this sinner be made a saint?

For that’s not the focus of the so called ‘ prosperity gospel’, which is no gospel at all. A philosophy that encourages it’s adherents to pose another question. Can Jesus provide that job for me? Can Jesus save my marriage? Can Jesus reduce Crime and Violence in Jamaica?  Will Jesus put a stop to Donald Trump? Will Jesus put a stop to President Obama’s ‘ liberal agenda’: read support for the Gay and Lesbian lifestyle?  Was Jesus on the side of Andrew Holness’ new government why they defeated the PNP, even though PSM felt a ‘ touch ‘ from the Master.

Then the insidious philosophy gets more subtle? Is Jesus on the side of the Human Rights movement; for is it not the goal of the Gospel to protect the rights of the poor and marginalized viz, the sex worker, the homosexual and the transvestite. Is Jesus not on the side of the poor and oppressed in South America which is what the ‘ Liberation’  theologians claimed in the 1970’s?

Then I read this reflection from Oswald Chambers a couple nights ago,  and received an even greater insight into the story of The Forgiven Woman about whom I was led to write early this week.

THE STAGGERING QUESTION

Son of man, can these bones live? Ezekiel 37:3

“Can that sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer— “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.”

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.

“Behold, O My people, I will open your graves…” (Ezekiel 37:12). When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.”

Comment: For it is this understand of who she was ‘ the sinful woman’, before a Holy God, that led her to ‘ wash Jesus’ feet with her tears ‘ .
And  as I was reminded by a staff member yesterday at work, nobody but that lady knew what was in ‘her alabaster box’: a beautiful and haunting song by CeCe Winans.

Last night on my way home when news broke about the imminent death of one of my all time favourite sportsmen, Mohammed Ali, I wondered about his soul. In the same way we must wonder about and pray without ceasing for our own souls using the words of Ezekiel: Can these bones live? And the words of Oswald Chambers” can that sinner be turned into a saint” ?

For in the final analysis it is not the human rights of the sex worker, or the human rights of the GLBT community that matters, but whether or not ‘ can that sinner be turned into a saint ‘?

The same question ought to be the focus of our prayers for  Parliamentarians whose behaviour is an affront to civilized life! For the Pastor or even the Bishop whose behaviour is causing great distress in the Church. For our athletes who ‘ let down the side’, whether by testing positive for enhancing drugs or by embarrassing comments on television. For the men who cause women to believe that ‘ all men are liars and cheaters’! For women whose foul language betray their calling to be the mothers of a nation! For school children whose behaviour trigger controversial descriptions and cause many teachers to leave the classroom prematurely. For gunmen whose behaviour has caused our precious nation to become almost a pariah in the eyes of the International Community!

For in the final analysis, these are the people for whom Jesus came, died a cruel death on a Cross and was Raised from the dead, so that all of us sinners, could become ‘ saints’.

This is then the only question that matters in life – despite the hype about cell phones and music and sports and growth in the economy. And tied up in her alabaster box, were all the sins of The Sinful Woman. So she poured them out on Jesus, and received healing,  for her sins were many so she loved Him much.

I pray God that,  especially we in the Church may recover our ‘ first love for Jesus ‘, pour out on Him what is in our alabaster box, and then invite others to do the same.

As, long after Prince has been forgotten and so too Mohammed Ali, the controversial 1.5, the excitement of the Olympics in Rio, and the anticipated good performance of the ReggaeBoyz in the CopaAmerica ( no, we are not involving West Indies Cricket as yet…far too early for that) the staggering existential question will apply, ” Can these bones live”.

Thank God for Jesus, everyone who believes in His Atonement for Sin on the Cross of Calvary, can enter into His New and unending life. And become Saints. Which is all that matters in life, and the focus of The Bible, from Genesis to Revelations