Trump,  A Pastor, A Murderer, Palestine and Israel, and God with men:  A New Year’s Message

 


It takes a special kind of evil in one’s heart to rape,  and stab to death a woman with Down’s Syndrome. Which is what happened in my country recently. And caused so much pain in the hearts of so many of us!

It takes a special kind of bare faced evil in one’s heart,  to provoke a 60 year old Pastor of Church, and ‘married man’  ,  to ‘ interfere ‘ with a 15 year old girl. And to be found in a compromising position with her in a parked car on a lonely road by a passing patrol police vehicle! Which is  part of the big news in my country ,  thus attracting all kinds of adverse comment about the Pastor in particular, and the church in general. A sad state of affairs indeed.

It takes a special kind of ‘exceptionalism’, – Israel, and people like Donald Trump and some misguided Christians have yet to understand that God is not partial – on the part of Israel’s  Prime Minister  ‘ Bibby’ Netanyahu, to ‘sanction’ countries which supported a UN resolution,  demanding that Israel halt building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. And which resolution, inter alia, called for all parties to work towards a  lasting peace in the Middle East. A  call for restraint on the part of Israel, which many believe is essential for the achievement of a two -State  solution.

It takes a special kind of naïveté, or twisted logic, from a President elect, to call for his country to ‘move on’ in response to  confirmation by his own CIA, that Russian hackers  attempted to interfere with the American Presidential elections, while condescendingly agreeing to meet with the agency and elected officials.

It takes a very wise man to realize that he was very  badly mistaken by the beguiling influence  of ‘liberal thought’, and to turn back to the foundation teachings of his early life. Which is what caught my eye, as I continued reading the New York best selling author, Rev. Timothy Keller’s book , “Encounter with Jesus”,  and which ‘ revelation’  led to this post on Facebook night before last night.

A passage which also grabbed my attention, in the context of the liberal thought which flows freely in the discussions on your page, is this one from the famous English poet  W. H. Auden. He had abandoned his childhood faith in the Church of England, as had most of his friends in the British intellectual classes. But after World War Two broke out, he changed his mind, and he embraced the truth of Christianity  and shocked many by going back to church ( which is what happened when my friend Norman Girvan went back to church……long before he died tragically)

” If I am convinced that the highly educated Nazis are wrong, and that we highly educated English are right, what is it that validates our values and invalidates theirs?
The English intellectuals who now cry to Heaven against the evil incarnated in Hitler have no Heaven to cry to.

The whole trend of liberal thought has been to undermine faith in the absolute. It has tried to make reason the judge. But since life is a changing process the attempt to find human space for keeping a promise leads to the inevitable conclusion that I can break it whenever I feel convenient.

Either we serve the Unconditional  or some Hitlerian monster will supply an iron convention to do evil by. W. H. Auden

All this and more caught my attention this week as very soon we will usher out 2016, a turbulent year for many, and welcome 2017, which we hope will be a better year.


What also grabbed my attention also , ithe context of the  ubiquitous nature of Sin  and death in the world – and the bad news  for ace journalist Cliff Hughes  et al, whose anguished tweet caught my attention;

  The cussed year of 2016 – Bowie…Prince and now George Michael dead on Xmas Day. Not to mention it gave us Trump as well. To hell wid u!

is that so in 2016, so it will be in 2017 –  was this meditation from Chris Tigreen ….excerpt

PRESENCE

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ” Now the dwelling of of God is with men, and he will live with them.”

Revelations 21:3
……….We live in a strange  time in human history ( written in 2009 but still true) when the  fallen, corrupt, sin-saturated  world is overlaid with the redeemed who love God and are called according to His purpose. Our job as members of this bridge between the ages, is to bring the future into the present, to exibibit all the characteristics of the Kingdom of light in this place of darkness, to pray that God’s will be done on earth , right now, as it is in heaven.

Part of that  role is to display the presence of God – to be the ambassadors of heaven and the temple of God’s Spirit – in this world. We alone are able to demonstrate truth that ” the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them”…….”

COMMENT

Now tell me if coincidence, or the power of God did the following.

While reflecting  on Revelations 21: 3, and in particular , “. ..and he will live with them”,  into my mind came the scripture , ” But will God really live among men”.  A most  profound question which no less than the wisest man even to trod the earth, Solomon, when dedicating the Temple to God,  posed to God Himself. And  above all things, Christmas, walking closely with John 3: 16,  is the response from a loving God. Who in the fullness of time,  and with love that passeth  all human  understanding, sent His Son, became Incarnate, to die for the sins of all mankind. A thought which led me to this famous passage from  1 Corinthians :

THE WORD OF GOD

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:18-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/1co.6.18-20.niv

In my heart I believe that there are. a number  of take  away messages that this reflection provides.  And in the end perhaps only one.

That  the juxtaposition  between Christmas and New Year is not by chance…”left to Pharisees and Scribes”, the modern day equivalent of those  who believe they know everything, and leave no room for God’s Sovereign power to bring ‘ light out of pagan darkness…..Christmas would have been celebrated near to April. And not at the end of December just before the New Year. Thus validating the Scriptures which declare that,   “Jesus is the same. ‘Yesterday,  today  and forevermore”. And it is His Birth  which gives birth to anything new. Including a New Year. A New Century. A New Millenium.

And therefore, 2017, will only be better than  2016,  if more people repent of their wicked,  self-centered, and disobedient ways, and turn from darkness  into Light. And from the power of Satan to the power of God. In and through the Atonement wrought by Jesus on Calvary!

There is no other way to rescue Jamaica, permanently, from the scourge of having  in excess of 1000 people murdered year after year.

There is  no other way for the church to purge itself of pedophiles and ‘sick’ Pastors. Of whatever age and marital status!

There is  no other way to rescue  Israel and peace in the Middle East, from  being held captive by, ‘Zionist’, aspirations. And equally there is no other way to disabuse the Palestinians and their allies, including Iran, of the notion that Israel is not a Sovereign State to be respected and welcomed into the family of the Middle East.

That  despite all his missteps, which a ‘sensible’ voting public would have otherwise  punished severely, including  his bombastic approach to modern governance, which amazingly  won favor with a huge section of the American people,  it is only  a redeemed Trump who can ever hope to make America truly great again under God.

That children of  God, born again, and washed in the Blood of the Lamb, are  the only.  ” salt and light” who, together with the Power of the Holy Spirit – God living among men – can call people to Repentance. That the great challenge of the Church is to be  United  and determined to be faithful to the Crucified One. He who came and dwelt among men. On that first Christmas. And ushered in not just a New Year. But a new dispensation altogether. The Kingdom of God.

Then this wonderful hymn came into my mind, the first verse and refrain is shared,  and provided a ‘book end” to my thoughts . At least so I thought.

When we walk with the Lord

In the light of His Word,

What a glory He sheds on our way;

While we do His good will,

He abides with us still,

And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey,

For there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus,

But to trust and obey.

Then this meditation on the penultimate night of the 2016, from Oswald Chambers world famous ” My Utmost for His Highest ” places Christmas and the New Year in true perspective. For Jesus came,  not just to make that conflicted pastor, wicked murderer, confused President Elect, and disobedient Israel, and all of us, wiser, or smarter, or more morally upstanding, but completely new and Holy.  Just like He was. And is. And will be forever. That’s the Gospel Truth. In 2016. In 2017. Until the New Jerusalem, the City of God, comes to dwell among the faithful. ” But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators……their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.

December 30

AND EVERY VIRTUE WE POSSESS

All my fresh springs shall be in Thee…..Psalm 87:7

Our Lord never patches up our natural virtues. He remakes the whole man on the inside. ” Put on the new man” – see that your natural human life puts on the garb that is in keeping with the new life.

The life God plants in us develops it’s own virtues, not the virtues of Adam but of Jesus Christ. Watch how God will wither up your confidence in natural virtues after sanctification, and in any power that you have, until you learn to draw your life from the reservoir of the ressurected life of Jesus. Thank God if you are going through a drying-up experience…..It is the saddest thing to see people in the service of God depending on that which the grace of God never gave them, depending on what they have by the accident of heredity…..

No natural love, no natural patience, no natural purity can ever come up to His demands. But as we bring every bit of our bodily life into harmony with the new life which God has put in us, He will exhibit in us the virtues that are characteristic of the Lord Jesus.

And every virtue that we possess is His alone.

Happy New Year in Christ Jesus.

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George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Violence in Jamaica and  overcoming Death with New Life at Christmas 

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR: IN CHRIST WE CAN BE ATTACKED BUT WE CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED

I am distressed! Not discouraged. Just distressed. Violent death has invaded Christmas. Again!  This time causing  17 murders between Friday to Boxing Day in Jamaica.

And so, instead of Peace and Goodwill to all mankind, a nation is once again in mourning.

Meanwhile George Michael’s fans are stunned at the sudden,  but ‘ peaceful ‘ death of this superstar. This, a devastating blow to the music fraternity, coming hard on thd heels of the death of another icon, Prince.

And closely following him were,  in an uncanny twist of fate, daughter and mom, #Starwars Carrie Fisher and another Hollywood star, Debbie Reynolds. All of this happened after  having read this article of Twitter:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/12/22/mystery-of-spike-in-deaths-between-christmas-and-new-years-gets-curiouser-and-curiouser/?utm_term=.2af59b940e02

In the midst all of this death and violence, I was drawn to, and purchased,  the Special Edition of National Geographic, which featured a number of articles on Jesus and The Origins of Christianity.
And having read just The Introduction I was moved to wrote about it  on Facebook
Excerpt:

“For one third of all people around the globe – 70.6  percent of America alone – Christian values continue to be relevant.
What is it that has made them so irresistible through two millenia ( a key question posed by a secular evolution believing magazine that ought to concentrate the minds of skeptics….my words) ?
A broad answer may lie in the indelible footprint that Christianity has pressed in the human condition  – in our ethics, our culture, and our sense of self ( no doubt made in God’s image is a major contribitor).
Throughout the great upheavals of the 2,000 years, Christian ideal has served as moral compass, even though it’s precepts were often abandoned in practice.
As such, the Christian faith has always been a cornerstone of  ( western…my correction) civilization. It inspired not only the great cathedrals of Europe and the magnificent works of art and music but also the development of laws, ethics, schools, universities, libraries, and hospitals with which Europe slowly emerged from the dark ages”.

COMMENT

Two  observations are  key to our understanding  the sad reality of death rudely  inserting itself into the Joy and Peace that Christmas is supposed to bring.

The first came into my mind as I read the historical account of the ” Savior of Europe ” in the National Geographic magazine.
As Charlemagne, a famous figure in European history, was none other than King Charles the Great who ‘ drove the Muslims ‘ back into Spain, after they attempted to take control of the entire Europe.

For Christianity has been under attack from day one,  when Herod, in  trying to  destroy the Christchild, who was prophesied to become King,  ordered the mass killing of many young boys.
The same attempt to ‘ get rid ‘ of the Christians, occurred during the rule of the early Romans Emperors, delivering them into the lion’s den and burning at the stake. Until Constantine granted them peace and acceptance!

And so Rome, so the Muslims in the  8th century; so Hitler during WW 11; so Stalin and Lenin attempted purge the USSR of Christianity ; so Mao in China; so The Enlightenment in the Post Modern era, by intellectual arguments rather than the brute force of early years. The so called “God is dead” arguments. Or no longer relevant! And the Bible is archaic, written by flawed humans, taken out of cultural context, and not to be taken literally as God’s Word. And more! Much more.

So it not surprising that the agents of Satan would raise their ugly head during the Christmas season and cause mayhem in our Tourist area. And then provoke well armed gunmen to invade a police station in Kingston today,  searching for an assailant,  with murderous intent. But who  instead, at least one of them,  was killed in a hail of bullets!

The second observation, of far greater importance,  came from a reading of Chris Tiegreen’s  The Wonder of the Cross Devotional.

December 25.
OVERCOMERS   ( Excerpt)
Everyone born of God overcomes the world.  1 John 5:4

The pattern was set long ago. A child born of God entered this world as an overcomer.  He looked as vulnerable as any other infant, and He soon  became the target of a cosmic enemy’s rampage  ( #Herod).
But no enemy could defeat, distract or divert this overcomer’s mission. Temptations were rebuffed. Opponents were refuted. And physical  threats missed  their mark…..until, that is, the time of fulfillment  came.

Only then did He enter extreme shame and pain, suffer death, and disappear into the cold earth…..
Death was defeated in His resurrection……no power could – or ever will – defeat Him. In every sense, He has overcome……

Remember that on this unusual day. …..No matter how vulnerable we look or feel, our future is as secure as that of the infant in the Manger. We can be attacked, hurt, tempted, bruised discouraged, and beaten down, but we cannot be defeated. ( posted this on Facebook so inspired was I by the reading).

” We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

We can live with complete confidence. Why? Becuase, like a special  baby long ago, everyone born of God overcomes the world.

 

Finally as we contemplate the death of loved ones, and the reasons causing, and solutions to stem,  the tide of violent death. In Jamaica. In Aleppo. In Berlin! In Jerusalem. In Palestine.  A song which has been in my heart all week. A song to be sung by” Overcomers “.

For in the midst of the madness of sudden death, from whatever cause, it is only we, The Christians, the Overcomers in Christ Jesus , can,  and have been able, over centuries, to be the bedrock of ” Civilization “.

And will be part of The New Heaven and the New Earth, as revealed in The Book of Revelations. Where there will be no more tears, and no more death.

Peace.
1

O Jesus, I have promised

To serve Thee to the end;

Be Thou forever near me,

My Master and my Friend;

I shall not fear the battle

If Thou art by my side,

Nor wander from the pathway

If Thou wilt be my Guide.

2

Oh, let me feel Thee near me;

The world is ever near;

I see the sights that dazzle,

The tempting sounds I hear;

My foes are ever near me,

Around me and within;

But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,

And shield my soul from sin.

3

Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,

In accents clear and still,

Above the storms of passion,

The murmurs of self-will;

Oh, speak to reassure me,

To hasten, or control;

Oh, speak, and make me listen,

Thou Guardian of my soul.

4

O Jesus, Thou hast promised

To all who follow Thee

That where Thou art in glory

There shall Thy servant be;

And Jesus, I have promised

To serve Thee to the end;

Oh, give me grace to follow,

My Master and my Friend.

5

Oh, let me see Thy footmarks,

And in them plant mine own;

My hope to follow duly

Is in Thy strength alone.

Oh, guide me, call me, draw me,

Uphold me to the end;

And then to rest receive me,

My Savior and my Friend.

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 

GN: MERRY CHRISTMAS AT THE MIDNIGHT HOUR .
OR 
IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES: IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES; WHEN CHRIST CAME 
It’s no longer just ” it’s beginning to look a little like Christmas “. The day we celebrate the birthday of our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ of Nazareth, ‘ The Crucified One ‘, is almost upon us.
A time when there should be ‘ Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to all men’. But instead, for many including the three sisters, aged 15, 16 and 25,  who were abducted, beaten and raped during #19hoursofsavagery, it’s midnight. A very dark  hour in their lives.
So too for the drug addicts and  their families,  in the  seemingly tranquil, even idyllic,  city of Vancouver in the province of British Columbia in Canada. As listening to #djmiller of #RJRBTH last night, we heard the chilling story of the deaths of  600 people over the past eight months. All because of an overdose of Heroin and the new craze, Fentanyl – the drug which reportedly led to the death of the famous pop star Prince.
It’s a dark and dreadful hour for the family members of the  almost 1000 persons who were brutally murdered in Jamaica during this year, and last year, and the year before, and the year before……

A sad reality which must have weighed heavily on the mind of Comminissioner of Police Dr. Carl Williams, when he made the decision to retire early. The big news of the day in my country.
And all across the world,  a time  of uncertainty in the USA for some because of #DonaldTrump ( others are just fine); a dark hour in Syria, in Berlin, in France, in Turkey, on account of terrorism;  a dark hour  in Venezuela, in The Congo in Africa on account of political unrest; a dark hour in the atmosphere as strange viruses crop every so often causing panic and death……
A dark hour for many families facing death and financial ruin as they try to rescue a loved one from the ravages of cancer, and other life threatening and life interupting diseases. A dark hour for many women and children on account of #domesticabuse and even violence and death, as we have witnessed in Jamaica recently.
A dark dark hour for many living in #wrongadresses ‘, in inner cities’ and on ‘ gully banks’, where according to #Etana, ‘ people die there every day ‘, garbage stinks, and ‘ no dollars nah run’, #noprosperity, where injustice often  reigns and hope is a scarce commodity.
And as I ponder these things Martin Luther  King’s  famous quote comes to mind:

” Midnight is a confusing hour when if is difficult to be faithful. The most inspiring thing that the church may speak is that no midnight long remains. …..”

Faith in the dawn arises from the faith that God is good and just. When one believes this, he knows that the contradictions of life are neither final nor ultimate. He can walk through the dark night with the radiant conviction that all things work together for good for those that love God. Even the most starless midnight may herald the dawn of some great fulfilment”.
And then I recalled one of the most dramatic verses of Scripture in the entire Bible: comparable to Charles Dickens opening words in ‘ A Tale of Two Cities ( and contextually relevant)  ..”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..”.
An extract from the OT reading for Christmas Day at my Anglican Church.

” THE PEOPLE WHO WALKED IN THE DARKNESS HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT; 

THOSE WHO ONCE LIVED IN A LAND OF DEEP DARKNESS- ON THEM THE LIGHT HAS SHINNED”.

Isaiah 9:2 

This prophesy, written many, many years before the first Christmas Day!
This then,  is the context in which we need to celebrate Christmas. That God, in His mercy has come on earth, became Incarnate in Christ, so that,  ” The Dawn may come to mankind living in the Midnight hour”.
For as the Scriptures reveal, ” All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. And the ” wages of Sin is death, but the gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus”  ( The Crucified One).
And further ” that we fight not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the  powers  of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly

 realms “. Ephesians 5:12
A reality which draws our attention to the kind of evil which is so pervasive across the world….and news comes on my tablet about a Libyan plane with many aboard under the threat of being blown up by terrorists….
The kind of evil forces which only the Living God can defeat. And which battle was won on Calvary by the Christchild become the Crucified One.
In this context then,   of ‘ fighting valiantly against evil’, instructions given in my Church at Holy Baptism,  

that I believe that words from Rev. Timothy Keller’s book ” Encounters with Jesus ” comes to mind. From a chapter entitled The Great Enemy; where Keller points out the profound relevance of the juxtaposition of Jesus’s Baptism with His Temptations by Satan in the wilderness.
” Now I have to ask you: If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did not presume to face the forces of evil in the world without a profound knowledge of the  Bible in mind and in heart, how could we try to face life any other way. …..And when we are under attack – tempted to sin, or to be discouraged, or to give up altogether – it is then that we must wrestle the words and promises of the Bible into the center of our being, to ” let the message of Christmas dwell among you richly “, Colossians 3:16..

It will feel very much like a fight indeed. J. C. Ryle  ( The Anglican Bishop of Liverpool in the late nineteenth century) wrote:

“True Christianity is a fight….There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. 

It passes muster; it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money…..

There are thousands of men and women who got to church every Sunday…..but you never see any  ‘ fight’ about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self denial, and watching and warring they know literally nothing at all”

So what must we learn from all of this?
1. That, because it is very difficult for ‘ morally upstanding’ persons to comprehend that, without the Light of Christ, they are living in darkness, we must always, link Christmas with Calvary. 
For it only when we heed the words of Christ Himself that ” if I, even I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself”, that the power of God to convict men and women of Sin, and the need for Redemption  ( which means ‘ it creates and satisfies) will be available.
2. That, as  I heard on #TBCFM today, as Rev.  Shuttleworth called for a time of non stop  Prayer to rescue Jamaica from Violence and Crime, #JamaicaforJesus, following the surprise resignation of  Comminissioner Williams, Christians are called to engage in Spiritual Warfare. For this is what Jesus came to do, ” to turn people from the power of darkness to the power of God”.

And as I heard, a former inmate, turned Christian  – set free from evil –  who confessed that at one time he and his mates had planned to rape a female warde, pray today on TBC Radio 88.5 Kingston, declare that ” the Blood of Jesus is against you Satan “, something moved deep within my soul.
So when I arrived at work, this was the central theme of my regular pre- work prayer. Pleading the Blood of Jesus against all evil, in my office, in the town, and the entire Jamaica.  

Finally, this Word from thd Lord, which used to pray in church many years ago, without any warning, came into my mind during an early morning devotion this week.
 “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good work and glorify your Father in heaven”.
Christmas then is really and truly all about The Light. Not the ones which adorn our houses and streets and malls at  this of year. But the Light, which,  in the dramatic opening verses of John’s Gospel, is The Word that became flesh and dwelt among us.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with  God, and the Word was God”

and later…   
” This is the verdict: Light had come into the world, but men loved  darkness instead of  light becuase  their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed …..John 3:19

The challenge then,  that Christmas poses for all mankind, whether wicked gunmen in Chi-Raq, or Aleppo or Kingston Jamaica, or ‘ morally upstanding persons’,  on page 2 in The Observer, on the Red Carpet at ‘ I am Bolt’, or even ‘ spiritually enlightened’  persons like Oprah  Winfrey et al,  or New Age adherents,  is that they are all ‘ walking in darkness ‘, if they are not ‘ in Christ’. Regardless of what they think or say. Otherwise Jesus would not have had to die – for the whole world.
And the challenge for those who ‘ claim to walk in The Light’ , is to fight against the powers of darkness and  with the Power of Holy Spirit, help to set people free from the power of Satan. Thus claiming #JamaicaforJesus and #AmericaforJesus and #TheWorldforJesus.
Peace and Merry Christmas  to you all.

EVIL IN BERLIN, EVIL IN JAMAICA AND BAPTISM INTO CHRIST JESUS

I didn’t plan to write this morning. But I woke up with a message in my heart for someone with whom I had been sharing about the profound change that takes place at Holy  Baptism.
Which is the proper Christian understanding,  vis a vis another view,  that sees Baptism as only an outside sign to the world,  that one has accepted Christ as Savior. With the implication that Baptism itself is not that important. So having shared with her :

THE WORD OF GOD

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or donʼt you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Romans 6:1‭-‬4 NIV

http://bible.com/111/rom.6.1-4.NIV ;
I awoke this morning with ‘ further and better particulars’, and shared this Word with her :

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20 KJV

http://bible.com/1/gal.2.20.KJV
And this ‘ personal ‘ understanding gained from my reading the views of many theologians:
And every time you face difficult circumstances and ” let go and let God’, you deny self ….crucify your will….and allow the Holy Spirit to enter into your heart more and more each day, then you are ‘ working out your salvation with fear and trembling’ as Peter encourages us.

So it’s a journey and each day if you believe and cry out to God,  ‘ I believe help thou my unbelief ‘,  He will come into your heart more and more. And you will begin to reflect the love and mercy and Glory, yes glory of God to people around you. In small ways and in sometimes big ways….but not too often less you begin to ‘ boast ‘….which is always a snare, a trap set by Satan  for all Christians….PRIDE.
Then as I continued to read the book of Galatians, a Word ‘ in season ‘…..as the great debate in today’s world is whether or not The Bible is the actual Word of God, since it was written by ordinary mortals and ….filled with inaccuracies….led to this post of Facebook.
On a morning when tears are  flowing freely in Berwick St. Catherine, and indeed in #ChristmascrashinBerlin. And the world has no idea how to deal with this kind of evil. But, God knows. And that’s why He sent His Son to die on a Cross, so that among other things, evil may be conquered, and three sisters will no longer have to subjected to #18hoursofsavagery.
For in as much as it is the Gospel Truth that Christ was born. So too, it is the Gospel Truth that He died. And beginning with Baptism, when we repent and turn to Him, and then die with and raised with Him to a new life,  all mankind can be restored to a right relationship with the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And help to rescue our nation and ‘ whole human race’ from Evil.
FACEBOOK 

An early morning Word for those who continue to question the authenticity  of The Bible and claim that ‘ it was written by men’.
I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:11‭-‬12 NIV

http://bible.com/111/gal.1.11-12.NIV
Peace as we get ready not just for the ‘ celebrations’ of Christmas but to ‘ lift up the Name of Jesus ‘ ( the reason for the season) in a special way, and ‘ He will draw all men until himself’. Even those who perpetuate #ViolenceAgainstWomen  and cause the kind of pain carried in the Jamaica Observer this morning
http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/news/19-hours-of-savagery_84335
And as we ponder on  this kind of wickedness I recall that last night I posted this message on Facebook….the word in season 
This is what the angel told Mary……Nothing is impossible with God. One of the Transcendental messages of the  Christmas story

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHRISTMAS 

​DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHRISTMAS: IS THERE A LINK?

Violence against women went to  a new level in my country this past  week. It began with a terrible story last Saturday when an ex lover killed his child’s mother, wrapped her in a tarpaulin cover,  and attempted to throw the body in a gully. And then fled the scene when he was accosted!
All week it continued. Young lovers; one just 18 years old! More mature ones. And then a mad man beheaded a 71 yr old foundation member of her church,  two days ago. Have mercy!
During the week also, a videotape of the confession of the white,   young man who murdered 9 folks in a historic black church in Charleston, was released. 
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/09/dylann-roof-confession-charleston-shooting-trial
And which revelations no doubt helped in the jury arriving at a conviction of ‘ guilty’. But also gave us an insight into the mind of a very evil individual!
So between  Dylan Roof’s madness in Charleston,  and the horrible week in Jamaica, is this what Christmas is all about!
The surprising answer is ‘ yes’. And not just Carlene Davis’ searching lyrical commentary,  ” Santa Clause do you ever come to the ghetto”. Or another classic which speaks to the reveling now associated with the season ‘ I saw mummy kissing Santa’.

 And of  course the ‘ shop ’til you drop ‘ excitement,  pushed by the merchants who in the view of some ‘ have hijacked Christmas’. Thus marginalising the The Christ child who ‘ is the reason for the season’, and the joy of family and friends gathering and sharing quality time together.
So, a tweet I sent out as I heard talk show host #EmilyShields and invited ‘ experts ‘ struggling to find answers to the madness of #ViolenceAgainstWomen on #RJRHOTLINE, and #djmiller  on   #RJRBTH a couple evenings before – claims of  incompatibility after money spent by men on women,  and a power game,  with men believing that they ‘ own women’,  emergered- provides an introduction 
@emilymshields listening to the discussion #swimmingupstream. Violence against women part of a larger problem of Sin. Began with #TheFall
As the Doctrine of Christianity has four pillars. 
Creation – when everything was declared by God to be good. In fact very good.
The Fall – when everything went  bad, and mankind lost it’s special relationship with God as Sin,  ‘ the right to myself ‘, entered the world. And so did death and all kinds of evil, including #ViolenceAgainstWomen 
Redemption – when Christ’s death on Calvary, and Resurrection from the dead, made all things ‘ very good’,  again, and  reconciled us once again to an eternal  relationship with our Creator. The Hope for all who repent and accept the free gift of Salvation.
Judgement-  the ‘ second coming of Christ, when He shall come again as King to ‘ judge the living and the dead ‘.
In this context then,  of the specific, real and present danger  of #ViolenceAgainstWomen and the wider issue of Sin, I read this revelation,  from Rev. Timothy Keller’s book:

 ” Encounters with Jesus” this week

KELLER 
THE WORD OF GOD 
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Matthew 26:36‭-‬38 NIV

http://bible.com/111/mat.26.36-38.NIV
….Early Christian writers such as Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp,  pointed to the poise with which Christians faced torture and death. One historian writes that this was one of the ways that Christian thinkers attempted to recommend their faith to the pagan population.
They argued that Christians suffered and died better than pagans. Christians went to the lions singing hymns…….
But Jesus Christ is facing death in a way that his followers did not. His face is not as radiant as the face of an angel. He is not calm nor poised nor at peace….
Matthew, Mark and Luke all mention ‘the cup’ as the heart of Jesus’ prayer that night……
In the Bible ‘ the cup ‘ further refers to God’s own judicial wrath on injustice and evil doing……’ the cup of his wrath…..the bowl of staggering. 
The reason that Jesus Christ did not die gracefully as later Christian martyrs is  because none of them were facing the cup.

When Jesus himself speaks of the cup ‘ let thus cup pass from me, but not my will but thy will be done’, it shows that He knows that He is facing not just physical torture and death, ; He is  about to experience the full divine wrath on evil and sin of all humanity.

The judicial wrath of God is about to come down on him rather than us.
THE WORD OF GOD 
Then, no doubt, to reveal further the extent if the awesomeness of the judicial wrath of God, early one morning this week,  I was awakened to read this.
Because of thirst the infantʼs tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth; the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them.
  Those who once ate delicacies are destitute in the streets. Those brought up in royal purple now lie on ash heaps. 
 The punishment of my people is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her. …..
 Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field. 
 With their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children, who became their food when my people were destroyed. ….
 The Lord has given full vent to his wrath; he has poured out his fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations. 
 The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the peoples of the world, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem.  
But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous. 
 Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped naked.
  Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion; he will not prolong your exile. But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom, and expose your wickedness.

Lamentations 4:4‭-‬6‭, ‬9‭-‬13‭, ‬21‭-‬22 NIV

http://bible.com/111/lam.4.4-22.NIV

But thanks be to God, a God of mercy and compassion, in the midst of the Lamentations,  a prophetic and encouraging Word, that has sustained a host of people in times of trouble, over the centuries.
” Because of the Lord ʼs great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;  it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord .

Lamentations 3:22‭-‬26 NIV

http://bible.com/111/lam.3.22-26.NIV
A Word which led me to reflect deeply, to give thanks, and to pray earnestly becuase of this love of God in Jesus Christ who on The Cross of Calvary  bore my sins, and the sins of the whole world. Including those who engage in #ViolenceAgainstWomen. And so this wonderful hymn came to mind.
1.Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, 

there is no shadow of turning with thee;

thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;

as thou hast been thou forever will be.
Refrain:

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

all I have needed thy hand hath provided;

great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto 
3. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth

thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Refrain
The challenge for us at Christmas then is twofold. One is keep in mind always, that the only power that a child of God has to intervene in this world of evil and disobedience, comes from an acknowledgement that the Christchild died for the sins of all mankind. And with mighty power was raised from the dead! 
So that ‘ Any man who is Christ is a new creation. The old has passed away, and behold all things are made new’.
Therefore,  men who beat and maim  and kill women, do not only need to be resocialized, made sensitive to the fact that they don’t own partners, and become aware of the human rights of others. But rather to become ‘ new creatures’ in Christ Jesus, and thus be able to uphold, and teach their children by example, the Biblical principle of,  ‘ becoming one flesh with her’. 
For by those principles was the Jamaican society built, and even in stable common law relationships, as people ‘ feared the Lord’. And having eroded that base,  by multiple methods  – but all singimg the same sanke in America and in Jamaica, ‘ we don’t want God to rule us’ – we are now scrambling  and searching for, and working with,  ‘ broken cisterns that can hold no water’ 
May God have mercy on us, for the second challenge of the Christmas Story is that one fine day,  Judgement will come. And those in Christ will go with Him in glory. And those without Him shall live in permanent separation from God, and bear the full extent of His Judicial wrath – the cup of sorrows.
Regardless of where you live, and who you know,  how well you treat your partner, and  how much  you have enjoyed Christmas!

Peace.

Murder, abuse of women, student misbehavior and the grace of God

​GM: THE BANALITY OF EVIL,  A CONTRITE HEART,  AND THE GRACE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS 

It’s hard. Really hard, to live in a country where #peoplearemurderedeveryday. In cold blood!  Mostly single murders. But sometimes double! And two days ago,  triple.
http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/news/Triple-murderBloodshed-in-Portmore-as-new-mayor-pledges-to-fight-crime_83110

 

So too last week; but in addition the three bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
No doubt all of this inspiring one of Jamaica’s most fearless journalist Erica  Virtue of #TheDailyGleaner to posted these haunting words on Facebook 
“This country is filled with tears! God Almighty lift the veil of death over Jamaica”. 
But it’s not just Jamaica, as last week I happened upon this story
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/chicago-8-killed-60-wounded-in-thanksgiving-weekend-violence/
And it’s not just crime and violence, it’s immorality and ‘ indecent exposure’, as reported in a letter to the Daily Gleaner this week, about which I tweeted.
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/letters/20161205/student-sex-orgy-jutc-bus
And then the persistent abuse that our women face on account of the bhoorisish behaviour of some men, ordinary looking men,  sometimes family friends, and even family,  who see all women ‘ from dem buss breast’ as potential conquests.
A sad story as revealed by host Dionne Jackson-Miller BTH on RJRFM94 yesterday. And which reality  spawned the hash tag #Lifeinleggings, a space  where hurting women can share their stories. Or the stories of others too embarrassed to ‘ speak’.  
So what has gone wrong!
 It cannot be simply  Rahm Emanuel’s fault as Mayor of Chicago, or even POTUS  ( Obama) who hails from the ‘ windy  city’.
It can’t be simply the fault of the local politicians, from Michael Manley  right down to the present PM Andrew Holness,  although clearly they cannot escape some  blame.
It can’t be that ” man just wicked and bad” or that school pickney too ‘ out of order’.
No, as I continued to read the New York Times best selling author Rev. Timothy Keller’s book ” Encounters with Jesus “, a profound problem  emerged which we all need to confront, and which  lurks deep in the human heart. 
Keller:
” Adolph Eichman was one of the Nazi architects of the Holocaust who escaped after WW 11 to South America, where he was caught in 1960 …..tried found guilty and executed…..
One of the material witnesses was a man named Yehiel De-Nur, and when the man came to testify, he saw Eichman in the glass booth, and immediately broke  down, falling to the ground and sobbing……very dramatic.
Sometime later De-Nur was interviewed by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. ……and said something that shocked Wallace and should shock almost all secular Western people ( Keller’ target audience is secular Western thought that believes there is either no God, or no need for Him).
He said that he was overcome by the realization that Eichman was not some demon but was an ordinary human being. ‘ I was afraid about myself……I  saw that I am capable to do this….exactly like he.”
Wow! That’s kinda scary! Nuh true?

( translation of Jamaican slang….”am I not correct”).

 

And so Keller continues….and it gets worse.
” The scariest thing about that whole chapter of history is not the  few individual evil architects of it, but the complicity of vast numbers of people across a society that was producing so much of the world’s best scholarship, science and culture.
That makes it impossible to write off the whole era as the work of a couple of isolated monsters……..
Hannah Arendt, watching Eichman during the trial, reported to The New Yorker, that he was by no means psychopathic, that he exhibited no hatred or anger. Instead he was ordinary man who had wanted to build a career. She called this ” The banality of evil “.

Evil lurks in the hearts of all quite ordinary human beings.
Then Keller attacks the problem of Sin, head on:
“So it would be more honest to say,
‘I’m somehow the same as those who have done terrible things. I am made of the same human stuff.

There must be something deep down in me that is capable of great cruelty  and selfishness, and I don’t want to see it….. 
And while,  for most of us, the self-centeredness and sin in our hearts has not led to overly criminal acts of violence and cruelty, it has still  caused misery for the people around us, and has kept  us from serving the God who created us and to whom we owe everything.
And Jesus came to cleanse us of this, to purify us from what is spiritually wrong with us. “.
The essence of the #Advent 

message then,  is that we wait expectantly on,  ” this same Jesus who you saw going up into heaven “, to come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
But His second coming ( which is the long term message of His first coming at Christmas), is that the Joy and Peace that we sing about, will only be for those who accept the reality of ” the banality of evil”. And repent and accept His free gift of Redemption  – Salvation 
That all of us, whether wicked gunmen in Chi-Raq  ( Spike Lee’s movie on life in Chicago….as bad as Iraq…..it’s a pity my children warned me that ” Daddy you can’t handle the language”), or in Kingston, or #rompinshoponthebus children, or ‘ the randy hypersexualized males’,   have sinned. And fallen short of God’s Glory! 
We were all in the same boat together with Adolph Eichman. That’s what the Bible teaches! In a passage to which I was led to ponder on deeply this week:
THE WORD OF GOD 
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. 
Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
— For we are Godʼs handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:1‭-‬8‭, ‬10 NIV

http://bible.com/111/eph.2.1-10.NIV
So yes, let cry out night and day to the only  One who can save both America and Jamaica and the whole world from evil. The God of Abraham, Isaac, of Jacob, and the Father of our Lord Jesus.
But the message of Christmas is about ‘ the banality of evil’.

For out of the hearts of men, the Bible tells us, comes all kinds of evil.
From out of the minds of  quite ordinary looking people. And even the extraordinary ones and superstars too! Whether on Television, the big screen in Hollywood; whether in The Parliament or in the Senate; or even in the White House, presently,  or soon to be  knocking on the door.

( It will take many years,  if ever,  to comprehend how America, leaving the politics aside, could elect a President, who has made #Lifeinleggings a literal ‘ hell’ for some women with his presumptuous predatory acts of #groping.
Whether #IamBolt or #RealShellyAnn; whether #MickJaggerdadat73 or #FirstPeter or #SecondPeter ( journalist and host of HOTLINE on  RJR Emily Shields’ characterization of the impending contest between Peter Phillips and Peter Bunting,  for the now vacant post of President of the Opposition PNP), and even  subjects of unwanted and inappropriate  sexual advances, #Lifeinleggings,  all have sinned.
So let us cry out this holiday season  also like the songwriter: “O for grace to love thee  more “.  And for power to ” speak boldly about the Crucified One”. Even Christ Jesus.
Let us heed the Revelation shared with me last night at 4:am – as I was awakened and led to read His Word.
” For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy.

I dwell in the high and holy place;

and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit.

to revive the spirit of the humble,

to revive the heart of the contrite.”

Isaiah 57:15
So let us do what David did,  after he sinned with Bathsheba, #Lifeinleggings,  #thebanalityofevil,  and was confronted by God’s prophet Nathan,  and repented with a ‘ broken and contrite heart’ , as he wrote in Psalm 51.
Let us use the opening verse of one of my Rector’s favourite hymn:
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.
Refrain 
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus;

there is room in my heart for thee 
And who knows, maybe the Lord will send ” times of refreshing ” and heal our land of murderous gunmen  and #backitup  #dancehall   and #soca  culture  and easily  access to pornography, which is ” blowing the minds minds of young,  and not so young,  and all of what cause men to disrespect our women.
Peace.