Donald Trump, Serena Williams, Murder in Jamaica and The Living God 


GM: LOOK TO GOD AND NOT BE SO CONCERNED ABOUT DONALD TRUMP
It started on Sunday night. And ended Friday night!


” Look unto Me, and he began saved”. Isaiah 45:22. KJV.

The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult.
Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere. The teaching of the sermon on the Mount is, in effect  – Narrow all your interests until the attitude of mind and heart and body is concentration on Christ Jesus – from Oswald Chambers ” My Utmost for His Highest “. The Devotional Guide which I read at nights, along with one or several Psalms before going to bed.

Consider this: The Sermon on the Mount is the Gospel Reading for my Church at the worship  service tomorrow Sunday. Coincidence! I think not. And so having read in preparation for tomorrow ” Blessed are the pure in heart,  for they see God”, for me was the ‘ take home message’. As without Christ ‘ the sinful heart of mankind ‘ can never be pure! And therefore without Christ we will never see our Creator.

Then life according to the writer of Ecclesiates, would have been all ‘ vanity’, and pointless.
Hence the cry of the Psalmist ‘ create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me’. Psalm 51. Words and in effect  a prayer uttered with deep groans,  and penitential tears even, by many believers over the centuries.
In that context I thought about the horrors that The Moravian Church is going through now. And others chutches too! For clearly some, and far too many Pastors, have not heeded the Isaiah message – Look to Me, and ye be saved. But rather have had  their focus, elsewhere and  further south,  than up to The Living God.
But the problem does not begin and end with sexual temptations. That’s not what Isaiah is saying. Nor Oswald Chambers. And certainly not Jesus in His Sermon on The Mount.

FRIDAY NIGHT
JANUARY 27
LOOK AGAIN AND THINK
Take no thought  for your life. Matthew 6:25
A warning which needs to be reiterated is that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the list of other things entering in will choke all that God puts in ( a warning from Luke in the story of the Sowers of The Seed….my words).
We are never free from the recurring tides of this encroachment. 
If it does not come on the line of clothes, and food, it will come on the line of money or lack of money ( going to the Insurance company for cheques owed and not getting any); of friends or lack of friends ( finding a faithful man…..finding a husband) or in the line of difficulty circumstances  ( Donald Trump, almost 100 murders in one month, ISIS, ….).
It is one steady encroachment all the time, and unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the  standard  against it, these things will come in like a flood.

No wonder then that the celebrated British poet, William Cowper, was moved to write these words to which I was drawn this week.

THE HOUSE OF PRAYER
Thy mansion is the Christian’s heart,

O Lord, thy dwelling place secure!

Bud the unruly throng depart,

And leave the consecrated floor.
Devoted as it is to thee,

A thievish swarm frequents the place,

They steal away my joys from me,

And rob my Savior of his praise…….
I know them, and hate their din,

Am weary of the bustling crowd;

But while their voice is heard within,

I cannot serve thee as I would….. 

And so Chambers continues…..


” Take no thought for your life”. ” Be careful about one thing only”, our Lord says – your relationship to Me.

The challenge therefore for all who claim Christ is to place an absolute focus on Him who died for us. And was by the mighty power of God raised from the dead. So that in Him,  we might, among other things, have ‘ a pure  heart’. 

And therefore, with confidence, 

 ‘ dwell in the secret place of the Most High and Holy God’,  who cannot countenance Sin.
But then news breaks on CNN about Donald Trump and we get distracted. Or excited about a Serena Williams vs Venus Williams final….and get distracted. Or become caught up with defending Nesta Carter so that Usain Bolt can retain his Triple Triple status. Or weighed down by the latest calamity in our lives, and God knows there are many, and forget that we can still rejoice,  and give thanks as Christ died so that ultimately we may enjoy life with our Creator God eternally. Regardless of what trials we face in this life. 
A reality which inspired the following tweets. 

The strangest truth of the Gospel is that Redemption comes through suffering #MiloChapman  100 murders ought therefore  move us to seek God

That God cannot let you be content without him because then you would be ….well,content without him #christigreen

Like it or not your pain exists to drive you to the Healer the Forgiver, the Redeemer- Redemption’s Pain #christigreen #Moravianchurch
God simply let’s the world go it’s own way so that it will eventually have enough sense to come back to him #christigreen #RedemptionsPain 

This after reading one of Chris Tiegreen’s meditations entitled Redemption’s Pain ….inspired by the famous passage from the book of  Romans 

The creation was subjected to frustration….in hope that it will be liberated from its bondage to decay. Romans 8:20-21

Finally, in the same context of ” Look to Me and ye be saved”, of placing an absolute focus on God despite all the trials which come out way, the Lord led me to read the following favourite passage of a church sister, and no doubt many others too,  yesterday morning. 
This, after she had called to encourage me about road safety  in Jamaica , for  which  I have some responsibility. Coincidence! I think not. And then as I went on my morning walk and pondered this enormously encouraging truth, Job’s exultation came into my head.

I know that my Redeemer lives…..

As He alone, to Whom we must look, without ceasing, can help  when the inevitable trials of life come. And stay! Sometimes  for far too long for us to bear.

THE WORD OF GOD 
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.  It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:3‭-‬18 NIV

http://bible.com/111/2co.4.3-18.NIV

President Trump, Rev. Dr. Burchell Taylor and Jesus Christ.

​TRUMP: AMERICA FIRST. REV. TAYLOR : HUMAN DIGNITY FIRST. GOD: LOVE AND MERCY TO ALL IN CHRIST JESUS 
This week two events dominated the news in America and held my interest in Jamaica.

#InaugurationDay2017 and #Prayerbreakfast2017
One quote from Time Magazine captured,  to my mind,  the essence and isolationist,  if not  xenophobic and perhaps even jingoistic ( a term once only applied to China) compared to Obama’s qualified exceptionalism, nature,  of #PresidentTrump speech.

“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First. America First.”

And having had not only the privilege of attending the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast with my wife, but being in receipt of the script of Rev. Dr. Burchell Taylor’s sermon, I tweeted sections which in my view,  went to the heart of his presentation : 

We have an abiding commitment to uphold defend and promote in all we say and do the immeasurable worth and sanctity of human dignity #BT
We have an abiding commitment to create and sustain a culture of self giving solidarity with those who suffer and wounded in community #BT

We have an abiding commitment to develop and display thoughtful maturity in our ways and dealings -key expression of this is humility #BT
If we overlook the link between justice as a policy issue and the  dignity of human beings we will not achieve the common good. #BT
We ought not to handle and treat people unjustly and in turn expect a just social order #RevTaylor
#BurchellTaylor Compassion (Mercy)  is saying that the response to deserved suffering does not end with retribution but is rehabilitative

True humility in the form of thoughtful maturity liberates us to admit our dependence on others…..cont’d

#BurchellTaylor…cont’d True humility encourages shared purpose and a willingness to make peace and work for reconciliation 

We are called to commit ourselves to an ethic of public engagement towards the common good and human flourishing #BurchellTaylor 

So while the ” leader of the free world”, seemingly,  on the face of it, elected to begin by focusing on what was good for America alone, one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated thinkers and theologian, begged and pleaded Jamaican leaders to seek the common good,  by placing a focus on the dignity of human beings.
What a contrast! What a challenge, even as some, oblivious of the genesis and success of the NLPB, in respect of the violent elections which were once the norm in Jamaica, called for a canceling of this great institution. Consequent on the very shameful and disgraceful behaviour of one, and maybe more Pastors, in the Moravian Church. A thorough misreading of history by people whose lens have been clouded, no doubt understandably, by anger and disappointment.
And so as America lurches forward under President Trump into new and uncharted waters, my country is drowning in sea of blood. As 79 persons have been murdered in 20 days. 12 in a 36 hour period.
A situation which provoked one of our leading talk show host #EmilyShields,  on #RJRHOTLINE,  capturing succinctly  the sentiments of many Jamaicans, to tweet: 

I am so tired of having people describe the crime problem or say what causes the murders. When will we deal with it?

In the midst of all of this the following thoughts and revelations came into my head.
One, during my night time devotions now going through Proverbs:  that, like Trump who keeps ignoring diplomacy, ignoring the inherent dignity of refugees and immigrants, making light of #Blacklivesmatter, and having fun breaking down what others have carefully built up, all  in pursuit of

#makeamericagreatagain; and that Moravian pastor who ignored his own conscience, and no doubt the advice of his peers, all in pursuits of his own pleasures,  one day trouble will arrive.
For the Word of God warns: 


One who is often reproved yet remains stubborn will suddenly be broken beyond healing. Pro. 29:1 not just #Trump or #pastor #All #contrite

For there’s no doubt that one day Trump  et al  will get his ‘ comeuppance ‘. In the same way that trouble has visited the Moravian pastor and his church!
And at a  different level altogether,  those who persist in causing mayhem in my country,  and those who aid and abet them, will, one day, suddenly be broken beyond healing.
For though we take no pleasure in the death of anyone, subject to proper investations, it would appear that the six men, included alleged murderers wanted by the police, who died recently during a shoot out with the security forces, may be a case in point.

Further, that, and this  in keeping with Rev. Taylor’s declaration that mercy does not eliminate the need for sanctions: there is a consequence for the everyone, including the  church members, for the abuse of young girls,  and a warning for those who condemn the church,  but ignore their own sins and  culpability before God. This in the form of a challenging Word from Holy Scripture.

” For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those do not obey the Gospel of God”. 1 Peter 4:17.

The end of a very challenging Word which came to me during another early morning awakening this week.

And a Word which so contextually relevant. At the beginning at at the end. For this is how it begins: 
THE WORD OF GOD 


Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.

 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 

Finally, as we contemplate the value of the Rev. Taylor’s recommended  ethic of working for the common good in pursuit of creating a society where human beings flourish; as we dare to hope that one day we will become a just society rather than #makeamericagreatagain; as we beg and plead with our people to put their trust in a God whose foundations are Love and Mercy according to one of Chris Tiegreen’s 

meditation I read this week; as we heed Rev. Taylor’s declaration that Mercy and Justice are indivisible,  and that the end of mercy is not retribution but rehabilitation and redemption – especially for #thepastor and folks like #DonaldTrump; as we ponder the thought which came into my head whilst walking and meditating,  that ‘ it is a good thing that it was not Mother Theresa who died on the Cross with Jesus, but representatives of flawed humanity’ #thethiefonthecross,  and therefore seeking and doing mercy is the best choice, we can understand a quote which I read ( and tweeted …devoid of any punctuation)  this week, and the source of such a revelation.


Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all ways you can, to all the people you can, in all the places you can, as long as you can.

John Wesley- the English Evangelist 


The source:  For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph.2:10.NIV https://t.co/0wW5C0Mi55

A Word again which is the end and climax  of a passage of Scripture I was led to read this week. A Word of  great instruction and revelation about the history of all mankind and God’s Love and Mercy.
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.


 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:1‭-‬5‭, ‬8‭-‬9 NIV

http://bible.com/111/eph.2.1-9.NIV

A clarion call for all people (  to do good to all people…. and not to use them  for personal, financial, or political gain……for that’s what we were created to do…good)  not just Christians! In Donald Trump’s divided and embittered  America,  and Rev. Dr. Taylor’s embattled Jamaica.
For then, and only then will we create a just society and not just a great society. And the building up of such a society surely begins with a pursuit of Justice for all, and is sustained by  a love for mercy and acts of forgiveness – the essence of the mind of Christ Himself who died  in the words of  a famous hymn written by  the same John Wesley ” And can it be….”
The third verse:

He left his Father’s throne above –

so free, so infinite his grace – 

emptied himself of all but love,

and bled for Adam’s helpless race.

‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;

for, O my God, it found out me!

Peace.

The Moravian Church, Murder in Jamaica, Trump in America and The Living God 

​A CHURCH IN CRISIS, A NATION BLEEDING AND WORSHIPING ONLY THE LIVING GOD 
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20170113/moravian-mess-church-leaders-resign-amid-deepening-sex-scandal

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20170109/four-murdered-weekend-clarendon-children-shot-they-sleep

Other issues occupied centre stage in my mind this week, including the ‘ phenomenon  ‘ that is Donald Trump.

 A reality that the Americans, and unfortunately the rest of the world will just have to live with for now. And which sense of shame and utter amazement was best  captured in post on Twitter by one of America’s rising stars #Goldenglobe. 

Not the #merylstreep one which was so controversial  – and she was basically venting about Donald Trump- but Viola Davis whose comments were ‘ deep’. ” We need to understand a people who could elect a man like Trump”…my summation.

However murder in my country, 34 dead in 11 days,  as revealed  a couple days ago on the  popular public affairs television programme #AllAngles aired on #TVJ, and the continued revelations of shocking acts of  immorality  – and apparently  an attempted cover up – in the Moravian Church, caught my attention.
A situation which  explains in a profound way, two quotes which the Lord led me to discover and place at the beginning of a Sunday night email ‘ blog’. Which has been  ongoing for many years. And to which ministry has been added these whatsapp messages.

” I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing”
” Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).”

Finally,  by way of introduction of this message, every so often, in different ways, the Lord would wake me up at 4:00 am to read His Word. Opening the Bible randomly. And then to write. This is one of those mornings. And in the name of Jesus,  this is what caught my eye.
THE WORD OF GOD

“But you—come here, you children of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes! 

 Who are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue?

 Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars?  
You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags…….

 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart?

 Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?

  I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you.
  When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. 
But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”  And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
  For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. 
 I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me— the very people I have created.  I was enraged by their sinful greed; I punished them, and hid my face in anger, yet they kept on in their willful ways.  I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israelʼs mourners,  creating praise on their lips.
 Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord . “And I will heal them.”  
But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.  “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Isaiah 57:3‭-‬5‭, ‬11‭-‬21 NIV

http://bible.com/111/isa.57.3-21.NIV

To plumb the full depths of this very profound word from the Lord would require serious Bible study which is beyond the scope of this ministry.
However it doesn’t take much insight to understand the revelation that ” the One who dwells in high and lofty places”, The Living God, hates idol worship. And disobedience!

 Both of which – ‘ stripped down to metal’, or ‘ at the heart of the problem’ –  have led to the sorry state of affairs in the Moravian Church. And also the main reasons for the heinous crimes being committed across the length and breath of my country.
And thought which inspired the following tweet:

#thebanalityofevil one day what you worship if not Christ will ‘ bite you’ #sex #power #denomination #politicaparty #whistleblowing #money : 

was the subject of a warning which appeared in a previous message:
Abridged Excerpt 

David Foster Wallace – American award winning best selling post modern novelist……known for his boundary-pushing story telling……A few years before he died he shared this at a commencement speech at a college:
“Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some kind of god….to worship….is that pretty much anything you worship will eat you alive.

 If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough……
It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a thousand deaths before (  your loved ones) finally plant you….

Wallace was by no means a religious person, but he understood that everyone worships, everyone trusts in something for their salvation, everyone bases their lives on something that requires faith. A few years after giving that speech, Wallace killed himself. And this non-religious man’s parting words to us are pretty terrifying.

 

” Something will eat you alive “.

Because even though you might never call it worship, you can be sure you are worshiping and you are seeking.
And Jesus says” Unless you are worshiping me, unless I am the center of your life, unless you’re  trying to get your spiritual thirst  quenched through me and not through  these other things, unless you see that the solution must come inside rather than just pass by outside,  then whatever you worship will abandon you in the end – Rev. Timothy Keller extract from 

 ” Encounters with Jesus ” 

The message then for Jamaicans, for Americans,  and indeed the whole world, is be careful what or who you worship. 
For,  if like the children of Israel, rescued from the ‘ hand of Pharaoh ‘, by He who called them to Himself to live in a Covenant relationship ( Deuteronomy 32 is a fascinating history lesson….they sacrificed to demons, which are not God, gods they had not known….which is the same accusation in Isaiah 57….the more things change…..), we who are created in His Image and Likeness, and ‘ washed in the Blood of the Lamb, continue to worship power and sex and denomination and political leaders and music instead of The Living God, then ‘grief’ will happen sooner or later. As certain as ‘ night follows day’! Whether in the Church or outside the Church.
No wonder then that  this warning came into my mind this morning as I pondered on these things. From memory:

” If your right hand offendeth thee….cut it off. For it is better to enter the kingdom of with one hand than to be cast into hell…..”

So people be careful about #ObamaFarewell; listen carefully but do not join in #4moreyears. 

Be careful about who you elect to #makeamericagreatagain as only God Almighty can perform that miracle according to His plans.
Be careful about #Prosperity and #Progress and in whom you place your trust. 
Be careful about protecting deviant Pastors from shame and disgrace. Men who no longer ‘ fear God’.  And be more concerned about about being obedient to The Living God.

Otherwise when you cry out in trouble He will say,  ‘ let your collection of idols deliver you’.
For too long now,  as a people,  we have worshiped ‘demons’ in our music, in our culture, in our politics, in our homes, and in our communities. Idols on radio, on TV, in the movies, and on the Internet,  rather than the Living God. And now ‘ the chickens have come home to roost’,  in the form of murder most foul,  and unbridled and widespread  immorality.
Thank God for Jesus, for He who dwells in high and lofty places also  is with ‘ those who are contrite and humble in spirit.
For, in Christ Jesus, the Good News of the Gospel, we know that Peace and forgiveness is available for all who repent. Thus fulfilling the Isaiah prophesy that:
” I will not always accuse, nor will I always be angry; for then the spirits would grow faint before me.”
Finally in the midst of the madness came this ‘ word ‘ from a Christmas hymn. It just came into my mind. Just like that! 
” Hush ye men of strife and hear the angels sing”. From,  as I searched and found,  ” It came upon a midnight clear….”

And as I spent some time meditating on this profound hymn:
The Third  Verse 

Yet with the woes of sin and strife

the world has suffered long;

beneath the angel-strain  have rolled

two thousand years of wrong;

and  man, at war with man, hears not

the the love song  which they bring;

O hush the noise and cease your strife

and hear the angels sing!

I was led to the angels singing in the Book of Revelation:

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and glory and power, for ever and ever ! 5:13

And so as God is renewing the Moravian Church, and Jamaica even in the midst of murder, and America in ways we cannot fully understand, but time will tell, let us worship only He who dwells in high and lofty places. Even Christ Jesus the Crucified One.
Otherwise, literally ‘ all hell ‘ may break out in your life. And you will only have your idols – who cannot walk or talk – to deliver you.
Peace 

Murder and Immorality in Jamaica, Terror in America and The Ressurected Christ

​#Pastor #FtLauderdale and the Ressurected Life in Christ Jesus

It happened last week! But it is still a big story in my country. The news that a 60 year married pastor was  caught having sex with a minor.
Even the shocking revelation of #12murderedin3days had to compete with this distressing news item.
Perhaps now that the even more shocking news today,  that an arriving  passenger,  retrieved a  gun from his checked luggage at Ft. Lauderdale airport, and then proceeded to kill 5 people and injure 8, is now a top news story worldwide, the discussion about the #pastor may recede into the background somewhat.
However,  as I went for my morning walk this morning,  the following ‘ revelation ‘ came into my mind.

That the vicious crimes being committed in Jamaica in 2017, carrying over from a disastrous 2016 ( and now this #FtLauderdale madness), and the #pastor,  are related. How come?
Starting with this scripture, which I had been led  to read recently, the  revelation continued:

“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

The key thing in this passage is the revelation that  a Christian’s body is ‘ temple of God’. However, the challenge for the Church, is that there is an even  deeper reality to  what the #pastor did in not ‘ honoring God with his body. As bad as that act of statutory rape undoubtedly is!
For the greater truth is that the church is the ‘ body of Christ’. And therefore,  in a mysterious way, through the power of the Holy Spirit,    faithful committed ‘ born again’, people constitute the church of the Living God.
But you can only be ‘ born again’ if you have truly died to self in Holy Baptism.  And just like how Christ was raised from the dead, by the power of God, so too, by that same power, those who are committed to ‘ dying to self’, are made new in Christ. Romans 6:2-4.
The challenge then for the church, in teaching the flock, and living the authentic Christian life, is to empower its members to understand this basic and fundamental life altering reality. That :

I have been crucified in Christ. Nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ who lives in me . Galatians 2:20.

For unless that’s the Christianity we live, then many more Pastors will do crazy stuff. And many other members of the congregation will continue to engage in acts which bring the body of Christ into disrepute. A serious problem for the church on Twitter and other social media platforms generated by #thepastor. As  ‘ flesh and blood’ , cannot resist the temptatations of the devil, ” who is like a roaring lion’ seeking to devour all in his path.
And so the connection between #pastor and Crime and murder and terrorism,  is that unless we who are called to ‘ follow Jesus ‘,  according to the great theologian and Christian martyr,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  are called ‘ die’, accept and commit to this ‘ denying of self’, then we cannot prevail against the evil forces of this world.
And it is that kind of evil  which wittingly or unwittingly  our Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently observed, ‘ had been let loose in some of our men’. This while speaking about the horrors of murders at a Church function recently.
https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20170105/holness-seems-evil-spirit-loose-some-jcan-men
And it is the power of darkness and evil which, whether we believe it or not, is  responsible,  at a spiritual level, for the kind of wickedness rampaging across the length and breath of my country, the USA, France, Syria and the Middle East.

For our struggle is 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 6:12 NIV

http://bible.com/111/eph.6.12.NIV
In this context an introduction of two Greek words Hapax  and Mallon, which came into my mind this morning, is apropos. 

This after having been exposed to them by another theologian, the late Evangelical Anglican Pastor Rev. John Stott in his book, Evangelical Truths; A Personal Pleasant for Unity Integrity and Faithfulness.

” Christ died for sins once for ( hapax), the righteous for the unrighteousness, to bring you to God. 1 Peter 3:18
” So the appropriate adverb to describe the Holy Spirit’s activity today is not hapax  ( once for all) but mallon ( more and more).

For the Holy Spirit is constantly and indeed increasingly  showing Christ to  us and forming Christ in us…….also we ” are being transformed from one degree of glory to another ” by the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians. 3:18.

Therfore the reason why, in my humble estimation,  the church celebrates Good Friday and  Easter with deeper reverence than Christmas, whilst for  the world, the reverse is true, is that the promised Holy Spirit which ‘ invades  the church ‘ more and more each day, ( mallon), does so because Jesus died and was raised from the dead, once for all ( hapax). 
Therefore, as I have been reading since the new year, the  call for us Christians is to live a ‘ ressurected life’ : 

AN EARTH SHATTERING EVENT
Chris Tigreen Devotional : One Day Wonder of the Cross 
January 1 ( Excerpt)

……..It is impossible for us to understand, two millenia later, how utterly radical the idea of ressurection was. It was not an illusion of prescientific people. Jesus appeared to a lot of people, for many days and displayed His eternal body. Many who saw Him were later martyred for admitting it.
That doesn’t happen en masse with illusions. It happens only with historical facts.
If you think about it, this fact changes everything.  It changes how we think, how we plan, how we work – everything! 
Let it change you; no, let it define  you.

Resolve this year to live a resurrected life.

No doubt all if this was being worked out as I posted this message on Facebook last week. 

” It’s not only an individual thing. But as a nation we are #pronetowander from our Redeemer God. 

That’s why we have #12murdersin3days at the start of the New Year. And why a mother cries out for her dead #Stephan from the depths of her soul


” Come thou fount of every blessing……


Jesus sought me when a stranger

wandering from the fold of God;

he, to rescue me from danger,

interposed his precious Blood


Oh, to grace how great a debtor

daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness like a fetter,

bind my wandering heart to thee:

prone to wander, Lord I feel it,

prone to leave the God I love;

here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,

seal it for the courts above.”

For too long, we’ve not, as a church truly lived the ressurected life of Christ. And so the lands mourns, and people perish. In Jamaica and in the USA.
As the manifestation  of the authentic body of  Christ is clouded over by the lives of people prone to wander from the God who died for us, once and for all. And who so lovingly pours out The Holy Spirit, more and more each day,  with Power (  to transform lives….to set captive free…) upon all who are prepared to die to self.
May the God of Jacob have mercy on our souls for our unwillingness to truly die to self. For this is what our Lord and Savior. Even unto death on a Cross

” Therefore God highly exalted him and gave him a name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow…….”.

Philippians 2:9.

So too St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Collosian church that:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Colossians 3:1‭-‬10 NIV

http://bible.com/111/col.3.1-10.NIV

Then I came back home and began singing from memory without any thought on my part:
Are you washed? Are you washed? Are you washed in the  Blood of the Lamb?

Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow, are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
Peace 

GOD’S LOVE FOR MANKIND: HAPPY NEW YEAR

GM: A NEW YEAR’S MESSAGE WITH NO CONTEXT OTHER THAN GOD’S LOVE FOR MANKIND.

What is man that you are mindful of him…..Psalm 8:4

This morning as I walked to the study to begin my early morning devotions, I wondered if there was a new way to begin, in keeping with the start of a New Year.

And within a few seconds the words of this very instructive hymn, ( my mentor and friend the late Anglican Bishop of Kingston Herman Spence once told me that ” sleep is a little death “) came into my mind.

A hymn I had not sung for a long time. So I received this gift with thanks, and share it with you at the start of this new day, new month, new year, and hopefully the beginning of a new appreciation of God’s purposes for your life and mine .

For, as I was led to declare yesterday in a sermon delivered at the 10:30 service at my church, inspired by the Psalmist’s ( 8:4) ‘ big questions of life ‘, ” What is man that you are mindful of him”, this God cares for us, even to ‘ death on a Cross.

And so the Hymnwriter speaks about the love of this God, and that this love is , ‘ new every morning’.

So too are His mercies, even in the ‘ common ‘ things of life; the trivial round….the gardening, the collection of the garbage, the trip to the supermarket, going to work, making a telephone call or facetime, or reading this message.

Our job is to ‘ hallow’ all of these things – give thanks and glorify God in all things. And when our mind is set to glorify God in all things, God Himself, as with the case of Abraham, ‘ will provide the lamb for the sacrifice’, provide the opportunity and means to deny ourselves, and find a way to Him. As He did ultimately with His Son on Calvary!

And Who then calls us ‘ to deny self and follow Him’, Who only is The Way, The Truth, and The Life we need and ought to seek. Minutely! And more so, at the start of a new day, and a new year.

Then finally with this attitude of glorifying God in all things, we will be ‘ fit for perfect rest above’.

O help us dear God, this and every day, to live more nearly as we pray.
Peace.

THE HYMN : NEW EVERY MORNING IS THE LOVE

New every morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought.

New mercies, each returning day,
hover around us while we pray;
new perils past, new sins forgiven,
new thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.

If on our daily course our mind
be set to hallow all we find,
new treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.
The trivial round, the common task,
will furnish all we ought to ask:
room to deny ourselves; a road
to bring us daily nearer God.

Only, O Lord, in thy dear love,
fit us for perfect rest above;
and help us, this and every day,
to live more nearly as we pray.

AMEN