The Health Care Bill in the USA, The Westminster Attack, The Budget Debate in Jamaica: And Christ The Crucified One 

So the distractions continue. In the USA and Jamaica! Even as we continue to observe a Holy Lent, and look forward to #GoodFriday and a Blessed #Easter. 
But first Champs; the greatest high-school athletic meet in the world. No! Champs is definitely not a distraction. Not after having produced Usain Bolt and #RealShellyAnn now a mother in the making ( bun in the oven).
But Trump’s attempt to introduce a new Health Bill certainly was one! Pure political theatre, as “Obamacare”, is on the minds of many experts, is a better, yet still imperfect deal.    And  so, he and House majority speaker  Paul Ryan will have to, as they say on the streets in Jamaica, ‘ wheel and come again ‘.  This, as even the usually staid and reserved Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader was dancing in the streets. Literally!
So was the attempt to get the Government in Jamaica to ‘ roll it back’. The tax package accompanying the new budget!  It just wasn’t going to happen. Walk out, or no walk out, by the Opposition Party. Pure political theatre!  As,  flexing their political muscles, heralding the start of a new leadership, was the real ‘ end game’. Did it work to their advantage? Only time will tell. And in the interim,  a few political commentators will speculate.
Meanwhile Rome continues to ‘ burn’. As just today, the wife of a well known businessman was brutally stabbed to death;  and he is battling for life.

 While further afield, the British PM, declared that,  ” We are not afraid”. This defiant statement coming in the wake of the #WestministerAttack. And the claim by ISIL,  that they, the terrorist group,  …  Fundament Islamic Terrorists #Saytheirnames, Trump’s  preoccupation, and in a sense a distraction if left there……was responsible for the mayhem which left five dead. So far!

So how does the Church of the Living God insert itself into this narrative, as ‘Rome burns’, while the onlooking world gasps in horror, on the one hand, and yet moves on  very quickly, to yet another distraction. 

For in Jamaica, Carnival, for some, who ‘ come to wine’, beckons. Not #GoodFriday. As regardless of how much ‘ blood is on the streets, ‘ the show must go on’.
The question is, How does the body of Christ,  the Crucified One, operate in this world of death and mayhem and immorality, without being accused, by God, not just man, of ‘ being too heavenly minded, that it is of no earthly use’!
For God did hear the cries of His people in Egypt. And came down from heaven to see ‘ what was going down’. And He, ultimately did descend into the ‘ demon possessed Valley’, and in Christ, God Incarnate, died on an old wooden Cross, so that sinful mankind, may not perish, die in their sins,  but have access, if they chose, to everlasting life. Thus ‘ escaping the second death ‘. A doctrine, the reality of a second death,  that needs serious discussion. But not today!
I would suggest that, in the first instance, a couple of messages that I was led to post  on Facebook, this week might help. As we, as church, are called to insert ‘ Christ and Him Crucified ‘, into this narrative of death screaming at us on the ‘front pages’, across the world. And not ourselves, and our ‘ common sense solutions’, lest we be accused of being ‘ traitors to the Cross ‘!
For the battle against evil is not ours, but the Lord’s. And His ultimate weapon is His Love for mankind, and hate of sin. Made manifest completely in the Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of His Son, Christ The Crucified One. 
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They dress up the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.

Facebook Two

Whenever human nature gets driven to end of things  the Bible is the only  Book and God the only being in the world.

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THE PROBLEM OF FORGIVENESS;

HUMAN MORAL RESPONSIBILITY.
We are not automata, able to do nothing  but react mechanically to our genes, our environment, or even God’s grace. We are personal beings created by God for Himself…..Moreover, what God has given us is not to be regarded as mere  static endowment. Our character can be refined. Our behaviour can change. Our convictions can mature.  Our gifts can be cultivated….we are indeed free to be different. Rev John Stott “The Cross of Christ “.

Comment: if you read carefully, words shared as I continued #ReadingagoodbookforLent, ” The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott,  the thread  of the importance of recognizing both the ” Gravity of Sin”, and the urgent need for personal, and yes, national Repentance and Redemption, becomes obvious. To the open and discerning mind!
 Especially as we grapple daily with the consequence of ‘ dressing up the wounds of my people’. And labeling deviant behaviour, ‘ consequences of socialization ‘. Thus trying to avoid using, and accepting the only solution for, the ” S” word. SIN!  Rebellion against God. As ultimately, as any ordinary in unschooled, but humble Jamaican will admit, ‘ only God alone can manage this’!
Finally, this week the Lord, in His wisdom, in a mysterious way, led me back over twenty years, by a telephone call. Whilst in Church! There was a break. The phone was on vibration. And the call persistent!
Back to a Grace Kennedy Foundation Lecture I was privileged to to deliver in 1995. The title: The Jamaican Society; Options for Renewal. 

And so without any further comment, I share with you excerpts of the conclusion of the Lecture. 

As I am led! 
For having commenced writing last night, I had in mind to share another message. But I went to bed. Woke up with the Lecture in my mind, and then read this, randomly found, word from:

 Oswald Chambers.
” I wonder if we have ever considered the Bible implications about sleep. It is not true to say that sleep is simply meant for physical recuperation; surely much less time would have served that purpose. 

The Revised Version ( of…” It is vain for that ye rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of toil: for so He giveth unto His beloved sleep “. Psalm 127:3) suggests a deeper, profounder ministry for sleep than mere physical recuperation. ” For so He giveth unto His beloved in sleep”.
The deepest concerns of our souls, whether they be good or bad, are furthered during sleep. It is not merely a physical fact that you go to bed perplexed and wake clear-minded. God has been ministering to you during sleep….,

Sleep is God’s celestial nurse who croons away our consciousness…..’

THE LECTURE – IN CONTEXT.  TO RESPOND TO THIS CULTURE OF DEATH AND DISOBEDIENCE, TRIGGERED BY ‘ DRESSING UP THE WOUNDS OF MY PEOPLE ‘. VIZ,  IGNORING SIN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. BY INSERTING CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED INTO THE NARRATIVE.
Remember this was shared a whole generation ago, but still ‘ current’.

CONCLUSION – ABRIDGED VERSION 
How will we engineer the shift in the attitude away from violence as the natural reaction and solution to our problems? How can we change in the way our men regard and treat our women, and their acceptance of the role of father? How can we counter the new material culture that encourages love of things and personal pleasure over love for and appreciation of our fellow human beings…..

The Process Must Begin and End in the Minds of Our People

The minds of those who are lacking in self-worth and self-esteem as a result of the historical process, their status in the society and the dehumanizing conditions in which they live must be transformed. Until this happens, they will be captives of doubt, and hopelessness, unable to fulfill their true potential and unleash their creative energies for the benefit of themselves and their country.
The minds of those who are held captive by the philosophy of materialism must be transformed. They see their salvation in the elevation of their status, more money, increasing possessions and power over others, the ability to indulge in whatever their appetites demand. Falling prey to selfishness, they use their talents only for the advancement of self rather than for the good of the country. 
This group of individuals would do well to heed Plato’s comment that a community that exists only to gratify its appetite is no state at all but only a slightly exalted pigsty.
The minds of those who are held captive by the culture that elevates the importance of foreign imports, ideas and wisdom over the local products must be transformed and so must their preoccupation with securing money abroad, with sending children to school overseas, with foreign goods, culture, experts and financing to solve our problems and satisfy our needs. They are completely unaware that Jamaica has, within itself, the capacity and resources to satisfy most of our needs and to solve our problems. This mindset is a manifestation of the information and travel revolution which makes us part of the wider global village but presents serious challenges to regional viability and renewal.
The minds of those who believe that they have a God-given right to rule, because they have the power of class, gender or money to support them, must be transformed. Intolerant of advice or difference of opinion, they ignore the profound changes taking place in a society, which is unprepared to suffer any longer dictatorial, and authoritarian leadership….

The Process must be Manifest in a Different Kind of Management of Our Politics and Economy

The first possibility is a new political order. Again, the most noble ideals must be kept in sight. Not just the judicious use of power; not just the provision of scarce benefits; not just the proper management of the economy and the provision of social services, but rather the protection of the weak from the strong, and the practice of the art of the possible. Those should be the ideals of good government.
We need politics managed by people of the highest probity and humility, with the best technical skills, who can lead by example and change the relationship between those who govern and those are governed. The first order of priority is the charting of a developmental path that will create a level playing field, allowing those who have been living on the margins of society ever since Emancipation access to employment, credit, land and training. So they will be able to improve their standard of living and thus relieve many of the social tensions consequent on the present great divide between rich and poor.

Next, the critical issue of real democracy should address not just the morally bankrupt and uneconomically untenable political culture but also the decentralization of political power away from the corridors of Jamaica House and Gordon House to the central towns and villages of the parishes. We also need to develop a culture, which accepts differences in ideology, transitions, and defeats without recourse to violence…….

Finally, the Process Can Only Be Sustained by an Understanding of the Importance of Religion in National and Personal Development.

The history of humankind, as we have seen, has always focused on religion as human beings sought to find answers to the fundamental questions of who created us and what life is all about. This search continues even today among leaders and the ordinary citizens. 
Within the context of this discussion, perhaps the most salient point to make at this juncture is that from Plato, used earlier in the discussion: ‘A finite point has no meaning unless it has an infinite reference point.’ Religion provides this infinite reference point in our society as it direct us to the dominant religion which has played such an important role in our history and in the development of personal relationships, the Christian Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal God to whom we pray every time we sing the National Anthem or recite the National Pledge.
This is the national and personal choice that we all have to make. What, in fact, is our infinite reference point that will bring about the sustained change in the nature of our relationships? In politics and economics, will we depend on the wisdom of our founding fathers, Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante? Or will we choose the internationally acclaimed Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Hobbes, Plato or Socrates? In our search for social equality and pride, are the words of Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey to provide us with the ultimate reference point? Is our moral foundation going to rest on the wise words of the moral philosophers or our local outstanding churchmen and women? Are any of these blessed with everlasting life, supernatural wisdom, the power to create life, and so that they can constitute an infinite reference point?

The answer stares us clearly in the face. For the sanctity and dignity of life, the importance of justice, the concepts of freedom, love and righteousness to have an ultimate meaning, we must be true to our National Anthem and place our trust and hope in the Eternal God and his Son Jesus Christ who, like many of our heroes, sacrificed his life for us but who, unlike any other creature on earth, was resurrected and now lives to intercede on behalf of those who trust him and obey his commands. 
Then, and only then, will we begin to understand ourselves, love our neighbours and, under God, make this country truly ‘Out of many, one people’, and one then can ‘advance the welfare of the whole human race’. In short, a country, which, under God, will be a shining example to the world of a viable and sustainable society.

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Trump, Tambourine Warriors and ‘ Why did Christ die’?

GM: THIRD LENTEN MESSAGE; DISTRACTIONS AND PEACE IN GOD ALONE 
It’s not easy. It is definitely not easy to concentrate on keeping a Holy Lent, when there are so many distractions.
Like Donald Trump tweeting early in the morning,  accusing former President Obama,  of  ordering Trump Tower, his former home,  to be wiretapped. Without offering any shred of evidence! 
And some would say….heard on CNN last night…..triggered by a  cynical attempt to deflect attention from the real  news, not #fakenews, that  members of his administration are under investigation for more serious stuff,  that’s likely to emerge soon.
Like the head of the #Tabourinewarriors,  defying an order to cease from  #Saytheirnames. Without offering any shred of evidence!  And then being arrested for a cyber crime.  Thus triggering multiple protests and comments on social media,  targeting the, female,  acting head of the police force; a  ‘ favourite priest ‘, because he, a man,  dared to ‘ insert himself’,  in the conversation; and a white,  very liberal, gracious,  and warm hearted blogger,  for having a contrary viewpoint.  All because of #Rage! Which some say ought to ‘ trump’, everything else. Even the established process of uncovering truth! Thus, becoming, in my view, guilty of,  ‘ losing the plot’, as they were founded as an advocacy group,  seeking to protect women from being sexually abused, injured and killed by men. But now, find themselves,   in,  and beyond the headlines, for the wrong reasons! While ‘ Rome continues to burn’!
Thank God in the midst of all of this,  a dear Sister in Christ,  sent me a reflection on Psalm 62. Thus putting an end to the distractions!

For who can but be moved to serious meditation, when, ” For God alone, my soul  waits in silence”, confronts you in the opening verse. And then:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;

from him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation, 

my fortress; I shall never be shaken…..
Then comes this amazingly modem day  contextually challenging  revelation;
How long will you assail a person,

will you batter your victim, all of you……

Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.

They take pleasure in falsehood;

they bless with their mouths,

but inwardly they curse…..

Put no confidence in extortion,

and set no vain hopes on robbery;

if riches  increase, do not set your heart on them…..”

And whilst I spent my lunchtime reflecting on the need to focus on God, and God alone……nobody else…nothing else….not Trump’s budget leaving the arts ‘ high and dry…..not Finance Minister Audley Shaw’s budget leaving health insurance ‘ in  a spin’….just God. In the background,  in my mind,  strains of this haunting Lenten hymn, joined the ‘ conversation ‘.
THE HYMN

1 My spirit longs for thee

within my troubled breast,

though I unworthy be

of so divine a guest.
2 Of so divine a guest

unworthy though I be,

yet has my heart no rest

unless it come from thee.
3 Unless it come from thee,

in vain I look around;

in all that I can see

no rest is to be found.
4 No rest is to be found

but in thy blessed love:

O let my wish be crowned,

and send it from above!

For increasingly, as I get older, hopefully wiser, and drawn closer to my blessed Redeemer God, this conviction gets stronger; that true rest is only found in God.
 For after acquiring all the bling, if that is your thing; after feasting musically on #Adi, Buju….you wretch yu….Sean Paul, Adele, Montana  or Destra, or Beethovens Fifth, or Handel’s Messiah….whatever is your thing; reading or having read to you Derrick Walcott’s…a giant of the Caribbean who died yesterday……poems….and feasting further on Claude McKay’s…if we must die, let us not die like hogs, hunted and penned; having shopped in ‘Gay Paree’, or  London, or New York….one fine day you, and I,  will have to meet our maker. Who alone offers, ‘ eternal rest ‘.

That’s why we must carefully about blandly, and without deep  consideration,  wishing that those who just died, RIP.

For the unvarnished Truth, is that, only those who die in Christ, are assured of that Peace. 

 “For God so loved the world…..that they should not perish.” John 3:16

 And to perish,  is to live without God and, not to enjoy the peace ‘ that passeth all human understanding ‘.
No wonder one of the most influential, not just an early church father, but of the entire western civilization, famously wrote:

“This is the famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5) in which Saint Augustine states “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

It is in this context then, that the messages I was inspired to post on Facebook,  after #ReadingagoodbookforLent,  become relevant.

As we in the 21st Century,  are,  ‘ The children of Israel ‘,  of this age, empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, to spread the Gospel of the Redeeming love of Jesus Christ to a dying world. We, therefore can ill afford to become distracted by events, which will cause us to ‘ lose the plot’, and take our eyes off the Cross of Christ. Hence a deep understanding of what took place on Calvary is the most important ‘ fast ‘, we can engage in this Lent. As ” our souls in silence wait for God alone”. And who reveals Himself fully, only in and through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ.#GoodFriday 
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Why did Jesus die?
Step five 5⃣
Judas betrayed Jesus, ‘ handed him over ‘,  because of greed. ” What other dark passions were seething in his heart,  we can only guess, but John ( the Apostle)  insists that it was monetary  greed that finally overcame him.
It is not for nothing that Jesus tells us to , ‘ beware of all covetousness’, or that Paul declares the love of money 💰 to be,  ‘ a root of all evil’. For in pursuit of money,  human beings have descended into deep depravity.
Magistrates have perverted justice for bribes…..Amos ….they sell  the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals  (2:6)…Politicians have used their power to give contracts to the highest bidder….businessmen  have entered into shady transactions, jeopardizing the prosperity of others in order to get a better deal. 
Even supposedly spiritual teachers have been known to turn religion into a commercial enterprise, and some are doing it today…..the language of all such people 👫 is the same as that of Judas: ‘ what are you willing to give me, and I will hand him over to you……..Jesus had said that it is impossible to serve God and money. Judas chose money. Many others have done the same”. 

Rev. John Stott ‘ The Cross of Christ’ .

My Comment: It is in this context, inter alia,  that we gain greater  insight into the deep divide between rich and poor in Jamaica; the existence of #wrongadresses….and the role politics,  and some politicians, and those who support them uncritically, have played in the emergence of #Garrisoncommunities……and the corruption of our music 🎵….sold to the higher bidder….regardless of #misogyny #gunlyrics  #slackness….#dancehall and #carnival ….even the #Prosperitygospel…  developments for which we all have a shared responsibility. For #thirtypiecesofsilver  #repentance 

#ReadingagoodbookforLent  #Lent #GoodFriday 
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Usually ‘my’, early morning 🌅devotions are more structured. But every so often the Lord intervenes.

‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’

A questioned posed by one of my favourite hymns, the words of which came flooding into my heart 💟 this morning.
THE 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:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus

There is room in my heart for thee
4th Verse
Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word

That should set thy people 👫free;

But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn

They bore thee to Calvary:
O come to my heart Lord Jesus

There is room in my heart for thee. 
And history according to Holy Scripture,  records this response in Acts 2:36-40
” Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you Crucified, both Lord and Christ.

When the people heard this , they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brothers what shall we do?

Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.

With many other words he warned them ; and he pleaded with them , Save yourself from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were Baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

Step six 6⃣ : why did Jesus die?

” The blaming of the Jewish people 👫 for the crucifixion of Jesus is extremely unfashionable today…….The way to avoid anti-semitic prejudice, however, is not to pretend that the Jews were innocent, but, having admitted  their guilt, to add that others share in it……More importantly still, we are also guilty.  If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed we have done it.

For whenever we turn away from Christ, we ‘ are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’. Hebrews 6:6.
We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. ” Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” the old negros spiritual asks.
And we must answer ‘ Yes ‘ we were there.  Not as spectators only but as participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be Crucified. We may try to  wash our hands like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands.

Before we can see the Cross as something done for us ( leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us ( leading us to repentance).

Indeed,  ‘ only the man who is prepared to own his share in the  guilt of the Cross, may claim his share in its grace.”
The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott. 

#ReadingagoodbookforLent 

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Final word on ‘ why did Jesus die’?
” The answer which we have so far given to the question ❔, ‘ why did Jesus die?’, has sought to reflect the way in which the Gospel writers tell their story. They point to the chain of responsibility ( from Judas to the priests, from the priests to Pilate, from Pilate to the soldiers), and they at least hint that the greed, envy, and fear which promted their behaviour also prompts ours. 
Yet this is not the complete account which the evangelists give. I have omitted one further and vital piece of evidence which they supply. It is this: that although Jesus was brought to his death by human sins, did not die as a martyr.

On the contrary, he went the Cross voluntarily, even deliberately. From the beginning of his public ministry he consecrated himself to his destiny…….
Octavius Winslow summed it up in a neat statement: ‘ Who delivered up.Jedus to die? Not  Judas for money 💰; not Pilate for fear 😱; not the Jews, for envy; – but the Father , for love. 
It is essential to keep these two 2⃣ complementary ways of looking on the Cross. 

On the human level, Judas gave him up to the priests, who gave him up to Pilate, who gave him up to the soldiers, who Crucified him. 
But on the divine level, the Father gave him up, and he gave him up to die for us. As we face the Cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, ‘ I did it, my sins sent him there’, and,  ‘ he did it, his love took him there.’  ”
The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott

My Comment: For this reason, God’s redeeming love is available  to all mankind. Whether Tambourine Army or those who commit violent acts against women; whether Kartel or Kevin Downswell; whether Jews or Gentile; whether Muslim or Christian; whether Gay or Straight; whether dancehall or carnival lovers; whether Trump or Obama; whether green or orange; whether backslider or Bishop; whether Moravian or Baptist; whether you live in Norbrook or in a #wrongaddress; whether you were in the headlines today or operate way  beyond the headlines. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And there is only One Mediator between man God. Christ the Crucified One. 

Peace.
 #ReadingagoodbookforLent 
Finally a prayer/verse of a hymn, one of my favourite, and posted on Facebook,  offers a benediction for this message. 

Look, Father, look on his anointed face,

and only look on us as found in him;

look not on our misusings of thy grace,

our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim:

for lo, between our sins and their reward

we set the Passion of thy Son our Lord.

May God forgive us all for misusing His Grace, freely offered to all, in the Life, Death, Ressurection and Ascension  ( thus sending the promised Holy Spirit) of His only Son. Jesus Christ, the Crucified One. 

Peace

THE SECOND LENTEN MESSAGE: PETER IN PRISON, THE WORLD IN PRISON.

GM: TROUBLE IN JAMAICA, IN AMERICA AND THE CROSS OF CHRIST
Peter, the Apostle was in trouble. In fact in desperate trouble! King Herod, had put to death James, the brother of John. And the Jews were pleased. So he proceeded to lock up Peter, and had in mind a more public destruction of this man of God.

And history, as written in the Holy Scriptures, recorded the fact that, ‘ but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.’ Acts 12:5 NIV.
Jamaica is in trouble. In fact in desperate trouble! So too America.

The actors are different but the script remains the same. Evil has invaded the prevailing culture. The same one who history records in the Holy Scriptures,  ‘ has come to steal, to kill and to destroy ‘, is working furiously, and  having orchestrated the death of many, is now poised to destroy.

Whether it be ‘crack cocaine’,  the addiction to which  devastated the lives of many inner city youths, in ‘ the hood’. Or heroin which is currently wreaking havoc in middle and upper  class America!

Whether it be the ‘ gun culture’ in Jamaica or Scamming, fueled by political tribalism, greed, poverty, or the current hot debate’ #kartel  and dancehall music mash up Jamaica.

Whether it be the almost ubiquitous  engagement in pornography, facilitated but certainly not caused by the  widespread access to the Internet,  by the young and not so young. Of which #backitup…like a dumper truck, and #getonbaad in the streets, #dancehall and #carnival, are but minor but public manifestations.

Thus seriously undermining moral values and promoting unbridled sexual desires and activity in our schools.

Whether it be the calculated erosion of family life, the basic unit of any society. Manifest in particular, but not solely, by the ‘ sperm donor syndrome’.
Whether it be the unfortunate loss of  hundreds of thousands of life caused by AIDS,  the millions killed by  abortions, or genocide which has wiped out populations.

Many other examples abound. But,

having killed, evil, continues to plot it’s ultimate goal.  Destruction. The ‘ overthrow of the Sovereign God’. The Holy One of Israel. Thus making the Church irrelevant  and the Atonement for Sin,  wrought by Jesus of Nazareth, descended from David, merely a fictitious tale.
Then history records,  as reported  in Holy Scriptures, that in response to earnestly prayers of the Church, God sent an Angel to rescue Peter.
Not the Army or the Police. Not a set of lawyers to argue his case. Not the media to expose this egregious wrong. Not a set of business people to purchase his freedom. Not politicians to order his release. No. Just one Angel.

” They passed  the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him”. Acts 12:10. NIV.

And so Chris Tigreen whose meditation on this story led me to read it, writes in his One Year Wonder of The Cross Devotional.

In part.

INTENSE

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
……..This was a desperate prayer – a gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing prayer accompanied by loud crying and tears.  The  kind of prayer that seems to reach God’s heart better than any other.
That kind of prayer can come only in the intersection of two conditions: extreme need and an awareness of God’s ability and willingness to meet it. Desperation alone will not drive us to that kind of prayer; without us knowing who God is, extreme need leads only to frustration. No, in order to have any hope in a crisis, we have to bank on the character of the One who is above it.

In the midst of this remarkable story of the  assault on the members of the early church, and the urgent lessons which our society ought to learn from it, including taking Lent seriously,  the Lord led me to post on Facebook.
March 4.

When we have a 16 year old girl accused of murder, time for Repentance #AshWednesday

March 5.

One of the saddest features of Islam, is that it rejects the Cross, declaring it inappropriate that a major prophet of God should come to such an ignominious end. The Koran sees no need for the sin-bearing death of a Saviour – The Cross of Christ by Rev. John Stott #AshWednesday #Lent #GoodFriday

There is a core to the proclamation of both apostles, Peter and Paul,  which might be reconstructed ( from their sermons in the book of Acts as follows.
” Jesus was a man who was accredited by God through miracles and anointed by the Spirit to do good and to heal. Despite this, he was Crucified through the agency of wicked men, though also by God’s purpose according to the Scriptures that the Messiah must suffer.
Then God reversed the human verdict on Jesus by raising him  from the dead, and also according to Scriptures, and as attested by apostolic eyewitnesses. Next God exalted him to the place of high honour as Lord and Saviour.

He now posesses full authority both to save those who repent , believe and are baptized in his name, bestowing on them the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit, and to judge those who reject him”.
The Doctrine of the Death of Christ from the New Testament sermons by Peter and Paul as recorded by Luke. The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott

Places #Kartel and #Trump  in perspective as ‘ all have sinned’. #AshWednesday #Lent  #GoodFriday #Easter

Love is patient…kind…does not envy….is not proud…is not rude…is not self-seeking….is not easily angered….keeps no records of wrongs….does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth….protects…trusts…hopes….perseveres.

1 Corinthians.  13
The goal of Christian discipleship is to be conformed to the image of Christ; who came to model the character of God for us and then sent His Spirit to live within us…..

Only God’s Spirit can give us that kind of love. Ask for that kind of love today. Ask the Spirit to show you God’s love, to fill you with it, and enable you to live it and show it to others. It’s a prayer He is certain to answer.

Chris Tiegreen ” Where Love Begins ”

#earlymorningdevotions #Lent

March 6

Breathe on me O breath of God,

Fill me with life anew.

That I may love what thou dost love.

And do what thou wouldst  do

Not just #Kartel and #Extortion  and #youngalbusiness and  #rapeculture ( the problem)  #Tabourinewarriors  ( part of the solution) and the creation of #Garrisoncommunities with #wrongaddresses that mash up Jamaica,  but #Pantheism ; a ‘ comfortable God’ of love who  is in everybody, does not interfere, and makes no demands, and does not recognize Sin vs. The God of
#GoodFriday  #Easter and #Judgment  #CSLewis #Miracles

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 my side, nor wander from the pathway if thou wilt be my guide……. O 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.
Final Comments. Three issues arise from the Facebook postings and Chris Tiegreen’s meditation.
One is that evil is working within the church to undermine its credibility. And not just attacking it from without!

Hence the Daily Gleaner’s  front page report this morning that a pastor convicted of sexually assaulting a minor has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

 

And there is more. Much more. Including the rise to prominence of the ‘ Prosperity Gospel ‘. Which is no gospel at all. And the little understood,  but  nontheless very dangerous doctrine creeping insidiously  into the church and society – Pantheism. That God is a God of love,  is everywhere, and is in everybody.  And makes no demands on us,  except to ‘ love one another’. Thus making Sin and the Cross ‘ unnecessary’. A doctrine straight from the pit of hell. But very  appealing to those looking for  what the great German martyr,  and theologian, Bonhoeffer,   terms ‘ cheap grace’.
It is for this reason that as believers,  we need to, urgently and consistently, remind ourselves of the Doctrine of Sin, and why Jesus died.  And Lent is a gift from God for the church and society to ‘ think on these things’. For Sin underrated and ill understood and unrepented,  will continue to undermine, but never, destroy the church; against which ‘ the gates of hell shall not prevail ‘.
Two,  is that, unless we love all people,  sacrificially, as Christ did, Muslims, Jews, non religious, backsliders….better characterized  known as ‘disobedient ‘ Christians….atheists, cynics,…Kartel, Trump, …. even if ‘ we can preach like Paul ‘, our Christianity will make a lot of noise, trigger a lot of headlines ( and even beyond the headlines) but will achieve little in the struggle against evil.

So let us resolve to pray earnestly, and live,  the words of that wonderful hymn.
Breathe on me O breath of God,

Fill me with life anew.

That I may love what thou dost love.

And do what thou wouldst  do…..first verse.
Three, that which  has foiled evil ever since, and before, the church was established by our Lord Jesus, is the fervent prayers of the righteous.  Sinners justified by the Blood of Christ, and counted righteous by God!
A mystery. But a profund truth. And in the same way that our Lord Jesus Christ committed Himself to a life of fervent prayer….his sweat was like drops of blood as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane…..we too, as His disciples need to urgently and consistently engage in gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing prayer. For our nation. For the  non-religious. For Muslims. For Hindus. In love, and according to the various ministries and gifts given to each one, by the Holy Spirit. For the building of the Church and to the Glory of God. So that the Son of Man might be lifted up and all who believe in Him may receive eternal life…..the Gospel lesson from John 3, appointed for our church tomorrow.
And who knows if the Lord will send One single Angel to rescue Jamaica, and America and other parts of the world from evil.

Peace.

#ASHWEDNESDAY  MESSAGE ABOUT SIN AND GOD’S MERCY

So Lent is back with us. So quickly!  Wow. #AshWednesday.  Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes; marked on our foreheads  to remind us of our mortality. Fasting! But also Feasting. As we look forward to the glorious Easter. So we give up, and take on. In Jamaica. And in America.

All because of Sin!

Which is what led a 16 old high school girl, recently in Jamaica, in a fit of rage, to go home for a knife, after an argument, return and plunge that instrument into another young girl. Murder! 

And no amount of sophistry about ‘ how she was ‘socialized’, can deny the reality of sin causing her to commit murder.
So what is sin? A very uncomfortable term in today’s modern world! I began writing last night, and as I  woke, gave thanks for another day,  and started writing again, Oswald Chambers spoke. Again!
First a quote from Stalker- a contemporary of his and a poet. An extract from :

THE BASE IMPULSE 
” But, ah, through all men some base impulse runs

The brute the father, and the men the sons

Which if one harshly sets himself to subdue,

With fiercer indolence it boils anew,

He ends the worst who with best hopes began,

How hard it is this, how like the lot of man!

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FALL – 1

It is said, it was because Adam ate the apple that he was lost or fell. I say, it was becuase of his claiming something for his own, and becuase of his, I, Mine, Me, and the like.

Had he eaten seven apples, and yet never claimed anything for his own, he would not have fallen: but as soon as he called something his own, he fell, and would have fallen if he never had touched an apple.
( pretty much what Jesus said about listing after your neighbors wife….sin. Even if you don’t touch her. That’s what got David in trouble. Long before he ‘ interfered’ with Bathsheba!…my thoughts)
Chambers continues:
What is true of Adam is true of every man and woman, and ‘ not all mankind could amend his fall, or bring him back from going astray’.

This inheritance of covetousness is the very essence of the Fall, and no praying and no power of man, singly or banded together, can ever avail to touch it; the only thing that can touch it is the great Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lust and covetousness are summed up in the phrase, ‘ I must have it at once and for myself’.

It is an absolute flood in the nature of man, it overtakes his spirit, it overtakes his soul and body…..manifesting itself sometimes in sordid ways…..sometimes suppressed….but it is always there….
Comment: That’s why one of  foundation truths of Christianity is that :” All  ( from Adam) 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 “. Romans 3:23 & 6:23.

But some were unhappy about #AshWednesday.

How does one religion get to impose on the rest of the population a day of  significance only to their denomination in a secular state? Twitter

 

My answers 

#Christianity. As an Anglican we did not impose. Our history #Christmas #GoodFriday #Easter Can’t have them without #AshWednesday #Package https://t.co/SoeayyTB7T
 aware. But surely he does not wish to give up #Christmas. As they are all joined at the hip. Literally!

Meanwhile my daughter searched for a service in the USA. A working day.  After the early morning 7 am service, #Drivebyashes is all she could find. Almost sounds like fast food. Grab and run. 

In Jamaica it’s a holy day. And a holiday. Did a video to remind people of the tradition. Posted on  Facebook. 

FACEBOOK ONE 

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. A period of fasting and repentance. A time of expectation as we look forward to a Blessed Easter. A time therefore of Fasting and Feasting – The Sermon by Sister Andrea Taylor.   A time therefore to give up but also a time to take on. The video shows the Anglican tradition of the imposition of ashes. As Lent reminds us of our mortality- Dust we are and unto dust we shall return

Let us then commit to observing a Holy Lent
https://youtu.be/12ry_9Ox9Oc

Then, the fourth verse, and it has more, of this wonderful hymn below,  kept  reverberating in my head  yesterday.  As I walked. As I got ready  to leave home. As I drove to work.

HYMN 
My God, how wonderful Thou art,

Thy majesty, how bright;

How beautiful Thy mercy seat

In depths of burning light!
How dread are Thy eternal years,

O everlasting Lord,

By prostrate spirits day and night

Incessantly adored!
How wonderful, how beautiful,

The sight of Thee must be;

Thy endless wisdom, boundless power,

And glorious purity!
O how I fear Thee, living God,

With deep and tender fear;

And worship Thee with trembling hope,

And penitential tears!
Yet, I may love Thee, too, O Lord,

Almighty as Thou art;

For Thou hast stooped to ask of me

The love of my poor heart!

Along with :

 ” For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Christ,   so that the his  life  may be revealed in our mortal body “. 2. Cor. 4:11

All of this as I contemplated what sin has done to our world. To our relationships. As, with many others in Jamaica and in the USA, I pondered on whether or not US Attorney General Jeff Sessions perjured himself before Congress. Lied. Sinned.
And whether or not Kartel, recorded new music in prison,  still a live issue in Jamaica, and someone is not telling us the truth. Lying. Committing a sin.
How we are ever going to put a stop to murder?  And corruption. In Jamaica! Both manifestations of Sin which is destroying our once peaceful land. 
And #rompinshoponthebus style behaviour in the schools between ‘hypersexual’ boys and girls. Sin. 

One teacher told me recently that she styles herself as ‘ #BirthControl. Because she deliberately inserts herself from time to time in the male bathroom. The scene of ‘ action’, in the school!

#Whereitsat.

And so as I ” read my Bible – and other divinely inspired works –  to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing’, these thoughts came and found expression on Facebook.

 FACEBOOK  TWO 
We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God – 2 Cor. 5:21  One of the readings for #AshWednesday in my church 

What do you make of this?

#Lent a time for repentance – a road which leads to reconciliation with God in and through Christ Jesus. For since #TheFall – when all of mankind’s forefather Adam sinned, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

Facebook Three

The Bible is the only book that tells us anything about the originator of sin…… When we are convicted of sin, we are convicted of the need of a Saviour……

According to the Bible, God is only manifested at the last point; when a man is driven by personal experience to the last limit, he is apt to find God.

The same thing is true of thinking, we can do very well without God in thinking as long as we think only as splendid animals.

As long as we are not at the last place, not facing our problems at all, but simply pleased to be in existence, alive and happy, we will never find God,  we do not see any need for Him.

But when we are driven to thinking to the last limit, then we begin to find that God manifests Himself there.

To people who are satisfied on too shallow a level the Bible is a book of impertinences, but whenever human nature is driven to the end of things, then the Bible becomes the only Book, and God the only being in the world.

Oswald Chambers 

#BedtimeDevotions 

Perhaps Jeff Sessions and even Donald Trump might soon appreciate this truth……and not hold on to #alternatetivefact.
Final  comments:
One of the great joys of life, and why repentance and #AshWednesday #Lent #GoodFriday and #Easter and #Christmas….a package… are so important, is revealed in the words of the Hymn.
For : How wonderful, how beautiful,

The sight of Thee must be;

Thy endless wisdom, boundless power,

And glorious purity!……God is a Holy God, and cannot countenance Sin. Nor sinful man.
And yet: 

Yet, I may love Thee, too, O Lord,

Almighty as Thou art;

For Thou hast stooped to ask of me

The love of my poor heart…..in and through the Atonement of Christ, wrought on Calvary… “Very God, from Very God “. All because of God’s great love and mercy!
That’s why grateful Christians:
” For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Christ,   so that the his  life  may be revealed in our mortal body”. ….and spread across the entire world.
So that all mankind….Kartel, Sessions, Trump, Obama, Usain Bolt, Messi, LeBron, Currie, Viola Gray, Will Smith, Prince Harry, Andrew Holness, Peter Phillips….all of us, including and especially my family and I, thank God for Jesus, ( and St. Paul, and all the Saints who taught us to love Jesus) ….  may not perish but have everlasting life. That’s what Lent is all about. 
May we then engage in a Holy Lent,  and earnestly repent on behalf of self and nation. And who knows, perhaps the Lord in His mercy may send times of ‘ refreshing’ on us. Where ever we are in the world!

Peace