Scammers Extradicted by Americans : Sinners Rescued by Grace 

​”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…..”.

Famous words, from a famous man! The opening lines of a famous book, A Tale of Two Cities, written by Charles Dickens, a long time ago, could easily apply to Jamaica, and indeed, the entire world. 

Thus validating the words of another famous expression, ‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’. The more things change the more they remain the same. A philosophy which another famous man, the late  Jamaican and former Michael Manley, describe, in The Politics of Change’, if my memory serves my well,  as coming from the ‘ pessimistic French people; this rebuttal emerging from his own sense of mission and  determination to be an agent of change. Perhaps another famous  former POTUS, BO,’  The Audacity of Hope ‘, had a similar sense of mission.
These thoughts came to mind as I reflected on the madness, the worst of times, which were on full display in my beloved nation yesterday.

In the morning, I felt a sense of shame and disgust. By evening, the nation was in shock. Again!
In the morning the headlines of both national newspaper carried the story and pictures which ‘ spoke a thousand words ‘, of ‘scammers’, including a mother and sons, being lead away by US agents. Extradicted! Eight of them. With  a declaration by a senior embassy official, on a popular tall show programme hosted by #EmilyShields, of ‘ more to come’.

Including attorneys who were under investigation for assisting the scammers to ‘ rinse’ launder, their ill gotten and filthy lucre!

Men and women whose determination to ‘ milk’, con, scam,  from unsuspecting and gullible elderly Americans, their hard earned money, had triggered death and mayhem and destruction in my country. And pain and grief in, and now the full wrath,  of the ‘long arm’ of the Americans!

Then in the evening madness erupted on one of the busiest streets in our capital Kingston. A corridor which I traverse regularly.   At  the end, a policeman lay dead. Shot several times by a would be robber. And who in turn was shot and killed by a soldier who was ‘ passing by’. At the right time! 

All of this taking place on a day when our high school female athletes, fresh from their exploits at the now Internationally famous ‘Champs ‘, were ‘ burning up the track’, at the famous Penn Relays in the US. With their male counterparts threatening, based on the results of the heats, to do the same today.
All of this happening as a nation celebrated, this achievement, which I first heard about on another talk show programme on radio hosted by #djmiller, as reported in the Daily Gleaner a few days ago:

“Jamaica’s image on the international stage received a boost recently, as a team of students from the Norman Manley Law School recently placed second at the prestigious Philip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition, which was held in Washington, DC, United States.
Representing the institution were Jhade Lindsay, Victor Brown, Anna-Kay Brown, Scott Mullings and Kalisia Miller. They were coached by attorney-at-law Marc Ramsay.
The quintet also copped a number of other awards, including a second-place finish in the championship, third overall for written memorials, and first place in the applicant side, written memorials.
Mullings was ranked the second-best speaker in the world, with Miller ranked fifth.
“It is a fantastic achievement, not purely for Norman Manley Law School, but for education in Jamaica,” said Ramsay, in his third year as coach.
This is the ninth year that Jamaican law students have entered the prestigious mock court competition. Their next highest finish was a semi-final appearance in 2011.
FORCE AT MOOTING

“We have been a force at mooting for some time now and again we proved our status as one of the best. These young people worked tirelessly to reach this stage, and I am extremely proud of them,” Ramsay told The Gleaner.
In terms of international law moot courts, the Philip C. Jessup Moot Court has the widest global coverage, with 640 law schools from 95 countries .

But as wretched as these people who have sullied the good name of my country, and the same story can be ‘ trumpeted’ in America, in many different ‘ barracks ‘, over many years, the transcendental reality, if we listen to both the exploits of man and The Word of God, is that ‘ frightenly’, and to us very soberingly, they are not alone. 

They are not an isolated case. A mere blip on the moral pages of life.

No. Absolutely not. For in the eyes of a Holy God, despite the fact that aspects of the image of God, in which we were all make still reside in us, that image has been badly marred by sin. And so we are all wretched. And in a blink of an eye, if we are not careful, can commit the most heinous of crimes. 

Fall into what one writer aptly called  ‘ the banality of evil ‘!
And so I was inspired to write on Facebook this week. In this order. For me the precience, in some cases, perhaps in all,  if we look deeper,  is always amazing. Praise God.
Facebook One

If you only listen to the news of the day, you will become not only confused and distressed, but wonder if there is any hope. Gunmen launch an attack on a police station in Clarendon; Huge gun and ammunition find in a barrel in St. James; Shottas recruited directly from schools; a woman beaten in her home and left for dead.  Murder! Abuse! Cries of corruption! Injustice! A litany of woes.

But then in my #earlymorningdevotions the Lord speaks:
First, ” On the road to Emmaus”………while they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself came near and and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him……….when He was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened” . Luke 24:13-35. The Gospel reading in my church for next Sunday.
And this song which my Rector used in his sermon yesterday, came flooding into my mind. The first verse.

And reminded me that there are two narratives being played in the world today. We must listen to one, to learn how to serve, and pray. And listen to the other, to learn how to humble one’s self, and be obedient. To the Risen Christ! 
And then He, Himself, will come alongside us, and grant us Shalom. The Peace that passeth all human understanding.  And open our eyes, to see Him. In the midst of the confusion! Even in the midst of flood waters (of varying kinds) that threaten our very existence. And the noise of Carnival that would prevent us hearing and seeing Him in His Glory.
I serve a risen Savior

  He’s in the world today.

I know that He is living,

  Whatever men may say.

I see His hand of mercy;

  I hear His voice of cheer;

And just the time I need Him

  He’s always near.

  

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

 He lives within my heart.

Facebook Two

A message for the brokenhearted.
It didn’t start with this psalm. But that’s where my ‘ song in the night ended’.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. The Lord determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

Psalm 147 :3-4. 
And then on the next page of my Devotional Bible:
BROKEN HEARTS AND NUMBERED STARS

J. Stuart Holden ( 1874-1934….a gifted Anglican preacher in London who gave leadership to the Keswick movement)
Verse: Psalm 147:3
He healeth the broken in heart……He telleth the number of stars” (KJV). What a surprising conjunction is found in this twin attribute of God – active pity in the small circles of human experience and unmeasurable power in the great realms of creation. 
Here is God manifesting Himself in both the remotest and the nearest things of which we may have knowledge  – the universal and the personal.
Comment: Defend the God who you know through the shed Blood of Jesus The Crucified One. A God who is full of mercy and compassion, and yet a God who has the power to ‘ raise the dead’, and grant us peace in the midst of the storm.

Let us announce to a dying world, by word and by deed, in good times and in times of suffering, in season and out of season, that we serve a Risen Lord.
And that He alone can rescue this  brokenhearted country of ours. From gunmen, abusers and sickness. From extreme poverty, from disobedient children, the ravages of floods and hurricanes. From intoxicated men with guns, from the excesses of Carnival and Dancehall. And from painful memories #SnowBoy  #WildGilbert #TivoliIncursion #PoliticalTribalism
From injustice – of two Jamaicas. From corruption in high places.  And from church people  trying to escape from living under the cross of Christ.
Jesus, keep me near the Cross,

there a precious fountain,

free to all, a healing stream,

flows from Calvary’s mountai.
Chorus

In the cross, in the cross,

be my glory ever;

‘Til my ruptured soul shall find,

rest beyond the river.
Which is how my ‘ song in the night ‘ started.

In obedience. Peace!

Facebook Three 

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness – The Word of God
We should keep up in our hearts a constant sense of our own weakness……..to drive us out of ourselves in search of divine assistance – Hannah More 
Divine intervention will only come to a nation through divine intervention in the lives of individuals.

No! We do not have the all answers to our problems, despite what you hear in the Parliament and on the talk show programmes. Nor what #Alkaline  – and Damion Crawford claim – that he has the formula.
That’s why:
God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus; 

He came to love, heal and forgive; 

He lived and died to buy my pardon, 

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives! 
Let us as inviduals, come to our senses, and realize that ” we can’t even walk without Him holding our hands” and cry out to God for help. In this land of Violence and Crime, Injustice and Unrighteouesness!

#Earlymorningdevotions

Facebook Four

Rev. Timothy Keller ” The Reason For God : Belief in an Age of Skepticism answering questions.
Questions: Each religion sees part of spiritual truth but none can see the whole truth.
Answer……..How could you possibly know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself have the superior, comprehensive knowledge of spiritual reality you just claimed that none of the religions have?
My comment: Having, for many, many  years worked ( and witnessed ) in an inner city, I have met very few  women who absolutely do not wish to be Baptised one day. Just today,  one who has no desire  to get married, admitted,  when challenged, that she had intentions of getting baptised one day; and agreed  that boyfriend and Christianity could not mix. The story, however,  with men and my middle class friends, is quite different. Some think about these things. But for others it is of little moment; or they have adopted an entirely different set of  beliefs.  I wonder why! Are men and middle class  folks wiser than working class women. Or just more skeptical about the Word of God.

Facebook Five 

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20170427/eight-extradited-jamaicans-alleged-lottery-scamming-appear-us-court 
One word perfectly captures the status of this very ‘ sorry’ group of Jamaicans ( and more to come)  whose activities have triggered so much mayhem locally,  and pain and grief abroad. Wretched!
The challenge, in this context,  for most people,  in this age  where we have access to almost instant news,  aided by  advanced technology, is to accept and to sing, with conviction,  the words of one of the most famous, and well loved, by believers and unbelievers alike,   Christian hymns:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

that saved a wretch like me……
A working class man, who had spent too much time with Goggle rather than listen to his grandmother, recently asked me, ‘ how could I, a scientist, believe in God.’? 
Then this morning in my #earlymorningdevotions  I opened my Devotional Bible and found a meditation by one of the world’s greatest scientists. Blaise Pascal!

1623-1662…..one of the great minds in western intellectual history, and eminent mathematician and physicist who at the same time was  one of the greatest mystical writers in Christian literature.
By the age of 12 Pascal had worked out the equivalent of many of Euclid’s geometrical theorems. At 19 he invented the first practical calculating machine. Later he verified the theory of atmospheric pressure and formulated the mathematical theory of probability, a fundamental element of modern theoretical physics. And who penned this reflection. Which has been such a blessing to me. Hopefully you will find comfort for your souls in it also.
JESUS CHRIST  – THE MIDDLE WAY 
Verse: Psalm 51: 1 Have mercy on me, O God…..blot out my transgressions 
Abridged version.
The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the elements……Nor is he merely a God who providentially disposes the life and fortunes of men, to crown his worshipers with length of happy years. Such was the portions of the Jews.
But the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Christians, is a God of love and consolation, a God who fills the souls and hearts of his own, a God who makes them feel their inward wretchedness and his infinite mercy, who unites himself to their inmost spirit, filling it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, rendering them incapable of any other end other than himself ( I’ll share with you soon what I read on this issue; from Oswald Chambers last night).
………The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness creates pride. The knowledge of our wretchedness without that of God creates despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle way, because in him we find both God and our wretchedness.
And the Psalmist, David, a wretched man who had done so much wrong, and yet  so much good, made this appeal. And revelation at the same time!

‘ …..A broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise

 Verse 17.  
But only one who has felt this wretchedness can honestly cry out to God like that. O God that more and more of us would feel this inward wretchedness. Because that is the Gospel Truth which led to our rescue by the Blood of the Lamb. Christ The Crucified One.

And so the story on the front page of the Gleaner yesterday is also our story writ large. Before a Holy God.  Wretched! But thank God for Jesus.

Facebook Five …yesterday also 

When he comes,  he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment  John 16:8 NIV. #earlymorningdevotions

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Germaine Mason’s sudden death and Eternal Life in Christ.

Michael Jackson’s iconic song ‘ Gone too soon’, captured the mood and reaction in Jamaica, and in the UK, following the shocking news of Germaine Mason’s death this week.

For he was a young man, only 34, who had achieved much on the International stage as a high performance athlete . An elite high jumper was he;  and one  who represented Jamaica and then the UK, and won medals at the World Games and the Olympics.
And as I write, into my mind came this old song written in 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King, and in tribute also to ( mentioned in different verses of the song)  Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy; all of whom suffered the same fate.

Anybody here, seen my old friend Abraham —

Can you tell me where he’s gone?

He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good die young

But I just looked around and he’s gone.
As in my mind arose the great  transcendental question of all ages…gone where? A question I have been thinking about of late, as an avid sports fan, having been hugely entertained  over the years by the likes of Messi, Serena, Curry, ( I know of the influence of Bolt’s parents and #RealShellyAnn’s faith). And even the political and musical icons of our time! When they die, having ‘ conquered the world ‘, where do they go?

Which, put a different way, and applied to another context, the hot issue in Jamaica about disciplining our children and corporal punishment; discipline to what end? And for what ultimate  purpose!  

Because if we have collective agreement on that question,  then the kind of ‘ murderation’, severe, sustained,  physical,  emotional and mental abuse, about which we heard, and probably gasped,  on #RJRBTH hosted by #djmiller has no place in our society. Which is however,  a far  different approach to discipline,  than ‘sparing the rod and spoiling the child’; and which approach finds favor with many Jamaicans.  A sentiment shared by  the victim himself, as he  made the distinction between the two, although not quoting the Bible.
All of this emerging, in the context of an increasingly violent society, changing values and attitudes in the homes and schools, the ban on corporal punishment in schools,    and a very live debate about whether or not it  should also be banned in the home.  
Amidst all of this reflection and #doublelistening  to man and God,  I was inspired to post a few messages on Facebook this week.

All of which expand in some way on the central theme of our need as ‘ helpless human beings’, for the mercy and power of God to intervene in our lives. For His Glory! 

And for all who are baptised to sing in a ” thousand voices ” about the precious Name of Jesus. So that others who we meet on life’s journey may come to know our Lord and  Savior Jesus Christ.  Before it’s too late!

FACEBOOK ONE 

Knock, knock,  who’s there?..No it’s not Serena, not Step Curry, not Rhianna, not Bob Marley, Obama, not Destra, not #Adi…but:
1 Hark, my soul, it is the Lord;

’tis thy Saviour, hear his word;

Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,

‘Say, poor sinner, lovest thou me?
For it is only the Lord Jesus who is always searching for us, lost sinners. First verse of a great hymn #earlymorningdevotions…and captures succinctly, virtually all we need to know about Christianity. 
The second verse is all about Good Friday and Easter….and third verse is super special….Can a mother forget her child….Yes, but never Jesus…

And the last line of the last verse places  such a bookend on it all: ‘ O for grace to love thee more’.

The only solution for the headlines this morning, the newscast last night, and the ones to come tomorrow, for as Ian Boyne said ” It’s not the economy stupid ” #GleanerInFocus  it’s the culture ‘ which is gone adrift’ #BTHbookworms 

Facebook Two 

#AThousandtongues
Death stalks the land; in our  homes, in the community and on the roads. Gunmen, cancer and ‘ accidents’!

For many, the past and present promises of  prosperity and progress are but dreams. A nation struggles to bring up disciplined children. Without abuse!  But with a firm hand. While resisting  bureaucratic ‘ overreach!  And the music, once ‘ conscious ‘, is no longer helpful. At best! The Church, once the ‘ glue’ that held us together, now irrelevant for some, now unappealing for others, ‘ give us Barrabas.’ …. ‘ give us silver and gold’,  struggles to keep the faith, and the faithful, in a time  of modernity, ‘ prosperity gospel’, and Netflix, amidst a  steady loss of focus on the Cross. And Christ Crucified!

Many once looked to ‘ greener pastures’, but the    doors are closing, with a loud ‘ trumpet’ sound, and the once ‘ still waters’ now increasingly  muddied by terror.
Then I opened my Devotional Bible early this morning, as I awoke at an unusual hour, and found an answer to our dilemma.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears 

And bids our sorrows cease.
O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES TO SING 

Charles Wesley

Verse: Psalm 19   The heavens declare the glory of God…..
O for a thousand tongues to sing

My dear Redeemers praise,

The glories of my God and King,

The triumph of his grace!
My gracious Master and my God,

Assist me to proclaim 

And spread through all the earth abroad

The honors of thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears

And bids our sorrows cease;

‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,

‘Tis life and health and peace.
It’s a prayer, and a hope that should be spread abroad in our land. By #AThousandtongues  #Hanoverbleeding  #StJamesbleeding  #Clarenodonbleeding  #Jamaicableeds  And beyond! To troubled lands #Paris. Help us  O God! For we cannot manage. Can’t even walk without you holding our hands!

Facebook Three

A faith without some  doubts is like a human body without  any antibodies.  People who blithely go through  life too busy, or too indifferent to ask hard questions why they believe as they do,  will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy,  or the probing questions of a smart skeptic…..

Skeptics must learnt to look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning. All doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs. 

You cannot doubt Belief A except from a position of faith in Belief B.  For example if you doubt Christianity because “There  can’t just be one true religion, ” you must recognize that this statement is itself an act of faith”
No one can prove it empirically, and it is not a universal truth that everyone accepts……

 

Extract from New York Times best selling author Rev Timothy Keller’s, The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism 

…still reading a good book after Lent

Not a Jamaican author but  a good read for #BTHbookworms  Dionne Jackson Miller Emily Shields 

In a land where Skepticism about God and Church and Christianity is alive and kicking….us adrift. #Hanoverbleeding
Facebook Four 

Christianity without the living Christ  is inevitably Christianity without discipleship……It remains an abstract idea, a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as  the living Son……

In such a religion there is trust in God, but no following of Christ…..Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian and Christian martyr who defied the Hitler and his evil empire. Paid the ultimate price.
Identifies a major problem in Jamaica where most people believe in ‘ Father God’, but have no intention of  following Christ. Both inside and outside The Church!

AN EASTER MESSAGE/GIFT

An Easter Gift with love : A Blessed Easter to all.
GN/GM. Quite properly I ought to send this out in the morning.  As an Easter gift!

 But that’s so not going to happen. What with the excitement and rush to celebrate, once again,  this most joyful event!
So kindly accept this gift, sent prematurely, but with the same joy and love. For you who take time out to read. And more importantly, for the Risen Lord. Even Christ our soon coming King!

It’s a gift which captures  the essence of all I have gleaned from reading, and sharing, and praying, and meditating, during our journey together. A walk with God which ends, in a sense…..as the movement is always from the  Cross to the Resurrection then back to the Cross again…..with the glorious Resurrection at Easter.

And the message is the same from the Garden of Eden, back to Gethsemane, viz, it’s all about God. For, as the songwriter penned, ” I can’t  even walk without Him holding our my hand”. 
Even more so, no matter how much we love Jesus The Crucified One, because, as another songwriter penned, ‘ thou didst me upon the cross embrace: for me didst bear the nails and the spear, and manifold disgrace….all for me who was thine enemy’, we cannot truly love our Savior, unless ‘ our sails which we hoist for Him are filled with His Holy Spirit’. The other Comforter!

Therefore we must pray, without ceasing,  not first for suffering humanity, and lost humanity,  and those who we love, and those who persecute us; and that we must do also,  but first, for God to renew His Church, with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  So that, completely saturated with His love, to the point of there being,  ‘ no remedy’, through us  may ‘ flow streams of living water’, the promised Holy Spirit,  to rescue this ‘ corrupt generation’, and help to turn people’s hearts from the power of Satan to the power of God. 

So I am encouraging you, to, in addition to your other prayers,  join with me in praying, as I have been led to do for years now,  without ceasing,  the words of the Psalmist: 

” Will thou not turn again and quicken us O Lord, that thy people may rejoice in you.”

Praying  for Moravians, Baptists, Church of God, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists  ( and all who keep the Sabbath), Methodists, United Church, Anglicans and all Evangelical churches including Full Gospel, First Born, Open Bible……
Which is really a prayer for a great Revival. In Jamaica and across the Caribbean and the world. But first we have to ‘ hoist our sails’, for Christ and Christ alone. There can be no competition. Not self or family! Not bank account and earnings! Not the pleasures of this life! Not our political party, or leader!  Not our high school – current or past!  Not country! And certainly not denomination, Pastor or Bishop, or even and perhaps especially ‘ church work’. 

 

Then there will no boasting before the Lord. And God will receive all the honor and Glory and power due to Him. The Holy One of Israel. 

Peace.
SATURATED WITH THE SPIRIT
Hilary of Poitiers ( 315 – 368….a Bishop of the early church who was a staunch defender of Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. A foundation doctrine which we now take for granted came  under severe attack in the early years.)
Verse: Acts 20:24. “But I do not countenance my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to thd good news of God’s grace”
Hoisting My Sails 

The chief service I owe you, O God, is that every thought and word of mine should speak of you. The power of speech that you have bestowed on me can give me no grater pleasure than to serve you by preaching your gospel.
But in saying this, I am merely expressing what I want to do. If I am actually to use this gift, I must ask you for your help – ask you to fill the sails I have hoisted for you with the wind of your Holy Spirit, inspiring my mind and my voice.
I know that I am often heavy with stupor, so that I am too lazy to speak of you. And I do not spend sufficient time studying your Scriptures, to ensure that my words conform to your Word.
Give me the energy and the courage to to share the spirit of the Apostles, that like them I may truly be an ambassador of your grace.

Saturated in His Love

Although I am dust and ashes, Lord I am tied to you by bonds of love. Therefore I feel I can speak freely to you. 
Before I came to you I was nothing. I did not know the meaning of life, and I had no understanding of myself. I have no doubt that you had a purpose I  causing me to be born; yet you had no need of me, and on my own I was of no use to you.
But then you decided that I should hear the words of your Son, Jesus Christ. And that as I heard his words, you enabled his love to penetrate my heart. Now I am completely saturated in his love and faith, and there is no remedy. Now, Lord, I cannot change my attitude to my faith, I can only die for it.

PRESS RELEASE

With the unfortunate deaths of two young men, a male driver and a male passenger,  ages 44 and 42, on the first night  of the long weekend, and a total of 12  road fatalities  already for the month of April, the NRSC is  again reminding all users of the roads to be extremely careful over the long weekend. Please remember to slow down and observe the speed limits. Do wear a helmet whilst driving on a motor cycle, both driver and pillion,  and buckle up in both the front and read seats whilst driving in a vehicle. Please do not drink or use any other mind altering substance, including marijuana whilst piloting a motor vehicle. And do not text or use the cell phone whilst driving. Finally, pedestrians please be very alert whilst using walking on the side of the road, and be very  patient when crossing the road. Hopefully if we all adhere to these simple rules, after a long weekend when many people travel long distances, no further loss of life will take place.

LWJ

Dr. Lucien W. Jones

Vice Chairman

NRSC

Patron: HE Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General

Chairman: The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister

Executive Director: Mrs. Paula Fletcher MBA

A GOOD FRIDAY MESSAGE 

It’s midnight in Jamaica, and the clock has stopped at 12:00 am for quite a while; the ‘sun’ darkened  by years of murder most foul, rape,  and corruption in high places. And the culture highjacked by slackness in the dancehall by night, by  slackness at Carnival in the ‘ broad daylight….competing with Good Friday and Easter…..and in recent times,  the behaviour of some of our students and teachers in the classroom.
It’s midnight  also in America,  where truth is under siege, and international diplomacy, seemingly,   has been hijacked by bombs, threats of bombs,  and political intrigue. While locally, a plan to wipe out Obama’s legacy appears to be the ‘trump card’; regardless of how many who benefited get hurt in the rush to fulfill election promises. 
But the stygian like darkness enveloping this proverbial ‘ state of Denmark’, was not ‘ inaugurated ‘ with a ‘ trumpet call’.  For well we remember the culture of death pervading the American soul! With abortion on demand becoming an extension of birth control; and being ‘sanitized’ under the label of ‘ women’s rights’. And Christians who objected to same sex marriage  suffering religious persecution; in the land of the free and home of the brave!

And according to Martin Luther King Jr. in a meditation entitled ‘ He who turns Blackness into Dawn, the most inspiring word that the church may speak is that no midnight long remains……Faith in the dawn arises from the faith that God is good and honest. 
When one believes this, he knows that the contradictions of life are neither final nor ultimate…..even the most starless midnight may herald the dawn of some great fulfilment. 

In this context then, that first  Good Friday, over 2000 years ago, was the darkest spiritual midnight we thought mankind ever faced. But then the glorious Dawn of Easter revealed the Truth.
What really then is Truth about  Good Friday ? 

Watch this video when you have the time, to see and hear a very gifted preacher on this issue of Truth! A video sent to me today by one of my sons…married to my daughter….and which viewing inspired the second  part of these reflections.

The truth  about Good Friday  is not that Jesus came and died to rescue us from ‘ sabre rattling ‘ #DonaldTrump, as he drops  the, ” mother of all bombs”, in Afghanistan, threatens North Korea,  which apparently has  nuclear weapons, and ‘locks horns’ with Russia over Syria,  and Assad’s  use of chemical weapons against his own people.

Nor is it the truth  that Jesus came and died to rescue us from the immoral lyrics and videos #Shenseeamusic of VybesKartel #Adi. Or that from his  heir apparent #Alkaline ! 
And Jesus did not come to die and rescue us from murder in Hanover #Hanoverbleeding, and Trelawny and St. James, nor to provide  the new Commissioner of Police, Mr. Quallo, with #Divineintervention.

Nor did he come and die to rescue our women and children from abuse; whether in the home, the classroom, the community or in the Church. Or to be sentenced to a premature death in the womb!

For playing out in each of those worrying and current realities are consequences of Sin;  not the root cause. And The Truth  is a Person. Jesus Christ the Crucified One. A King who has authority over all mankind, revealed Himself, in humility,  fully on the Cross, and is full of compassion and mercy.   He then, God Incarnate, came because :
” We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way

and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all“….Isaiah 53:6….part of the OT reading for Good Friday at my Anglican Church.
And:
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God“…Romans. A problem for mankind which provoked the wrath of God, and  separated us from Him, ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden.

Truth then, is  that Jesus came to ransom us, pay the penalty for Sin, with His suffering and death on Calvary. Declared at the end of the three hours on the Cross …Tetelestai….It is finished. Like so done! For the Word of reveals that ‘ there is no forgiveness without the shedding of Blood’. And the Blood of rams and goats cannot atone for Sin.
  Then at Pentecost, after His Resurrection, sent the Promised Holy Spirit, so that those who believe in Christ, might become Holy. Live eternally! And in Christ, witness to God’s love and mercy to all nations.

Truth is then, that it is only in this context, Christ’s Victory over Sin, that we can fight against the many manifestations and consequences of Sin. Including  the use of chemicals weapons in Syria;  the reality the Taliban  in Afghanistan, ISIS in  Iraq,  nuclear weapons in North Korea, abduction, rape and murder of  girl children in St. James, Jamaica.

 We need to get this Truth, this theology  correct, and teach it in the schools without apology, and without delay; with an opt out proviso  for children of other religions.  Otherwise we will still be talking about changing values and attitudes after 2030; the target date for actualising our vision for a more peaceful and progressive Jamaica. 

As  I once read the profound comment that, ‘ you cannot have Christian values without Christianity’. ‘

Finally, in this context of suffering and death on Good Friday,  the truth is that, in a book which I read for Lent, and used to  post several messages on Facebook, these two quotes  from The  Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott are apropos:
From the Chapter ” Suffering and Glory”;

‘ The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation. Sensitive spirits – in Jamaica popular blogger, newspaper columnist, comedian, Grace Kennedy Foundation Lecturer and Gynaecologist Dr. Michael Abrahams  – ask if suffering  can possibly be reconciled with God’s justice and love…….
……God is at work  ( on the  Cross) revealing his glory in and through suffering…..What then is the relationship between Christ’s suffering and ours?  How does the Cross speak to us in our pain?

I want to suggest from Scripture six possible answers to those questions….
Patient Endurance
Mature Holiness 
Suffering Service……The place of suffering in service and of passion is hardly ever taught today. But the greatest single secret of evangelistic and missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die.

It may be a death to popularity  ( by faithfully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel)…..
The Hope of Glory
Faith and the book of Job
The Pain of God….I could never myself believe in God, if it were not the Cross…….I have turned to that lonely, twisted tortured figure on the Cross, nails through hands, and feet, back lacerated, limbs  wrenched, brown bleeding…..that is God for me! ….He entered into our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our suffering become more manageable in the light of His. 

So this Good Friday, truth is that Christ invites us to :
O come and mourn with me awhile;

O come ye to the Savior’s side; 

O come, together let us mourn;

Jesus our Lord is crucified…
the first verse of one of the hymns for Good Friday. And spend  quality time….far from the maddening crowd…contemplating the goodness and mercy of God. And then we can all celebrate the coming of the Dawn on Easter, the only effective plan that God has revealed to rescue anyone or nation, after having plumbed the depths of the midnight of Good Friday.
 For contrary to popular ‘ folklore’, promoted by Bill Clinton, ‘ it’s the economy stupid’, until along came ‘ Monica’, there is no Plan B.
Further, the truth is that ‘ coming events cast their shadows’, and thus I was led to post on Facebook this week, several messages, sharing additional details about The Truth; Christ and Him Crucified.

About Victory over Sin, Evil and Death….the ultimate midnight in the life of anyone. 

Facebook One 

AS WE JOURNEY TO GOOD FRIDAY, JOHN STOTT IN #ReadingagoodbookforLent looks at another feature of what happened on Calvary.

And this is how he introduced it;
” It is impossible to read the New Testament without being impressed by the atmosphere of joyful confidence which pervades it, and which stands out in relief against the rather jejeune religion that passes for Christianity today. There was no defeatism about the early Christians; they spoke rather of victory……Thanks be to God! He gives us the Victory…….In all these things …..we are more than conquerors…..they knew that they owed their victory to the Victory of Christ.
The Conquest of Evil : The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott.

1. The conquest predicted…..in the Garden of Eden.

2. The conquest begun ….with the life of Jesus. That’s why Satan acting through Herod tried to kill him as a child…..and acting through Peter tried to distract him from going to the Cross.

3. The conquest achieved….And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them on the Cross….Colossians 2.

4. The conquest confirmed and announced.…The Resurrection of Christ.

5. The conquest extended...and so the church goes out on its mission…….in every true conversion there is a turning ‘ from the power of Satan to God’.

6. The conquest consummated…..we look forward to this at the Parousia. The Second Advent of Christ.

Facebook Two 
Entering into Christ’s  Victory.

1. Through Christ we are no longer under the tyranny of the law…..a surprise that God’s gift to his people, itself ‘ holy and righteous and good’ could become a tyrant that ” enslaved us”.  But that is exactly Paul’s teaching. ‘ Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed’…..the law condemns us and brings us under its ‘ curse’ or judgment. But Christ has redeemed us from the law’s curse by becoming a curse for us. It is in this sense that  ‘ Christ is the end of the law’, and we are no longer ‘ under it’.
It emphatically does not mean that there are now  no moral absolutes except love, as the advocates of the ‘ new morality’ taught in the 1960’s, or that we now have no obligation to obey God’s law……No,  since the tyranny of the law is its curse, it is from this that we are liberated  by Christ, so that we are not ‘under it’, anymore. The law no longer enslaved us by its condemnation.

To be continued #ReadingagoodbookforLent  

The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott 

Now there is  no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit has set me free,  from the law of  sin and death……Romans 8:1-2…..actually a song.

Entering into Christ’s Victory. 
Facebook Three 

2.  Secondly, through Christ we are no longer under the tyranny of the flesh.  What Paul  means by the flesh  ( sarx) is our fallen nature or unredeemed humanity, everything that we are by birth, inheritance and upbringing before Christ redeemed us. Because our ‘ flesh’ is our ‘ self’ in Adam, it’s characteristics is self-centeredness. Paul supplies a catalogue of some of its worst and ugliest outworkings, including sexual immorality, idolatry and occult practices  ( misdirected worship), hatred, jealousy, ……

Living this kind of life, we were ‘ enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures’. As Jesus himself said, ‘ everyone who sins is a slave to sin ‘. But the he immediately added : ‘ if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’. And freedom from our fallen nature and its selfishness comes through the cross: ‘ For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin‘. Christ by his Cross had won the Victory over the flesh as well as over the law.
To be continued: #ReadingagoodbookforLent  by Rev John Stott. The Cross of Christ.

If we understand the Theology it becomes easier to understand some of the things we see being played out  nightly on out television screens; and screaming at us in the morning headlines of the print media. As the practices of unredeemed humanity will always ‘ shock us’. And so too the acts of disobedient and unrepentant believers.
Facebook Four 
ENTERING INTO THE VICTORY OF CHRIST.  PARTS 3 & 4. THE CROSS OF CHRIST 

3. Through Christ we are no longer under the tyranny of the world. If the flesh is the foothold of the devil has within us, the world is the means through which he exerts pressure upon us from without. 

For the ‘ world’ in this context represents godless human society, whose hostility to the church is expressed now by open ridicule and persecution, now by subtle subversion, the infiltration of its values and standards…..’ love of the world and love for  the Father are incompatible- John.

…selfish desires, superficial judgements, and arrogant materialism…..Jesus says ‘ I have overcome the world….totally rejected it’s distorted values…through Jesus we can be overcomers too.

It is when we believe in Jesus that our values change…..No longer conform to the world’s values……but transformed by our renewed mind which grasps  and approves the will of God……through the cross that the world has been crucified to us and we to the world….

Rev John Stott #ReadingagoodbookforLent 

Answer to the suggestion that we ‘ need to change the culture in Jamaica ‘! Only when we believe in Christ….otherwise those who presume to change the culture are perhaps part of the big picture why the culture….of  death….exists.

Facebook Five

4. Through Christ we are no longer under the tyranny of death.
The fear of death is practically universal…..But Christ is  able to set free even those who all their lives have been held ‘ in slavery by their fear of death’. ……by his own death he has destroyed ‘ him who holds the power of death – the devil ‘. Hebrews 2:14.
Jesus Christ has not only dethroned the devil but dealt with sin. …..by dealing with sin he  has

dealt with death.  For Sin is the ‘ sting’ of death’….Where O death is your victory….where O death is your sting!…..Thanks be to God, he gives us the Victory our Lord Jesus Christ.

Facebook Six

PRELUDE TO ENTERING  INTO CHRIST’S  VICTORY 
If God has placed all things under Christ’s feet, they must be under ours too, if we are in him……now that the strongman has been disarmed and bound,  the time  is ripe for us to raid his palace and plunder his goods…..
Not quite so simple….for though the devil has been defeated, he has not yet conceded defeat.

Although he has been overthrown, he has not yet been eliminated. In fact he continues to wield great power. This is the reason for the tension  we feel in both our Theology and our experience.

On the one hand we are …seated and reigning with Christ…with even the powers and principalities of evil placed by God his ( and therefore our) feet, on the other hand we are warned that these same spiritual forces have set themselves in opposition to us, so that we have no hope of standing against them unless we are strong in the Lord’s strength and clad in his armour.

Many choose one or the other of these positions, or oscillate instead unsteadily  between them. Some are triumphalists, who see only the Decisive victory of Christ  and overlook the apostolic warnings against tge powers of darkness. Others are defeatist, who see only the fearsome malice of the devil and overlook the Victory over him which Christ has already won

The  tension is part of  the Christian dilemma between the ‘ already’, and the ‘ not yet’.

Already the kingdom of God has been inaugurated and is advancing; not yet has it been consummated.

#ReadingagoodbookforLent 

If we know the Theology then it becomes easier to understand world events…..Syria, North Korea, and the USA. And local issues too #TVJAllAngles    decriminalization of marijuana  and the effects on children….  #shinethelightonmurder
Facebook Seven

My ‘ song’ last night was : ” If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed “. John 8:36.  Then as I woke up this morning this came into my mind:
O hush the noise,  ye men of strife,

and hear the angels sing.
I wasn’t quite sure which song the second thought came from so I googled it and found it in my hymn book.
It came upon a midnight clear…….a Christmas hymn!

Then I read the John 8 verse,  in context, and these thoughts came to mind. Thoughts that have been emerging with conviction, as I posted this week about Christ’s Victory our evil.
1. That if we understand the theology, …who God is and how He reveals  Himself…. mysteries  surrounding  the joys and the sorrows of life become much clearer. Never fully so! But no longer completely mysterious and shocking.
2. The main purpose of the devil, according to the narrative in John 8, is to ‘ create noise’, and so distract us from ‘ hearing the angels sing’ …..hearing the Truth, who is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, The Crucified One . For he is a liar, and the father of all liars. Think Carnival happening ‘ mysteriously ‘ around the The Most Important Truth telling Time in history, viz, Good Friday and Easter. And all the other ‘ noises’…..counter celebrations by the Jehovahs Witnesses, and the inevitable  questions about the timing and relevance and cultural influences on Easter. Or how Christmas, another Truth telling Time has been almost ‘ gobbled up’ by the merchants  and by those who want us ‘ to have a good time’. And clash at Sting!
3. All that I was led to write this week about The Conquest over Evil, and Entering into Christ’s Victory can be summed up by the words of one of the most profound messages in all of history.

” If the Son shall set you free, you are free indeed…..from the beguiling influence of #Adi and his #Shenseeamusic……from spending your youth ‘ digging out your handmiddle ‘, rolling a spliff and ‘ frying your youthful brain…..from being ‘ tempted to touch’ and impregnating,  or getting pregnant as teenagers, with all the attendant personal and societal challenges……from ‘ making promises ‘ you know you cannot fulfill, from Independence until now, and from setting up and maintaining garrisons, in pursuit of power……from being ‘ farrin’,   minded’, and seeing nothing good about your own country……from #theprosperitygospel which at the root, is one more ‘ noise’ trying to distract us from the Gospel of Christ Crucified…..from bleaching and ‘ the brazillians’, ……from becoming a ‘ shotta’ …..and from abusing women, in so many ways….from Netflix and the constant need to be ‘ entertained’…..from #duttyingupjamaica.
 For only then will we achieve our vision of making Jamaica a place to live, raise a family and do business! If we would only turn to The Living God in and through Christ and Him Crucified…..and be set free. To live. Eternally!

And so Jamaica, so Trump’s USA, so……

Facebook Eight.

Living under the cross: The community of  celebration…..The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott 
There is no forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, except through the cross of Calvary.  ” Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins”. The religions of paganism scarcely knew the word  The great faiths of the world…….The great faiths of the Buddhist and the Mohamedan give no place either to the need or grace of reconciliation. 

The clearest proof of this is the simplest. It lies in the hymns of Christian worship.

A Buddhist temple never resounds with a cry of praise. Mohammedan worshippers never sing. Their prayers are, at the highest, prayers of submission and of request. They seldom reach the gladder note of Thanksgiving. They are never jubilant with the songs of the forgiven – W. M.  Clow.
By contrast, whenever Christian people come together it is impossible to stop them singing. The Christian community is a community of celebration.

#ReadingagoodbookforLent 

Preparing for Maunday Thursday 

The death of  Jesus not only gives us remission from our sins, it enables us to assimilate the very nature of Jesus until in every detail of our lives  we are like him – Oswald Chambers: The Complete Works #theologyopensdoors

Finally words from an old hymn provides a bookend to what is Truth  on this Good Friday. 
First verse and refrain.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged Cross,

The emblem of suffering and shame.

And I love that old Cross

Where the dearest and best 

For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Refrain 
So I’ll cherish the old rugged Cross,

‘Til my trophies at I lay down; I will cling to that old rugged Cross, and someday exchange it for a crown…..

 

Syria, Jamaica and Holy Week

So what’s  the big picture about life here on planet earth? A question which often emerges in varying forms, when trials coming knocking on our doors! And unfortunately,  which philosophical musings beat a hasty retreat in the face of the rough and tumble of life, as soon as memories  of 9/11, or ” Wild Gilbert”, fade. 
For those who look to  God  for answers, for ‘ salvation’ even,   and spend a few weeks going to church and praying regularly, quickly ‘ press the reset button’, and reassume the default mode of being their own salvation. And so life ‘ goes on’ at a frenetic pace. Until the next disaster arrives!

Like this week in Jamaica,  when the murder, by hacking to death, of a 14  year old boy, by an 11 year old boy,  shocked an entire nation. And left many asking the question. “Why?”

Parental neglect and or a dysfunctional family life ! A by product of a society filled with rage! Was he ‘ smoking something’! Or drinking something!

What really is the #bigpicture?
Or the attack on Syria this week ordered by President Trump. Pay back for the use of chemicals against civilians by President Assad! The start of a plan for ” Regime Change “,  in Syria a la Iraq!

A policy ‘volte face’ by a President who once opposed any such intervention but who is  now faced with ‘Real Politics’! A ‘red herring’ being offered up in a cynical attempt to deflect attention away  from the investigation into allegations of Russian interference into American politics!

What really is the #bigpicture?

Or the collective outrage being expressed by landowners island wide,  especially the pensioners, #AllAngles, about the recent hike in property taxes. A consequence of the promised #1.5! Long overdue increase delayed, but inevitable! Tough choices faced by a new regime intent on changing tax policy! Civil service overreach! A big political gamble! What’s the #bigpicture?
Well all of these questions, and more, as news breaks tonight ( began writing last night)  about #murderinStockholm, and last week about deaths from landslides in Columbia, will be in the mix, as the Christian World celebrates Holy Week beginning this Sunday  on Palm Sunday. The really #bigpicture!

And there is no better way to introduce the ‘ Salvation ‘ which was on offer during that first Holy Week,  than one of the messages I was led to post on Facebook this week:
FACEBOOK ONE 

For what shall it profit a man or a woman to gain the whole world and yet lose their soul”.
For the reality is that,  from a spiritual, and transcendent perspective, all of the problems facing mankind today are a direct result of consequences of choosing one or another. The material and transient vs. the spiritual and eternal.

And as I considered this issue, deeply, of losing one’s soul in pursuit of material gain, a quote from the highly esteemed philosopher Plato, which I inserted in a Grace Kennedy Foundation Lecture  many years ago,  came to mind.
GKFL.  Excerpt from The Jamaica Society: Options for Renewal 

“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.”

As offensive as this ‘ truth’ sounds, can we not see ourselves as living in a proverbial ‘ pigsty’,  when human life, and human dignity, young and old, girlfriend or wife, is sacrificed at the altar of base desires and rage. With nauseating regularity!
Can we not see, if we would just humble ourselves for a minute, the pigsty in the stinking mess of broken limbs, dead children and wrecked homes in Aleppo. All sacrificed at the altar of gaining absolute power, at all costs in Syria.
And closer home, if we take off our green and orange tinted glasses, we may be able to see the pigsty we have created in #Hanoverbleeding #Westmorelandbleeding ##StJamesbleeding #Tivolibleeding. All because, since Independence,  we have in large measure, as a people, turned away from being a God-fearing people, packing the pews on a Sunday morning, and living the life of Christ during the week, to ‘ following Bustamante til I die’! Or Norman Manley! Or ‘Joshua’, Michael Manley! Or ‘ Uncle Eddie ‘ Seaga! Or ‘ We say PJ’ Patterson! Or ‘ Sister P’ Portia Simpson Miller! And now it’s the turn of ‘ Prince Andrew’ Holness!
And if not idolizing our ‘ maximum leaders’, or in addition to, we’ve turned in droves to #Adi, #Alkaline, #Destra, #Montana  the irreverent  Mutty Perkins et al for our ‘ salvation’. 
And so #Jamaicableeds in so many different ways.  Economically  ( the root cause of the property tax connundrum), Morally, Socially,  and Politically.   And Bob Marley’ s words echo in my mind. ‘ You think you’re in heaven but you’re living in hell’.
So what do we do. Perhaps TEDDY PENDERGRASS lyrics from my past, as a young man living in an age when the music was ‘ sweet’, and not of the pigsty #rompinshoponthebus variety, could help. And which lyrics just flowed into my mind….with the help of Google of course:
PENDERGRASS 

Wake up everybody, no more sleepin’ in bed

No more backward thinkin’ time for thinkin’ ahead

The world has changed so very much from what it used to be

So there is so much hatred war an’ poverty


Wake up all the teachers, time to teach a new way

Maybe then they’ll listen to whatcha have to say

‘Cause they’re the ones who’s coming up and the world is in their hands

When you teach the children, teach ’em the very best you can


The world won’t get no better

If we just let it be

The world won’t get no better

We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me

And so Holy Week, in particular, provides a time to ‘ wake the town and tell the people’ #Uroy that #ThebigPicture, like the revolution, is live, and not on TVJ. Or CVM. Or CNN! 
An event which occupied my mind this week and triggered these other messages on Facebook.
FACEBOOK TWO

My spirit longs for thee 

within my troubled breast- Hymnwriter 
In we are honest we have to admit that the human breast is always ‘ troubled ‘ – in need of God. But we are determined to fill it with another god ; Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston. A dangerous road that we are all constantly being  enticed to travel on! With the same, even if dressed up differently, end game awaiting us. 
And so individuals, so a nation.  #Hanoverbleeding is  therefore not a metaphor,  but a living example of a greater problem. #Jamaicatroubled and yearning for another god. Which is the story, writ large in this generation, of the children of Israel as recorded in Psalm 106:15! And which featured in the discussion on ‘ Praying in the Holy Spirit ‘ by Oswald Chambers last night.
13 – 14 ( Context)  But they soon forgot what he had done

and they did not wait for his counsel.

In the desert they gave into their craving;

in the wasteland they put God to the test. 
15. So he gave them what they asked for,

but sent a  wasting disease upon them.
Think about how we, as a nation, and so too America, both countries steeped in a history of God providing for Pilgrims and Slaves, have rejected this God. And #justlookatusnow. Living with the reality of  #Hanoverbleeding  and #alternatetivefact  Both of which wasting diseases have the potential to destroy any country.

May God have mercy on our souls. 

Thank God for #GoodFriday  which comes again next week. #Betterthanachampsticket 

#Lent #repentance  

FACEBOOK THREE

For then we can affirm that justification ( God making us righteous through his Son’s death) is instantaneous and complete, admitting no degrees, while sanctification  ( God making us righteous through his Spirit’s indwelling), though begun the moment we are justified, is gradual and throughout this life incomplete, as we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ ‘ from one degree of glory into another’ ( 2 Cor. 3:18, RSV). Rev. John Stott ” The Cross of Christ”. #ReadingagoodbookforLent 

#BedtimeDevotions 

FACEBOOK FOUR

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever…..

The stone that the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our  eyes.

This is the day that the Lord had made ;

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:1& 22 – 24.
#Hanoverbleeding #Trelawnybleeding #GoodFriday  next week. Time for #repentance 

Ransom, healed, restored, forgiven, who like me should sing his praise….

#earlymorningdevotions

FACEBOOK FIVE

And they sang a new song: 

You are worthy  to take the scroll  and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased  men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom an  priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.

Revelation 5:9 

#GoodFriday The Atonement for Sin wrought by the Blood of Jesus shed on Calvary,  is for all nations on the earth. Regardless of culture, ethnicity, religion, or lifestyle.  For all have sinned…..and the wages of Sin is death. Anything else is #alternatetivefact 

#earlymorningdevotions 

#Betterthanachampsticket
Inspired by a reading of the Epistle for the Anglican Church for Sunday  ( Palm Sunday)…..And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death  on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11.

FINAL FACEBOOK MESSAGE

A bit long, but think Trump and Syria, the 11 year old killer, and the pregnant woman and the policeman  and the videotaped evidence, as you read. And remember always #Betterthanachampsticket  #BedtimeDevotions 
IRRESPONSIBILITY – Oswald Chambers 
For the past three hundred years men have been pointing out how similar Jesus Christ’s teachings are to other good teaching. We have to remember that Christianity, if it is not a supernatural miracles, a sham.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul. Mark 8:36
The most literal meaning of losing one’s life is, of course, dying by accident…..if a man loses his life by accident, what is the world to him? –  Stalker.
Jesus says life is the opportunity God gives to a man to do his life work ; that means that God has no respect whatever for our programmes and machinery. Our Lord insists on one thing only, God’s purpose for him; He pays not the remotest attention to civilised forces……
We make nests here and there, competencies here and there, but God has no respect for any of them; at any minute He may send a wind and over goes the whole thing. The one thing God is after is character.
Not only has the Creator appointed to

 every human being, in the constitution of his manhood, a certain stature to which he may and ought to attain; but He has appointed a corresponding task for him to fulfill, determined by the providential circumstances in which he is placed. In fact, this is his life; and not to fulfill this God-appointed purpose of his existence is to lose his/her life – Stalker……
In our Lord’s mind any created thing which fails in making anything of its purpose is contemptible  ( see Luke 13:6-9). Jesus’ attitude to Roman and Greek civilisation was one of superb contempt. Our attitude to Greece and Rome is one of un-bonneted reverence, with not so much of the cast of an eye for Jesus.
Our Lord followed life from His Father’s standpoint, today we are caught up in the show of things.

Take the Bible attitude to men on the whole, civilizations are dispatched at a minutes notice, armies come together and annihilate one another and God seems to pay no attention (#syria ). His attitude is one which makes us blaspheme and say that He does not care an atomic for human beings. 
Jesus Christ says He does, He says He is a Father, and that He, Jesus, is exactly like His Father.

The point is that Jesus saw life from God’s standpoint, we don’t. We won’t accept the responsibility of life as God gives it to us, we only accept the responsibility as we wish to take it, and the responsibility we wish to take is to save our own skins, make comfortable positions for ourselves and those we are related to, exert ourselves a little to keep ourselves clean and vigorous and upright; but when it comes to following out what Jesus says, His sayings are nothing but jargon. 
We name the Name of Jesus Christ but we are not based on His One issue of life, and Jesus says, What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world”  – and he can easily do it – ” and lose his soul?”.

COMMENT 
May God grant us the wisdom to see that we are living in a virtual moral  pigsty because of our many many sins. Despite the veneer of civility and progress afforded by the performance of our athletes on the world stage! Despite the solid and welcomed infrastructural changes, the strength of our democracy, the vibrancy and resilience and basic goodness of our people, and the internationally acclaimed beauty of  our land. And more. Much more!

Yet despite the acknowledgement of and thanksgiving for all our many blessings, the reality is that, 
 #Hanoverbleeding  and the machinations of #Adi,  and how our young people have been affected, and where he’s at now, in concert,  is yet another,  a wake up call to a nation in spiritual extremis. And murder in Trelawny  carried out by an 11 year old child is a but a  desperate cry for help.
But help comes, not from Barack Obama or Donald Trump, but  only from He Who Created us, and died so that we may have Life. And move from a living in a  moral  pigsty to a glorious life with Christ.  Eternally! All possible because of #GoodFriday and #Easter.

Peace.

Champs in Jamaica and Good Friday: No pain no gain. 

​No pain. No gain! That’s the message that came into my head as I woke up this morning. This,  after having started writing last night.

Further, that the narrative behind the message begins with #Champs2017, but ends with #GoodFriday. However, unlike the story which is unfolding, with high drama last night, at Champs, as the expected ” purple reign” is under threat from the green and black school, and only a brave man would predict the outcome on this the final day, we all know  what happened on that first Good Friday. Or do we!
CHAMPS
Watching it on  TV is good. But cetainly not the best way to experience Champs! This, the biggest high school athletic competition in the western hemisphere. A tradition which has thrown up the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, Veronica Campbell-Brown  (VCB), the peerless Merlene Ottey, the graceful Donald Quarrie, the rising star and ‘ heir apparent’, to the sprint  title,  Yohan Blake, and though new on the scene, but already a superstar, Elaine Thompson.

No, you have to there in the national stadium in Jamaica to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The awesome display of raw speed. The hush in the crowd as they ‘ take their marks’, at the start of the race. The  collective groan from the crowd as a favourite false starts.  

Watch the slick, almost Olympic standard baton changes in the highly competitive and points rich relays. Move to the throbbing pulsating,  vibes enhancing, excitement building, beat of the drums; sometimes a ‘ full orchestra’. And celebrate with the winner,  as Jamaicans do best, punching the air with the closed fist, or pointing to schoolmates, as the favourite crosses the line first. 

But although attending as a passionate spectator, bedecked with school colours,  almost de regueur,  is  great,  you really cannot ‘ search deep into the soul of Champs’, unless you have competed. Unless you have survived the rigors of the training schedule for either the sprints, middle and long distance running, the jumps and the throws.
I had the privilege of representing my school at Champs, an ‘Alan Magnus’ epoch ago ( a famous media personality who retired yesterday after 46 years on morning radio….a champion himself). Was a sprinter. Moved from 100-200 to 400. No great success, but appeared in two finals.

The story though, in this context, was the training. Early morning! After warming up. Run flat out the first 400. Walk one. Then run, flat out, at full speed, another one. Then walk one. The schedule called for six. But by  the time you came to the fourth one, your entire body rebelled. And your stomach too. Wretching or not though, you had to continue. Run one. Walk one. After a couple of months of this, including running on the sand on the beach, I was ready for the world. Literally! Then I suffered a torn hamstring. And that was the end of that adventure. Pain, with some gain!

So, for many reasons,  Champs is a real and present danger as a major distraction in my Lenten journey.  Haven’t been ‘ live ‘ for a few years, but God willing ‘ I shall return’. If I can get a ticket! 
GOOD FRIDAY 
The narrative for Good Friday begins with a simple, straightforward but very profound statement from a Scottish theologian, who once served as one of the presidents of the World Council of Churches. And one which captures the essence of the ” No pain, no gain “, understanding of the Christian Faith. For, as the songwriter explains in one of the most powerful hymns of all time, ( and which words I spent quality time this week reflecting on) we love Jesus….not because we hope to get to heaven, but….
THE HYMN 

My God, I love thee; not because

I hope for heaven thereby,

nor yet because who love thee not

are lost eternally.
Thou, O Lord Jesus, thou didst me

upon the cross embrace;

for me didst bear the nails and spear,

and manifold disgrace,
And griefs and torments numberless,

and sweat of agony;

yea, death itself; and all for me

who was thine enemy.
Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,

should I not love thee well,

not for the sake of winning heaven,

nor any fear of hell;
not with the hope of gaining aught,

not seeking a reward;

but as thyself hast loved me,

O ever loving Lord!
So would I love thee, dearest Lord,

and in thy praise will sing,

solely because thou art my God

and my most loving King.

Facebook One

 A true Christian is one who never for a moment forgets what God has done for him/her in Christ – John Baillie ( 1886-1960).
One of several messages  I was inspired to post on Facebook this week as I continued #ReadingagoodbookforLent 

Facebook Two

This post, poses,  and answers,  one of the great existential questions of all time. And elevates this call of #nopainnogain to whole new level:

Why did God take our place and bear our sin on the Cross? What did he accomplish by his self- sacrifice, his self-substitution? The New Testament gives three main answers to these questions which may be summed in the words,

salvation, revelation, and conquest. What God in Christ has done through the Cross is to rescue us, disclose himself and  conquer evil.

Rev John Stott ” The Cross of Cross of Christ “:  The Salvation of Sinners #ReadingagoodbookforLent

Facebook Three 

Recommends one response to the God who became Incarnate in Christ. And whose declaration that ” I am the Resurrection and the Life”, in the Gospel Reading for my Church tomorrow Sunday April 1, is the promise we hold dearly to, #nopainnogain, even in death. Whether from Cancer, the gunman, HIV/AIDS or Alzheimers Disease. 

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Both sisters said the same words to Jesus. But one worshiped Him, ‘knelt down’, first. Just read this very familiar  gospel story appointed for my church on Sunday. But it never struck me before. That Mary worshiped Him first. She, the same one,  who had ‘washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. 

Let us pledge to worship Jesus first, before we ask Him to rescue …a brother, a sister, a wife, a husband, a  cousin, a child, a friend, a community…Hanover bleeding…and a nation…under siege..from gunmen….and men abusing our women and children. For He only is truly The Resurrection and the Life.
My spirit longs for thee,

Within my troubled breast,

Though I unworthy be 

Of so divine a guest…..

Facebook Four.

Recommends another response. For without this great rescue act by God Almighty, with terrible pain and suffering on the Cross of Calvary, we would never have gained this mighty salvation. For we had all gone astray.  Like sheep!
GRATITUDE AND LOVE
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. Isaiah 53:6
Long, long ago, in a distant land, God and humanity had perfect fellowship………
That all changed, of course, when a slithering liar created an illusion of unfulfilled desire and tricked human beings into developing a will independent of their Creator’s. The results, as we all know, were tragic, and we still feel the consequences of them today. #Hanoverbleeding  Each of us has followed the path of our first parents; we all, like sheep, have gone astray and turned to our own way.
We became ruled by self-will and grew more blind and more deaf to the voice and presence of God. Our senses dulled to the point where many of us have even wondered whether He exists. We became like patients in an ICU whose nutritional supply has been cu off, and we were slowly slipping away.
That’s why the Messiah came, suffered and died. We needed a life transfusion…….Our death was reversed because a human not worthy of death came to us and died. His resurrection overcame our self will. We no longer need to go out own way….   

Our fate was worse than we thought, and our salvation is greater than we think.

Chris Tiegreen  ” The Wonder of the Cross ” Devotional: March 29.

#earlymorningdevotions 

A true Christian is one who never for a moment  forgets what God has done for him/her on the Cross. John Baillie 

If you, O Lord kept a record of sins, O Lord who could stand. But with you there is forgiveness, and so you are greatly feared. Psalm 130. A reading for my Church on Sunday. Thank God for #GoodFriday and #Easter

#Betterthanachampsticket
FINAL COMMENT:
So as we continue  our journey with the Crucified One, #nopainnogain, #Lent, and move resolutely towards #GoodFriday and the Blessed #Easter, let us cast into the Pit of hell, the #Prosperitygospel and any other #alternatetivefact which would distract us from keeping a focus on the Cross of Christ. For we serve a Suffering Christ, who,  as the famous German theologian and martyr,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, ‘ calls us  to die’, to self,  when He calls us to be His disciples.
And in the same way, a young pastor reminded us at church last week,  that, ” The Blood of Martyrs is the seed of the Church’, so too the suffering of the children of God in this corrupt generation, is the only  answer to the crime and violence. And all the other social and moral ills  bedeviling  our nation! 
For as we suffer with Christ, so is His Name held in high honor, and He will defend His Name, as we cry out to Him. For mercy!
Mercy, not for Calabar or Kingston College at #Champs2017……Edwin Allen High does not need any  more prayers 🖒….but for our women and children under siege by violent and wicked men. For our communities ‘ under the gun ‘. Literally.  And for a nation which has strayed, like sheep, from worshipping the Crucified One. Christ Jesus!