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.

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