A Christmas Message: Jerusalem, Trump, Murder and lasting Peace

So Christmas is almost here. Two more days, as I write, and then millions of people across the globe will celebrate the birth of Emanuel; God with us in Christ Jesus.

However, three families, in particular, will not ‘ enjoy’ Christmas 2017, as much as others.

1. The late Ian Boyne’s family. Shocking news of his, a man who was virtually a ‘ family friend’ to all Jamaicans, on account of his hosting of two very popular TV programs, sudden death this week was the ‘ talk of the town ‘.

2. The Palestinian families who are outraged because the USA, as reported in a very well written editorial, by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, broke a U.N. security council resolution which had the ‘ imprimatur of International law’. And Jamaica’s abstention this week in a vote called by the United Nations to, inter alia, denounce America’s action, in the face of threats of reprisals by Donald Trump, was also ‘ the talk the town’ yesterday. Especially on social media!

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20171222/editorial-whats-deal-jamaicas-jerusalem-vote

3. The ‘ family ‘ of the over 1500 persons brutally murdered in Jamaica, so far this year; especially, one which struck me as so egregiously wicked, when as reported in the news, a 16 year old girl was shot in the forehead after she refused to be in a relationship with a grown man. A national issue which, by far, is the most pressing problem that we face as a nation, as we look to a new year 2018.

As I pondered these issues, Ian Boyne’s sudden passing, loomed large in my mind. And really brought into very sharp context, ‘ the genius ‘ that Ian Boyne was, as described by the Daily Gleaner, in another editorial.

For we shall sadly miss his deep insight, well researched and nuanced, comments on these complex national and international issues.

And as I read some of the social media comments, they reaffirmed some preliminary thoughts which came to mind in respect of the Jamaica ‘ non vote ‘ at the U.N.

” When yu hand in lion mout, tek time draw it out’ – Jamaican proverb.
“Coward man keep safe bones.” – Jamaican proverb
“We are not for sale ” – former Prime Minister Michael Manley, in another era.
” Because you are neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth”
– The Bible

Tweets

The decision of the Holness admin to abstain in the UNGA on Jerusalem is cowardly. Our record on this has been principled and brave. It’s a bad and shameful decision Mr. Prime Minister. – from a senior and well respected journalist Cliff Hughes

Sample of the Reactions to his tweet

I support abstaining. Once the US cancel two visas Jamaican would kill Andrew for their visa. US is free to do what they want because they have the resources. We are still beggars of Aid

An absent appreciation of the new world order, is perhaps behind this perspective. The welfare of the nation is non-negotiable. Why risk derailment of our economy unnecesarily? We did not vote for the resolution, there is no endorsement, hence no abandonment of principle.

A man should not attempt to ride two horses at the same time…sometimes it is more prudent to sit it out. #RoevsWade

This is the same Ja that took a stance on apartheid?! In 2017 Ja too licky licky

Think you are wrong Cliff. He is big enough and brave by abstaining. Don’t get involve with big giants of the world. You see where God put us on the map. We need to stay away.

We can’t eat principles Cliff. It’s not like we haven’t been there b4. We’re dealing with an international pariah w/a thin-skinned megalomaniac president who’s not perturbed by the niceties of morality & decency. Membr Angola & M Manley? & 40 yrs later we still haven’t recovered.

END

Really makes you wonder which country Michael Manley was representing, as most of the responses were similar to the final one quoted. Unless we have changed as a people. Or social media folks are a ‘ different breed! For clearly Trump’s bellicose and provocative utterances have resonance far beyond the response or non response, of individual states. They undermine the very foundation of the United Nations and the work of it’s many agencies; not the least of which is their human rights commission. All of which, ironically, was birthed out of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime Hitler during World War 11; when the world collectively, in establishing the U.N. in 1947 said ” Never Again”, to authoritarian madness.

And as I struggled to come to terms with this new Jamaica, and this new world order, The Lord came to my rescue, in a powerful Word. A reminder really, as I had been pondering on it all week.

What Word? The Old Testament reading for this Sunday, the final one in Advent. David had a plan, but a ‘ revelation from God’, sent him in a different direction.

THE WORD OF GOD

When the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest
from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See
now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”
Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my
servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in?
2 Samuel 7.

A Word and a message which was validated by my reading another passage of Scripture early this morning.

Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint ; but blessed us he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18

And finally:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me….
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14.

The challenge we face as individuals, families, and nations of an international community, is that we have not accepted the ultimate ‘ revelation ‘ from God, who is Jesus Christ. Born on Christmas day! But like King David attempted to ‘ set our own agenda’.

And so Donald Trump, with the economic might, if not the support of the American people, behind him, can ‘ cast off all restraint ‘, and act unilaterally. And bully others to go along with him. Or attempt so to do!

And so an evil gunmen, casting off restraint of the eternal value of a human life, can snuff out the life of a young girl, like a cockroach, with no remorse, and a nation cries out momentarily, and then it is business ‘ Christmas shopping’, as usual.

And so we allow, in the name of a plural society, all kinds of strange religions, the worst of the dance hall culture, the most outrageous distortions of Christianity ( if you want to reap in US dollars, sow in US, heard it myself) atheist and enlightened views, to invade the minds of our people, unfiltered, because as a nation, we have ‘ cast off all restraint’ taught to us by our slave forebears, who loved Jesus.
And then expect Jamaica ‘ under God’, to prosper!

No! For Christmas is not just a time for families to gather and drink sorrel, eat ham, have Christmas cake and exchange gifts, presumably after having attended a church service.

No! For Christmas is above all about Jerusalem. And life more abundantly for Jews and Gentiles alike. Including Palestinians. About murder. And murder most foul. About death. Even sudden death.

For Jesus is God’s ultimate and final revelation. That in Him, and in Him alone, ‘ Adams helpless race’, afflicted by Sin, battered by evil, and threatened always by the fear of death, can enjoy lasting and real peace. Enjoy eternal life. Beginning right here on terra firma.
In Trump’s country! In Jerusalem. In Palestine. In Jamaica.

But we must be bold and accept this gift. For to be lukewarm is not an option. Not a vote! Otherwise we will be cast out into eternal darkness where Trump’s threats of reprisals and wicked gunmen will seem like child’s play.
For it is appointed once for man to die and then the judgement. By the One who was born on Christmas day. That’s the Gospel Truth.

So there will never be peace in Jerusalem, regardless of whosoever recognizes it as a capital of wherever, peace between Palestine and Israel, peace in Jamaica, and peace in Donald Tump’ s soul, until, as God’s creation we accept the revelation that, it is only through Jesus Christ can we, sinful man, be reconciled with a Holy God.

For Jesus’ declaration that, ” I am the way, the Truth and the Life” is an eternal and unshakeable revelation. No matter who thinks otherwise!
Merry Christmas!

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Can Jamaica, America, and the world be rescued from madness? Only by God!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/DWMx1wJxa37D8gK03

In one of the most dramatic front page stories, this week, The Daily Gleaner stirred the conscience of a beleaguered nation. Deeply! Or so I hope.

A nation ‘ in a state of anarchy’, as described in the accompanying and very sharp editorial. A nation in which almost 10,000 precious lives, made in the image and likeness of God, were lost on account of homicide over the past 7 years.

And the the Gleaner Editorial continued:

“Things can’t continue like this if Jamaicans hope to live in a civilised society and the Government doesn’t intend to compete for its legitimacy with criminal warlords. Instituting a turnaround will be difficult, but, with the appropriate effort and some help, it can be done.”

Not so public, but yet equally dramatic, was an observation shared by a principal of an inner city school, during a major road safety policy forum this week: ” buses from hell
This, as she describes the lived experience of citizens who ‘ banned’, and threw stones at them if they dared to return, certain buses from entering their community, on account of the reckless driving of the drivers.

Clearly, a metaphor for, and dramatic example of, what, in the eyes of many exasperated citizens, is the kind of anarchy which exists on our roads. With taxis and ‘ coaster’ buses making a ‘ third lane’, or mounting the sidewalk. Regularly!

And so the very same point that the Gleaner Editorial made, in respect of homicide, can equally be applied to the behaviour on our roads; things cannot continue like this if we hope to live in a civilised society.

This week also, I had a very intriguing conversation with a good friend. A woman who has been in the ‘ trenches’ for years, making a yeoman’s ( somehow that doesn’t sound right) contribution to national development, by working with the poor and marginalized youths in inner city communities; and leading a major civil society group. A national honor is overdue!

To cut a long story short, I was busily denouncing the wicked gunmen responsible for the Gleaner headlines, as ‘ dog hearted’. A term reserved in Jamaican parlance, for one who is almost ‘ without any soul’; and just totally evil, killing without any remorse.
And by implication, though not my thoughts, irredeemable.

She urged caution! As it was her view that their circumstances had in some way contributed to their evil behaviour. And I, the Christian one, was unrepentant and unimpressed with her arguments, having worked in the inner city, on behalf of my church, for most of my professional life. On this note of agreeing to disagree, on this point, we parted amicably. As always! Such is my respect for the work she does.

Then, this week, I opened, randomly, Chris Tiegreen’s One Year Wonder of The Cross Devotional book, and found this:

A RECONCILING MISSION

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and have us the ministry of reconciliation. 2. Corinthians 5:18

In Word
The world is fragmented. That wasn’t the case in Eden, where creation was new and complete. But sin has far-reaching effects, severing multiple relationships in multiple ways.
It disconnected human beings from their Creator, it put enmity between man and woman, it created rivalries among siblings, and it made our our relationship with the earth a matter of hard labour rather than joyful abundance. It even separated us from ourselves, causing the image of God and a heart of sin to dwell in the same body. ( Now you begin to understand the lesson that I was being taught….dog hearted soul and imago deo, evil and good, cohabiting).
The result is brokenness and fragmentation. We are a disunited world.

The Redemption offered by Jesus addresses this problem. In Christ we are reconciled with God. In Christ, we become one body of believers. In Christ, the whole world that groans for it’s redemption gets a taste of it now. Whatever was broken in the Fall can be healed at the Cross and redeemed for a purpose. That’s what salvation is all about.

Even so, Christians still struggle with the effects of broken relationships and a fragmented society. We aren’t always sure how to reconcile people alienated from God and at odds with one another. Conflict is still part of our lives. And what this week’s passage tells us is that such conflict is the stage for God’s redemption. This is the battleground where His mercy is seen.

In Deed

Do you see your mission of one of reconciliation? There ate many sides of that: we help people get reconciled to God through Jesus, we assist reconciliation between warring parties ( And we have two tribal political parties in Jamaica, and many gangs….with conflict between them accounting for a lot of the homicides), we proclaim healing to whatever is broken in this world. But if we don’t see reconciliation as our primary purpose, we won’t be active in bringing it about.

Learn to see the ministry of reconciliation as your God-given role. He had called us to apply His Redemption everywhere we can. Our salvation isn’t just between us and Him; it’s intended to reconnect a fragmented creation with its Creator and with itself.
God, and the world, can give peace – Billy Graham

Final Comment: This reflection, aided and abetted by my conversation with my friend, and now a ‘ conversation ‘, with my God, caused me to pause, and reconsider my role as a Road Safety official in my country; and therefore in some way, responsible for dealing with the anarchy on the roads.

To reconsider my role as a family physician working in a rural setting, and in an inner city. To reconsider my privileged position as one who has access to power ( political and in the private sector) in my country.

But more importantly, one who by grace, and by faith, has unlimited access to the Almighty God, by the Power of The Holy Spirit, in and through the Blood of the Lamb of God. Jesus Christ The Crucified One!

And so in all spheres of life I am called to be God’s agent of reconciliation. Even to the ‘ dog hearted ‘ criminals and the drivers of ‘ the buses from hell’. Me and all my brothers and sisters in Christ – The Church.

For then, and only then, will Jamaica, a land of, ‘anarchy’, in the communities and on the roads, and, ‘ the entire human race ‘, ( the ending of our National Pledge) on account of sin , and Trump country, and Brexit country, and #JesuisCharlieHebdoub country, climate change devastated countries, war torn countries, countries where social unrest is rife, and wherever the need for #Metoo exists, will find peace, and be reconciled to a loving Creator God.

What a responsibility!But what awesome Power we have by grace and mercy to accomplish it. To the Glory of God. All because of The First Noel. That’s why we can, or ought to, defy all ‘political constraints ‘ and truly wish each other a Merry Christmas!

Jerusalem, Tivoli, Gun seizure and Christ’s Coming

GM: Who Colt The Game! In St. James, in Jerusalem and in Tivoli. Thank God for Jesus we have a solution for all our deepest fears! A Balm in Gilead indeed.

1. UPDATE: Barrels repackaged, shipped to Jamaica after massive gun bust – https://t.co/I3oZFTBjac

This news rocked the entire nation! Setting off a virtual firestorm of questions. Are we at war ? Is this the first time? Who is really responsible. One person, or is that just the tip of the iceberg? What kind of ‘ dog hearted ‘ people are these who would import weapons to kill and main and intimidate?

Is scamming at the root of it all? Or are there much deeper links to the criminal underworld? Are the Americans finally going to get serious and help us prevent killer weapons from entering our island?
Is this conduit the main source through which guns have come to be used to cause so much bloodshed and mayhem in St. James.

Is there a political link? Or just badness and wickedness at play here?
May God have mercy on us!

2. In 2 years of covering @UN, never seen all 14 members of #UNSC unanimously condemn the actions/decisions of another member as they are doing w/#US #Jerusalem today.

The decision by Donald Trump to reverse years of US policy of not recognising Jerusalem, as the capital of Israel, has set off virtual firestorm of protests in Palestine.
Questions abound!

Does he want to start a war there? Why break ranks with so many other world leaders; and former Presidents? What’s the end game? Can this controversial act really make for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians ? Can peace really be brokered between these two ‘ biblical enemies’ ? Is there a connection between Trump’s reversal of US policy and #NIDS…. yes I am serious. Watched it on #CVMTV tonight. During a discussion about #NIDS and the ‘ mark of the beast’; so said Bishop Roan…

Forgetting that in Christ we have a new and unique identity, that no #NIDS and no Mark of the Beast can disturb.

3. Moments ago I made an official apology in parliament for the Tivoli Gardens incursion. #Tivoliapology https://t.co/iIlJPuw6oA

And set off a firestorm of questions and comments on Facebook and Twitter :

‘Apology accepted’ – Tivoli resident says statement of regret from PM brings closure to loss of son https://t.co/gdVYLb71jA
kemetu @kemetuhg

The apology is good, Holness isn’t to blame for the incursion, however, until US Embassy JA’s involvement in the actions in Tivoli are shown to J’cans, it’s a hollow apology. https://t.co/Ug9vsrAnp4
Noel Richards @enr102562

Reneto Valentino DeCordova Adams said Tivoli would cost Jamaica dearly, dearly, dearly and we have made this vilified cop a prophet. First of all, the lives of civilians and security forces that have been lost. The shed and unshed blood caused by this small radius in Kingston. The political dishonesty over decades, the prisoners it has taken, the careers it has taken. Broken families, lives and hearts because of this community. And here we are again. Doling out more money. The cost of Manatt Phelps and Phillips commission. The cost to rebuild the police station destroyed. The cost of the Simmonds Commission. The hundreds of millions doled out in the aftermath of the offensive. The millions now to be paid. And millions more, because some of the individuals may have civil cases again the state. Only for this to happen again in 30 years, if so long, mark my words.
We are destined to repeat history, because we continue to breed criminality. Lest we forget, when we start immortalising the conceptuliser. A legacy of evil.

….Erica Virtue ( Facebook) a highly respected journalist who ‘ takes no prisoners’…of whatever stripe, colour, religious or social status.

All of us created Tivoli.

All of us created Spanish Town, parts of Clarendon …

Our silence fosters criminality in its worse forms in those areas….

Emily Crooks….another no nonsense journalist and popular talk show host @emilyshields

See @cliffnationwide I have an issue with #RonnieThwaites saying ONLY the @jlpjamaica was responsible for what happened in #Tivoli. Isn’t it @PDPhillipsJa who signed the #SecretMOU, no-one knew of it and so admin had to investigate when extradition request was made?
Wilson@yasdmekl

Why would the Gleaner list the names of persons getting payout from Tivoli incursion, including the amounts to be received?? What the hell!!
Ketchy Shuby @astrolopicticcus

That lady from tivoli made a serious point, whilst she’s grateful for the apology by the PM she doesn’t believe that our current PM should be the one apologizing.
Remote @YPWhitely

So as Jamaicans say, ” Who colt the game”? Who started all of this madness that ended up with Dudus becoming #ThePresident, #Presi; and whose extradition and resistance to it, by the state, led to The Incursion, to mayhem and Death, and extrajudicial killing and Apology, and controversy in the land?

Did the ‘ madness’, begin with Tivoli alone? Or were there other political actors? And other war zones! How far back did the ‘ rot’ start? Who will apologise to the Jamaican people for starting the madness of giving out guns to secure political gain; and in the process started the ‘ original war’ .
I would suggest that it is that context, that must locate the seizure of 115 guns as the latest revelation of a historic malady.

May God have mercy on us all. In Jamaica and the world!

Thank God He has! Has mercy. In the Life, death, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
But most of all through the great Redemption wrought of Calvary.
The definning moment in the beginning and the sustaining of The Christian faith!

A gift to all mankind. Jews and Gentiles! Israelis and Palestinians! People in Tivoli and people in the Parliament! Bishops and journalists! Scammers and importers of weapons of death! JLP and PNP! Afro girls and Brazilian hair girls! Bleachers and natural! Man U supporters and Gunners supporters! Trump and Trump! Must be two of them. Can’t be one!

And when The Church and its Bishops and people lose touch with the Cross, according to St. Paul writing to the Church in Collosae, we ” lose touch with the head”, and therefore get carried away with all kinds controversies. Including associating #NIDS with The infamous Mark of the Beast. And get excited and over concerned with #Endtimes; when our Lord clearly told us only to ” keep watch “…..as no one knows the time nor the hour, not even the Son. Only the Father”.

And so I was led to post this message during the week:

A TIME OF HEALING : AND ALL WHO CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST ARE WELCOME

As I read the Collect ( prayer for the week) and Old Testament Reading ( a section) for the worldwide Anglican Church in my #earlymorningdevotions just now, I thought of the Prayer and Repentance meeting in Half-Way-Tree over the weekend.

And felt the assurance that in Christ, on Whom ” we wait ” during Advent, the prayer, The Collect, and the Prophetic Word from Isaiah, has been answered and fulfilled. ” Call Him by His Name” says the chief organizer on TBCFM, Rev. Shuttleworth. Let us call His Name, Jesus, a lot today, and scatter the darkness which has enveloped our beloved country

The Collect

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament
Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Therefore as we welcome the season of Advent, a time of ‘ waiting upon the Lord’, let us accept the comforting words of prophecy that Isaiah offers once again, after thousands of years. And find Comfort in the fact that:

In Christ, all unanswered questions are made known. All fears calmed. All anxious hearts are stilled. All sins forgiven. All tears dried up. All apologies given and accepted. All capital cities become of no relevance. Only the New Jerusalem, coming from above, will matter. All issues of the Mark of the Beast put to bed. All rulers will have to bow. All secrets will be known. And all things become new.

As one fine day, in God’s own time, there will be a new earth and a new heaven. And a new Jerusalem. The city of God. Where no more Trump can cause mayhem. No more weapons of death. And no need for apologies. What a day that shall be. But only those whose sins are ‘ covered by the precious Blood of The Lamb ‘ shall enter.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of wicked, or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of lockers, but his delight in in the law of the Lord….. Psalm 1:1-2.

“O Blessed be The Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and Redeemed His people. And raised up for us a Mighty Salvation, in the house of His servant David ” sang Zechariah when his Son John the Baptist was born. A song ( The Benedictus) in my heart this week.

Let us therefore, in Christ, sing a new song in Jamaica, in Palestine and in America, this new morning. For Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead. And thank God so are we in Him, raised to a new life. Free from Controversies and Evil. And empowered to love one another. In Jerusalem. In Tivoli. In St. James.
Peace.

Of #Davina, Murder and The National Pledge

On #Davinanight this week Twitter exploded. Like this!

No man! Davina Afro wake me up likkle while! All a mi ancestors tump me one time. 😍😍😍😍😍😍 And that sunshine yellow on stage! Come through Queen! #MissUniverse #DavinaBennett #MissJamaica
Krystal Tomlinson : social media -youth advocate – strong links to the entertainment industry.

I am supporting #DavinaBennett for #MisssUniverse2017

Let us all throw our tweets behind this true Jamaican Queen. https://t.co/OpGffZzuy6
Andrew Holness : Prime Minister and prime cheer leader #DavinaBennett

Afro ever reach so far a #MissUniverse? It might have but me never see it yet and to know say me see it pon Jamaica #DavinaBennett mek a pride swell inna me chest til it buck. Anything can nice like being a Jamaican? Not a damn ting!
Dahlia Harris: well known actress, producer and media personality

To say that Jamaicans were happy this week when #DavinaBennett reached the top three in the Miss World finals in Las Vegas this past week, would be the understatement of the year. They went absolutely went ‘ maad’, as they were certain that she was going to win.

And so deep in the country the family and friends of this #Clarendongirl oops, sorry #Clarendonlady, gotta be politically correct, began banging ‘ pot cova ‘.
Just like when #Realshellyann won her first gold medal at the Olympics!

Ecstatic is the word. Euphoric is the word. The right language to describe how Jamaicans, and indeed the world, responded to this Afro- centric beauty. This confident-in -her -own -skin regal, royal, could-have-been-she-engaged-to-a-prince strikingly well poised and beautiful woman.

Every country needs moments like this. Another Bolt to de werl moment. Well almost!
Another #Reggaeboyz moment. Well almost!.
Another #Sunshinegirls #FastFive moment. Yeah!

And then reality set in. Another headless corpse found. Three more murdered in St. James. Moravian pastor pleads guilty of having sex with underage girls. The #SplicedTape kass kass: #Fake or #Reality; and #Chronixx show is ‘ sold off’, as after welcoming #Davina back home, ‘ life goes on in Jamaica ‘. Without missing a beat!

In the midst of this reality, Joy and Angst, national celebrations and national confusion and grief, I opened Chris Tiegreen’s The One Year Wonder of the Cross Devotional book, randomly, during my #earlymorningdevotions this week, and found a gripping story about Hope. In the midst of the storms of life.

For ultimately, we look not to #Davina, with or without her Afro, not to PM Holness, the passionate one, nor to Chronixx, #Substanceoverhype for our #Hope. But to Christ The Crucified One!

NOT HOPELESS

While they were shining him, Stephen prayed, ” Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.

Acts 7:59

“The invisible war that is integral to the Christian life can be brutal. There are spiritual attacks of doubt, deception, temptations, and condemnation, and every godly act and attitude is challenged.

There are psychological attacks of emotional distress, discouragement, and despair, and sanity isn’t always as easy as it looks.

There are relational attacks of conflict, misunderstandings, bitterness, betrayal and persecution, and peace is often a distant ideal.

And there can be even physical attacks of fatigue, disease, and injury.

On every front in our battles against the world, the flesh and the devil, we can be awfully beaten down.

It is impossible to live this new life in Christ without hope. Christians who spend little time thinking about The Kingdom will fall helplessly into despair.

Life in this fallen world can be beautiful, but it is never easy. It is not as it was first created, and it is not as it will be when Jesus comes again. Without a firm gaze on eternity, our temporal trials will consume us.

We have to invest our hopes in the coming Kingdom; otherwise, we are most pitiable among humanity ( 1 Corinthians 15:19). If we don’t see beyond the grave we despair.

Stephen prayed to Jesus essentially the same prayer that Jesus prayed to the Father: ” Receive my spirit”.
Both knew that the war against evil in this world is deadly in the flesh but alive in the Spirit. Both had abandoned all hope in setting up their lives and their treasures in this visible world for the greater glory of setting up life in the invisible world.”

The challenge we face as a Nation, and as a world, in a word is not only ” Disobedience “. A problem which according to the Bible is ” worse than divination”…..worse than obeah and sorcery and ‘ setting up tables ‘. But depending on people and circumstances like #Davina ( not Davina herself) on which to find meaning and purpose in life. This tendency to depend on things of this world is what got us into trouble when we were mesmerized by Michael Manley’s charisma and oratorical skills, or Uncle Eddie’s ( Edward Seaga) management skills and pragmatism . For despite some wobderful and lasting work done by both, we ended up being a politically, and socially, ” warring tribes “, deeply divided nation. As they both, not being gods, had ” feet of clay “; and thus were decidedly, if not spectacularly, imperfect and controversial.

The same scenario is being played out in the USA, with many yearning for the Obama days to ‘come back’, while others see Trump as their ‘ salvation’ in a new and confusingly multi-racial and multi-ethnic America.

This disobedience, rebelling against the Word of God, and seeking to find our own ‘ Salvation ‘, is what is responsible for our high murder rate. The scamming. The proliferation of gangs. The reason for INDECOM. The ill treatment of our women #Notosexualharassment. The spread of #HIV/AIDS ( for the most part). The proliferation of pregnant teenagers! The creation of garrison communities. Corruption in high places. ” For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God “. Even #DavinaBennett.

And because a careful reading of the Bible reveals that the opposite of disobedience is not, civility, but rather holiness, according to the book of Hebrews, training in holiness requires ‘ discipline ‘. Sometimes ‘ painful discipline ‘.

That’s why the authentic Christian life is often punctuated with trials and tribulations; and even persecutions like Stephen. And yet, because we follow a ‘ suffering Savior’, we have a Hope.
Which is the key lesson revealed during my #earlymorningdevotions yesterday, by being led to this passage of Scripture:

THE WORD OF GOD

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:3‭-‬11 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.12.3-11.NIV

It is in this context, that elements of the Church has called for a National time of repentance, fasting and prayer; this weekend in Half-Way-Tree square ( at another time pot cova banging #Beijing #Usain Bolt) and next week in Sam Sharpe Square in Montero-Bay ( ground zero for murder and mayhem). But better known because of the ultimate sacrifice paid by Baptist Deacon Sam Sharpe ( you won’t hear that from atheists who are very active on social media demonizing the Church) in the struggle for emancipation from slavery).

For as I was led to write about and to consider again this week #earlymorningdevotions, our National Pledge has become a National Indictment! On the one hand but a ” Call to Repentance “, on the other hand, as without the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a gift to those who believe in the Atonement wrought by Christ The Crucified One, on Calvary, we cannot be true to this Pledge that we all take time and time again.

Question is, if not before God….then to whom shall we look? #Dudus? #Kartel ? Reneto Adams? Andrew? Peter? Our ability to think critically? Our bank account? Packing a ‘9’?
King Alarm? The U.N. conventions? Seriously ! Until a Cat 5 Hurricane approaches…..

Time to celebrate #Davina. But more importantly, time to think again, seriously, about our National Pledge and our responsibility, under the God of Abraham, to ” the whole human race”. Lest we perish for a lack of a shared vision.
Peace.

National Pledge

Before God and All mankind.
I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart
The wisdom and courage of my mind,
The strength and vigour of my body
in the service of my fellow citizens.

I promise to stand up for justice,
Brotherhood and Peace, to work diligently and creatively,
To think generously and honestly, so that,
Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship
and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare
of the whole human race.