The Sermon at The National Leadership Prayer in Jamaica. And more!

I am inviting all who read these weekly blogs, to watch the sermon shared at the annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Jamaica, on Thursday morning, January 18th, 2018. It can be found in the link below on YouTube. If you wish you can fast forward until the sermon appears, or watch the entire program.

The preacher, Rev. Astor Carlyle of the Webster United Church in Kingston Jamaica, inspired me to write the following comment on my Facebook page:

A CALL FOR A MORAL REVOLUTION

Search through this link and you will find a great treasure. A call for a moral revolution otherwise we will always be in a state of emergency – Pastor Astor Carlyle speaking at the #NLPB this morning morning. And more!
Spent time tonight listening to the entire sermon all over again. And from Buju Banton through Jeremiah, from Clear mindedness and Truth telling, from Community mindedness and Justice, to Clean mindedness and Righteousness, the same Truth rang out like a clarion call. Only God can circumcise the heart. Only God can lead us to a moral revolution and away from moral insensitivity. Only God!

COMMENTS ON FACEBOOK

And among the comments which this post triggered were the following:

First: Veteran broadcaster Fae Ellington –

“Wasn’t able to watch it live but I did so last night. Rev. Astor Carlyle, my pastor’s message at the National Prayer Breakfast, to all of us Jamaicans – at home and abroad – is exactly what this nation needed to hear.

I have one concern however. This timely message was delivered on the same morning that the state of public emergency was announced. So although the leaders of both political parties were in attendance, they may not have ‘listened keenly’ because their minds might have been focused on what was happening in St. James, the Prime Minister moreso.
This also applies to others key functionaries in that room.

My point is borne out as most media missed the nexus between the Rev Astor Carlyle’s message and the real reason for a state of public emergency. On this count #CVM did much better than #TVJ.

Those media houses which only gave it a ‘lick and promise’ or no coverage at all need to revisit that message and be bold in the reporting and critical analysis.

I think we all as a nation would benefit from a full panel discussion on this message. Criminalogist. Psychologist. Political analyst. Sociologist. We don’t even need a theologian on this one.”

Second: Well known human rights activist and Anglican Pastor – Rev. Sean Major-Cambpell

“This message should be put on cd and sent throughout the country. Imagine this message feeding the minds on buses versus the filth that is often played. Imagine a portion being played at school devotions across Jamaica. Imagine a few minutes of this being played in the tax office and the banks and some crowded spaces where people spend a long time in lines. #FeedingTheMinds”

Third: The most unapologetic, strident and ‘ Truth telling ‘ journalist in town – Erica Virtue

“There are No guarantees that without an impending State of Emergency they would have listened any keener. But I can tell you they heard. You could see them wince as the truth hit home. He gave them all a righteous slaughter. Serve them right. And good for him.”

THE TEXT FROM THE PROPHET JEREMIAH

Having watched the sermon again, and having spent some time reflecting on the many contextually relevant and pointed observations: ” Truth is closely allied with trust; and without trust people will not sacrifice to help build a nation “, I went to the text from which he preached. Jeremiah 4: 1-4

THE WORD OF GOD

“If you, Israel, will return, then return to me,” declares the Lord . “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will invoke blessings by him and in him they will boast.”
This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord , circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.
Jeremiah 4:1‭-‬4 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/jer.4.1-4.NIV

CONTEXT

And then during #mylunchtimedevotions on the following day, I went back to Chap 3, in order to better understand the context in which the Word of God was ‘ lifted up high’, in, and on, the nation yesterday. And found this:

THE WORD OF GOD

“I myself said, “ ‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord . A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God.

“Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God. Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception; surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.

From our youth shameful gods have consumed the fruits of our ancestors’ labor— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”
Jeremiah 3:19‭-‬25 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/jer.3.19-25.NIV

GOD’S PLANS FOR JAMAICA

And so I understood better the Word from this anointed man of God, that The Lord has a wonderful future in store for Jamaica. But to attain that preferred future, we have to choose well. Make a choice to, as a nation, as they say in the language of the streets ” bun fyah for moral insensitivity and tun up moral revolution“.

For our God is longing for us to call Him Father, and not turn away from Him. In #StJamesbleeding! In #Clarendonbleeding! And in #Jamaicableeding.

Then I gave thanks for Jesus in an intentional way. Why?
Read again about God’s wrath in verse 4: “Which will flare up with no one to which it. Forever!”

THANK GOD FOR JESUS

That is, no one but Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. ” For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”!
Not just Israel. Not just Judah. Not just the wicked gunmen in St. James, and in the heart of New Kingston the day after the #NLPB was held…and not far from the hotel. Not just ISIS. Not just #Kartel. Not just #Ninjaman. Everybody! The Governor General, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Church leaders, me, you. Everybody!

” But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus”. That’s why we love the Lord Jesus. Because He died for me. And for you! And so we sing the sanke that came into my head:

” Are you washed, are you washed, are you washed with the blood of the lamb. Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow, are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb”.

So My Lord, God who became man, Incarnate, died so that the wrath of God, may not destroy all of us who have sinned viz., ” perish”.

REPENTANCE

The reality then, us that, with all the preaching in the world, with all the Prayer Breakfast, with all the State of Public Emergency now in force in St. James, unless we, confess our sins before a Holy God, repent, abd are ” born again “, baptized and become a disciple of Christ, we will never have a ” circumcised heart”.
And thus a nation will always be in a state of emergency.

And not just Jamaica. For if truth be told whether they accept it or not, America is in a state of moral emergency. So too most of Europe. Despite their great wealth! For all that glitters is not gold. Perhaps in an even more dire state than #Haiti and parts of #Africa.

OLD COVENANT AND THE NEW COVENANT

Finally I was led to read one of the great teaching passages in the Bible:

THE WORD OF GOD

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:12‭-‬14‭, ‬16‭-‬18 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/2co.3.12-18.NIV

This then is the ” preferred future” for all mankind. To perceive the ” new thing “, that in Christ, God is doing. To move in the direction that the Prophet Jeremiah pointed. To a New Covenant with God written in! The Blood of the Lamb on Calvary And where no ” veil ” covers our faces, and no ” veil ” covers our minds and make them dull. But rather looking to the Lord Jesus, we are being transformed into His image with ever increasing glory.
That is the heritage of all faithful believers.

Only then will ” streams of living water ” The promised Holy Spirit, flow from us, and help to heal this #ZOSO land. This #StateofEmergency land. And bring Peace to Montego Bay and Kingston. And grant us a ” circumcised heart “.

PRONE TO WANDER

Otherwise as the song writer so profoundly observed, in the words of a song that came into my heart last night; we will always like the people of Israel, be ” prone to wander from the God we love “.
With devastating consequences!

THE HYMN

Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy praise!
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
And teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
praise the mount! Oh, fix me on it,
mount of God’s redeeming love.

Here I find my greatest treasure,
hither by Thy help I come,
and I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God,
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
let Thy goodness like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love, oh
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.

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1600 Murders in Jamaica in 2017 and The National Leadership Prayer Breakfast

Prophecy doesn’t always have to come from Scripture; sometimes an old nursery rhyme, which came into my head last night, will suffice.

” Humpty Dumpty sat upon a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great Fall.
And all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again “.
Jamaica in Trouble

My country is in big trouble. Serious trouble! With over 50 persons murdered since the start of the new year, and 1600 plus last year, my once relatively peaceful nation, has suffered a great Fall. And all our political leaders, on both sides of the fence, all our judges and lawyers and human rights activists, all our intellectuals, all our private sector leaders, all the leaders in civil society, all the police and soldiers, all the trained journalists, and the ‘ village ones’ on Twitter, can’t seem to get it right. To put Jamaica ” together again “!

The National Leadership Prayer Breakfast

So next week, as it has done for many years, at The National Leadership Prayer Breakfast, the Church, will, again, call the nation’s leaders, and members of the diplomatic corps, to pray to the Almighty God, for mercy.

David’s Act of Mercy

But, after I read about a great act of mercy……David and Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth…..” Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”……” what is your servant that you should notice a dead dog like me…….last night, this verse of Scripture came into my head:

” What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:4

God’s Great Act of Mercy

So why should a Holy and Righteous God , The Holy and Immortal One, care about mankind? Why does He continue to show kindness to :

” We, all like sheep, have gone away,
each of us has turned to his own way”. Isaiah 53:6;

Why! Two reasons.
One is that, as revealed to us in Holy Scriptures, (not on Netflix, not on CNN, not YouTube, not on Facebook, not on Instagram or Telegram, where far too many people ‘ live and breathe and have their being ), God created us in His own image and likeness. And as the Psalmist continued:

” You make him ( man) over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet”.

Two, is that like Humpty Dumpty, in the Garden of Eden, because of Adam’s disobedience, Sin entered and good and perfect world, and thus man suffered a ‘ Great Fall’.
Since then, the gates were opened, and all manner of wickedness and illness and disasters entered the hearts and bodies of mankind, and into creation itself!

Manifestations of The Fall

How else would you explain rape of old ladies, one’s own child, and rape as a weapon of war! How else would you explain not just murder, but murder most foul; a baby, a toddler, a pregnant women. A whole family. Good God!

How else would you explain the ravaging of a precious child, dear friend, a wonderful mother, by the unrelenting and insatiable growth of cancer cells. Or the devastation news of sudden death from a heart attack or stroke or Pulmonary Embolism!

How else would you explain the evil of racism and ” cry my beloved country ” in South Africa? And Fanon’s ” Wretched of the Earth”. A plague which divides countries and communities, and which evil continues to be stoked from surprisingly high places. #ElSalvador!

How else would you explain the devastation and loss of life caused by Ritcher Scale 7 earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Cat 5 Hurricanes!

How else would you explain the evil of The Holocaust, Transatlantic Slavery, Hiroshima, Rwanda, and the Killing Fields of Cambodia!

And all the great professors, philosophers, scientists, Roman soldiers and Greek poets, the Industrial Revolution, The Age of the Enlightenment, The Discovery of Nuclear Power, The Advances in Medicine and Technology, have never been able to restore man to Holiness again. To reconcile sinful man to God and to each other again.

God’s Response

But God! So loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believeth on Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16. The most popular verse in the Bible!

This is the only basis, the only reason, why a nation like ours, which has ‘ gone it’s own way’, and is now reaping what we have ‘ sowed by disobedience’, can turn to a living Father in heaven, and ask for mercy.

Yesterday, I was led to write the following reflection. But was prevented from posting it on Facebook. Instead I showed it to s patient at work who was at wits end, on account of some pressing challenges. Having read it, she smile and nodded in agreement, as she is a child of God.

I pray God that others be similarly inspired to hold fast to a God, who in Christ, has proved himself faithful to those who trust Him. Even in dark places. And remember that ‘ other prisoners are listening to us, as we ‘ sing songs of praise’ to God, at The National Leadership Prayer Breakfast. Even in the midst of a Great Fall in our country.

Yesterday

#earlymorningdevotions

WHERE DO YOU DWELL?

A Deeper Worship
Chris Tiegreen One Year Wonder of The Cross Devotional book
September 1

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25

What do you do when your hostile environment seems to get the best of you? If you are like most people, you fight back, lament your losses, or just get depressed. Not Paul and Silas. They sat in a dirty Phillipian jail in the dark of night singing hymns to God.

The reason they were in jail to begin with was because they were obedient to God…..

Where do you dwell? If you are easily swayed by your circumstances, your quality of life will be manipulated by the enemy of God. If you live at a deeper level than that, grounded in the Word of God and filled with His Spirit, your quality of life cannot be shaken.

Every situation will be an opportunity to worship, or at least to acknowledge the Sovereignty of the Father.

This is a crucial principle to grasp if you are going to maintain your sanity in a fallen world. You cannot live zealously for Jesus while living as a victim of circumstance.
You have to read in between the lines of your life and recognize both the enemy’s surface tactics and the underlying will of God. The spiritual war requires great focus – and ability to worship in dark places.

Then the Spirit of God brought two passages of Scripture to my mind:

1. Psalm 91…in which I have been led to spend quality time for years.
He that dwells in the secret place of the most high……

2. For you have been granted the privilege not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer with him ( the Christ).

Fallen world – of sin, and sickness…cancer even.. .. and attack from evil forces, of temptation, of family turmoil, of financial challenges, of murder most foul, and rape and mayhem, of corruption in high places, and of death so final.

Thank God for Jesus, in whom and through whom, and because of whom, we can worship in dark places. For we have learned, by obedience, and faith, to dwell in Him. And Him Crucified.

Christ The Only Hope in the midst of Darkness

It’s good, if fact more than good, vital, to have hope. Otherwise the spirit of a man or a woman is broken. And worse, the spirit of a nation is broken! But what is even more devastating is false hope. Hope that has no foundation.

Such was the case in Britain just before Hitler unleashed his might and fury on a largely unsuspecting, perhaps in denial, neighbours in Europe. A situation which provoked the then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938, to declare on his return from talks with Hitler, ” Peace for our time”.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_for_our_time

I thought about it after the public outcry following the #PalisadoesRoad madness on new years eve. And this morning, again, as I was a as I am led to awakened early read a passage from 1 Thessalonians 5; and then to write this message, having posted the following note on Facebook earlier in the week.

FACEBOOK

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20180103/nightmare-odpem-alarmed-over-traffic-build-palisadoes-plans-high-level#.WkzThwnN3YM.facebook

Is there a link between the chaos on Palisadoes Road on New Year’s eve, and God’s Word. This is what came to me as I spent my #earlymorningdevotions reflecting on one of the most profound messages in Christian Hymnody:

Two verses of a popular hymn tell a sorry tale.

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown
when thou camest to earth for me;
but in Bethlehem’ s home was there found no room
for the holy Nativity.
Refrain
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus;
there is room in my heart for thee.

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
that should set the people free;
but with mocking scorn and with crown
of thorn
they bore thee to Calvary.

Refrain.

All of this madness on our roads and in many aspects of our ‘ livity’ is a fulfillment of the Word in Proverbs that reveals that:
“Where there is no vision the people ( cast off all restraints) perish”.
And Democratic Socialism was a slogan. Not a vision. So too ” it takes cash to care”, Capitalism and a Market Determined Economy. Even worse Prosperity.

We need to ” take sleep and mark death ” in this nation. As the signs of ” casting off all restraints ” has not come upon us suddenly like a thief in the night. It did not begin with #BloodyStJames not #Clarendonbleeding.
It began a long time ago when ‘ bright people ‘ in this basically Christian country, where ordinary people ” invited Christ into their hearts and homes and communities”, decided that Christ was not sufficient. We needed something more! And led a nation astray.

Now it is only by the grace of God that we are still in some respects, a civilized country. But time is running out. For if we do not turn back to the One who left his throne and his kingly crown to bring the Living Word that should set us free from indiscipline, greed, and Evil, then what happened on #Palisadoes may overtake the whole country in a flash.
All because we have no vision of where we are going as a people!
May God have mercy on us. As we blame others and institutions for what is a deeply rooted problem that police cannot solve by themselves.

Then this morning, sad news greeted me from a friend’s Facebook page, as I went to copy the message above :

Mark Dawes on Facebook

My cousin’s husband, Wilton, was murdered this morning. A gunman entered the family home in Greater Portmore about 5:30 am. Wilton confronted the man and was shot in the chest. He died within a few minutes.

The shot woke his wife and young adult daughter. They held him. He told them: “I love you” and then shortly after died. He was a decent and Godly man, a deacon in his church, and a faithful husband and loving father.

The crime problem is bigger than the security forces can handle. You could triple the number of police and soldiers in Jamaica, the problem would not be solved. The problem is FUNDAMENTALLY a spiritual problem. A spiritual problem cannot be solved by physical means. Only a repentant church can stop the gun-violence in Jamaica.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
– 2 Chronicles 7:14

All of this happening as the news on Television last night reported 25 people murdered in the first 4 days of the new year.

Finally, a tweet I read last night, no doubt from a secular and rationale point of view, a fair statement:

Damion King on Twitter

No. No. No. No. No. The traffic gridlock at Palisadoes was NOT caused by “unruly motorists”. Motorists want to be unruly everywhere. It was caused by Jamaica’s chronic, persistent failure to police traffic laws and the rules of the road. https://t.co/r1kCccbJw2

So what revelation did a reading of 1 Thessalonians 5 ‘ bring to the table ‘, in the midst of all this grief and chaos. And longing for a ray of hope!

THE WORD OF GOD

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13‭-‬14 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/1th.4.13-14.NIV

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:1‭-‬11 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/1th.5.1-11.NIV

And this inspiration to read about ‘ the day of the Lord’, began earlier in the week, when was led to read the book of Malachi. Which ends in this fashion:

The Word of God

See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Malachi 4:5‭-‬6 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/mal.4.5-6.NIV

What do I understand by all of this revelation? In light of the well intentioned review of #PalisadoesRoad madness by one of Jamaica’s well known economist, and an intellectual with excellent credentials. And in light of the well intentioned call by Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently, for Pastors to preach more about refraining from vengeance. This said at a Prayer Vigil, in response to the alarmingly, and some would argue, out of control, murder rate in the island; many caused by retaliation provoked by a lust for vengeance!

Two points! Both of which I posted on Facebook this week. One provoked controversy, while the other was met with universal acceptance. And both of which I have been led to incorporate into a sermon to be delivered at my church tomorrow.
The first is that:

Jesus didn’t come primarily to solve the economic, political, and social problems of the world. He came to forgive our sins – Timothy Keller

The second:

Our rent to continue living on Planet Earth is our service to our fellowmen”

– Pastor, in a prelude to praying for us in my office at the start of a new year. Touched my soul. Profound message.

So the two points, in this context of confusion on earth, and revelation from God, are as follows:

1. That there are two sets of people who live on earth. Those who dwell in the Light who is Christ and Him Crucified and have received forgiveness of sins , and those who dwell in the darkness; regardless of how enlightened they may think they are, or how others view them.

This is the existential reality ever since Adam caused sin to enter into the world. And the fact that people live in darkness, viz, without having The Light who is the Crucified and Risen Christ shine on and through them, is the reason for the ‘ season of #BloodyStJames and #BloodyJamaica. And also for #PalisadoesRoad. And one day, The Terrible Day of the Lord will come. Like a thief in the night! On all who reject the Light who is Christ.

In the meanwhile, sadly, people like Mark Dawes’ friend, good Christian people, will suffer and die, as long as the darkness remains. Thank God, however, we can encourage each other, in the midst of the tragedy and terrible grief and pain, because Jesus rose from the dead, we have a Hope of Salvation and Eternal Life. So we shall be together again in Christ. No matter what evil can do to us, or sickness.

2. Because we are Children of The Light who is Christ and Him Crucified, we are called to serve. All mankind. Including, and especially the people who live in darkness!

And singing the song which the father of John the Baptist sang at his son’s birth ( known as the Benedictus, and a song constantly in my heart ), ” that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies: might serve him without fear”, we will serve without fear of evil.

We shall serve in our preaching of the Gospel: ” And thou, child, shall be called the Prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of Salvation unto his people: for the remission of their sins……To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

We shall serve in the power of the Holy Spirit who anointed our Savior Jesus to go around doing good:

” preach good news to the poor…..to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. Luke 4:18-19

That’s why children of Light are found in every ‘ nook and cranny’ of this world. In politics, sweeping the garbage, visiting the sick, rescuing lost young men in the ghetto, attending to the poor and orphans. In trade unions, in the media, in the courts, in the police force, in the universities. All over!
Are we serving well. Can we do better? Have we always represented our Saviour faithfully? Thank God Christ will be our only Judge. And not man!

For as the songwriter of a well known hymn I was led to reflect on this week puts it:

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
no merit of my own I claim,
but wholly trust in Jesus’ name

Refrain
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

When weary in this early race,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every wild and stormy gale
my anchor holds and will not fail.

Refrain

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand….

A New Year’s Message: Good and Evil, and Christ, The Hope for The Ages

Yesterday morning in Church, on new year’s eve, it suddenly struck me, as we gave thanks for The Light that is Christ who came into the world at Christmas, that we live in time of great contrasts. And in a real sense paradox.

Over 1500 persons brutally murdered this year, many in the tourist capital ( Bloody, according to the headlines of The Daily Gleaner and with 320 murders, the Newsmaker of the Year 2017) St. James, and yet tourists still flock our country; the land branded as ” Jamaica no problem “.

America ” the home of the free and the land of the brave”, produced,
in one era, a Barack Obama and a Donald Trump.

The Athletics world ‘celebrates’ the exploits of a Usain Bolt and Justlin Gatlin at the same time.

Mankind has left its footprint on the moon, ‘ one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind’, and yet on earth, the members of tge Pol Pot Regime Regime in Cambodia’s ” killing fields ” recently apologized for committing mass murder of over 3 million people ( more than the population of Jamaica).

Or in #LasVegas or #Manchester people filled with so much hate can shock a nation and a world by committing mass murder, while the same time firemen still risk their lives, and a young man reflexively dives into a angry waters, displaying the best of humankind, to save lives.

Prince Harry and his multiracial fiance are to be married and live in Royal Peace, and yet #BlackLivesMatter still has currency in many parts of the world; or in words of the streets, ‘ racism still a keep’.

In the hills of Kingston some are able to live in extreme opulence with all the creature comforts available, whilst, just a few miles away, young girls bath naked at the back of the shack, and people carry out their natural ablutions on the gully bank, or wrap it up in plastic and throw it away.

A country can ‘ throw up ‘ in one era, the evil that Kartel ( #Adi to his still faithful followers and #Gaza crew) represents , and the literally, in that context, ‘ breath of fresh air’ that #Chronixx brings to the entertainment scene.

And a man can possess in his heart, at one time, such tender and compassionate love for a woman, and the mother of his child, and then turn around in true ‘ Jekyl and Hyde’ fashion, and either beat her repeatedly, mercilessly, or ‘ blow out ‘ her brains in a fit of mad jealousy.

But perhaps the inspired song writer has the most profound thing to say about the state of the world as expressed in that wonderful and instructive hymn, Thou didst leave the throne and thy kingly crown, with the refrain, ” Come into my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee”:

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living
word that should set thy people free;
but with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn they bore thee to Calvary.

CHALLENGE FOR 2018

The challenge as we begin a new year is that although we have made significant progress as mankind, in solving some of the world’s great problems: poliomyelitis, smallpox, bubonic plague; and made spectacular advances in telecommunications and transportation, wars and rumours of war still abound.
As malice, pride, greed, selfishness, slackness, plain wickedness continue to live deep in the human heart!

And so the single greatest problem, the state of the human heart remains, in a world populated by
” The Good, The Bad and The Ugly ”
Where good and evil reside in close and intimate proximity!

WHERE IS THE HOPE

Where then is the Hope for what Press Association of Jamaica, #Djmller calls the once ” Friendly City”; Montego Bay, the capital of ” Boody St. James”? And not just #StJamesbleeding but #Clarendonbleeding and the entire #Jamaicableeding!

Where then is the Hope for a better life for inner city girls, often blighted by teenage pregnancy, and boys, who are targeted by the Don; and sent out to ‘ make duppies’. One of the most chilling street phrases, which reveals in a very profound way, how we have, according to the Diocesan Bishop of Jamaica, Howard Gregory, “lost an appreciation and value for the mystery of human life”.

Where then is the Hope for a church battered and bruised by #TheMoravianPastor, and #TalktheTruth a scandal which has deep tentacles in other denominations?

Where then is the Hope for a Political System which has the power to transform the lives of so many people in desperate need of help( and thank God for the many good things achieved over the years, but is hobbled by a desire to retain power ( in some instances at any and reportedly in some instances, nefarious means, not unconnected to #BloodyStJames) rather than pursue the common good, and do the right and principled thing, ‘ come what may’?

THE ANSWER

I begin an answer to this burning question which is, no doubt, occupying the minds of our people on this the first day of the new year, with a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. This From a meditation that I’ve spent quality time thinking about, and shared in an earlier blog, entitled ” The Death of Evil ”

” ……..Pharaoh stubbornly refused to to respond to the cry of Moses, even when plague after plague threatened his domain. This tells us something about evil that we must never forget, namely, that evil is recalcitrant and determined, and never voluntarily relinquished its gold short of a persistent, almost fanatical resistance.
But there is a checkpoint in the universe: evil cannot permanently organise itself…..

And from another entitled ” He who Turns Blackness into Dawn”.

“Midnight is a confusing hour when it is difficult to be faithful. 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 just. When one believes that he knows that the contradictions of life are neither final not ultimate.”

The final part of the answer to the question of quo vadis, from whence cometh, the Hope that people desperately need, in this time of #BloodyStJames, comes from Holy Scriptures. A simple yet profound Word that has ‘ haunted ‘ my soul all week long:

” All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me……And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age “. Matthew 28:20.

The last word recorded by this disciple before Jesus ascended, and returned to His Father in heaven, from whence He came at Christmas.

CONCLUSION

So yes, PM Andrew Holness has some authority. And so do the members of the security forces ( whether or on sick out or not). To his dismay, Kartel has found out that Judges wield awesome power.

Over the years Jamaica has experienced the awesome power of the ‘ market place ‘ controlled by powerful men and women in the private sector. In their own and too often, in a perverse way, taximen and coaster bus drivers, arrogate unto themselves the power to drive where they please. Leaving in their wake, mayhem and chaos!

Doctors have power, so too the ‘ fourth estate ‘, the media, and also teachers. Even garbage collectors have power. And we all know of the power which #Realshellyann and Usain Bolt have ; and the #Reggaeboyz. To send a nation into frenzied excitement and rapture ( kryptonite seems to have affected the once vaunted West Indies Cricket Team).

But ultimate only God in Jesus can touch the hearts of sinful mankind. Only Jesus has the Authority to create ‘ a clean heart and renew a right spirit’, in wicked gunmen who cause #Jamaicableeding. In abusive husbands and partners. In selfish and greedy men who ‘ wallow in luxury ‘, whilst their brothers and sisters suffer in poverty and subsist on low paying salaries. In dangerous politicians who profess to love and care publicly, whilst in dark corners contribute to #BloodyStJames. In lost pastors who prey on young girls at night, whilst praying for the flock by day. In my heart, and your heart, as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

As church, as the Redeemed of God in Christ, as Ambassadors of Christ, and ministers of the message and ministry of reconciliation, our duty in 2018, as it was in 2017, and will be in 2019, is to ‘ lift up the Name of Jesus’, The Crucified One, in how we live, and what we preach. And He ‘ will draw all men into Himself ‘.

For Christ is the checkpoint in the universe for evil. And Christ is the only Hope for the dawn at this confusing hour of midnight in #BloodyJamaica. For He alone has been given all Authority in Heaven and Earth.

Lest we forget, and like others, attempt to, on our own, and with the best intentions on the world, but totally unequipped, try to conquer the evil or murder, greed, selfishness, lust, jealousy, pride, and just plain wickedness. Which have been, on account of Adam, since the world began. And only The Blood of Jesus can wash away all these sins.

HAPP NEW YEAR

In that context then, I wish for all those, both believers and non believers, who the Lord has placed in this ministry, Happy New Year. And in Christ peace profound.