A photo has been shared thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts alongside the claim that it shows Italy’s prime minister crying over the toll of the novel coronavirus epidemic. The claim is false; the photo shows Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro getting emotional during a Thanksgiving speech.
“Italian prime minister cry as he tell the press, we are overwhelmed with the coronavirus,” reads text accompanying a photo that has been shared more than 6,100 times since it was posted here on Facebook on March 22, 2020.

This fake news caught me this week. Until I went to google to include it in the story for this week. I was so impressed by this leader’s piety in the face of the onslaught of COVID-19 in is country. While this story as posted on Social Media, a double edged sword, is fake news, what is real is that things are bad, and getting worse, not just in Italy, but worldwide.

Jamaicans, just last night were told that we have four more cases of COVID-19 infections. While in America, the cases have surged so much, that, that country now has the most cases in the entire world. More than China and more than Italy!
And the short video below, real this time, tells the story of what is happening to people all over the world. They are crying inside and are absolutely terrified.

These are unprecedented times indeed for all of us who never experienced the horrors of World War 11. Or when poliomyelitis ravaged our our country. Yes SARS was frightening, and MERS too, but nothing like COVID-19. Not even close. And with the warning from the PM that Jamaica would be “locked down” if tings get considerably worse, there could be very unusual times ahead to put it mildly.
So what is to be done? Who will come to our aid at this time? Will a vaccine be made available son? Is there some wonder drug soon to be to be revealed, or is it here already but we are not willing to accept it? Or is this really the end of times? What is real and what is fake news?
This week, in my journey with the Lord, at least one of those questions were answered. And who knows, if we understand the central story of the Bible we might experience the kind complete healing which the world desperately needs now. My story is revealed in these letters to my church this week:

MONDAY
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and varied ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son….Hebrews 1:1-2
A conversation which began yesterday. And continued
on the way to work this morning.

Focus on what Jesus is saying in these times and not so much on Old Testament prophecy. And in Him you will find peace in this COVID-19 times.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV
‪https://john.bible/john-16-33‬

What things?  John 13 – 16. The Last Supper to the High Priestly Prayer which is John 17.
Spend quality time reading about these things that lead us to be  ” in Christ”,  and therefore find peace in these times. Whether over or under age 75. All can find this peace which Jesus offers. Instead of fear, and panic, and uncertainty.
Leave Netflix and general TV and the urge to respond to every WhatsApp message, for another time. Even later.
“ Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me”. John 14:1
In obedience.
Lord renew thy church beginning  with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)….the whole world.
LWJ

COMMENT

A plea for us to focus on what God is saying to us in and though Jesus Christ in these times, rather than focus too much, although useful background knowledge, on what God of revealed of Himself – for more and better particulars were to come in Jesus – through Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Elijah at that time in history.

TUESDAY

The conversation – about the OT and the NT – continued early this morning. Why “ There is, on the one hand, an abrogation of an earlier  commandment because it  was weak and ineffectual ( for the law made nothing perfect); there is on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope, through which we can approach God.” Hebrews 7;18-19 NRSV.

So the only way to really rescue this nation from evil, whether it be #COVID-19, or murder, or immorality or….is to depend on “ this better hope, though which we approach God”. 

For if truth be told, too many in the wider church community are “ an Old Testament “ believing people. And have influenced those who are not church people,  but in a sense “ have a form of godliness”, while denying the power of Christ, calling on “ Father God”, or even mimicking the Christians, calling on  “ the blood of  Jesus Christ”. And therefore the nation has become a judgmental people, and too often lacking in mercy. As well as a disobedience and  unruly people.

And if truth be told, many of us, including myself, have in some way been influenced by this kind of doctrine. The Seventh Day Adventists have taken it to another level, for they have made this Old Testament theology, almost an entry point to Christ, rather than appreciating the the gift that it is – the first and early revelation of God – now being superseded ( for the earlier commandment was weak and ineffectual)  by “ a better hope, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified and Raised from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of God, through whom, and Him only, we approach God.  “ I am the way the truth and the life; no one cometh to the Father except through me”.

And this is not “  De Cordova Adams type semantics”, as the power of prayer is the most potent weapon we have to fight against evil at anytime in the Christian journey…it availeth much. And Christ Himself said that ‘ if you abide in me, and my word abide in you, then you shall ask what you will, and it shall be given unto you”. John 15:7

And to approach a holy God,  and confidently ask for mercy for this nation, and for ourselves, we need to abide in Christ. And His Word!
‘It is the spirit that  gives life,; the flesh is useless ( counts for nothing). These words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life”.  John 6;63 NRSV.
The challenge for us is that the Holy Spirit, which Christ promised to send to us, to “ guide us into all truth’, will not abide in a heart set on disobedience to God’s Word – which is spirit and life – and continue to be led by the flesh – which counts for nothing. Useless! In time of trouble.

This is where the Old Testament experience can help us as we recall Joshua “ Chose ye whom you shall serve today…as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord”. In that sense the eternal struggle, of the early church, the children of Israel, and now the body of Christ, is to understand that, as Joshua warned, they having said “ yes” we will serve the Lord, that without help we cannot indeed obey God.
Thank God for Jesus, and Him Crucified and raised from the dead, with mighty power, that, that help, to serve God, and to approach Him, with confidence in times of trouble, and Corona is serious trouble, is with us, and in us, in Christ Jesus. 
And to access that help, the door is opened by repentance; “ a broken and contrite heart you will not despise’. Psalm 51. Which is why Lent, which by the way, we are still observing, despite the frenzy about hand washing and physical ( not social) distancing, is divinely appointed. 

“ In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries, to the one who able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.’ Hebrews 5: 7 NSRV

Therefore this is not the  time for occasional and standard prayers, “ languid prayers and dim faith ….And now O Father mindful of thy love…second verse”, if there ever was such a time, but for bawling out before God for mercy. 
“ For lo! Between our sins and their reward we set the passion of our Lord.

May God hear and have mercy on our nation!
Lord renew thy church beginning with me, and all of us; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s). Now and after Corona Virus.
Peace,  and in obedience, for flesh and blood, nor my own imaginations,  have not taught me these things.
LWJ

COMMENT

I have many Seventh Day Adventist patients, and friends, lots of then both patient and friend after many years of journeying together in Christ. And I love them dearly and know that they love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart. But at some time, and sooner than later, I would suggest that they follow the advice of Elijah, and “ cease limping along with two opinions”. For the struggle to restore the soul of this nation, and not just to fight against COVID-19, will require that all Christians acknowledge the “ better hope “ Who is Christ, and though Him, and Him alone, and not through the keeping of the Ten Commandments – which neither we nor the SDA can keep – we can approach God and ask for mercy for this country. An attempt to merge the two can’t work.
The same, or even greater, challenge applies to those who promote the “ prosperity gospel’, which is no gospel at all. For to look to God for “ blessings “ as if He is a celestial ATM, and not be prepared to suffer with Christ, undergo trials, and even persecutions, and to “ rebuke Diabetes, or any other malady, in the name of Jesus” , is to fashion a new gospel. And one which has no power to rescue this country. Finally in this context, and by far the wore ‘sin’ of all, misunderstanding the essence of the gospel story, the better Hope in Christ Crucified and Risen, is one thing, but it is a horse of an entirely color to be persistently and unrepentantly disobedient to the Word of God. Which is the case of far too many who “ take Holy Communion every Sunday”, and who know, the correct Theology of the Truth about Christ.

WEDNESDAY

The conversation about OT and the New Covenant -which began on Sunday – continued again this morning. With an additional context!
I don’t know how many of you listened to Beyond the Headlines with Dionne jackson-Miller about ‪6:30‬ last evening, but she interviewed someone from a new ‘church’. And the essence of their suggestion, and which irked DJM in this time of COVID-19 when people are being laid off, was that, God is calling on people to sow a seed offering to ‘appease’…my word… Him to end the epidemic. She called them scammers. But I don’t believe they are diabolical, as their spokesperson is someone I know, but they are seriously mistaken. And she, the spokeswoman,  quoted a passage from Ezra to validate her arguments. But DJM was having none of it and dismissed her summarily. 

So early this morning the Lord led me to read  a familiar passage, but one which I had never really understood the depth of the meaning. I had some idea, as many, very many, of my patients are Adventists, so I had thought about them whenever I read the passage. But not like this. For to be led to read it now, in the context of the COVID-19 Virus, cannot be just a coincidence. 

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭‪2:14-17‬‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/2co.2.14-17.niv‬

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/2co.3.1-3.niv‬

Not written on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts – really grabbed my attention. Question is how many of us understand that we are “ a letter from Christ”, as a result of the ministry of the Apostles, not just Paul. Which leads us back to Jesus’ High Prayer in John 17:

““My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭‪17:20-21‬‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/jhn.17.20-21.niv‬

Therefore our growth and development in Christ, is not something that started with the Apostles, nor I did it depend on our teachers and preachers, but comes from the very heart of God. Who in Christ Jesus prayed that we may not only believe in His Son, but maybe one, with each other, in the same way that Jesus was one with the Father. O Jesus have mercy on our souls! 
And may be one with each other, so that ( read John 17 again), praise God:

“that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭‪17:21-23‬‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/jhn.17.21-23.niv‬

What does this mean? What is says! That Evangelism will not succeed, unless with are one with each other. That this #Popcaanunrulynation will not be rescued from Murder and Strife and Corruption and false doctrine unless, not just us at STAPC, but we can begin there, are one with each other. For unlike the movie, or song “ Every Nigger is a Star”, the body of Christ has no Lone Rangers. For even John Wesley had a serious support base in his mother, and I am sure many others praying for him. Night and day!

Back to the letter to the Corinthians :

“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 

For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 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. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 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 ‭3:7-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/2co.3.7-18.niv‬

What struck me, in addition to the revelations about that which accompanies the “ ministry of the Spirit” in Christ Jesus, is that “ since we have such a hope, we are very bold”. And if ever there was a time to bold in our ministry it is now in these COVID-19 times. Praise God.

One more thing before I close. My mind ran not on the Adventists alone,  but on the Jews, the forerunners of the present Church.  They who are still awaiting the Messiah, and locked in OT Theology, and still therefore have their minds covered by a veil. And to Romans chapters 9-11.
I was led to read Romans 9. And found this:

“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. It is not as though God’s word had failed. 

For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:1-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/rom.9.1-16.niv‬

So two things came to me from this passage. That we must never forget to pray for the salvation of the Jews. And that our mercy, our rescue from COVID-19, does not depend on human effort, to sow a seed or not, but on God’s mercy. So let us pray without ceasing for God’s mercy, with boldness. But we ought not to expect any mercy , although He may still be gracious,  who knows the mind of God, if we continue to ignore His Word, at best, and at worse, if we are disobedient without shame and without repentance.

Peace.
In obedience 

Lord renew thy church, beginning  with me, that we may be one; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – and rescue us from error.
LWJ

Sent from my iPad

COMMENT

Beware of “ Greeks who come bringing gifts” of salvation by “silver and gold”, at this time. Or any time. Scammers or mistaken. God will judge. But let us be in our guard against magic. And trust in the God who died for us on Calvary. So that ultimately we may become one with Him in Christ Jesus. His plan also for the forerunner of the church in this present age – the children of Israel. Please remember them in your prayers.

YESTERDAY

This morning the Lord woke me up at exactly 4:am to “ listen to Him”.
But before that,  yesterday this Word came to mind, and I posted the following messages on Facebook,  and sent the original one, about Elijah, to some of my patients on a WhatsApp group.

Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.

Despite the good things that Elijah and Isaiah and Ezekiel and others spoke when they heard from God, in this age the Lord says: ” Listen to him”. Jesus Crucified and Risen. “

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. Let us listen to Him in this #COVID19 times. And not our own imaginations.

For if truth be told, going to work in this COVID-19 times has been very stressful. For many reasons. Within and without out!  So I have been crying out to God for mercy. Not for me alone but for the entire Jamaica. Even yesterday, I went to church and the door was locked. And O Jesus what a disappointment, but I stood outside the door and prayed with all my heart. And left in peace!.

But a more important truth,  is that following a conversation with a dear Christian sister on Sunday, about which I have been reporting, the Lord has taught me the importance of “ Listening to his Son Jesus “,  whenever I read the Bible, and it has has made a profound difference in my understanding of Holy Scriptures. Especially in these times. For now, even when I open the Bible randomly, as I did last night, and arrived at Psalm 107, a wonderful Psalm, I was “ listening to what Jesus was saying”. And so a reading of this Psalm led me to the well known passage about faith: Hebrews 11. 

O blessed Jesus, and O what a revelation it was to read this account of the faith of the “ ancients”, in COVID-19 times. And  a blessed assurance of God’s everlasting and unchanging love and mercy. So now, this morning come what may, and good things await those who trust God, not evil, my heart is light and my soul is at peace. And even if fear were to return, as Satan is always like a roaring lion, the words of a wonderful meditation in my Classics Devotional come to mind:

‪MAY 13, 1657 ( I wonder what’s the significance of that date)‬

Anne Bradstreet: 
Verse : Psalm 84:6

As spring the winter doth succeed 
And leaves the naked tress do dress,
The earth all black is clothed with green.
At sunshine each their joys express.

My sun’s returned with healing wings,
My soul and body doth rejoice,
My heart exults and praises sings
To him who heard my wailing voice.

My winters’s is past, my storms are gone,
And former clouds seem now fled,
But if they must eclipse again,
I’ll run where I was succored.

I have a shelter from the storm,
A shadow from the fainting heat,
I have access unto his throne,
Who is a God so wondrous great……I’ll share the other two else’s one day.

So back to Hebrews 11. And 12. They are umbilically and forever linked.
These Words stayed in my heart and brought fresh revelation about the need for this kind of faith in COVID-19 times.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.1-2.niv‬

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.7.niv‬

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:8, 10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.8,10.niv‬

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭‪11:13‬‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.13.niv‬

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,

Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭‪11:17‬, 19‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.17,19.niv‬

Faith has to be, and will be tested, even long after COVID-19. And we must rest in the blessed assurance and promise that no situation is too desperate for God’s rescue plan and action and power.

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭‪11:24‬, 26‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.24,26.niv‬

This verse has so much to it. Deep thoughts of God. It even explains “ Before Abraham ( and Moses) was,  I am”. For the truth is that, as Christ taught the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, the Blessed Savior has been active in the affairs of man, as part of the Triune God, ever since the creation of the world. And the world then, and now,  has elected not to “ Listen to Him”. But Moses did! He made a choice. And so must we, especially after the threat of COVID-19 has passed, not to enjoy the “pleasures of being the son of Pharaoh’s daughter”, viz., the pleasures and the beguiling things that this world offers which would lead us away from trusting in God, and “ taking up our cross” and following Jesus.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:32-40‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.32-40.niv‬

COVID-19 ought not to be the only thing that concerns us as people of God. Read again the list of things that the faithful suffered for the sake of Christ. Read again the list  of accomplishments that the people of faith achieved, in the midst of storms of various kinds. But read again the highlighted part of the passage – none of them received what was promised. For only in Christ, a privilege we enjoy, as a gift, with us, they would :

Chap 12: 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.12.1-3.niv‬

“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. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:5-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬
‪https://www.bible.com/111/heb.12.5-13.niv‬

There is a lot to digest in this passage. And indeed in this entire message. But persevere as God will make all things “ visible” for the faithful. For you and I.
But never forget the most important thing. God is leading us though all of this in Christ Jesus, as He did with the ancients, that we may,   one day,  “ share in his holiness”.  And on that journey, if we are faithful, He will work through us, to share His glory with the world. 

A world that is desperately in need of redemption and reconciliation. A world that may never be the same agin after COVID-19. For now we know that “ the path is not greener in the USA”, nor in Europe. But only in God wherever He places us. For there He will be with us, forever, in Christ Jesus our Lord and  Savior. Let us then commit to listen to Him much more often, through His Word; in Prayer;  yes in fasting too if that is your calling; in responding to the the cries of the poor and needy and the stranger ….St. Andrew Settlement and hence Majesty Gardens is desperately in need of help; and even in our trials and persecutions and troubles. But Listen we should,  and not be disobedient and unfaithful. Let us then cease being of two opinions and trust the God who we have come to know in and though the Crucified, Risen and Ascended and never forget, soon coming Jesus Christ. 
Peace.

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)…that continue to limp along with two different opinions. 
In obedience.
LWJ

COMMENT

In all of this COVID-19 times, let us never forget the call to love one another and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. For we cannot calm to love and trust in God, who we cannot see, if we do not love our neighbors who we see everyday – Holy Scriptures. So this is not a time for spiritual distancing, Physical distancing yes. But let us do whatever we can for the poor and the needy and he vulnerable in those time, for with such things God is well pleased.

As strong faith and a thoughts of a better hope, will come to an end one day. But love will live on forever, And ever. For God is love and whosever lives in Christ, lives in love. This is the central message that has come our way though our history, when, in love, it is the Christian, who remained with the afflicted in their time of need, ministered to them, and died with them, and thus when “ COVID-19” was over, the number of people who joined the church and believed in Christ, grew exponentially.

The “ tale of the COVID-19 tape” in Jamaica as of today March 21, 2020.

  • Coronavirus
  • Population

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
Last updated: March 21, 2020, 12:25 GMT
Case Graphs – Death Graphs – Countries – Death Rate – Incubation – Age – Symptoms – News
Coronavirus Cases:
284,712
view by country
Deaths:
11,842
Recovered:
93,576

ACTIVE CASES
179,294
Currently Infected Patients
171,185 (95%)
in Mild Condition

8,109 (5%)
Serious or Critical

WORLD DATA AS OF MARCH 2O, 2020

As the Corona Virus pandemic worsens worldwide and more importantly in Jamaica, the Andrew Holness led government has taken the tough, but in my view very sensible decision, even if a bit late – but that was a difficult judgment call – to close our airports to people coming into Jamaica.

Why. Not my call, and I have no influence, but read a couple of tweets I posted recently:

TWEETS

We need to immediately quarantine everybody, symptomatic or not, who arrives from a country with local spread of #COVID19. The death of the gentleman who flew in from New York, and was undetected until too late changes everything. @christufton @MalahooForteQC @Petchary

People are still going to their family doc asking for a check up after flying in from USA and Canada. Completely ignoring the instructions in the flyer given out after being scanned at the airport and found not to have an elevated temp. Even when they have no symptoms

LockItDown closing our airports is a very sensible even if delayed move. @christufton @MalahooForteQC #Italy looms large in our minds. Can’t even manage to track down much more than 19. Very painful decision for lots of Jamaicans. But what’s the alternative #COVID

COMMENT: For the fearsome reality is that unless we find a way to stop the importation of the Corona Virus, the epidemic in Jamaica will spiral out of control, and that we cannot manage as there are not enough ICU beds to treat the critically ill. And not even enough hospital beds to treat the very ill patients if the numbers continue to climb. And therefore lots of people will die. Both the vulnerable elderly and as we are now learning from the USA, even young women are at risk.

So the government is to be commended for the bold moves it has made so far, but what has been happening at our airports and in our homes could not continue. For our people, in case we don’t realize, our people have become a #Popocaanunruly people – see Elephant-man and another #weakfence now apologizing. Too late. For what they did could have “ opened the door and let in the pirate #COVID-19”.

But our unruliness is much more than disobeying the order of the authorities to stay home if you have recently travelled from a country where local spread of the Virus had taken place. Much more. For further and better particulars, I would invite to read what I was led to read early this morning, as I opened my Bible, the Word of God, randomly after being awakening by the Lord.

THE VERY WORD OF GOD

“For learning about wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, for gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young— Let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:2-7‬ ‭NRSV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/2016/pro.1.2-7.nrsv

The challenge we face as a nation, and indeed as globally connected people, is that people no longer “ fear the Lord”.

Indeed the Scriptures make much of this issue:

“You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:1-5‬ ‭NRSV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/2016/2ti.3.1-5.nrsv

For many who are now calling on the name of the Lord, if truth be told, their lives have manifested “ an outward form of godliness but denying its power”.
Which is in essence, displaying a thin veneer of Christianity “ God bless Jamaica “, calling on “ Father God”, but denying the power of the Crucified and Risen Christ to change lives.

I would suggest this this unholy living, this attempt to link Christianity with Obeah, syncretism, this propagation of the so called “ Prosperity gospel” …refusing to suffer with Christ…refusing to deny self and take up one’s Cross…but always looking for blessings…..which is no gospel at all, this rampant immorality in the land – a land of many “ deputies”…wonder how they are managing now in this #CoronaVirus times… and worse in some churches “ do you not fear God”, is in some way responsible for the wickedness which has descended upon this fair land.
A land where the cry from #BujuBanton of “Murderer
Blood is on your shoulders
Kill I today you cannot kill I tomorrow …

….Is a daily – and sometimes 6-8 times daily – cry. How long then do you think we can get away with so much blood on the streets and wickedness in our hearts without the God who sees and knows everything, acts, and acts decisively.

So back to the Wisdom of God as revealed this morning:

“Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?

Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, have stretched out my hand and no one heeded, and because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you, when panic strikes you like a storm, and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.

Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices.

For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.””
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:20-33‬ ‭NRSV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/2016/pro.1.20-33.nrsv

As I read and wrote just now, “ O Jesus have mercy upon us”, came not my mind. For this is not what we expect to hear in our time of disaster from a loving merciful God. But we forget that this same God of mercy is also a God of wrath; a feature of the God of Jacob which has been sadly neglected in the teachings of the church in recent times. And not only in the church but in Seminaries and what the liberal media holds on to. And is it this wrath of God, on account of Sin, why Jesus in obedience to his Father and filed with love for all mankind, suffered and died on Calvary. So that all who believe may not perish but have eternal life. We forget these things at our peril. That without Christ, without the fear of God, people can and will perish – from all sorts of evil things.

If truth be told the Lord has been calling Jamaica to repentance for along time now. Yes, the rest of the world , including Europe and the USA, but this is where we live, do business, and raise families and hope to find peace. So let’s concentrate on Jamaica. But rather than listen to Him, the Creator God, we have busied ourselves, and buried ourselves in Netflix, in DanceHall lyrics – even now in a time of grave crisis, people are tuning in to online parties, and having Corona parties in the USA. Seriously!
We have aligned ourselves to political parties with the kind of fervor and allegiance that only God deserves. We have committed ourselves to watching every Football game, every Cricket match, every Basketball game, every Track and Field event, and hero worshiping Juve’s Ronaldo, PSG’s Neymar, and Barca’s Lionel Messi. But try and get people to come to a church service, or a Bible study meeting or anything to do with church, and you get all kinds of excuses.
So to whom do we turn for help in this time of extreme and existential crisis?
Hand washing? Social distancing? The wisdom of Andrew Holness and Chris Tufton to guide us through difficult waters? The guidelines of the WHO ?

The final Word from Proverbs, the book of Wisdom, offers an answer. One that has in it familiar words which many Jamaicans have committed to memory “ Thy word have I stored u in my heart that I am at sin against thee”.

“My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you. Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭NRSV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/2016/pro.3.1-8.nrsv

The PM yesterday, made bold to say that “ this is not the end of time”. That science and technology has advanced so much, that he is confident that one day a vaccine will be found, and that we will all pull through this thing together, if we heed the advice given by the authorities. He may well be right. But he may be quite wrong – and in any case for all of those who have died, this is in fact the end of the world for them’
I know, I get it, that as the Political leader of the nation, he has a duty to try and calm the fears of the people and exude the confidence that is so necessary at this time. But if all we learn from this crisis ( and the old adage says it is a shame to waste a crisis) is that we should all learn to pull together in a time of national disaster, and depend on our leaders in politics and science and technology to guide us, then we would have made a grave mistake. In this context, I admit that I am aware of the Time fo Prayer called by the Governor General, and the various references that officials have made for the need for prayers. But this “ broken and contrite heart O God you will not despise “ kind of proclamation from the highest authorities in the land has not been a major feature of press Conferences nor Press Briefings nor Digital Town Hall meetings.

For the single greatest challenge we face as a nation, this “Janet Deen” nation, and indeed as a world, is not born of a Virus, but born of Sin. The Sin that so many people who no longer fear the God who made us in His own Image, and sent His Son in the fullness of time, to die on an old wooden Cross, so that people may not perish – suffer everlasting separation from God, a far worse prospect that what the Corona Virus presents, may turn from those wicked ways. And with wisdom and fear, repent and return to the Only One who can save us from our sins and offer us eternal life. Even Christ Jesus. May this God, the God of Jacob, have mercy on our souls during this and any other national crisis that may descend on us in this land or indeed the world.
Peace

LWJ

It’s an ill wind that blows no good. Something to “think on these things”, as we, in Jamaica, and so many other parts of the world, go through through this #CoronaVirusPandemic. A point made by one of the early Saints in the church – Brother Lawrence – in a meditation I ‘found’ on opening my Bible this morning:

He ( the Lord) often sends diseases of the body to cure the those of the soul”.

Can the Corona Virus be passed on by people who are infected but are not showing any systems? How soon, after being infected, can the Virus be detected by testing? Do we have the capacity to do, and is it recommended, mass testing in Jamaica? How long will this thing last? How come children are not as at risk as the elderly? Do we need to #lockitdown as China has, and now Italy? And when do you #lockitdown? Early, long before the thing has bolted, or only when …what? Should the Americans be placed on the banned list also? Just like the Brits! Should everybody just stay home…for the next six weeks…to peak infection, or three months…when the Virus would have passed through, and left like a Hurricane? Should we have Church if we cannot ensure the recommended social distancing….I heard one popular Pastor ( whose teachings are otherwise quite sounds and even prophetic ) declaring on radio that the government would have to lock him up if any such move was made to prevent the people of God from gathering to worship. His argument was that, anyone who came with the Virus would be healed….and the discerning people of God would know who had it…and would pray for that person…or put them in a special room……not quoting him verbatim, but that was the general thrust of his argument. What is the Lord saying in all of this?

Should doctors stay home, as they in particular, are at risk…one of my patients, who I have been privileged to care for, and her family and friends, for many years, called to express very gracious thoughts about her doctor. And fears! And wondered if I should place myself at risk.
Where can I get hand sanitizer ..or bleach…or TP….the new speak for Toilet Paper? Will food run out…how much should I buy…for how long….am I panicking…and taking what I don’t really need and thus preventing others from getting their share?

What should I, or a family member do, if I think I have the Virus? Especially if grandma is having shortness of breath? Rush to the doctors office. Or call him or her? If I am a clinic patient what do I do? As there is no number to call the doctor? Call the hotline 1-888-….LOVE. Suppose it’s not working? If I have to rush to the hospital and I don’t have a car, will the taxman…or bike taxi carry me…especially in the country where there is no JUTC…and what about the social distancing in that case…do I place everybody in the taxi at risk…or should I just stay home and hope for the best? Will the hospital have the necessary equipment to treat my case, or should I ( try and) fly out to New York in my private jet…or on Jet Blue…..as is my accustomed habit?

Questions, question, question. Some already answered. Some left hanging in the air. Some soon to be answered. Some never be to be answered. The one question which is clear, is that perhaps for the first time for a long time, we are all in this thing together. For there is no place to hide…maybe Alaska.
And Jamaicans, always, always ‘tek serious ting and meek joke:

So in the midst of this Global Pandemic what and so many questions, what did the Lord lead me to write this week? And as you read remember in all of this, that it’s the season of Lent, when according to an old friend, now “gone to glory”, is a time when the devil let loose:

FIRST MESSAGE – not necessarily in chronological order. Perhaps with all the time we may have at home, it’s a good time to dig deeper into the nature of the only One Who can save us from this #CoronaVirus, and answer all questions. God Almighty as revealed in and though Jesus Christ and His body, the Christian Church.

Just posted this on facebook:

If you’re looking for a good read for Lent, and for that matter, anytime at all, I recommend you read one of Christianity’s all time classic books.
Chap One begins thus:
” In the beginning God. The first four words of the Bible are more than a way of launching the story of creation or introducing thr book of Genesis. They supply the key that opens our understanding to the Bible as a whole. They tell us that the religion of the Bible is a religion in which God takes the initiative.

The point is that we can never take God by surprise. We can never anticipate him. He always makes the first move. He is always there ‘ in the beginning’. Before we existed, God took action. Before we decided to look for God, God had already been looking for us. The Bible isn’t about people trying to discover God but about God reaching out to find us… ..

God has created. God has spoken. God has acted……. It is with the second and third that we shall be concerned in this book, because basic Christianity by definition begins with the historical figure of Jesus Christ. If God has spoken, his last and word to the world is Jesus Christ. If God has acted, his noblest act is the redemption of the world through Jesus Christ…..
More anon as I read this book. Again!

Note that the point highlighted came out strongly in the sermon today by the Professor – God is looking for us long before we look for Him. “ You did not chose me, I choose you “ – Jesus. Useful sermon, but I have reached a point in my spiritual journey where unless I hear about Christ and Him Crucified for me, and being made a “ new creation”, which is what Jesus was essentially saying to Nicodemus in the gospel reading for today, and therefore only able to really remain in a close relationship with God in Christ, by grace, which was mentioned, but not, in my view sufficiently developed ( am I allowed to critique a Professor’s sermon ), then unless this grace which allows me to enter into the very presence of God by the blood of Christ, is highlighted and made the central theme, then I am left a little unsettled. For as Stott reports, Basic Christianity is more than Jesus and Him Crucified, but it starts there. And then:

AN EXTRACT FROM THE PREFACE

Basic Christianity is not just about what we believe, it’s also about how we behave. Our intellectual beliefs may be beyond criticism, but we have to put our beliefs into practice.
What then must we do? We must commit ourselves, heart and mind , soul and will, home and life, personally and unreservedly to Jesus Christ. We must humble ourselves before him. We must trust in him as our Savior and submit to him as our Lord, and then go on to take our place as loyal members of the church and responsible citizens in the community. This is basic Christianity……

And then :

Basic Christianity cont’d (1):

Human beings are insatiably inquisitive creatures. Our minds cannot rest. We are always prying into the unknown. We pursue knowledge with restless energy. Our lives are a voyage of discovery. We are always asking questions, exploring, investigating, researching. We never grow out of the child’s constant cry of “ Why”?

Basic Christianity cont’d (2):
When our minds begin to think about God, however, they are bewildered. We grope around in the dark. We flounder hopelessly out of our depth. But this should come as no surprise. For surely God, whatever or whoever he may be, is infinite, while we are finite creatures….Therefore our minds wonderfully effective instruments though they are when it comes to scientific investigation, cannot immediately help

Basic Christianity cont’d (3) :
And that is how it would have stayed had not God taken the initiative to help us. We would have remained forever agnostic, asking – just like Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus – “ What is truth? But never staying for an answer, never daring to hope that we would receive one. We would have ( without the revelation of Jesus Christ) ..worshiping like the one the Apostle found in Athens,an unknown God.

SECOND MESSAGE – sent to leaders of my church, after writing to leaders in the Ministry of health.

EMAIL TO THE HEALTH AUTHORITIES

Trisha Greenhalgh (@trishgreenhalgh) tweeted at 2:55 PM on Wed, Mar 11, 2020:
This is the best article I’ve read on #COVID19.

“Countries that are prepared will see a fatality rate of 0.5-0.9%. Countries that are overwhelmed will have a fatality rate of 3-5%”.

Let’s act to flatten the curve.

https://t.co/r9dJTgxude
(https://twitter.com/trishgreenhalgh/status/1237829557752860679?s=03)

Get the official Twitter app at https://twitter.com/download?s=13 

If this perspective/analysis is anywhere near correct, then a pre-emptive lockdown of at least parts of the country, maybe the KMTR, is not just justified, but absolutely necessary. If we wish to save lives.
LWJ

EMAIL TO CHURCH LEADERS

I woke  this morning with the corona virus and the possible devastation of my country, on my mind. And though about last’s nights’s message. My sheep hear ( listen to) my voice. So I searched my Bible app  for it in , and found it in John 10, and began reading. And found one of the most instructive verses in Holy Scripture. One that I have reflected on deeply before. One that I have been led to incorporate into earlier messages over the years. But one which has been under my radar for a while. So I paused for a while and worshipped the Living God: 

“ The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” 10: 10 NRSV

Then came flooding, without  any thought,  memory of a Word from,  I think from  Ezekiel,  about the warning that those who refused to go into exile would suffer much.

But it all began when I thought abut what I was led to do yesterday. Opened my Bible on my desk at Psalm 91. Which is what I did when confronted with storm Dennis at 34,000 ft up in the air recently,  on approaching London from Kingston. And as the plane went though extreme turbulence, the Word of God kept me sane.
“ He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty….I am quoting the KJV from memory although it was the NRSV which was with me:
And so I read yesterday while seeing patients and consulting with the public health folks:

“ You who live in the shelter of the Most High ……you will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day or he pestilence that stalks in  the darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday…………No evil shall befall you, no scourge shall come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone ( this kept me sane as the plane began to land amidst extremely strong winds, especially approaching the airport in Sweden, and before which,  the airport had been locked down because of the winds..so I was told by the Uber driver after landing safely).

So this Psalm was on my mind after yesterday when I went work and my first patient was a gentleman with a high fever and having difficulty breathing …the exact symptoms of the Corona Virus). So I donned my mask and gloves and proceeded to look after him and send him to the hospital, and then did the Lysol thing to everything I had in the room. Called the public health people who were very blasé about the whole thing. That because he was not from the Bull Bay Area he did not meet the ( magical) case definition and was unlikely to be a Corona case. Really! In this day of out and bad taxi-men. And that this too will pass! Good people and highly trained but a bit too confident. 

So what’s the Word from the Lord. Do not fear but be very careful and vigilant; one of the messages from what I was led to share in quotes from John Stott’s Basic Christianity on Facebook recently “ be loyal to the church and be responsible to the community”.
Time to lock this thing down. Better to be safe than to be sorry. For those who are telling us otherwise are thieves and bandits….planning to destroy.
Lord renew the church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) in these Corona Virus times.
LWJ

THE THIRD MESSAGE – after a very useful Lenten Devotional Service. Sent to my church brothers and sisters at St. Andrew Anglican Parish Church in Kingston Jamaica.

I went to bed last night with the song above from YouTube, in my head….” I bless your name”. And also the challenges issued by Pastor McKoy last night at the Lenten Devotion – are we following Jesus or the trade ones of the Anglican or Church of God, or. Catholic or….traditions, into which we were born and have never questioned whether or not this is what Jesus would have us do? For there might be a difference between the two. Is everything in how we conduct our worship service ( and by extension I would imagine our lives), based on what Jesus would have wanted? Does it accord with Holy Scripture or our traditions – what we born come see?

Using the well known verse in Acts, “ And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved”, he questioned if our worship, our actions, compared with the how the early church conducted itself, are resulting in “ daily people who are being saved”, not just attracted to the Anglican Church traditions, but to God ( and there is a difference), being added to our church? And after more of the same challenging words he invited us to “ think on these things”.

Then I woke up in the dead of night with a post nasa drip! And, immediately, the devil went to work. At his malevolent best! I don’t even need to tell you the story. You have a fever. You have Corona. You can’t go to work tomorrow.

So I did what I have been led to do when evil, or temptation, or trials of any sort come. Read the Word of God. My Bible is never far from me. And “ Thy word O Lord have I stored up in my heart that I may not sin against thee”, is not far from my thoughts.
Opened my Bible then, and found a meditation on Psalm, 23 – and I am looking for it now and can’t locate it. But it is captioned, “ I Arise Today”.
So I began reading Psalm 23. No, it was not, “ the valley of the shadow of death” that arrested me, but The Lord is my Shepherd. Then the passage about the Good Shepherd came to mind from John 10, and I went there. Again the unexpected happened, for I was prompted to read the context…the passages before. And before that too! And found this welcome assurance for my soul. And for you soul too!

THE WORD OF THE LIVING GOD

“As he was saying these things, many believed in him. Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed………

Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.””
‭‭John‬ ‭8:30-36, 56-58‬ ‭NRSV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/2016/jhn.8.30-36,56-58.nrsv

COMMENT: Having read the verses these thoughts came to mind.

  1. That discipleship is all about “ continuing….holding fast” to the Word of God.
  2. That this same Word will lead us to He who is “ The (only) Truth, the (only) Life and the (only) Way”.
  3. And that this Truth, Christ and Him Crucified will “ set us free from Sin. Of first importance. But from all evil, all that this fallen world and fallen humanity, brings with it. A Word validated in next few verses: “ If the Son….who alone has permanent residence in the household….and not us who are slaves to sin….makes you free ( from sin) we will be free indeed. And remember the Word that says, “ those who are free from sin will ( do) not fear…..anything. Including #COVID-19 or 20 or 21.
  4. Finally the Most Blessed Assurance of all. He who Is, before Abraham Was, lives in us by grace and by faith. He and His Father, and Our Father. So how in heaven’s name, literally, can we be so afraid, Unless we don’t believe these things.

I pray God, that all of us, will come to believe these things though grace. “ Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief”.

We bless your name O Jesus, we bless your Name. Hallelujah!

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)…Now with 6 confirmed and at least 1 locally transmitted, cases of the #CoronaVirus.
In obedience.
LWJ

FINAL COMMENT:

It’s ill wind that blows no good. God often sends diseases of the body to cure diseases of the soul. One of the good things that has already come out of this Pandemic, at least here in Jamaica, is that people are calling on the name of the Lord for mercy. More and more.

FACEBOOK

I have never heard so many people talking about God since Coronavirus. You all need to know that my God is not a farm worker. He is present at our table always. And just like the days of Noah, and Sodom, its that same God. If Coronavirus is going to kill you, make sure your soul find rest in the arms of Jesus. Repent. Repent. Repent. It is not too late. Today if anyone hears my voice, accept Jesus. …..Erica Virtue ……a journalist who fears nobody. Only God.

And murders have dropped significantly. Will this continue after #COVID-19. Who knows! But one thing I know, people will begin to understand that man ought not to live by bread alone, or as Clovis implies, sex alone, or can we fight this Virus with hand sanitizer and washing with water, plenty water, alone ( as important as that recommendation is) but hopefully come to the realization that, ultimately, we are not in control of our lives. Only God! Perhaps that’s the central message that we should all take away from this Pandemic, and find peace for our souls in God alone. Not in Trump. Nor in Andrew or Nigel or in Peter One. Not in the NBA. Not in the Olympics. Not in Champs. Not in Carnival. For at the end of the day, or six weeks, or three months, what is really important in this life is what what I was led to post on Facebook last night as I continued my Lenten discipline…in the midst of the madness…by reading what I recommended …Basic Christianity:

Sin is an unpopular subject, and Christians are often criticized for going on about it too much. But they only do so because they are realists. Sin is not a convenient invention of church ministers to keep them their job; it is a fact of human experience – Basic Christianity by John Stott.

And all evil, all diseases, all troubles, all temptation, arise because of Sin. Thus the only help we need is:

Peace.
LWJ

I spent some time last night listening to this beautiful rendition of “ Love is the most excellent way”. Again and again I listened to it. It’s a haunting song that gets into your vey soul. And challenging too; “ love is not easily angered”.

I would suggest that you listen to the song before reading about the 2019 model, hence COVID -19, of an old Virus, SARS COV -2003 and MERS COV -2012

Why? Because at the end of the day, one of the things, in fact the existential lesson that we ought to learn from this almost global pandemic, and probably other challenges to human existence, is that ultimately only the love of Jesus is constant. Unchanging in this life and in the one to come. For despite what we think, enabled, empowered and encouraged by recent development in technology, we are not in control of our lives. Ancient man had no such illusions, as many children never made to adulthood in the Middle Ages; especially in Europe. And our African brothers and sisters knew that there were gods on whom they depended for life and fortune; at least they were humble enough to believe in some higher power than themselves).

So off I went to the Seminar specially organized by the Department of Medicine at the UWI, and chaired by the Dean himself – Professor Tomlin Paul

And heard the latest medical, economic and social facts, not fake news, about this novel Corona Virus or COVID-19, and the latest – March 5, 2020 – data about it.

The issues that stuck in my mind were as follows. Wearing a mask as a well person, in what would be otherwise be normal conditions, is not a useful thing to practice. In fact because one would tend to touch one’s face often, unconsciously and with confidence, we might even facilitate the virus entering the through the eyes; which is how one patient presented to the health authorities in China – with conjunctivitis. And which point serves to underscore another point; that not all patients will present with respiratory symptoms and a fever. Some might just have diarrhea or abdominal pain or conjunctivitis. But most will have respiratory symptoms if they have any symptoms at all, as the most important thing, for the time being, is the travel history.
Therefore hand washing, of the most scrupulous and consistent kind, with lots of running water and soap, is one of the most important things to begin to practice from now.
It’s not a matter of if, but when will the virus arrive in Jamaica. That’s the view of the experts and we ought to pay attention. I’ll come back to that point in a while.
There is no silver bullet to treat this Virus. No medications that will cure. But some, including two used to treat HIV patients are under trial. And one which has been used to treat influenza is being tested with some success, along with an old drug used to treat malaria. There is no vaccine available as yet; although work by at least three companies are in train and they have already mapped the entire genome of the virus; they know about all the genes and where they occur, and the mutations that have occurred – so far such mutations have not made the Virus any more dangerous. Or less so!


The COVID-19 virus affects primarily people over age 50, with deaths peaking in the 80 plus age groups and those with underlying illnesses.
So far children have been largely spared from being infected by the Virus.
So far, and it is yet early days, the death rate from the 1019 version of the Virus, is far less than the previous two. Between 1.5-3% compared with rates as high as 40% of those infected by the 2003 and 2012 versions. However, this one, so far, has spread to many more countries than the first two, and affected much lager numbers. In fact, the projection of the Ministry of Health experts is that in Jamaica, at the end of the day, some 1-1.5 Million of us will be infected. But again with only, to date, 23% likely to have any significant symptoms and a relatively low, relatively speaking, but what would be for us, a devastating if not catastrophic number of people dying. For even 1% of one million is staggering, as 10% is 100,000. You can continue to do the maths for 1%. We cannot manage this kind devastation and associated panic.
Other issues came to mind, but I need to move on to the love of Jesus after discussing the numbers. Very sobering!

So how did I get to the song in the video above? Yesterday the Lord flipped my early morning devotions, and reminded me that it is not really mine – in the sense of following a well known script …Jacob Boehme -prayers/worship…..The Word/Chris Tiegreen…and prayer.
So the Lord led me to read 1 Corinthians 13, after I somehow ‘chanced upon’ a meditation on the love of Jesus by an old Saint Hilary of Poitiers.
Actually before all of this , an old hymn, a hymn for Good Friday – to which event we are heading as we journey through Lent – ‘ presented itself’. The words of which changed my life forever, in respect of a deeper understanding of why I ought to love Jesus with all my heart. And not just when disaster, like COVID-19 looms, or any other challenge in life:

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 my 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 one
Who was thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesu Christ,
Should I not love thee well,
Not for the sake of winning heaven,
Or of escaping hell;

Not from 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. (St. Francis Xavier)

THE MEDITATION

SATURATED WITH HIS SPIRIT

Hosting my Sails

Acts ‪20:24‬

The chief service I owe you, I God, is that every thought and word of mine should speak of you. The power of speech which you have bestowed on me can give me no greater 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…..

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 know you, I was nothing. I did not know the meaning of life, and I had no understanding of myself…  

But then you decided that I should hear the words of your Son, Jesus Christ. And 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.

Comment: So having read and having been challenged, and inspired, again, by the hymn and the meditation I went to read Chris Tigreen’s reflection for the day, and found the well known passage about Love.

LOVE ALWAYS
We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
1 Corinthians 13:9-10

Knowing, prophesying, giving to the poor, moving mountains by faith, practicing ministry, and all the other good works we as Christians will one day cease. Love won’t. It’s different. It is part of who we are, and not what we do. When Jesus comes again and rewards us according to what we have done or not done, the good works of the kingdom on earth will essentially be over. But love? It’s part of who we are, and it lasts. It’s eternally in the character of God and, by design, in the character of His people.

That’s why, as important as ministry and good works are, love is more important than all. Faith is about what is unseen, and what is unseen will eventually be completely revealed. Hope is about what will come, Nd what will come, will also be revealed. But love is about who we are forever. There will never be a time, in this age or the next, in the kingdoms of this world or in the Kingdom of God, when love doesn’t count.

That’s why St.Paul tells us to make it count today. It’s a “ forever “ principle, unlike almost everything else the New Testament encourages us to practice. The fellowship of believers is going to last as long as the Kingdom lasts; that alone should convince us to major in the quality of the fellowship. And the quality of the fellowship depends almost entirely on love. It’s extremely important.

Does your life reflect the importance of love? Have you mistakenly made other aspects of your character a priority ? Examine yourself well, and ask God t help you focus on love. The practice it always.
Have faith and maintain hope. Increase your knowledge and aim to prophesy – to understand God’s truth and put it into practice. Do good works of ministry and charity, telling others about Jesus and reconciling the world to God. But do it all in love. Without that, none of it is right.

Our Lord does not care so much for the importance of our works as for the love with which they are done – Teresa of Avila.

So we close where we started. About the Love of God in and through Jesus Christ. For what shall it profit a man or woman or child to seek to escape COVID – 19 and lose his or her very soul. What shall it profit those who are baptized and speak in tongues, and people are slain in the spirit, and congregations are held captive by our preaching, and folks are held in high esteem and wear gowns and garments, and yet have no love. What shall it profit us to do good works, to rescue the perishing and care for the dying, seek to right wrongs, and look after the stranger and the widow and the orphan, and yet the love of Jesus is not manifestly obvious in how we treat others elsewhere.
I pray God that I, and all who read these things will be challenged by the “ outrageous” love of God, who in love – for the entire world, sent His only Son, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, to suffer and die on an old wooden cross, for my sins and yours. So that we may have new life, and new power to help others. Suffering from COVID-19, from HIV/AIDS, from Intimate partner violence, extreme poverty, cynicism about Christianity, ignorance about the important issues of life, and those held captive by the evil one – Satan.
Peace.
LWJ