This week it's all about family. My Jamaican family, after the Dudus debacle, is settling down. Yes, we still have a high murder rate, but far less than before the Tivoli Gardens criminal network was dismantled. People are felling safer, and calling for the state of emergency to be extended as long as possible. Yes the human right activists are upset, but they really don't understand that the possibility that rogue policemen might use the system to abuse people's rights, should not a reason to change a policy which has, for the first time in years, put the fear of God into the hearts of these wicked and ruthless gang leaders and their followers. The culture of " badman rule", has taken a perceptible shift back to normalcy, and we should do all we can to encourage it while ensuring justice for all. As even if we did not have "Dudus" affair, the fact of over 600 hundred people being murdered in a small country like ours, in the first five months of the year, in and by itself , should have triggered a state of emergency. Yes, there are other hot political issues, like Mannat Phelps Phillips controversy, which will require concerted action by civic society leaders to bring to a satisfactory resolution. But right now the number one problem in our nation is murder and that is trending down, thank God.
This week also a close member of my church family, after suffering the loss of her ex sister-in-law, is now grieving the loss of her brother, and so went to her house to pray and to sing and to lift her up at this challenging time in her life.
And as one member of one family was grieving, I joined with other family members, this time my immediate family, in celebrating new life, as a son and another grandson was born this week. So we are all in Miami giving God thanks for grace and mercy and the gift of new life.
Also this week, in fact, during the flight on my over, the Lord spoke to me about my wider human race family in the opening pages of a book , Ethics, written by one His special children, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In a few sentences of inspired wisdom, Bonhoeffer explains the whole basis for all human conflict and judgment - the knowledge of good and evil - about which mankind has been striving to overcome unsuccessfully for centuries, until Jesus came along.
" The knowledge of good and evil seems to be the aim of all ethical reflection. The first task of Christian ethics is to invalidate this knowledge. In launching this attack on the underlying assumptions of all other ethics, Christian ethics stands so completely alone that it becomes questionable whether there is any purpose in speaking of Christian ethics at all. But if one does so notwithstanding, that can only mean that Christian ethics claims to discuss the origin of the whole problem of ethics, and thus professes to be a critique of all ethics simply as ethics.
Already in the possibility of the knowledge of good and evil Christian ethics discerns a falling away from the origin. Man at his origin knows only one thing: God. It is only in the unity of his knowledge of God that he knows of other men, of things, and of himself. He knows all things only in God, and God in all things. The knowledge of good and evil shows that he is no longer at one with his origin.
In the knowledge of good and evil man does not understand himself in the reality of the destiny appointed in his origin, but rather in his own possibilities, his possibility of good and evil. He knows himself now as something apart from God, outside God, and this means that he now knows only himself and no longer knows God at all; for he can know God only if he knows only God. The knowledge of good and evil is therefore separation from God. Only against God can man know good and evil."
The Lord taught us that part of the work of The Holy Spirit of God, is to convict all men, the whole human race, the entire family of mankind, of Sin. And Sin entered the human family when our forerunners, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and gained the knowledge of good and evil. And ever since that separation the world has never been the same again. That's the reason why the gospel of Jesus, which reconciles man to God, man to man and the whole Creation to God, is for the entire human family - Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, New Age, heterosexuals, homosexuals, Dudus and other criminals, rogue policemen, human rights activists, politicians( good and bad) civil society leaders, the Dutch, the Spanish, the South Africans, all believers and unbelievers alike. As even before man sinned, the God who loves, and forgives, and forgives, and forgives, planned in the fullness of time to send His Son to die for the Atonement of all sins, so that men would not perish, but be reunited with God - have everlasting life. " For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blind in his sight" ( Eph. 1:4) . We who believe then, ought to be wary of judging people and be patient in our efforts to bring them good news, as we understand better the trap into which they like us have fallen, and from which predicament, only Christ in His mercy, can, and stands ready to rescue them, as He has done for us who believe in Him and His salvation wrought on the Cross of Calvary.
Finally God in His mercy reminded through the inspired wisdom of another of His Saints, Chris Tiegen, of the mighty power of prayer for the rescuing of the whole human race. As far too often we seek to change the whole world, in the power of our strength, and like Michael Jackson, and seek to make this world " a better place, for you and for me." The answer from God is that for this world to change, for Muslims and Jews and Homosexuals and Heterosexuals and Politicians and Policemen, for my country to change, for my family of various kinds to prosper and flourish, deep and abiding and believing prayer must be at the center of all activity.
CHRIS TIEGEN JULY 16 THE VISION OF PRAYER
" Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' Acts 4:30
In Word Sometimes we pray small prayers. Is it that we question God's ability to answer the big ones? Or do we believe we're only worthy to receive small answers. ? Either way, we're misunderstanding the heart of God. he is able to do " immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine" ( Ephesians 3:20), and He doesn't base His answers on our worthiness. When we pray small prayers, we are underestimating God.
God has big plans. His mission began with a handful of disciples and a vision as big as the world. Big prayers were essential to accomplish such all-encompassing plans. The disciples knew they were not equal to the task, but they also knew that God was more than equal to it. Those two pieces of knowledge are the fuel for any prayer life. If we understand who we are and what we have been called to do, and we understand the God who has redeemed us and commissioned us, then we will spend much of our time on our knees. We shall ask for a lot because God promises a lot.
The disciples did that in Acts 4. They asked for healing and miraculous signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. They wanted Him to be glorified and for people to believe. They wanted the Kingdom of God to cover the territory of the earth. And they knew that only God could do such a thing.
In Deed How big is your prayer life? That's not a question that asks how long or how passionate you pray. It's a question that asks how much faith is involved when you talk to your Father. Do you seek Him with huge tasks and for huge answers? Or do you ask only for small personal victories that will make your life easier but do little to further His Kingdom.
Develop a vision for the Kingdom of God. See how enormous and sweeping His mission is, and ask God accordingly. Why? Because a God of miracles delights in making a miracle of His people.
So wherever in the world you are, Moscow, Lagos, London, Santiago, Montevideo, Singapore,Madrid, Amsterdam, Johannesburg, Miami or Kingston Jamaica, it is time for believers to pray big prayers - for the whole human family. Because of the knowledge of good and evil and for the freedom that the gospel of Christ brings. Amen