Sunday, October 14, 2012
The past week disappeared really quickly. But not rapidly enough for us not to experience the continued manifestations of the social challenges that we face as a nation. As this week, news broke of an apparently deranged grandson committing the gruesome murder of chopping off the head of his grandmother. And then over this weekend a once popular DJ Captain Barkey, and his lady friend ,were mercilessly gunned down in New York, allegedly by the lady's ex-boyfriend. In the middle of this, to my complete disgust, Peter Tosh a very gifted musician once associated with Bob Marley; and who died in a hail of bullets years ago; and who was known to be a " bad word cursing, ganja smoking outrageous person, with none of Bob Marley's redeeming qualities; and one who I heard with my own ears calling God, dog spelled in reverse, is to be given at very prestigious national award tomorrow at a National Heroes Day Ceremony. What next really! And what kind of example we are setting to our young people. I wonder whose agenda is being served in this instance, as this is certainly not in the national interest.
No doubt deep in my soul as the Holy Spirit prayed for me with words that cannot be expressed, according to Holy Scriptures, as I was more concerned with illness in my church family and death in my wife's family, the Lord led me to write to senior members of church and state, a continuation of the conversation which began last week.
Monday Oct. 8th
I really thought that this conversation had ended - at least on this topic. But on arising this morning and starting my devotions by praising the God who created heaven and earth, but who, by mystery, and love, lives in my heart in and through faith in Jesus Christ, who came down from heaven to rescue his flock, as prophesied in Ezekiel, and then this word, how can I help but write.
"The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not the shepherds take care of the flock? You eat curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all kinds of wild animals...." Ezekiel 34:1-5 NIV
Is this not the same thing Dr. Gayle is saying, that because of negligence, at best, and greed and self-preservation at worse, as a nation, as church, as state, as civil society, we have allowed wild animals to ravage our young boys in particular. There is no question that as a society our youths and even older ones bear responsibility for the choices they have made. And they have rebelled against God and against all kinds of authority. But the God we know declared further on the Ezekiel passage:
"For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them". Vs 11 - clearly a prophetic word about the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
What this means is that, regardless of the wrong choices that people have made, in the final analysis it is sin that has led them astray. And grinding poverty, and the various temptations and influences that the world offers has also pushed them into that direction. But God still loves them, and longs to welcome all of us back into His arms. And He has proved this by dying for all mankind even when " we were still sinners". So we as Church have a duty to help to rescue these young poor boys, who have strayed and become injured, from becoming food for all the wild animals. And so does the state, and civil society.
This is the message from the Word of God this morning.
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Monday Oct 8th...part 11
That's the good news. The bad news is the prophetic word in verses 7-10.
Let all of us who ears to hear listen well. For Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. There is also a word for the sheep if we read the entire chapter carefully.
The prophetic word which was announced in the verses quoted above declared that God would remove those sheep who did not obey His Word...which translates inot today's world a message that those leaders in church and in state who continue to " feed on the flock" and not take care of them and protect them from " wild animals" would face judgment of one sort or another.
Wednesday Oct 10
Just now I was arrested by the reading of Jesus " praying all night ". And then also read that the following morning He chose twelve Apostles from His ( many ) disciples. And what an impact they were to make on the world before, and and more so after, the next great recorded prayer, the " High Priestly" prayer as recorded in John 17.And so I prayed, and prayed about the important things in my life that were facing me, including the renewal of my church and nation. Then I was led to read again John Stott's seminal work , " Decisive Issues facing Christians today".
The following points were noted early in the book - and not in any particular order of importance.
1. Evangelism and Social Concern have been intimately related to another throughout the history of the Church....Christian people have often engaged in both activities....without feeling any need to define what they were doing or why.
2. As Jesus both went about teaching...preaching....and doing good and healing.
3.The Evangelical Revival, which stirred both continents......lead to widespread philanthropy, and profoundly affected society on both sides of he Atlantic.
4. John Wesley remains the most striking instance.
5. He is probably remembered as an itinerant preacher.....but the gospel he preached inspired people to take up social causes in the name of Christ.
6. Historians have attributed to Wesley's influence rather than to any other, the fact that Britain was spared the horrors of a bloody revolution like France's.
7.18th Century Britain was characterized by deep savagery....the bestial drunkenness of the populace.....the inhuman trafficking in African negroes.....the kidnapping of fellow-countrymen for exportation and sale as slaves......the mortality of parish children, the universal gambling obsession.....the savagery of the prison system and penal code....the welter of immorality....the growing prevalence of lawlessness ( sounds like 21st century Jamaica doesn't it)
.8. But then things began to change......in the 19th century slavery and the salve trade was abolished....the prison system was humanized....conditions in the factory and mine were improved...education became available to the poor....trade unions began....
9. When, then this pronounced humanity?...this passion for social justice.
10. There is but one answer commensurate with stubborn historical truth.
11.It derived from a new social conscience.
12. The Evangelical revival did more to transfigure the moral character of of the general populace, than any other movement British history can record.
13. For Wesley was both a preacher of the gospel and a prophet of social righteousness.
14. He was the man who restored to a nation its soul.
There is more, but I stop there, for the time being. As the point is clear; Jamaica's soul can be restored. But it requires the passionate, and believing, preaching of a sound, not superficial gospel. At all levels. By every Christian leader.Next.....Reginal Coupland in his biography of Wilberforce justly commented: It was indeed a unique phenomenon - this brotherhood of Christian politicians. There has never been anything like it since in British public life. Dare we hope! Perhaps this ought to be the subject of all night prayers, among other issues.
Peace.Our prayers remain steadfast for anyone among us who is ill or recovering from illness.
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One of the things we need to be reminded of a nation,is that "there is nothing new under the sun". As the reality is that whatever crisis we are facing as a nation, others have been there before, and worse, and have done more than just survived, but indeed have thrived. And we do not even have to cast our minds back to 18th Century Britain as John Stott reminds us, but just take a look at Germany and how they manged with the help of other nations, to root out Hitler's Nazism and now that nation is a leader within the free world. What Stoot helps us to put in perspective is the fact that once we are committed to Christ and Him crucified, wonderful things can flow into and out of a nation. But they are dangers as the next message shows.
Thursday Oct 11.
For the dream to be fulfilled men and women must be obedient to the call for both righteousness and the pursuit of justice to be manifest in their (our) lives.
This morning - I hate, I despise your religious feasts,I cannot stand your assemblies,
Even though you bring me burnt offerings,I will not accept them,
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,righteousness like a never ending stream."Amos 5:21-24 NIV
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On Oct 11, 2012,
No doubt it is an irony that Peter Tosh sang about " Equal rights and Justice", but had no idea from Whom came that notion, and to Whom, God Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, should be given all the honor and glory. This is the challenge facing the nation's leaders in both church and state in respect of how we treat the poor and vulnerable in our society. Words are not enough. Solemn masses or inspiring praise and worship sessions are no sufficient. Creatively and profoundly written lyrics don't cut it with the God of Abraham, as He will not listen to the music of " our guitars", but rather our right living with one another, and how diligently we seek His Son Christ Jesus, the only true source of righteousness
The final message Friday Oct. 12
Fulfilling the dream contd.
Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
try me, O Lord, and know my thoughts I pray:
see if there be some wicked way in me,
cleanse me from every sin and set me free.........
fill me with fire where once I burned with shame....
O Holy Ghost, revival comes from thee;
send a revival - start the work in me:
thy word declares thou wilt supply our need;
for blessings now, O Lord, I humbly plead.
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On Oct 12, 2012
Already I am in receipt of early word of the next phase of this conversation. The important issue here though as we close, is that it is incumbent on each one of us, to invite the Lord to search our hearts, as we seek to roll back the tide of violence and immorality which threatens to engulf our country. As we are all guilty, in some form or another, in helping to create the monster that is destroying our people at night and even in the broad daylight. Only then will a true revival of our nation arrive from above, from whence cometh our help, according to the Psalmist in the 121:1
For unless the Lord builds the house in vain do we build. Psalm 127:1