Monday, May 13, 2013

From Cleveland Ohio to Tivoli in Kingston Jamaica God reigns

This week the big news in my country was the decision by the Government to set up a Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli
 Incursion. This was an event which took place in 2010 where the security forces, in pursuit of one of Jamaica's most wanted
 criminals, Christopher " dudus" Coke, who is now behind bars in the USA following his 
extradition, reportedly killed 70
persons in circumstances which are as yet unknown. Hence the need for the Enquiry as recommended by The Office of the
Public Defender.
Also followed closely  was the continued 
revelations of the bizarre case in Cleveland Ohio where a man  has been charged
 with the kidnapping of three women and holding them hostage for over ten years. And questions are being raised about
the role of his two brothers who lived in the house but who apparently knew nothing about the plight of these women, and
 the mental state of this individual. What really triggered such unfettered wickedness?
And who could forget that today is Mother's day when the entire western world, it would appear, takes time out to honor this
amazing, multi-tasking, caring, ever giving, always there for you, giver of life and special gift from God.
Finally, although my wife is his chief fan in my house, the win for Tiger Woods today , his fourth for the season, was a big
talking point for this weekend.

So what how did my reading of holy Scriptures, other, " beyond the sacred page", inspired writings, reflections on hymns and
  engagement in prayers and devotions, during this week, filled with many competing emotions and news, allow me to hear
 the Lord speaking?
Towards the end of the week, I was led to  read and write something which has stayed with me ever since. That one has to
 reach a point in life where there is absolutely " no remedy" for the complete devotion and love for one's Savior, Jesus Christ
of Nazareth! One can only die for it. Therefore, no Tiger Woods, no Serena Williams, no Usain Bolt, no amazing Chris Gayle,
no Lionel Messi and his 'tic tac' Barca team can come close to the emotions which fills one's soul at the Name and presence
 of Jesus, the Crucified One. No mother, however much mine taught me to love Jesus; no father, however much mine taught
 much about loving my neighbour; no wife and mother of my children, however much we have been through together for close
 to forty years; no children or the current joy of my life, the grandchildren, however much pride they bring us, can come near
to the gratitude we have for being part of the family of God, in and through Jesus, the lover of my soul....washed in His
fountain, cleansed by His we sang together in church today. And it is only this kind of devotion to Christ, that
can release the " streams of living waters", the promised Holy Spirit, who only can help to touch hearts in Cleveland Ohio,
 in Tivoli Jamaica, and release the demons from the soul and mind of Tiger Woods and others.


As I began my devotions this morning, words from a wonderful hymn came into my mind:

1.O for a thousand voices to sing
my dear Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King
the triumphs of his grace!

2.Jesus! The name that charms our fears
that bids our sorrow's cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health and peace......

5.My gracious master and my God,
assist me to proclaim
and spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.

Then I was led to read again, a passage of Scripture on which  I have been meditating for some time now as it contains so
 much prophecy very relevant to the age in which we live.

Acts 20:17-31 NIV

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: " You know how I 
lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great
 humility and tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. You know that I have not hesitated to preach
 anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly from house to house. I have declared to both  Jews 
and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

"And  now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen there. I only know that in 
every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However I consider my life worth nothing to 
me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel 
of God's grace. ( My gracious master and my God, assist me to proclaim....).

Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, 
I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole 
will of God. keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. be shepherds of 
the church of God, which he bough with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you 
and and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away 
disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning  each of you night and 

Comment: Some may argue that Paul was addressing the Bishops of the day and therefore as lay people this passage has
 nothing to do with us. But nothing could be further from the truth as the " task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" 
is given to all the baptized. And we must be single minded in this quest, and be completely focused like Paul, and declare
 and act in a way that demonstrates that " however, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if I may finish the race and 
complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me".

Finally as we ponder this profound passage, beside I found the following meditation which ought to leave no doubt in our
 minds, about our single minded approach to finishing the task.

Hilary of Poitiers 

( a fourth century Bishop, born into a pagan family and converted to Christianity. He was one of the defenders of 
Athanasius in the fight against Arianism ( which advanced the dangerous doctrine that the Son was not eternal but 

Verse: Acts 20: 24


The chief service I owe you, O 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. I know that I am often heavy with stupor, so that I am too lazy to speak of you. And I do no spend sufficient time studying your Scriptures, to ensure that my word conform to your Word. Give me the energy and the courage to share the spirit of the apostles, that like them I may truly be an ambassador of your grace.


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. I have no 
doubt that you had a purpose in causing me to be born; yet you had no need of me, and on my own I was of no use to you.

But then you decided that I should hear the words of your Son Jesus Christ. And that 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: I pray God for myself first of all, for my family, church and all of Christendom, that all of us may grow into this
 faith, that we may be completely saturated in the love of Christ, and that there is no remedy but to die for - to self - for
 this faith. And then, O my God, only then we will have a thousand voices, a million voices and much more to sing the
 praise of our dear Redeemer's praise. And who knows what will become of our dear country and indeed the world

The second message sent to a set of journalists,  high ranking members of the political hierarchy and civil society, was
 penned before the news broke about the decision to appoint a Commission of Enquiry, as my mind was troubled was the 
state of my country and the forces of evil which had occasioned its decline. And as I reflect on what will happen in the 
near future, I am led to ask :
Who then will account for the thousands of persons murdered by the gun since the late 60's and early 70's when the 
madness started?
Who then will order an enquiry into the reasons why the economy in my beloved country has only grown by an anemic
 one percent per year over the past 25 years, when many others have grown by much more?
Who then will order an investigation into the reasons why our children have become so oversexed thus resulting in
extremely high rates of teenage pregnancies, and really outrageous and unacceptable behaviour from the " future " of my 
Who then will judge sections of the church which has, like Hymenaeus and Philetus,  wandered away from the " Truth". 
And which in some instances have lost their faith on account of their love for money. Thus failing to be " salt and light "
 in the middle of the madness which has overtaken Jamaica in recent times.
Who will account for the thousands of Jamaicans who have decided to leave our shores and head for 'greener' and safer 
pastures, thus denying the nation of the intellectual capacity, the leadership skills, the formation of good values and
 attitudes, the  lack of which has retarded the contributed significantly to the development of this nation. The reality is 
that many persons, even if they escape judgment here on this earth , will have a lot to answer before an Almighty God
 one day. As regardless of your worldview, whether liberal or conservative, whether dismissive of Religion in general and
 Christianity in particular, whether you consider yourself enlightened or God -fearing,  no one can escape the fact that
 " it is appointed for all men once to die and then the judgment". And in that sense then we fight not against flesh and 
blood, but ......


Finally be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces evil in the heavenly realms".    Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV

Minister Bunting is right. But even he does not understand fully what he was saying. As it happened before his time. But not before mine, as I 
watched it all unfold, but did not fully understand either. Perhaps not even now. And I had a front row seat.

They, the forces of evil, started by corrupting our politics.  Guns came into play.  And all hell broke loose. Literally and figuratively! Corrupt 
politicians  with guns begat violence. And the violence ripped asunder communities, introduced the Dons, facilitated  widespread criminality, 
destroyed family life, introduced a new morality. And Jamaica has never been the same again.

And being as greedy as the grave, the forces of evil then corrupted our music. And all hell broke loose. Uptown and downtown. On Sundays and
 Easter. Even Good Friday was not spared. And now every day of the week the madness continues. And our  vulnerable, the children and young 
people have borne the brunt of the attack.

Not even the church was spared, as many got caught up with the partisan politics. And if not on that road, many fell prey to the prosperity gospel. 
Whilst for others the distinction between those who serve God and those who serve mammon has become blurred and the difference hardly 
distinguishable. And some have just gave up on the world of sin and waited to go to heaven....tired of the fussing and fighting. And the suffering church of Christ that demonstrates true faith and that can challenge people with authority and integrity to a righteous way of life, is fast becoming  something unusual.

Somewhere along the line, the forces of evil turned their attention to rest of civil society - the business people, the professionals, the teachers in particular, the tradesman and woman, the farmers, the market women and the higglers. And introduced greed, pride, loudness, malice thus transforming the backbone of our society.

For some time now the forces of evil have  turned  their attention to the media and sources of entertainment - with devastating results. Liberal
 minded owners and practitioners, who for the most part appear not to fear God, or at least the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, control
 the airwaves. Pornography, hard core or of the soft variety  and gratuitous violence now hold sway on much of cable, at the movies, and on the
 video games and on the now ubiquitous smart phones.

But thank God for Jesus, not all have bowed down to Baal. Not all have succumbed to the blandishments of the evil one. Many, even those who are
 not Christians are seeing the light, or more appropriately understanding the darkness, to a certain degree, that has come upon our fair isle. It is
 therefore at a time like this that the forces of good need to band together and stand up against evil. And understand that the preoccupation that 
our youngsters have with sex, the ease with which violence rears its ugly head at school, in the communities and at home, and the culture of  political
 tribalism did not happen by chance. Equally so, the prescriptions  to " give out condoms in schools", to lobby for same sex " marriage", and to
 promote gambling, even on Sundays, as solutions to some of our social and economic issues did not come from the mind of God.

There is hope for Jamaica. A hope rooted in the Word of God, and not in the common sense practical solutions devised by man. We who claim
 Christ must continue to be  faithful, and resist evil  by being " strong on the Lord and in his mighty power". The danger lies in assuming that we 
have any power to resist evil our own. As to put of the full armor of God is to be " in Christ", and Christ alone, and hold on to the words of the 
hymn-writer who cries out in the classic hymn
" Be thou my vision"

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armour, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul's shelter, be thou my strong tower,
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Why do I have hope The promise of God as recorded in a Psalm I read tonight as I sought the Lord's help in a challenging time.

If the Lord had not been our side -
let Israel say -
If the Lord had not been on our side
when men attacked us,
when their anger flared against us,
they would have swallowed us alive,
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
out of the fowlers snare;
 the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 124. NIV
And all of God's promises are fulfilled in Christ. The Crucified and Risen One.

Sent from my iPad

Comment: I continue to lament the senseless arguing with the Word of God as I read comments on  twitter and elsewhere.
 Often from probably well meaning persons searching for the truth. But as one commentator I read this week said: 
" There is none so deaf as those who refuse to hear the truth". 
The reality is that there is really only One Almighty God 
that made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that there is in it. And He, before the creation of the earth, according
 to His will and purpose, in love, ordained that His Son Christ should die for the sins of all mankind, " for all have sinned 
and fallen short of the glory of God". We who have come accept that we are sinners in need of God's grace and mercy,
 have been commissioned to reveal His love to others, in and though Christ. So that men should not perish but have 
everlasting life! That's it. Everything else is temporary and to be enjoyed and understood in that context, lest we lose
 our focus and spend all our time watching sports, bringing up children, shaping a nation, loving our wives and husbands 
and paying tribute to mothers and fathers. All worthy pursuits, but secondary to " seeking first the kingdom of God". Amen.

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