I read my Bible to see what men ought to do, and read my newspapers to see what men are doing - John Newton
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation - An Anglican Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism
The big news in my country this week was the tragic death of young Jamiella Dawkins. A young thirteen year student at Anchovy High School in the Western part of the island, who was stabbed to death by her former friend and schoolmate in full view of other students. And one of whom with ghoulish intent, posted the 'event' on YouTube. At least for a short time as appropriate action was taken very quickly to remove the offending post. But not before it apparently went viral on the smart phones of many teenagers. And so once again a nation was left horrified, outraged and totally confused and discombobulated, and collectively wondering how to stop the rampant evil abroad in the nation. Not even the news that Veronica Campbell Brown had declared the use of a cream which apparently contained the banned substance found in her urine, prior to the testing, thus prompting a member of the IAAF, to place the entire matter in perspective and declare that the offence was a " minor" one, could bring much cheer to an nation rocked to its very core by Jameilla's death.
The other news which had people talking was the proposed march by some Church Groups, in support of the Buggery Act, the constitutionality of which is being challenged by a member of the Gay community. The hearing by the courts is set for this week. In response to which show of support, members of the Gay and Lesbian community declared that they would stage a " counter march". All of this happening in country which is well known worldwide for its opposition to the Gay and Lesbian lifestyle, even in the face of not only mounting support in North America and Europe, but attempts being made to influence Jamaica to " change its ways", or suffer economically and culturally.
Very closely allied to this " hot button " issue, was the announcement by the Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna, a former Miss World, that it was time to review the current Abortion Act, which now makes it illegal to perform such a ' operation'. Especially in the light of what is now the current practice in other jurisdictions. And the clear evidence of increasing Maternal Mortality associated with " back door" and illegal abortions, to which unsafe practice, many women are " forced" to experience, presumably, on account of the law.
Also In this sports mad country, news of the excellent times posted by the American men and women over the short sprints at their trials in Eugene Oregon, which are being held at the same time of our trials here in Kingston Jamaica, have no doubt not gone without notice in my country. That's why Warren Weir's superb time of 19.79 over the 200 metres, our third place runner in the London Olympics, after Messrs. Bolt and Blake, just posted minutes ago was so welcome, and must have helped to quiet troubled hearts.
Finally, at the time of writing, the most influential leader in modern times, former freedom fighter and President of the ANC and of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, have now been placed on a critical list. We continue to pray for his recovery and place him in the hands of the God who has been with him in the darkest days of his life, and who will carry him home, if that is His will.
So what did the Lord say this week in the midst of this kind of controversy, and evil 'raising its ugly head' in my country, in various forms; in the midst of 'pressure' from the Americans, and at a time when it may very well be the final days of Madiba's life here on earth? He organized for me to preach a sermon at my church and say to my people and to an embattled nation, " Be still and know that I am God".
An edited version of the sermon is therefore the core of this week's message. Essentially, the sermon contextualizes the answers to Jesus' questions to his disciples within the framework of current events in my country. It also references a famous Old Testament story, well known by believers and unbelievers alike, and juxtaposes this example of God fighting for His people and telling then be still, with a meditation from Martin Luther King Jnr on The Death of Evil.
And threading through this instruction from the Lord is a warning to the crowd, and an encouragement to the disciples, that in the final analysis, after all is said and done, the only thing that matters is complete obedience to God who is Sovereign on this earth. And so we ask God to " plant our feet on higher ground".
The central message in a hymn I first heard sung with Pentecostal fervor by a group of Methodists, and the words of which hymn has been in my head all week.
Also note that in respect of both the abortion issue and the proposal to overturn the buggery act, I made the point that, adding to the to the text as I went along, to sympathize with the needs of a woman faced with the prospects of having an unwanted child is to be commended. And good. But being obedient to God Almighty is better. Similarly, to be tolerant of the Gay lifestyle is to be commended as we judge no one. But to be obedient to the Word of God that characterizes it as a " perversion" , for which there is a " due penalty", is better. My friend and award winning journalist Ian Boyne, writing in the In focus section of today's The Daily Gleaner www.go-jamaica.com marshals considerable evidence to show that Christians are losing the cultural battle to counter the growing acceptance of the Gay and Lesbian lifestyle worldwide and suggest that we may have to do more than quote the Bible to win the war.
I would humbly suggest to him and others, who may be fearful, to " Be Still and know that I am God". The God who healeth us, and the God in whom we can place all our trust. For as in the case of the warning issued by Gamaliel to the Jewish leaders, in the book of Acts, who were trying to stop the early Christian movement, if it is God's will that the Gay and lesbian lifestyle shall not be 'sanitized' and accepted as an alternate lifestyle, but remain as a perversion, then who can stop Him! The point that Martin Luther Jnr, whose meditation is featured makes, is one that should cause all Christians to pause and reflect. That evil never voluntarily gives up its hold over mankind. And only an almost fanatical resistance can free people from it. But equally important, that there is a checkpoint in the Universe as evil cannot continue to organize itself. We claim that checkpoint as Jesus' death on the Cross and his Resurrection from the dead. But evil still is allowed to cause mayhem. For a time! Hence the gruesome death of Jamiella Dawkins and others. Our role then, as those sent by Jesus to " set the captives free", is to be " almost fanatical" in our prayers and actions to counteract evil, and to be completely obedient to God, and live on a "higher plane" than what currently obtains in my country. A matter which Thomas R. Kelly makes in a beautiful devotional book which I am reading, and which relevant extracts are quoted. As only then can the deaths of other Jameilla's, and unborn children, and the death of innocence and righteousness and obedience to God and fears of all kinds be overcome. Forever, in the same way, that God promised that " these Egyptians you see today, you will never see them again".
SERMON FOR SUNDAY
LORD, LIFT ME UP AND LET ME STAND.
BY FAITH, ON HEAVEN'S TABLELAND.
A HIGHER PLANE THAN I HAVE FOUND
'LORD PLANT MY FEET ON HIGHER GROUND
ONCE WHEN JESUS WAS PRAYING IN PRIVATE AND HIS DISCIPLES WERE WITH HIM, HE ASKED THEM, ' WHO DO THE CROWDS SAY I AM?
THEY REPLIED, " SOME SAY ELIJAH; AND STILL OTHERS, THAT ONE OF THE PROPHETS OF LONG AGO HAS COME BACK TO LIFE".
BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU?" HE ASKED. " WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?".
WORDS FROM THE GOSPEL JUST READ FOR US THiS MORNING.
THIS PARTICULAR PASSAGE IN THE NINTH CHAPTER OF LUKE, WHICH BEARS THE CAPTION IN THE NIV ...PETER'S CONFESSION OF CHRIST....CONTAINS SOME OF THE MOST MEMORABLE AND REMARKABLE INSTRUCTIONS FROM OUR LORD. AMONG THEM, ARE:
IF ANYONE WOULD COME AFTER ME, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF, TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY AND FOLLOW ME. FOR WHOEVER WANTS TO SAVE HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT, BUT WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR ME WILL WILL SAVE IT.
WHAT GOOD IS IT FOR A MAN TO GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD , AND YET LOSE OF FORFEIT HIS VERY SELF
IF ANY MAN IS ASHAMED OF ME AND MY WORDS, THE SON OF MAN WILL BE ASHAMED OF HIM WHEN HE COMES IN HIS GLORY AND IN THE GLORY OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE HOLY ANGELS.
ANYONE OF WHICH INSTRUCTIONS WOULD MERIT OUR ATTENTION FOR AN ENTIRE SERMON OR EVEN A SERIES OF SERMONS. BUT THAT WHICH THE LORD HAS LAID ON MY HEART THIS MORNING, IS FOR US TO CONCENTRATE OUR MINDS ON THE TWO QUESTIONS HE POSED TO HIS DISCIPLES AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS PASSAGE. WHO DO THE CROWDS SAY I AM, AND WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?
I WANT TO SUGGEST THAT THE CHALLENGES THAT THESE TWO QUESTIONS POSE ARE SO FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE, SO FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF WHO GOD IS, SO FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, THAT THEY ARE WHAT THE PHILOSOPHERS TERM EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS. IN THE SENSE THAT THEY ARE QUESTIONS THAT GO TO THE CORE OF OUR EXISTENCE HERE ON EARTH. FOR MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT WHAT JESUS IS TELLING US, NOT JUST IMPLYING, BUT WARNING US, IS THAT THEY ARE ONLY TWO KINDS PEOPLE ON EARTH. ON THE ONE HAND, THOSE WHO WONDER WHO GOD IS , THOSE WHO SPECULATE, THOSE WHO HAVE A VAGUE IDEA, THOSE WHO ARE BADLY MISTAKEN IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF WHO GOD IS, THOSE WHO KNOW ABOUT GOD BUT DON'T TRULY KNOW HIM, THOSE WHOSE GOD IS TOO SMALL, THOSE WHO HAVE CREATED GOD IN THEIR OWN IMAGE, THOSE WHO FOLLOW GOD HALF WAY, BUT WHO REJECT THE WAY OF SUFFERING AND SHAME AND COMPLETE OBEDIENCE; AND ON THE OTHER HAND, THOSE WHO KNOW GOD IN AND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST THE CRUCIFIED ONE.
AND SO THIS MORNING AT A TIME WHEN THE ENTIRE NATION IS SHAKEN, OUTRAGED AND UNABLE TO EXPLAIN WHY A SCHOOLMATE, A FRIEND, WOULD WILLFULLY AND INTENTIONALLY PUSH A LONG KNIFE INTO THE CHEST OF HER FORMER FRIEND, JAMIELLA DAWKINS AND KILL HER, ON THIS MORNING, THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL THROUGH THE WORDS OF THE PSALMIST, SAYS TO US " BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD." AND IF WE LISTEN CAREFULLY WE CAN HEAR THE WORDS OF THE SONG WRITER SAYING...I AM A GOD WHO HEALETH THEE..... AND OUR RESPONSE IS....IN THEE I HAVE PUT MY TRUST.
AND THEN THE CROWD WHO HAVE NOT TRAVELED WITH THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD , OF JACOB THROUGH THE DARK NIGHTS OF SUFFERING AND PAIN, AND WHO HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED THE JOY THAT COMETH IN THE MORNING, AFTER NIGHTS OF WEEPING, WILL ASK, WHERE WAS GOD WHEN JAMIELLA WAS UNDER ATTACK? WHERE WAS GOD WHEN ANANDA WAS BEING BRUTALIZED? WHERE WAS GOD WHEN THAT WOMAN FILLED WITH SO MUCH HATE AND EVIL, DRAGGED AWAY THAT YOUNG GIRL AND CHOPPED OFF HER HEAD? WHERE WAS THE LORD WHEN THOSE FIVE YOUNG WOMEN WERE SO BRUTALLY RAPED BY THOSE GUNMEN IN THE WESTERN PART OF THE ISLAND LAST YEAR? WHERE WAS GOD ALL THESE ATROCITIES AND MORE WERE TAKING PLACE IN OUR NATION OVER THE PAST THIRTY FORTY YEARS? WHERE WAS HE...YOU TELL ME!
LAST WEEK, IN A VERY MOVING SERMON SISTER ANDREA, GAVE US PART OF THE ANSWER TO JESUS' QUESTION, WHO DO YOU SAY I AM. WE RECALL THE STORY OF THE SINFUL WOMAN, PERHAPS A PROSTITUTE, WHO WORSHIPED JESUS WITH HER TEARS AND WITH HER HAIR, FOR SHE HAD MANY SINS, AND THUS OWED GOD MUCH, BUT COULD NOT REPAY HIM. AND SO UNLIKE THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS PHARISEE SIMON, SHE RECEIVED MERCY AND FORGIVENESS FOR HER SINS BECAUSE SHE SHOWED THAT SHE LOVED JESUS MUCH...EVEN THOUGH SHE SAID NOT A WORD. SO WE KNOW THAT GOD IS GOD OF MERCY.
THIS WEEK, NO DOUBT IN ANTICIPATION OF THE MANY QUESTIONS THAT THE CROWD HAS FOR A GOD WHO WOULD SEEMINGLY PRESIDE OVER THE DEATH OF YOUNG JAMEILLA DAWKINS WITHOUT INTERVENING, THE LORD LED ME TO THE 14TH CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF EXODUS TO SPEND TIME IN HIS WORD. AND THEN TO KNOW, NOT TO WONDER, THAT HE IS ALSO A GOD WHO FIGHTS FOR US. WE JUST HAVE TO BE STILL.
SO LET US LISTEN CAREFULLY TO WHAT GOD IS SAYING TO US THROUGH THE EXPERIENCE OF MOSES AS WE CONSIDER JESUS' QUESTION, WHO DO YOU SAY I AM. AND THE QUESTION THAT MANY PEOPLE IN JAMAICA ARE GRAPPLING WITH THIS MORNING, WHICH INCIDENTALLY IS THE VERY SAME ISSUE WHICH THE AMERICAN PUBLIC PONDERED OVER POST 9/11...WHERE IS GOD IN TIMES OF MANIFEST EVIL?
AS PHARAOH APPROACHED,THE ISRAELITES LOOKED UP, AND THERE WERE THE EGYPTIANS, MARCHING AFTER THEM. THEY WERE TERRIFIED AND CRIED OUT TO THE LORD. THEY SAID TO MOSES, 'WAS IT BECAUSE THERE WERE NO GRAVES IN EGYPT THAT YOU BROUGHT US OUT TO THE DESERT TO DIE? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO US BY BRINGING US OUT OF EGYPT? DID'NT WE SAY TO YOU IN EGYPT, ' LEAVE US ALONE; LET US SERVE THE EGYPTIANS? IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER FOR US TO SERVE THE EGYPTIANS THAN TO DIE IN THE DESERT'.
MOSES ANSWERED THE PEOPLE, ' DO NOT BE AFRAID. STAND FIRM AND YOU WILL SEE THE DELIVERANCE THE LORD WILL BRING YOU TODAY. THE EGYPTIANS YOU SEE TODAY YOU WILL NEVER SEE AGAIN. THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU, YOU ONLY NEED TO BE STILL
IN MY CLASSIC DEVOTIONAL BIBLE, ON THE PAGE THAT COMES AFTER THIS PASSAGE, IS A MEDITATION ENTITLED 'THE DEATH OF EVIL', BY MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR.
AN EDITED EXTRACT FROM WHICH IS VERY GERMANE TO THIS DISCUSSION ON THE TWO EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS POSED OUR SAVIOUR. AND SO I SHARE IT WITH YOU
WHEN THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WERE HELD UNDER THE GRIPPING YOKE OF EGYPTIAN SLAVERY, EGYPT SYMBOLIZED EVIL...... AND THE ISRAELITES SYMBOLIZED GOODNESS. EGYPT STRUGGLED TO MAINTAIN HER OPPRESSIVE YOKE AND ISRAEL STRUGGLED TO GAIN FREEDOM. PHARAOH STUBBORNLY REFUSED TO RESPOND TO THE CRY OF MOSES, EVEN WHEN PLAGUE AFTER PLAGUE THREATENED HIS DOMAIN. THIS TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT EVIL THAT WE MUST NEVER FORGET, NAMELY THAT EVIL IS RECALCITRANT AND DETERMINED, AND NEVER VOLUNTARILY RELINQUISHES ITS HOLD SHORT OF A PERSISTENTLY, ALMOST FANATICAL RESISTANCE.
BUT THERE IS A CHECKPOINT IN THE UNIVERSE: EVIL CANNOT PERMANENTLY ORGANIZE ITSELF ITSELF. END OF QUOTE.
MY FRIENDS HERE AT ST. ANDREW PARISH CHURCH, AND TO THOSE IN THE CROWD OUTSIDE THE CHURCH, THE UNBELIEVERS AND NAYSAYERS, I WANT TO SUGGEST, AS WE PONDER OVER THE WORD OF GOD FROM EXODUS AND MARTIN LUTHER KINGS REFLECTIONS, THAT AS WE CONSIDER THE TRAGIC DEATH OF YOUNG JAMIELLA DAWKINS AND PRAY FOR THE TORTURED SOUL OF HER KILLER, AN AWFUL EVENT IN OUR HISTORY THAT CAPTURES SO MUCH OF WHAT IS DREADFULLY WRONG WITH OUR NATION, I WANT TO SUGGEST THAT WE ACCEPT THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS:
1. THAT THE GOD THAT WE KNOW IS A GOD WHO FIGHTS AGAINST EVIL AND THEREFORE ALL THAT IS WRONG WITH JAMAICA WILL COME TO AN END ONE DAY IN THE LORD'S OWN TIME AND FOR HIS GLORY. AS EVIL CANNOT CONTINUE TO ORGANIZE IT SELF FOREVER.
2. THAT THE GOD THAT WE KNOW, HAS, IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME, SENT HIS ONLY SON JESUS THE CHRIST, WHO PETER CONFESSED, AND WHO WE IN TURN CONFESS, TO DIE ON A CROSS AND SO EFFECTIVELY BECAME A CHECKPOINT IN HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE AGAINST EVIL. SO WE WHO HAVE COME TO KNOW GOD IN AND THROUGH CHRIST JESUS, IF WE DWELL IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH, THROUGH BELIEF IN THE SHED BLOOD OF JESUS, CANNOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL. FOR IF GOD IS FOR US WHO CAN BE AGAINST US. AND IT IS THIS ACT OF GOD WHO SENT HIS ONLY SON TO DIE SO THAT SINFUL MANKIND MAY NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE, WHY, WITH CONFIDENCE KNOW THAT THE GOD WHO WATCHES OVER THE SWALLOW, CARES FOR THE LIFE OF JAMIELLA AND OTHERS. BUT THE ONLY WAY TO OVERCOME EVIL IS TO BELIEVE IN HIS SON. AND SO FROM THE EARLY DAYS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, THE WORD OF GOD AS RECORDED IN THE 5TH CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY, TELLS US THAT GOD SAID:
" OH THAT THEIR HEARTS WOULD BE INCLINED TO FEAR ME, AND KEEP ALL MY COMMANDS ALWAYS, SO THAT IT MAY GO WELL WITH THEY AND THEIR CHILDREN FOREVER!
3. THAT ALTHOUGH EVIL WAS VANQUISHED ON THE CROSS, IT STILL HAS THE POWER TO CAUSE MAYHEM IN THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS AND NATIONS. AND THUS EVIL WILL NOT VOLUNTARILY RELINQUISH ITS HOLD ON HUMAN KIND.
4. WE THEREFORE, THOSE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD, ARE CALLED TO BE STILL BEFORE GOD, TRUST IN JESUS AND PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, IN PERSISTENT AND ALMOST FANATICAL RESISTANCE, FOR THE CHILDREN OF THIS NATION, THE ELDERLY WOMEN WHO ARE BEING RAPED AND KILLED AND ALL THAT CHARACTERIZES THE VIOLENCE AND CRIME THAT HAS TAKEN HOLD OF OUR PEOPLE.
I WANT TO SUGGEST FURTHER, IN THE WORDS OF THOMAS R. KELLY, A FORMER QUAKER WHOSE BOOK 'THE TESTAMENT OF DEVOTION, WHICH HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS ONE OF THE MOST BELOVED DEVOTIONAL BOOKS OF OUR TIME, AND WHICH ' I AM CURRENTLY READING, THAT " THIS IS NOT TIME FOR CONVENTIONAL RELIGION WHICH, WITH RESPECTABLE SKIRTS HELD BACK BY DAINTY FINGERS, ANXIOUSLY TRIES TO FISH THE WORLD OUT OF ITS MUD HOLE OF IT SELFISHNESS. OUR CHURCHES, OUR MEETING HOUSES ARE FULL OF SUCH RESPECTABLE AND AMIABLE PEOPLE'.
THE BACKGROUND TO THIS UNSATISFACTORY IF NOT UNFAVORABLE PICTURE OF THE CHURCH THEN, AND I DARE SAY OF THE CHURCH NOW, IS THAT KELLY WAS EXHORTING HIS READERS IN AN EARLIER PASSAGE TO COMPLETE OBEDIENCE TO GOD.
AND QUOTING MEISTER ECKHART KELLY WROTE; "THERE ARE PLENTY TO FOLLOW OUR LORD HALF-WAY, BUT NOT THE OTHER HALF. THEY WILL GIVE UP POSSESSIONS, FRIENDS, AND HONORS, BUT IT TOUCHES THEM TOO CLOSELY TO DISOWN THEMSELVES". AND KELLY CONTINUES THAT... IT IS JUST THIS ASTONISHING LIFE WHICH IS WILLING TO TO FOLLOW HIM THE OTHER HALF, SINCERELY TO DISOWN ITSELF, THIS LIFE WHICH INTENDS COMPLETE OBEDIENCE, WITHOUT ANY RESERVATION, THAT I WOULD PROPOSE TO YOU IN ALL HUMILITY, IN ALL BOLDNESS, IN ALL SERIOUSNESS.
THIS MORNING THEN, MY FRIENDS, I TOO WOULD INVITE US ALL TO SET OUR HEARTS FREE FROM FEAR BY COMPLETE OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD WHICH REVEALS THE TRUE NATURE OF JESUS, AND WHICH WORD CAME TO ME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT THIS WEEK.
" DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED. TRUST IN GOD; TRUST ALSO IN ME.
FOR MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, THIS SAME JESUS WHO ASKED HIS DISCIPLES WHO DO YOU SAY I AM, WOULD DIE ON THE CROSS, AT THE REQUEST OF THE CROWD, WHO HAD NO IDEA WHO HE WAS...FORGIVE THEM LORD FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.....FOR DECLARING IN HIS ACTIONS AND WORDS THAT HE AND GOD THE FATHER ARE ONE.
JESUS THEN, SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER IS A GOD WHO WILL FIGHT FOR US IN TIMES OF TROUBLE. WE ONLY NEED TO BE STILL AND KNOW...THAT IS BELIEVE ..... THAT HE IS GOD. AND WE NEED TO PRAY WITH PERSISTENCE AND WITH ALMOST FANATICAL RESISTANCE, IN THE WORDS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR, FOR OTHERS FIRST AND THEN OURSELVES. ALL WHOM WE MEET, ALL WHOM WE READ ABOUT, ALL WHO LIVE WITH US ON THIS FAIR ISLE, WHICH HAS BEEN CAPTURED BY EVIL. THE KIND OF EVIL WHICH WILL NOT VOLUNTARILY RELEASE ITS HOLD ON US. THE KIND OF EVIL WHICH TOOK JAMIELLA'S LIFE AND ALMOST TOOK THE LIFE OF ANOTHER STUDENT YESTERDAY. THE KIND OF EVIL THAT ALMOST DESTROYED VERONICA CAMPBELL BROWN'S CAREER, AND BY EXTENSION THREATENED JAMAICA'S ATHLETIC PROGRAM THIS PAST WEEK.
WE MUST THEREFORE PRAY WITHOUT CEASING AND WITH ALMOST FANATICAL RESISTANCE FOR THE SCHOOL CHILDREN WHOSE MINDS HAVE BEEN CAPTURED BY THE TWIN EVILS OF VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL IMMORALITY, RATHER THAN SUCCUMB TO THE BEGUILING ARGUMENTS FROM THE CROWD TO DISTRIBUTE CONDOMS IN SCHOOLS. WE MUST PRAY WITHOUT CEASING FOR FAMILY LIFE - THE EROSION OF WHICH TRADITIONAL VALUES IS WREAKING SO MUCH HAVOC IN THE NATION. . WE MUST PRAY WITHOUT CEASING FOR OUR THE COMMUNITIES. WE MUST PRAY OUT THE UNGODLY INFLUENCES IN OUR MUSIC AND ON TELEVISION. WE MUST TRUST COMPLETELY IN THE GOD WHO DIED ON THE CROSS IN HUMAN FORM AS CHRIST, AS THE ONLY ONE WHO IS THE CHECKPOINT AGAINST EVIL. WE MUST RESIST ANY ATTEMPT TO GO BACK TO EGYPT...TO PURCHASE LOTTO WHEN WE CANNOT FIND THE MONEY TO PAY LIGHT BILL...TO JEOPARDIZE OUR CAREFULLY BUILT UP PROFESSIONAL REPUTATION BY UNETHICAL AND DISHONEST BEHAVIOR BECAUSE TIMES ARE HARD.... TO DEPEND ON CASINO GAMBLING BECAUSE THE ECONOMY IS IN SHAMBLES...TO LEGALLY KILL THE LIFE WHICH ONLY GOD CAN CREATE AND PLACE IN A WOMAN'S WOMB , BECAUSE PEOPLE, ON ACCOUNT OF DISOBEDIENCE ARE SUFFERING AND DYING...AND TO WEAKEN OUR RESOLVE TO PROMOTE RIGHTEOUSNESS BECAUSE THOSE IN THE CROWD ACCUSE US OF INTOLERANCE
YES, IT IS VERY EASY, BUT HARD TO CONSISTENTLY LIVE A LIFE WHICH OFFERS A CONFIDENT ANSWER TO JESUS ' QUESTION, THAT WE BELIEVE IN CHRIST THE SAVIOR, AS PETER WAS TO FIND OUT IN DUE COURSE WHEN HE DENIED CHRIST THREE TIMES BEFORE THE COCK CROWED, AS JESUS WARNED HIM. AND WE TOO LIKE PETER, AS THE STORY OF THE SOWER WHO SOWED THE SEED TELLS US, ARE LIABLE TO BE CHOKED BY LIFE'S WORRIES RICHES AND PLEASURES AND DO NOT MATURE. AND IMMATURE CHRISTIANS I WOULD SUGGEST CANNOT HELP TO RESCUE THIS COUNTRY FROM THE EVIL NOW ABROAD IN THE LAND. THIS IS WHAT JESUS WAS WARNING US WHEN HE CALLED US TO DENY SELF COMPLETELY AND FOLLOW HIM. NOT HALF WAY AS THOMAS R KELLY SUGGESTS BUT WITH COMPLETE OBEDIENCE. ONLY THEN CAN WE REALLY BE STILL AND TRULY KNOW GOD AS THE PSALMIST EXHORTS US.
AS FOR THE CROWD, A FINAL QUOTE FROM KELLY OUGHT TO MAKE THEM AND US PAUSE.
DON'T BE DECEIVED. YOU MUST FACE DESTINY. PREPARATION IS ONLY POSSIBLE NOW. DON'T BE FOOLED BY YOUR SUNNY SKIES. WHEN THE RAINS DESCEND AND THE FLOODS COME AND THE WINDS BLOW AND BEAT UPON YOUR HOUSE, YOUR PRIVATE DWELLING, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR OWN FAIR HOPES, YOUR OWN STRONG MUSCLES, YOUR OWN BODY, YOUR OWN SOUL ITSELF, THEN IT IS WELL NIGH TOO LATE TO BUILD A HOUSE. YOU CAN ONLY GO INSIDE WHAT HOUSE YOU HAVE AND PRAY THAT IT IS FOUNDED UPON THE ROCK.. DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY DISTANCE IN TIME OR SPACE, OR THE FALSE SECURITY OF A BANK ACCOUNT AND AN AUTOMOBILE AND GOOD HEALTH AND WILLING HANDS TO WORK. THOUSANDS, PERHAPS MILLIONS AS GOOD AS YOU HAVE HAD ALL THESE THINGS AND ARE PERISHING IN BODY AND , WORSE IN SOUL TO DAY.
AND AS FOR THE US THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, I CLOSE WITH THE FIRST VERSE ( THE OTHERS ARE ALSO INCLUDED) OF THE REFRAIN OF THE HYMN I USED FOR PRAYER. I DO SO IN THE HOPE THAT WE WILL INDEED SEEK FOR HIGHER GROUND AS WE ATTEMPT . TO ANSWER JESUS' QUESTION WHO DO YOU SAY I AM. FOR WITHOUT THIS DESIRE FOR A DEEPER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IN CHRIST, FOR COMPLETE OBEDIENCE TO HIM, TO DENY OURSELVES COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY, TO LOSE OURSELVES SO THAT WE MAY GAIN OUR SOULS, WITHOUT THIS DEEP DESIRE TO TRUST HIM COMPLETELY IN GOOD TIMES AND IN BAD TIMES AND NOT BE TEMPTED TO GO BACK TO EGYPT, THEN WE WOULD HAVE DENIED THE CHRIST WHO EMPTIED HIMSELF ALL BUT LOVE AND BECAME OBEDIENT EVEN TO DEATH ON THE CROSS. AND SUCH A FAITH IS AMIABLE AND RESPECTABLE BUT ONLY HALF WAY TO GOD AND UNABLE TO FIGHT AGAINST EVIL IN THIS LAND.
I'M PRESSING ON THE HIGHER WAY
NEW HEIGHTS I'M GAINING EVERY DAY,
STILL PRAYING AS I'M ONWARD BOUND,
'LORD PLANT MY FEET ON HIGHER GROUND
MY HEART HS NO DESIRE TO STAY
WHERE DOUBTS ARISE AND FEARS DISMAY.
THO' SOME MAY DWELL WHERE THESE ABOUND
MY PRAYER, MY AIM IS HIGHER GROUND
I WANT TO LIVE ABOVE THE WORLD
THO' SATAN DARTS AT ME ARE HURLED;
FOR FAITH HAS CAUGHT THE JOYFUL SOUND
THE SONG OF SAINTS ON HIGHER GROUND
I WANT TO SCALE THE UTMOST HEIGHT
AND CATCH A GLEAM OF GLORY BRIGHT
BUT STILL I'LL PRAY TILL HEAVEN I'VE FOUND
'LORD LEAD ME ON TO HIGHER GROUND.