Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trust in God alone

 I read my Bible to know what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing - John Newton.
I arrived in Miami yesterday and woke up this morning to the news that the jury impanelled  in the much publicized George  Zimmerman case, which featured the shooting death of  the  17 year old African American  Trayvon Martin case,  had returned a Not Guilty decision.  News which triggered a call for nationwide protest, an appeal  for calm from President Obama, and questions about how other black kids going about their lawful business will be treated under the now infamous " Stand your ground" law by racist individuals who 'profile' black folks as troublemakers. And so as the parents of Trayvon and others viewed the decision as a miscarriage of justice, they still reiterated their trust in the God who would provide justice in due course.
Hardly had I began to digest this unexpected news, when news broke on twitter about a failed drug test by the only athlete expected to challenge Usain Bolt in Moscow this summer, Tyson Gay. And also that five Jamaicans had also returned an adverse findings during the trials last month during which the team for the IAAF World Championship  to be held this summer in Moscow was picked. Wow!  All of this prompted  one Jamaican on Facebook  to post a note  that " she was gone as she cannot take it anymore", and another worried about getting a "heart attack".  And  as we wondered about the names, a couple of hours news broke  on twitter that Sherone Simpson and Asafa Powell were two of the big names whose 'A' samples  revealed that they had taken a banned substance.  We have been told that both MVP track Club  members had been exposed to a stimulant which is a  banned substance but no mention has been made of what Tyson Gay is accused of taking.
 And so as we  did with VCB, let us await the " more and better particulars" before passing any judgment. But must note that all of this is badly affecting the sport that has made  Jamaica  a household name Internationally  in the world of athletics, and will no doubt affect the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming Games in Moscow in general, and the 100 M final for men in particular. Also,  that,  if it is, as Tyson Gay asserts,  that  " someone who he trusted', failed him badly, and which scenario may be true for  the other athletes, the key question  in all of this may very well be , in whom ultimately should we place our trust?
Finally Sherone Simpson and Bruce James, the President of MVP Track Club are both members of my church. I know them well. Bruce is a trusted friend. They are not cheats and would never do anything intentionally or sanction anything which would add an unfair advantage in a sport. I trust them as I placed on record my trust in VCB. There must be a good, even though maybe  tragic,  explanation for this sad, very sad situation. As has been proven in the case of VCB. But given the high profile nature of their names and that of Tyson Gay whose circumstances are also unclear, this was not a good day for athletics and for Jamaica.
So in the midst of this chaos in the sport of Track and Field,  and troubled scene in Miami and across the entire USA, what did the Lord say this week as I read His Word and the Inspired word of others - what one of my Bishops Harry  Daniel calls " Beyond the Sacred Page.The last message this week was sent to my church, and to a friend and priest whose church is in the are where Trayvon  Martin lived. I was not aware that the verdict was imminent and so the response from him  very instructive how the Lord works  in amazing ways. Also of note in the message is a Word about in whom we should trust when our situation is hopeless and the lessons we can learn. We pray that out of all of this " suffering"  the African Americans in the USA, the Hispanics, the White Anglo-Saxons and minorities may come to a realization that, all trials, all chaos, all troubles, ultimately teach us that we ought not to rely on ourselves but on God alone who" raises the dead". And it is the same prayer we pray for Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson, Tyson Gay, Veronica Campbell Brown and other athletes who now face career threatening charges.We appeal therefore to all to " come, all you who are thirsty"...." seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near"....and  in and through Christ Jesus, He will have mercy on all.
" Against all hope, Abraham believed, and so became the father of many nations.......This is why " it was credited to him as righteousness." The words " it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead....."  Romans 4: 18-24.  But faith, " against all hope", is not desperation.  I was led to recall St Paul's words, "...... perplexed, but not in despair" ( 2 Cor 4: 8). And his words also in chap 1:9.....Indeed we were under pressure far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired  even of life. Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead"
Is there a contradiction here? No! As even in apparently desperate times, and perhaps especially in what seems hopeless, God acts. So that we may know ( Him) that we can rely only on Him and not on ourselves.I pray God that we might achieve this kind of faith, so that the promised righteousness may flow though us who believe, " like streams of living waters",  and nourish the souls of those around us. Even as we learn to pray in the Spirit with an assurance that God can  "raise the dead" and bring new life into seemingly hopeless situations in our personal lives, family life, church life and nation - so that through us, and the spreading of the gospel, God may have mercy on this nation, in desperate need of Salvation.W
What started all of this? A meditation on  Isaiah 55:
" Come, all you are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
 come buy and eat!.......
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his ways
and the evil man his his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord,
and he will have mercy on him
,and to our God and he will freely pardon.....
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declared the Lord.
As the heavens are higher that the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways....
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return to it without  watering  the  earth.........
so is my word that goes out from my mouth.
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
May this word achieve the purpose for which it was sent.
Sent from my iPad
The next message,  sent day before yesterday,  to a leaders in politics, the media and other institutions including the church,  is clearly a message for all time. But even more so for a time like this as we ponder  "who really is the strong man" , in the courts system in the USA, in athletics, in  politics, and in life in general. Whose power changes not with the passage of time. Who became weak that we might be released from the 'power of the strong man', whether he be the devil himself keeping people in bondage through deceit and lies and ignorance parading as 'wisdom', or pride, or greed.
Of late,  in the current debate on the "hot button issues" in Jamaica, and perhaps in North America and Europe, many have questioned, at best,  the relevance of the church in this  ' modern'  world. And at worse, have accused it of being on the side of the oppressor. And some have even gone so far as to predict its imminent demise. Oswald Chambers, whose devotional series, " My Utmost for His highest", is perhaps second only to the Holy Bible in its popularity among Christians, has a different , and in my view,  correct understanding of the Christian faith.We should take heed from history, as there have been many  'strong men' in  the media, in politics, in crime, both here and abroad, and where are they now in the grand scheme of things?
Oswald Chambers
Verse: Nehemiah 6:9 
 He ( Christ)  was crucified  through weakness" ( 2 Corinthians 13:4). Jesus Christ represents God limiting his own power for one purpose: he died for the weak, for the ungodly, for sinners, and for no one else. " I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance". ( Luke 5:32).The " strong man" idea is the one that appeals to men, the strong man physically, morally, strong in every way; the kingdoms of men are to be founded on strong men and the weakest are to go to the wall. History proves, however, that it is the strongest that go to the wall, not the weakest.In all trade and commerce there is oppression, and we try to justify ( Chambers lived long before market forces became a doctrine) it by saying the weakest must go to the wall. But is that so? Where are the mighty civilizations of other days? Where are the prehistoric animals?  It is they that have gone to the wall. The great blunder in all kingdoms among men is that we will demand strong men, consequently, each kingdom in its turn goes to the wall because no chain is stronger than its weakest link.
 Finally the message sent to a few dear friends who journey with me through the troubles of life speaks directly to the spirit of evil which pervades the society. A spirit of fear which would prevent us from living the gospel message and spreading the good news to all " beaten up by robbers and lying in the gutter on the road" and who are in need of a " good Samaritan" while others pass them by. The story in the Gospel reading in my church for this Sunday.And so justice seems to have been " beaten up " in the Trayvon Martin case; Asafa and Sherone and others are in danger of being  "thrown under the bus" by those who may be quick to condemn. The church is being persecuted for standing up for The Truth, Jesus the Christ who died for the sins of all mankind. Let us not succumb to the wiles of the spirit of  Sanballat and Tobiah  who terrorized Nehemiah when he attempted to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the exile of the Jews  to Babylon because of disobedience to God. In the same way let pray without ceasing for those in trouble and storm the gates of heaven without fear, rather than fret about  our own personal circumstances. And trust in the God who the Psalmist declares is " a very present help in times of trouble".
The part of the wall that we are called to build in God's kingdom will be completed.And so we call upon the Lord, " Remember Tobiah and Sanballat....and those with lying lips deceitful tongues" who would frighten us and intimidate us and cause us to fear.And so we pray  " Now, (Lord)  strengthen our hands", that we may complete the work that you have given us to do in the face of all kinds of troubles. Amen
Sent from my iPad

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