Sunday, July 7, 2013

Need a little help - Pendergrass: Standing on Holy Ground - Moses

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing - John Newton

The news this week which grabbed my attention, and about which we all ought to be concerned, despite the good things for which we give thanks, continues to be scary. An airplane flying all the way from Seoul in South Korea to San Francisco in the USA, at a time when most folks would think that they are about to land safely, disaster takes place. Thank God the original comment that " upwards of 60 persons were unaccounted for' proved to be less ominous than we figured.
In my country this week, as blood continues to flow on the streets, a young businesswoman was shot dead in her car just outside her home in "broad daylight". And I met folks this week who are scared for their lives, and their families on account of the the pervasive wickedness abroad in their communities. One woman said she wept uncontrollable for a long time after being in close proximity to a shooting which left one dead and another seriously injured. In the midst of this a debate is raging in my country after the Minister of National Security introduced what is essentially an " Anti-gang bit of legislation". Questions are being posed about the effect it may have on people's rights, especially the popular dance hall culture which in some cases in known for it's " gun and murder lyrics", as pointed out in an excellent article  written by Ian Boyne in the In Focus section of the Daily Gleaner today. And the debate over who has ultimate responsibility for determining whether a pregnancy should continue or not, in the context of the Minister of Youth's publicly stated policy to review the current legislation, is fully joined. Finally a former past president of the local teachers association, whose outrageously insulting comments about the current Minister of Education, with whom he had a disagreement, and which provoked a virtual firestorm in the society, was  this week elected to another term as president elect of that highly prestigious institution, much to the surprise and dismay of all well thinking Jamaicans. But he clearly had support among the 61% of those who cast their lot with him.

What then did the Lord say this week in all of this?
This morning as I was returning home from church, listening to RJR 94 FM, I heard an "oldie', the lyrics of which struck a chord in my consciousness, in addition to the simply wonderful music. It was the Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes rendition of ' Wake up Everybody" , featuring Teddy Pendergrass. The message could not have been more pointed.

Wake up everybody
No more sleepin' in bed
No more backward thinkin'
Time for thinkin' ahead

The world has changed
So very much
From what it used to be
There is so much hatred
War and poverty, whoa, oh

Wake up, all the teachers
Time to teach a new way
Maybe then they'll listen
To what'cha have to say

'Cause they're the ones who's coming up
And the world is in their hands
When you teach the children
Teach 'em the very best you can

The world won't get no better
If we just let it be, na, na, na
The world won't get no better
We gotta change it, yeah
Just you and me
Wake up, everybody
Wake up, everybody
Need a little help, y'all
Yes I do, need a little help

Need a little help, y'all ay
Wake up everybody
Wake up everybody
Wake up everybody
As  God knows we need, not just a little, but a whole lot of help to deal with the current situation in the world and in my country. As indeed the world has changed so  much from what is used to be, and it won't get any better, so people need to " wake up".

Perhaps I had this, need for people to wake up,  in mind when someone close to me, Winnie Anderson-Brown,  who was a candidate from the just concluded JTA elections was interviewed on Nationwide News  FM on Thursday, and she acquitted herself well and prompted me to write the following note to her:

Heard you tonight. Could feel the passion, and loved the facility with which you used the language. Impressive! Don't give up. You may be called upon again. Doors may open.
Pray for our country. We are a better people than what this canine story represents. Lord forgive them for they know not what they do. Many years ago, I listened to Prof. Miller warning us that " the barbarians  were  at the door". Well,  perhaps they have  now taken a seat in the living room and we are offering them coffee and tea.
Much love and God's peace.
Dr. J
Sent from my iPa

Professor Errol Miller is a highly respected Educator and Academic, and one who has his pulse on the Jamaican society having been the recipient of numerous awards. Many years ago, perhaps over twenty, I heard him give a speech which warned about the barbarians  " knocking on the door". This in respect of the marked deterioration of the morals of the Jamaican society at that time. Well, the proverbial chickens have " come home to roost", as at all level and in previously ' sacrosanct hallowed halls' the world has changed. And we need a "little help y'all". I really cannot believe, as I read in Ian Boyne's column today that anyone would dare to think much less release songs which become popular with lyrics like:

ova di wall, ova di wall
Put yuh AK ( AK 47 my interpretation) ova di wall
Blood a go run like Dunn's River Fall....
if dem mek wi pop out we gun pon dem
All five magazine we would dun pon dem
Need a little help y'all indeed. And these are Dance Hall DJ's who  ' respectable' people pay good money to go and see and hear. And very reputable companies no doubt help to sponsor these shows.  And the words of the prophet Hosea echoes in the community where that young woman lost her life this week:

" Hear the word of he Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring 
 against you who live in the land:
There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgement of God in the land:
There is only cursing, lying and murder, 
stealing and adultery,
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Because of this the land mourns.....Hosea 4:1-3 NIV

The fact of the matter is that all sin is connected. Murder on the streets, murder in the womb, pride, arrogance and and unrepentant heart, idolatry...the upholding of wrong doing and worse " bigging' it up in song or print, immorality, indecency, lying and stealing. And the reason why the " barbarians" are now in the Jamaican living rooms has to do with the lack of understanding of the interconnection between  Sin. So to frame the policy of allowing women to request an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy,  in the context of a woman's  right and  to reduce  maternal mortality is to ignore the fact that such a national policy will 'open the gates to the barbarians', as Sin is always a reproach. And when once officially accepted and permitted and sanctioned has implications for how people regard the sanctity of human life. And for how people regard other human beings and themselves.
And so Jamaica mourns and we wonder why, why in the name of God would someone be so wicked to snuff out the life of that young enterepreneur! Why, why in the name of God would someone kill a child and cut off her head!

This week, the Spirit of God moved me to send two messages to my church. Both of which I believe constitutes part of the divine answer to the thought expressed by Teddy Pendergrass in the  song " wake up everybody....need a little help y'all. As the reality is that both Christians and non-believers need to wake up to the fact the whole world is changing and we all need to pull together. The difference however is the Christian has both a mandate to reconcile the world to God and to each other, and the power of the Holy Spirit of God who forms within us the mind of Christ - and therefore the will of God, if we obey. All of this happens when the Sheep are properly fed.


From one hymn to another, the Spirit led me and finally ended with Jesus' instruction to Peter, " Feed my sheep".
This morning, the Corinthian passage about reconciliation was the focus, preceded by the famous, " If any man is in Creation". And which then led to living by the Spirit in Galatians and in Romans.
Tonight I am deep into Chambers' The Complete Works", and in particular a discussion on ' responsible intelligence'.  Within the context of " Spirit: The domain and Dominion of the Spirit.  And then:

' When we begin the spiritual life we have the Spirit of Christ, but not the  mind of Christ. To have the mind of Christ means much more than having His Spirit, it means to have the responsible understanding of Christ. When we are born again we find every now and again that the Spirit of God within us is struggling to get us to understand as God understands, and we are very stupid in the way we mistake the things the Spirit of God is trying to teach us; but when , in entire sanctification, the Son of God is formed within us ( Gal. 4:19) , we understand with a responsible intelligence even as  Jesus Christ did........Jesus Christ spoke what His Father wished Him to speak, and He spoke nothing else; we must do the same if we have the mind of Christ"

I am coming to realize more and more that, unless we live by the Spirit, that is have the mind of Christ formed in us, we will forever be " looking back to Egypt",  like the Jews did when trouble came as they left slavery. Making decisions which do not ultimately glorify God nor reflect His faithfulness, grace and mercy.  Or like Lot's wife when God " remembered his servant  Abraham", and rescued Lot from disaster.  We may carry out a lot of ' common sense' work, which may last for a while, until the testing comes, but it will never be the 'will of God''. And if it is not His will, what is the point of it?
The key question is how does one continuously "live by the Spirit"?  Not surprisingly, the answer is that we cannot. But God can empower us to do so. And part of the answer that has been revealed to me, is that prayer is a key issue. Not the kind of prayers that focuses on self, or seek something from God, but that which seeks to know God. It's a challenging discipline, especially when one's needs are great. But continual intercession for others,  day and night, "watching  with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane", and not
" falling asleep", so that the Lord God Almighty may 'come down and see'  the extent of the  wickedness here in Jamaica, is part of the journey to " having the mind of Christ".

I would submit that these are the kinds of issues about which  we need to engage one another,  more and  more as we seek God's mercy and ' feed His sheep'. So that.......His will may be done, on earth and in heaven.

May God confirm this message by His grace and enable us to speak and write boldly for Him.

We are standing on holy ground 
And I know that there are angels all around 
Let us praise Jesus now 
For we are standing in His presence on holy ground 

So did my devotions begin this morning. Which then led to John the Revelator's experience with the Risen Lord on the isle of Patmos....and he fell down as dead in His Presence. And so John was instructed to have forgotten your first  love. Which led, via a meditation from Isabella Graham ( 1742 -1814...a Scottish church worker who helped to establish many charities for the disenfranchised in the society: the poor,  orphans, widows, the homeless, and prisoners. Published posthumously, her Devotional Exercises  became a classic of prayer and devotional thought) a deeper understanding of Psalm  77 & 78.
In these two Psalms we have a clear picture of the God whom we have forgotten....the first love who we have forgotten....the God who did mighty deeds for His people and yet they asked.....Can God spread a table in the desert?
Surely we are in the desert now in Jamaica, and it would appear as if God is " asleep", and where is no water. No " streams of living waters", to 'quench'  the bloodthirstiness of our people. So we have ' turned back to Egypt' and sought solutions that will lead us back into slavery. Both as a church and as a society, instead of:

I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord,
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered you, O God and I groaned;
I mused and my spirit grew faint......
Psalm 77:1-3 NIV

We must begin to believe again, and cry out to God, " give Him no rest"; believe that we stand on holy ground, and that there are ' angels all around'....that they are more that are with us than those with them...the wicked of the earth who delight in shedding blood in the land.

Early this morning, it came to me have the mind of the end game of 'working out our salvation with fear and trembling'.  God will not form the mind of us. We have to by prayer..without ceasing..., suffering,  living in the  Word, helping the poor, and by complete obedience, work out this glorious salvation ourselves.   Therefore such a mind cannot be formed in us, if we are given over to a life of watching sports on TV,  seeking entertainment always and amusement of one sort or another, and break occasionally, even if regularly, to worship God on a Sunday morning.
Such a 'working out with fear and trembling' requires submitting to God's 'disciplines' Hebrews 12...with the end  result of righteousness and peace in mind. Such an endeavor requires trusting God in all challenging circumstances,  even when ' in our hearts we feel the  sentence of death' as Paul writes in 2 Cor. that ' we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead'.
 Such a high adventure requires discussing these things with  our children and with each other as we lie down and as we get up.....
It is this God, who raises the dead, to whom we must once again show that He is our first love. For this God is a faithful God, and has shown His faithfulness to His people Israel and to His people  in the church in Jamaica, time and time again.

This is my hope for myself:
Lord renew thy church beginning with me.
Lord renew  the church that the church may renew the nation(s).
And for you too.

The final message is rooted not in  the secular but highly instructive music of  Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, but in the experience of Moses immortalized in song.  When we trust in God we are indeed standing on Holy Ground. With Him!  So this world which is need of rescuing can only be successfully rescued  by waging war.  And not with weapons of this world which is what the non-believe thinks can happen. But our war is to be a Holy War using weapons which have divine power  to destroy strongholds of  Sin and wickedness which have held our people in bondage for so many years. Being bound by Satan in their thinking, in creating policy, in the culture, in the music, in their living. It is time  for Christians to wake  up and begin to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, and not let the agenda of the world control their minds. For of what importance, in the long run, is it, whether you have  a Sansung, iPhone or a Blackberry cell phone...or a cell phone at all ?  Does it really  matter if  " this girl is on fire" or not?  Or whether   we should rejoice with the Brits and Andy Murray or with Nole and his team and ponder what if Serena had just beaten the German  Lisikie! 
Does it really matter if you have a flat screen TV or not, or  have seen the 6th or 7th version of the latest flick?  Does it really matter if you are prosperous or not in the long run?   How will that help  prevent another young girl from dying on our streets? Life is so uncertain as that flight from Seoul showed us. And when we think we are safe and dry, that's the time we are most in danger. It is time to wake up and  work out our salvation with and trembling.  Thank God help is available in and through the  shed Blood of Christ. And God will never allow the wicked to enter the city of Jerusalem.