Sunday, September 8, 2013

The real lesson from 9/11 is that Judgment by Christ Jesus one day is the only reality

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


Tomorrow, September 11th will mark the 12th anniversary of what has come to simply but very profoundly as 9/11. A day on which according to "17 militants associated with the the Islamic extreme group al-Qaeda hijacked four airlines and carried out suicide attacks on the United States". And the world, which literally, as far as air travel was concerned, almost came to halt physically and perhaps emotionally, has never been the same again. So much so that many of us can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing on that fateful day. I was at a traffic light, and  about to exit our capital city of Kingston and go on my regular one hour  commute to my office in the central part of the island. The radio was still on BBC as usually I like to listen to the news in the mornings. Then came the news flash of the first plane flying into the World Trade Center. News, most unusual news to be sure,  but no hint of what was to come next. Until the second plane hit. And then the penny dropped that the US was under attack. And all hell broke loose after that! I called my wife and told her to turn on the TV and then tried to call my children who were both living  in the USA. But by then all communication  had been shut down. Confusion reigned supreme in my head as I drove to work. And fear. Gnawing fear as reports about another plane which was hijacked surfaced, and then the news broke that the Pentagon had been hit. Later we would hear details about the heroic efforts of men aboard a fourth plane which crashed before hitting its yet to be determined target. And the destruction of the WTC, the heroism of the firefighters, the madness that descended over lower Manhattan and the rescue by boats of many, many persons. For the first time at my office, doctor, staff, patients, everybody, all huddled together in prayer. For mercy, as many of us had relatives in the USA. Plus we did not know what next was about to happen as things were rapidly spinning out of control.

Suddenly it did not matter what else was in the news that day. If it had happened today, all plans for a limited air attack on Syria would have paled into insignificance. All the excitement in the media, and in the society about a Cabinet Minister's   performance of an outrageous and sexually explicit dance called daggering,  on a party supporter, which was captured on camera and carried on prime time news, would never have seen by anyone else but the local persons. The squabbling associated with the leadership challenge in the Opposition party would been relegated to the fine print, rather than it being featured on the headlines. Maybe, just maybe, the raping and then stabbing repeatedly of a young girl by her dad, might have made the news, as this story is so horrific. And so we pray that she might live despite the terrible injuries to her body and even  worse, that inflicted on her mentally and emotionally. And even the fact that her attacker, was shot and killed by the police will bring her little comfort. Serena Williams hard fought victory over ' VicaAzarenka in the just concluded Women's  US Open Tennis finals, thus earning her  3.9 million dollar paycheck, and endearing her even more to her  3.9 million followers on Twitter, would have made history, but certainly not the headlines.

All of this reality came at me very forcibly this week, and in particular today, as I worshiped in church and participated in the Holy Eucharist ( Lord's Supper/Holy Communion). That all else is fluff!  As the world as we know it, is going to come to a halt one day. A screeching stop, when Christ will come again as judge of all mankind. So whether or not our favorite sports personality is victorious in Tennis, Soccer, Athletics, Golf, basketball, American Football, is interesting, exciting even, but quite irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Whether or not we enjoy all the pleasures of this world,  in conjugal bliss, or stealing love on the side outside of marriage; whether we have sampled the world's best wines, or worn  the latest fashions, or splashed on the most sensuous fragrances or owned the best cars that man can make; whether we have reached the pinnacle of our profession in law, journalism, politics, medicine, engineering, nursing; whether we have been the most successful businessman or woman, whatever, it is all of limited importance, if any, in the grand scheme of life as ordered by God. And the metaphor that came into my mind was the story of Dives and the rich man. At the end of  which story, after the poor man whose sores had been licked by the dogs at the gate of Dives, had gone to be in the bosom of Father Abraham, and Dives to hell and fire and thirst, Dives asked if he could go and warn his brothers. Then not only was he told that there was an insurmountable chasm to cross, and in any case, his brothers had the law and the prophets to warn them, the OT, and if they did not listen to them,  even if someone rose from the dead ( no doubt referring to Jesus) they would not listen to him.

And so the Lord spoke a word in this kind of season during the week.

                                      GOD'S WORD
Both of the messages were sent to men and women in my country who occupy leadership positions and are in a place to influence the direction of the society in which I live. For good or for evil. Or just to maintain the status quo!  The first one again raises the question of what's the point in life, of ignoring God and the gift of his Son Jesus Christ, if one day, He is going to be your Judge, whether you like it or not. And whether you believe it or not. And the portents are there if you look hard and pay careful attention rather than being caught up with the latest news. As every so often the Creator of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in it, brings the world to a halt. Briefly. Very briefly. Whether allowing chaos to reign for a while through acts of war. Or acts of ' nature'. Do they still say acts of God in American mainstream media!


This morning as I began my devotions, the well known hymn " Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of The Lord ", came into my mind. And in particular ," he is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat........O be swift my soul to answer him; be jubilant my feet....Our God is marching on".....Glory, glory, Alleluia!

And then I thought," what's the point?". What really is the point of resisting God, for His truth is marching on inexorably. And there is nothing anyone can do about it, as Saul found out on the road to Damascus....what's the point of kicking against the pricks.
I thought about writing to you my friend, but then I  recalled that this Internet  Ministry, in whatever form, is undergirded by the prayer:
" Lord renew thy church, beginning with me,
Lord renew the church, that the church may renew the nation(s). So why am I spending so much time trying to convince you and others of the " correct faith".
With that in mind I began reading the lessons for this Sunday. And the first one is Psalm 1. And then I was was prompted to read Psalm 2 also. Which is really saying, if you read it carefully, " What's the point of " conspiring against The Lord "

So this message is in clear obedience to the Spirit.  It is full time then my friend to stop being so stubborn, and disobedient, as there is never any good in resisting The Lord, as His Truth, His Word, is always marching on. Tell that to Obama. Tell that to Portia. Tell that to Andrew and Audley.  Tell that nationwide to everyone!  And maybe, just maybe, people like Ariel Castro will not waste the precious life that God has given them, and help to build up each other and not to rape and rob and abduct and kill and destroy. And then be destroyed. Forever!  But rather to enjoy  life and life more abundantly, Forever! In and through Christ the soon coming King and Judge of the world.
" Kiss the Son, less he angry and ye perish"...which means, ... worship Him and Him you have no other help but Him in the final analysis...and He is always there waiting for you to return to Him. And not just you but all who hear the Word, day after day and are disobedient. And O my God, to what end!


Psalm 2.

1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Sent from my iPad


The second message carries the discussion a step further, and encourages us, to keep close to God, and remain in His presence. Even when watching Serena play. or Tiger Woods. Or whatever else occupies our mind at any point in time. And it cannot be coincidence that the Gospel today  has one of the hardest teachings of Jesus. To the effect that unless we place family  bonds and even our own interests second to the what God wills, we cannot be a disciple of the Lord. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple". Luke 14:25-27 NIV


Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation - prayer the Decade of Evangelism, many years ago.
 More and more in recent times, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of " abiding in the presence of The Most High". It takes the pressure off us, trying to be good Christians. As no effort on our own, no matter how hard we try,  can achieve that status. But O what possibilities exists when we are steadfast in the presence of God.

This most recent experience goes like this:

" A farmer went to sow his seed.....Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.......This is the meaning of the parable.....The seed that fell a among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures...and they do not mature". Luke 8:5-14 NIV

Comment: The basic problem with worries, pleasures and riches is not Sin, but distraction. And anything, or anyone that makes you lose your focus on yearning, remaining, seeking only God, and  thus to stay in His presence, is going to prevent us from becoming mature Christians. Distractions must be overcome at all cost, or else disaster will take place. And my God there are so many 'distractions' around us. And within us.  No wonder Jesus said that unless we leave, mother , father, husband, wife, children behind, in terms of our absolute and complete focus on remaining in His presence, we can become His followers. It's therefore a real discipline, and a lifelong struggle,  to learn how to maintain our responsibilities to family, a gift from God, while at the same time " abiding in the shadow of the Most High"

....Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love...

There must be few greater words written by a songwriter that so completely captures the lament of a child of God. O my God, why am I so prone to wander, to leave the presence of the God I love. The God who died for me! And to what end? Only trouble and misery and disaster! It's dangerous thing to get so completely caught up with Serena Williams, or Tiger Woods, or UsainBolt, or Lionel Messi or Lebron James, or a good book, or a wonderful movie, or "dancing the night away", or " Five little monkeys jumping on the bed" in true grandfather style, or  our favourite political party or whatever, and stray from the presence of God. And my God what distractions there are in the world today!


Oswald Chambers

Verse: Isaiah 26:3

Is your mind stayed on God or is it starved? Starvation of the mind, caused by neglect, is one of the chief sources of spiritual exhaustion and weakness in a servant's life. if you have never used your mind to place yourself before God, begin to do it now. There is no reason to wait for God to come to you. You must turn your thoughts and your eyes away from the face of idols and look to him and be saved ( see Isaiah 45:22).

Your mind is the greatest gift God has given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to him...When you have thoughts and ideas that worthy of credit to God, learn to compare and associate them with all that happens in nature - the rising  and setting of the sun, the shinning of the moon and the stars, and the changing of the seasons. You will begin to see that your thoughts are from God as well, and your mind will no longer be at he mercy of your impulsive thinking, but will always be used in the service of God.

Remember whose you are and whom you serve. Encourage yourself to remember, and your affection for God will increase tenfold. Your mind will no longer be starved, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.

Comment: Many of us often wonder when  trouble and trials and distress and even crisis,  come into our lives. Why does God allow it? Well, the meditation above provides one answer. Trials, and not so much good times, always, always, cause us to seek God in prayer. And often desperately! And constantly! Which is precisely what the Lord wishes to happen. Think about it. Darkness lasts only for a while, but joy cometh in the morning. Whether in this life or even more so in eternity! And that life with God in eternity is our ultimate goal. Trials then keep us focused.


George Whitfield ( 1714-1770...the church in America is indebted to this great British Evangelist.....with Jonathan Edwards inaugurated the revival movement known as the Great Awakening....1739...helped to found Princeton University   U of Penn and Dartmouth.

Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:23

By sanctification I mean a total renovation of the whole man; by the righteousness of Christ, believers come legally, by sanctification they are made spiritually, alive; by the one they are entitled to, by the other they are meet for, glory. They are sanctified, therefore, throughout, in spirit, soul and body.

Their understandings, which were dark before, now become light in the Lord, and their wills, before contrary to, now become one with the will of God; their affections are now set on things above; their memory is now filled with divine things; their natural consciences are now enlightened; their members, which once before were instruments of uncleanness, and of iniquity into iniquity, are now new creatures; " old things are passed away; all things are become new" ( 2 Corinthians 5: 17, KJV) in their hearts: sin has no longer dominion over them; they are freed from the power, though not from the indwelling and being, of it; they are holy both in heart and life, in all manner of conversation; they are made partakers of  a divine nature, and from Jesus Christ, they receive grace; and every grace that is in Christ, is copied and transcribed into their souls; they dwell in him, and he in them; they are led by the Spirit, and  bring forth the fruits thereof; they know that Christ is their Emmanuel, God is with and in them; they are living temples of the Holy Ghost. And therefore, being a holy habituation unto the Lord, the whole Trinity dwells  and walks in them; even here, they sit together with Christ in heavenly places, and are vitally united united to him, their head, by a living faith; their Redeemer,their Maker, is their husband; they are flesh of of his flesh, bone of his bone; they talk, they walk with him, as a man talketh and walketh with his friend; in short they one with Christ, even as Jesus Christ and the Father are one.

Comment: I have never, ever,  read such a beautiful description of the reward that awaits us, in this life, if we truly keep our minds steadfast on Him who is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. Can we imagine such a life with Christ! It is not only possible, but the very reason why Christ died. To make us Holy. We pray God that he will indeed turn again and quicken us so that we may truly rejoice in Him. And remain in His presence! Forever.

Final Comment - This morning I woke and 'found ' the words of that glorious hymn:

" O for a thousand tongues to sing
my dear Redeemer's praise....

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

Later this evening I had reason to challenge myself and my church family with the following reality.

For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on then all. Romans 11:33 NIV

It is in this context then, and through this prism, that we care called to view  'how the world turns'. And so " kiss the Son, lest He be angry with us. Remain in His presence as otherwise we run the risk of being outside his arc of mercy, always freely available through the shed Blood of His Son, and subject to the kind  catastrophe which would make 9/11 look like child's play, and from which there is no  returning as Dives found out  perhaps on a 9/11 many years  ago. But O my God what a joy awaits those who yearn to be sanctified in and through Christ Jesus and to rest in His  bosom, and not just in the bosom of Abraham.