Sunday, October 27, 2013

To live is sex; to live is security: To live is Christ. Those who have no life vs those who have eternal life and life more abundantly

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(s) - A prayer for this ministry. NEWS FROM THE LEAD STORY IN ONE OF OUR DAILY NEWSPAPERS TODAY "A chance encounter in a barber shop in downtown Kingston last week sparked a major probe by The Sunday Gleaner that has unearthed a dangerous and possibly deadly practice. Schoolboys, some as young as 15, and young men are buying erectile-dysfunction drugs, including Viagra, Cialis and other so-called sexual enhancers, including Black Stone - a potent desensitiser that stops premature ejaculation. A thriving underground market for pills, estimated to value millions of dollars, has mushroomed in the heart of the city. From rum bars to corner shops and deep inside some lanes, these drugs and sexual enhancers are available for prices ranging from $500 to $1,800. Stimulated by a perceived need to improve their sexual performance, an increasing number of young males - some little more than boys - are penetrating the underworld in search of the so-called sex boosters. Asked why he was using Viagra at such a tender age, one teenager said: "We are not satisfied that we are able to satisfy our girls. Lovemaking is war," he chuckled. "If you don't perform they (the girls) will diss you ... so when me done wid har, she can't chat to me." Added the young man: "When we take de things dem and put it on them (females), them haffi bawl." Also this week I attended the funeral of another unsung hero in Jamaica. The late Rev. Dr. Alpheus Chambers, who was the founder of the Mercliffe Place Baptist church in a rural town in Jamaica. But whose " tour of duty" extended to New York, and then to Ocala in Florida, where he died last month. Finally this week, the talk of the " International town" is the shock and surprise of the German leader, Angela Merkel over the bugging of her cell phone by the Americans, thus triggering this story by ABC news minutes ago. My wife and I discussed it, and we both came to the conclusion that Obama , probably knew noting about it. Well based on the story below, who knows what is the truth in all of this. Barack Obama knew US spies were targeting Germany's Angela Merkel: reports By North America correspondent Michael Vincent, wires Updated 5 minutes ago PHOTO: Ms Merkel has said that spying among friends is 'not acceptable'. (AFP Photo: Christopher Furlong, file image) RELATED STORY: German spy chiefs to travel to US over phone-tapping scandalRELATED STORY: US monitored calls of 35 world leaders: reportRELATED STORY: Germany summons US ambassador over spying claimsRELATED STORY: Merkel calls Obama over claims US spied on her phone MAP: United States The spying row between Germany and America is deepening, with fresh reports that United States president Barack Obama knew his country was monitoring the German chancellor's phone calls. Germany received information last week that American spies had bugged Angela Merkel's mobile phone, prompting Berlin to summon the US ambassador, a move unprecedented in post-war relations between the close allies. German magazine Der Spiegel is now reporting the US had been spying on Ms Merkel's phone calls since 2002, and that Mr Obama was told about the operation in 2010 but failed to stop it. However, America's National Security Agency (NSA) denies Mr Obama knew about the spying. "[NSA chief General Keith Alexander] did not discuss with president Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving chancellor Merkel," spokeswoman Vanee' Vines said. White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment and reiterated the standard policy line that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations. THE WORD OF GOD THE FIRST MESSAGE While all of this was happening, a young man who heads up the Baptist Seminary in Toronto, and who is the Pastor of the Baptist Church in downtown Toronto, and who was 'handpicked ' by the late Rev. Chambers to deliver the sermon at his funeral, had this to say. " To live is Christ, and to die is gain". A text taken from the book of Philippians chap 1, and verse 21. In order to understand the context, one has to read the passage below, taken from the YOUVERSION ; a Bible app available on the iPad. It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. For If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. (Philippians 1:15-26 NIV) I listened keenly, and took some notes, and when I arrived home I sent the following text message which was retweeted and favourited by several persons. " @lucienforJesus: Christ should be our goal; our ultimate prize and our peerless pattern. Which means living a sacrificial life for the benefit of others. But the summary does not do justice to the real message of the sermon. The essence of the message was captured in an intriguing question he posed to the congregation. " if you were to complete the statement; To live is..... What would your answer be? Perhaps if he had read the newspapers this morning he would agree with me that for some persons, and an ever increasing group of persons, both male and female, gay and straight, the answer would be : " To live is sex, good and satisfying sex". This is the crossroads at which human kind has arrived. To live the good life, is all about satisfying ones sexual urges. Satisfying self and satisfying ones sexual partner. Almost everything else happens in pursuit of that ultimate prize. For many! Hence the phenomenal growth in the pornographic industry which is wreaking so much havoc on the minds and lives of the young and the not so young. Hence the rise in the number of movies which feature the unholy combination of gratuitous violence and unfettered sexual activities. It is difficult, very difficult, except in animated movies, and one wonders for how long, to find a really wholesome family movie in today's world. And then we lament the rise in teenage pregnancies, STD's, and the attendant challenges for any society. Well some of us do, while for others, it's business as usual, in order to satisfy, or at least not offend their 'readers, or listeners, or clients'. It's is not an ordinary issue, this matter of " to live is sex" as it goes to the heart of the debate on the homosexual life style; right to the heart of the debate on abortions; and right to the heart of the debate on the usefulness of marriage as an institution. But there is another matter, of International moment. Especially for the Americans. For some of whom, " To live is personal and collective security'. Especially after 9/11. And even more so, for the Jews, especially after The Holocaust. And which position has triggered a chain reaction in the Arab world, especially after the Partition of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State, by a vote by the UN General Assembly in 1947. In fact this pre-occupation with security is what drives many people in both the western and eastern worlds. What with the memory of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Nazis in Germany, the genocide in Rwanda, and the many acts unspeakable violence suffered by many across the world, still fresh in their minds. In fact in Jamaica this morning, there was a debate on public radio, " That's a Wrap" on RJRFM, on the issue of how does one treat with the murder of a pregnant woman. This, on account of one of the most brutal murders committed in my country in recent times, when a woman, 7 months pregnant, was this past week, pulled from under bed and shot two or three times in the abdomen, thus killing both mother and unborn child. In all of this the young pastor asserted that, the message that the Christian ought to live and demonstrate to the world, to unbelievers, is that for us, " To live is Christ....". In the sense that we must make the goal of having Christ manifest in our lives our central theme ; our ultimate prize, and our pattern of life. Then we will be able to live sacrificially, like Christ did, and not yearn to go to heaven, just yet, and to be with him, which is better by far, but to stay to preach the gospel. To those whose goals cannot satisfy their deepest longings; nor remove their deepest fears. And he quoted the famous line from one of the great thinkers of the church - Augustine of Hippo: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” ― Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine THE SECOND MESSAGE Also this week, in fact just yesterday, prior to leaving the house to attend my friend's funeral, I was inspired to send out the following message to my church members who are online as a follow up to a series on " Renewal". To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 NIV) If tomorrow were not were Harvest Sunday, the gospel reading would be from Luke 18:9-14. As I read it this morning the following thoughts came into my mind. And such inspirations can only be from The Lord . All of us have to make a choice which of the two persons we identify with. Honestly!. As that will decide whether or not we say, or we pray fervently the familiar prayer: ......Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit that I may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy holy name. And if we pray earnestly that prayer, and identify with the tax collector, and come to church with the prayer, " Have mercy on me a sinner", on our minds, then our attitude to worship will change. Our attitude to each other will change. Our attitude to Intercessionary prayers will change. Our attitude to other denominations will change. Our attitude to suffering humanity in this nation will change. And God will bring a Revival to His church. A soul searching, sin convicting, soul repenting, nation cleansing Revival. About which revival in those words, a dear friend, a patient and a Baptist Pastor, Rev. Al Chambers, wrote to me in 2007 and which inspired thoughts I will include in my tribute to him at his funeral today. Peace. LWJ Sent from my iPad The point here is that where we have arrived as mankind, cannot be reversed except by the supernatural power of the Living God who created us for His own purpose and in His own image. Therefore, whether we accept it or not, it is only the church, the body of Christ, and a renewed church, for which my friend the late Rev. Dr. Alpheus Chambers prayed, for a revival, can make a difference. And such a church revival as envisioned by him, would not be led by, in his own words, in a letter written to me, in 2007 and the contents of which I read at his funeral yesterday: "Not noise making, body moving, tongues speaking, hip swinging revival, but “heart searching, sin convicting, soul repenting, nation cleansing revival by the power of God." And that kind of revival will only begin when we see ourselves as the tax collector did: " have mercy on me a sinner". For the problem is, and I would say the greater problem than that written about in the headlines of the Daily Gleaner, or on ABC, as what unredeemed people do will always shock us, is the behavior of modern day Christians. As for many of us " To live is blessings". "To live is prosperity". "To live is excitement". Christ, and Him crucified is no where in the picture! And that kind of Christianity, which paradoxically is focused on self, and not self-sacrifice, cannot help those misguided young men; nor a international community gripped with, and held hostage, by fear. We as a church have to reach the point as suggested by the young preacher, and directed by the experience of St.Paul, that Christ must be our ultimate goal, prize and pattern. On earth and in heaven. And wherever God places us, we live according to the example set by Christ and as recorded in the book of Philippians: " In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV) So too must we become obedient. Not to death of a cross! A life that only Jesus was called to live. But to death to selfish and self-centered desires and fears. And to become alive in Christ, for the benefit of others; for the renewal of the church, and for the rescuing of nations and peoples everywhere. Young and old. Rich and powerful. In Jamaica and in the US. In Europe and in the Middle East . Amen