Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Video gone viral, a Country gone mad, and Salvation awaits. Patiently! In Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspaper to see what men are doing - John Newton ( the former slave ship owner turned Pastor and co-author of the lyrics for Amazing Grace). Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew thy church that the church may renew the nation(s). A prayer. NEWS A Video featuring schoolchildren from a high school in rural Jamaica, and recorded two years ago, surfaced this week, and promptly went 'viral' in its circulation. Thus triggering, along with other similar type if not the exact replica, a national debate on the whether or not the nation's children are becoming 'lost'. I elected not to watch the video, as based on the graphic descriptions of the 'daggering' one could afford in this instance to accept the opinion of others that it was very ' out of order' indeed. Also this week, the nation continued to grapple with yet another egregious act of violence ; on this occasion the victim was girl child not yet two years old. And the accused, her granduncle, is now in police custody while she lies dead in the mortuary. From all reports he battered her to death, and for reasons yet undermined. But regardless of the motive, once again a nation is in mourning on account of the pervasive violence in our this state of " Denmark", in which we all agree something has gone wrong. Dreadfully wrong! Then just today, in my church, our Rector, inspired by the Gospel story of Zacchaeus - the tax collector to whose house Jesus invited Himself - and referencing the 'Video', preached a wonderful sermon about the need for forgiveness and mercy. THE WORD OF GOD So in the midst of all of this madness, The Lord led me to read, to listen, to reflect and to write. To journalists and members of civil society; to my own church and to senior members of the church in Jamaica. THE FIRST MESSAGE - TO THE CHURCH, THAT ALL IS NOT LOST DESPITE THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE TIMES. WE HAVE A HOPE IN A GOOD AND FAITHFUL GOD AND WE MUST WAIT UPON HIM AND BE FAITHFUL IN THE MIDST OF THE MADNESS. PEOPLE ARE DEPENDING ON US EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE ACTING AS THE CHURCH IS RELIC OF THE PAST ON TODAY'S BUSY AND MULTI-CULTUAL WORLD. For no apparent reason, after worshiping The Lord according to the words of the hymn: O worship The Lord in the beauty of holiness, bow down before him, his glory proclaim; with gold of obedience and incense of lowliness, kneel and adore him, The Lord is his name ; a hymn which I found on opening my hymn book, I was led to the book of Judges, and a serious conversation with The Lord . After Joshua died! THE WORD: After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither The Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed. Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do so. And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. (Judges 2:10-12, 14, 15, 17, 18 NKJV) MY THOUGHTS: Is this not the Jamaican experience? The God who freed us from the bonds of slavery has now been abandoned and we have sought our salvation in Isaiah's ..." broken cisterns that can bold no water". A whole generation of people have grown up who fear nether man nor God. Whether they be uptown or downtown, city dwellers of country folk. But I mused at that time " who are the present day judges"? And got not no answer. Then came Othniel and the left handed Ehud. And I thought perhaps the Governor General could play the role of the ' Judge of Israel". Then came Deborah and the song written by herself and Barak, where she is described thus: THE WORD :Life in the villages of Israel stopped. It stopped until I, Deborah, came. I came as a mother in Israel. (Judges 5:7 NIRV) Life in the villages of Israel stopped. It stopped until I, Deborah, came. I came as a mother in Israel. 'Wake up, Deborah! Wake up!' they said. 'Wake up! Wake up! Begin to sing! Barak, get up! Son of Abinoam, capture your prisoners!' (Judges 5:7, 12 NIRV) MY THOUGHTS: Should Portia, the 'self acclaimed' mother of the land, wake up and sing about the goodness of God. Then came Gideon, and the end of this short but profound conversation. THE WORD:When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” (Judges 6:12-16 NIV) MY THOUGHTS: I should have known. The church, " the least in the family", in the eyes of this nation in this age, has been chosen by God to rescue this nation, as Judge. We are to go in the strength that we have. Which is really saying, " My grace is sufficient for you, as when you are weak then I am strong". The challenge for us as church is to accept God's discipline to be weak, as Gideon did, " so that no one may boast before The Lord. " And thus far we have not done well, hence the lack of power in many instances, to make a difference in the life of the nation. But all is not lost, as if we ask, God Himself will teach us how to be weak, so that He may be strong. In this the " land of Midian"! Then I made the connection with the Word which invaded my soul yesterday. And the thoughts of a friend on facebook last night. Especially the opening verse. So we will wait patiently for deliverance, and rejoice with confidence, even though we cannot see any light ahead. Why? THE WORD : For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3 NIV) I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:16-18 NIV) Peace. LWJ cc. The GG. Sent from my iPad THE SECOND MESSAGE - TO CIVIL SCIETY MEMBERS. AND WHICH WORD IS ABOUT THE MORAL LAW OF GOD, FROM WHICH SPRINGS ALL SOURCE OF GOODNESS. AND WITHOUT AN ADHERENCE TO TO THAT MORAL LAW IS THE CAUSE OF ALL THE MAYHEM IN OUR SOCIETY. WRITTEN THE SAME THAT THE NEWS SURFACED ABOUT THE LITTLE GIRL WHO WAS BEATEN SEVERELY BY HER GRAND-UNCLE, BUT HAD NOT YET DIED. As we consider the pervasive levels of violence in our country, and the egregiously wicked act committed in St. Mary, as reported on TVJ tonight ; as we consider the " Maggoty case", and as we consider the death of innocence worldwide, Oswald Chambers, of the world famous devotional book, " MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST", HAS A WORD FOR US: THE MORAL LAW - EXCERPTS FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS " THE COMPLETE WORKS". It has been a favorite belief in all ages that if only men were taught what good is, everyone would choose it; but history and human existence prove that it is not so. To know what is good is not to be good.......... Why are men not worse off than they are? The reason is the existence of the moral law of God which restraints men in spite of the impulse towards wrong......... If you want to know how far wrong the world has got you learn it, not in a hospital, but at the Cross. We learn by what it cost God to redeem the world how out of moral order the universe has got......... If a man is not holy he is immoral. It does not matter how good he seems, immorality is at the basis of the whole thing. It may not show itself as immoral physically, but it will show itself as immoral in the sight of God ( see Luke 16:15). Comment: The question is what do we take away from these, not so self-evident truths? Increased cynicism about organized religion, and the role of Christianity in today's society; or a glimpse into the inner workings of the mind of man. Who is eternally restless until he finds peace in God! And that manifestation of " restlessness", takes many, varied, and destructive forms. Some of which are played out on television night after night. Locally and Internationally! Ultimately only to be rescued by a " Damascus road experience". Peace. LWJ THE THIRD MESSAGE - WRITTEN TO JOURNALISTS POLICY MAKERS AND MEMBERS CIVIL SOCIETY. ABOUT HOW ONE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST TRIGGERED A PROFOUND DISCUSSION ON THIS ISSUE OF THE BEHAVIOR OF OUR CHILDREN. AND THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM. As I exited the car, having arrived home, the conversation on Nationwidenews between host George Davis and " friends" continued. At that point, a former Permanent Secretary had just shared his perspective on the issue of whether or not " our children were lost"; this discussion taking place against the background of the expose on the behavior of school children at the bus park at HWT, the video of the former Maggotty High School students plus one, and the 'romping shop' heavily tinted buses which the police had recently targeted. As I recalled, the essence of his input was that " if we wish to escape being poor, we have to cease being so prone to violence and so wild and out of order,". This coming against the background of the contribution of a " dance hall specialist academic" and another professional, both of whom were of the view the our present day children were merely exhibiting aspects of the dance hall culture, to which they are exposed daily, and which 'culture', in their view, is what ' run tings' in Jamaica today . A view against which the single pastor, inveighed against heavily; characterizing the behavior of the 'children as ' unacceptable. And further that this ' alleged dominant culture' was not a view shared by him. Then at dinner I caught up with the newspapers for the day, and read carefully Hon Barbara Gloudon's take on the matter - in a phrase , " what madness is this?"; and later on DJMiller's latest blog on the subject. She attempted to present a balanced and nuanced view on a hot topic, calling for less condemnation, and greater appreciation of the challenges of being a teenager in any age, whilst characterizing their behavior as not only unacceptable, but perhaps more so, careless, in light of what may befall them later on in life consequent on this ill-advised action. Then I recalled a passage of Scripture which 'invaded my soul' yesterday. And led me to appreciate seriously that every encounter that a Christian has with another soul, whether face to face, through the media, on the telephone, every discussion that we have in this world is to be understood in the light of the fact that people with whom we are engaging are either being saved or perishing. But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NIV) Sent from my iPad So the more profound question is not whether or not our young people, or old people are lost socially; or whether their behavior combined with violent crime is perpetuating poverty in this country; or whether or not dance hall 'run tings'; or whether or not we should be more nuanced in our reaction to the " Maggoty children", all of which is worthy of debate and discussion as a growing society; but rather whether or not this kind of behavior is acceptable before The Lord God Almighty. To whom we will all have to give an account one day. And the Scriptures have some very specific things to say about those who ' lead little children astray'. A final word for the church, and all of us who claim the heritage of being a child of God. This is what I read as I began my devotions with my mind filled with pain about those who are perishing in my country, on account of the 'madness' about which Miss G wrote in the Observer yesterday. And the role of the church in rescuing people from this madness. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:14-16 NIV) Christians cannot therefore afford to be 'wavering' on topical issues. Madness must be called for what it is. Madness! And then let the erstwhile sociologists and psychologists and anthropologists and social commentators and Policy makers have their day in court. With God Almighty! Our role is to be as compassionate and understanding as DJMiller, but equally to be forthright and without equivocating as Miss G; not to condemn, but to present the Word of God to all with whom we come in contact. As such persons who The Lord has sent our way, are either ' being saved or are perishing". And we are to them and to God, " the aroma of Christ". What an awesome responsibility! I am sure George Davis did not see himself as being an agent of The Lord in this matter, nor did others in times gone by, but God in His mercy, can use any opportunity, anywhere to bring Him glory and to send a Word to the lost. As did Jesus with Zacchaeus, the little short man, the 'sinner' who wanted to see Jesus. And salvation came to that lost son of Abraham that day. So too salvation is available for our children. Whether they are lost in the dance hall, in carnival, on videos, in the rompin shop buses or in HWT. In and through Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. I pray that those who have ears to hear will listen. Peace LWJ Sent from my iPad FINALLY A MESSAGE AFTER A SERMON BY MY RECTOR THIS MORNING - ESSENTIALLY CALLING FOR THE CHURCH TO SEEK OUT THE LOST AND ERRING CHILDREN, AS CHRIST SOUGHT OUT ZACCHAEUS, THE LOST ONE IN EARLY PALESTINE You should have been there. Also George Davis of Nationwidenews who hosted a panel last Friday evening dealing with the issue of our children's behavior. A hot topic across the nation in recent times! Referencing the Magotty Video and the bugging of the cell phone of the German Chancellor by the USA, both issues dealing with immoral and unethical behavior, Father Kitson placed the story of Zacchaeus in that context. A tax collector, a dishonestly rich man, employed by a foreign state, the Romans to collect taxes from the Jews living in Palestine in that era. He would have been guilty of collecting more than necessary and pocketing the balance, and therefore reviled by the ordinary people, and branded a traitor by the Jewish Religious leaders. He would have been unwelcome in the synagogue and ostracized. He was therefore a rank 'outsider'. And to this man who no one was willing to lift a hand to help, no one was willing to offer him any forgiveness, because he wished to see Jesus, had an intention to do better, Jesus and salvation came to his house. A lost son of Abraham. The lesson: We who are the recipients of God's grace and mercy, we who are beggars telling another beggar where to get bread; we who have been saved by grace, need to show the same compassion to the lost and the lonely and those who are ' outsiders' and lead them to Christ. We cannot afford only to curse the darkness; only to profile the wayward young people as miscreants, and label their behavior as unacceptable, and leave it there. We must search for the lost, and seek out the wayward, and evangelize them; be bold and present them with the good news of the gospel that salvation is available in God's house for them today. It was one of the most powerful sermons we have heard preached at STAPC for a long time, especially in the context of our times. A sermon for all seasons, as unredeemed and unbaptized persons will always 'act up' and do what is wrong in the sight of God. But, God in Christ who sacrificed His very life for the lost and wayward, is calling us to 'lay down our very lives', die to self, so that the Spirit of Christ may live in us and help to rescue this country. The key to the story though is that while salvation is freely available to everyone and to this nation, like Zacchaeus, people must want to see Jesus. That's the challenge for us as Christians, to so live our lives reaching out to everyone with whom we come in contact, so that they like us, will want to see Jesus. And the only way that people will want to see Jesus is when they are convicted of sin, when they come to realize that their relationship with God Almighty has been disturbed in one form or another by their own actions, or inactions. And know that only He can help to restore that relationship. AMEN. Sent from my iPad R