10

Jump Start # 1974

Jump Start # 1974

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be king to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

One final thought about the Texas church shooting. The good that came from that tragedy, or any tragedy, is if we have learned some things and if it has drawn us closer to the Lord. Our final thought is about forgiveness. How do we forgive when we hurt so much? Can I forgive a person who is no longer even alive? This is more than just about a shooting on a Sunday morning in a small Texas church. Forgiveness is something that we all must face. Can a person forgive a parent that was neglectful or abusive? What if that parent is no longer alive? Can we forgive a person that hurt us and we have no idea who it was or where that person is? Can we forgive the person that destroyed our marriage?

 

One writer said, “Forgiveness is great until you have something to forgive.” Forgiveness is not a doctrinal principle to be believed, but a key to relationships that allows prodigals to come home and love to be shown. One of the controversial aspects of forgiveness is whether or not I have to forgive someone who never says that they are sorry. Our passage tells us to forgive just as God has forgiven you. If I refuse to repent and if I refuse to turn towards God, if I refuse to believe in Jesus, I will die in my sins. In that way, some say, unless a guy comes and says he is sorry for what he did, you don’t have to forgive him. Yet, I’ve noticed, the way some say that sounds as if they really hope the guy never says he sorry. There is an air about that statement that they are rejoicing that they don’t have to forgive. They can think mean of someone because he never said he was sorry. There are other issues here such as the golden rule, loving your enemy and praying for all people.

 

It seems that our verses today shows the upside and downside of whether or not we forgive. The down side is the first part of this verse. If someone has hurt me, then I’m not thinking very kindly about him. Likely, most likely, almost definitely, I am not inviting him to my home. My relationship is strained at the best and at the worst it’s over. I feel bitter, angry and want to make him feel the pain that he has caused me. I feel compelled to warn and tell others about what has happened. This slides very easily into slander and clamor. My insides are in turmoil because of what has happened. It robs me of sleep and it destroys my appetite. I can’t move past this. I’ve met people who bring up painful things and the way they talk, you’d think it happened only last week. Yet you come to find out, what happened took place decades ago and they have never moved on. This tragedy and wrong stopped their life.

 

Here is an interesting thing about hurts. The person who caused the hurt has often moved on and thought nothing more about it. This is especially true if he has little conscience and little love in his heart. He’s whistling down the street as if nothing ever happened. The person who was injured, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, lies wounded and suffering. Their lives have stopped. They can’t move past the hurt. They think and talk about it all the time. They are consumed with it. Like a cancer, the hurt has taken over their life. It hurts the marriage. It hurts worship. It hurts how one feels about himself. And, the pain continues and continues.

 

If we say, the person has to receive an apology before he can forgive, then he is left in his pain for a long time. What if the person never says he is sorry? Are we to be consumed with this dark feelings forever? Must we wait on the person who caused the pain before we can begin to recover? Are we subject to him still? Does he hold the cards as to when and if we ever move past the tragedy? What if the person is dead? What if it was a parent who is no longer alive? What if it was someone like the shooter in Texas who took his life? Does that mean we never can have peace again? Does that mean that there will always remain an area of our hearts that are torn with anger and bitterness? What if a stranger hurt us? We don’t know who it is and he doesn’t know who we are? How can I recover if the person cannot or will not apologize?

 

The second part of our passage, the upside, tells us to be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving. That’s a choice. That choice is not made nor conditioned upon what the other person decides to do. I can be kind, even when someone else is not kind. I can be tender hearted when someone else is mean and thoughtless. I can forgive when someone isn’t sorry for what they have done. My forgiving does not mean that God has forgiven. That’s up to God and the person. But my forgiving means I release the pain and the connection to the wrong. I choose not to be bitter and angry any more. I will not be eaten up with hatred. I will not have every waking thought be controlled by the pain that has happened. I can let it go. I don’t have to wait for the person who hurt me to apologize. I don’t have to allow him to control the timetable. I can move on. I can release my feelings.

 

There is a wonderful story about Clara Barton, the woman who worked with nurses. She had been harshly criticized by an editor of a newspaper. At a banquet she was attending, a friend told her that the editor was going to be there. Barton said, I distinctly remember forgetting that. She remembered. She chose not to focus and dwell upon it. She moved on. We can do two things about the wrongs and hurts that have come our way through the years. We can bury them in nicely marked graves and return over and over to revisit and remind ourselves of those pains, or, we can put them in unmarked graves and never return to the site again.

 

We can forget a dozen compliments. But we never forget the one criticism. It can eat at us. Preachers need to learn to deal with this.

 

This tragedy in Texas reminds us, as in all tragedies, that some will move on, count their blessings and hold to precious memories and recover. Others, will be destroyed by this. Anger, bitterness and hatred will move in and they will never be the same again. Marriages can be strengthened or they can fall apart because of what a tragedy does to us. Our walk with the Lord can be brighter and stronger or it can stop all together because of what the tragedy does to us.

 

When I hear someone say, “I can never forgive for what has happened to me,” I begin to believe that they are right. They won’t. They may not want to. Jesus said in the model prayer, “If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Mt 6:15). Nothing is more Christ-like than forgiveness. Anyone can be benevolent. Anyone can be nice. But to forgive, when we have been wronged, takes love, grace and all that is Christ. Forgiveness often doesn’t make much sense. What makes sense is to pop a guy in his nose. Forgiveness is hard. It is the master who extended grace to his servant who owed ten thousand talents, in Jesus’ parable. It is the father who ran and embraced his wayward, prodigal son. It is what God has done for us.

 

The call to forgive is the one true mark of Christianity. It is one thing that the world cannot do. It is the one thing that we must do. Easy? Never. Understandable? No. But in many ways, it helps us more than it helps the one who hurt us. James tells us that judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy (Jas 2:13). One of the most difficult things we must do as Christians is to forgive. Until we do, we are forever chained to the tragedy and are unable to heal and move on.

 

Borrowing from the hit song from Disney’s Frozen, we must LET IT GO. Let it go from our lips. Quit talking about it. Let it go from our minds. Quit thinking about it. Let it go from our hearts. Stop being the victim. Stop rehearsing what was done. LET IT GO. Focus on the goodness of God. Move on to greener pastures. Leave room for the vengeance of God. Let the Lord take care of it. You take care of yourself. Heal. Restore. Repent of wrong thinking. Walk in the sunshine of God’s grace. Surround yourself with God’s people and fill your heart with the praise of the Lord.

 

Someday we are out of here and all these problems will remain behind.

 

LET IT GO! Will you? Can you?

 

Roger

 

09

Jump Start # 1973

Jump Start # 1973

Habakkuk 1:2 “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ Yet You do not save.”

In all the aftermath of the Texas church shooting, I have been wondering how does a person pick up and move on after a tragedy. How will the folks in that little church even be able to walk back through the doors again? Or, will they? How do students return to a school, after there has been a shooting? And, it doesn’t have to be a mass shooting that makes the national news, how does anyone survive and move on after a tragedy? How does a family deal with a suicide? How does a young mother move on after the death of her husband? How does a person survive a divorce? How does a person pick up after being foreclosed on?

When we are young, we envision life being sunny days and smooth seas. It doesn’t take long to find out that there are many stormy nights. The seas can be very choppy and scary. Dreams become nightmares. Promises are broken. People let you down. Death takes people away from you before you are ready. How does a person go on? I think about that small band of disciples gathered in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus and before His resurrection. Their heads must have been swirling. Was it all over now? What do we do? Without Jesus, how do we know what to do?

I am not a psychologist, just a preacher. Here are a few things I think are helpful.

First, take some time. Don’t rush. Your life has changed. Things are different. Don’t make any quick decisions. You will be overloaded with advice. It comes from family, friends, church members, neighbors and people you barely know. Everyone knows what you ought to do next, but you. That’s ok. Take some time to breathe. Don’t make quick decisions, such as moving, getting rid of stuff. Let things settle down for a moment.

Second, don’t think that God has left you. He hasn’t. In our passage today, Habakkuk claimed that God wasn’t doing anything. There was violence in the land and God remained silent and still. He felt that God wasn’t listening. A few verses later, God responds. He tells the prophet that he wouldn’t believe all the things God is doing. Just because we can’t see things with our own eyes does not mean that God is not moving, working and doing things for you. Don’t give up on God.

Third, some tragic events are the fault of someone else. They were responsible. A drunk hits a car and someone is killed. The drunk is to blame. The Texas shooting was caused by a sick, twisted and evil person. Those people would not have died that day had that shooter not done what he did. Blame just takes a quick moment and then it turns into a raging anger. Hatred follows. Bitterness comes next. In some cases, wrath, trying to even the score, follows. All of these emotions, feelings and attitudes will take us away from God. Many of these are classified as works of the flesh. They are not profitable. The hurt continues because our spirit won’t allow the wound to heal. We continue to build upon that anger. Before long, it changes us. Kindness. Nice. Friendliness. Positive. Upbeat. Hopeful. These are replaced with a dark and gloom and doom spirit. When this happens, the tragedy continues on. It’s not over. It continues to strike upon our heart.

How can a person not be angry? How can a person not want to punch the lights out of someone who caused this? That’s the natural feelings. But we are not running on natural feelings. Christ lives in us. We must control and even conquer those dark thoughts that can destroy us.

In this, first pray to God. Pray for God’s help in overcoming your anger. You may have a right to be angry, but this anger is like a mean dog chained to a tree. If you get too close it will get you. If you are not careful it will get away and then that anger will cause all kinds of problems. Pray. Pray. Pray.

There is no shame in getting professional help. Be careful who you talk to. Some give away pills like M & M’s. The pills may let you sleep. They may dull your sharp edges, but the pills do not take away the facts that have happened. Find someone who is a believer in the Bible. Some support groups may be helpful. But again, you have to be very careful. These can be nothing more than picking scabs on wounds and not allowing natural healing.

Continue to worship. There are days you won’t feel like it. There are days that you are tired of people looking at you. There are days that you don’t want to answer those curious questions again. But see past all of that. Look to the God who you love. Sink deeply into the hymns that are sung. Really pray. Open the word and look carefully at what God says. Worship reminds us of the goodness of God. Worship reminds us that you are not the only one who has experienced a senseless tragedy. You are not the only one who has felt helpless and at times even hopeless. Worship can lift your spirits and help you.

Find something good to do. This is hard, very hard at first. There are days when you just want to stay in bed. There are days that seem to last as long as years. You can help yourself or make things worse. Listening to sad songs will make you sad. Elijah was hiding in a cave, afraid of Jezebel. God told him to get out of the cave, go appoint someone as king. That very act got Elijah out of the darkness of the cave, it put him around others and it gave him something to do. Doing things, helps get our minds off of the tragedy. Doing things makes us think of others. Doing things helps us to reconnect with life.

Finally, realize that there is an end to the long valley of the shadow of death. The shepherd took the sheep through those valleys. He didn’t send them, but he led them. He was with them. Often, after the spring fields were eaten, the sheep would be moved to other pastures, many times in higher grounds. To get there, they would have to journey through those dark canyons. Many bad things could happen in those canyons, including flash floods, attacks, and rock slides. The sheep didn’t dwell in those canyons. They passed through to get to the other side. Once on the other side, things were good. You are going through some canyons in your life. You are not alone. The Lord is with you. In this journey, there are lessons you will learn. You will be able to help others someday. You will gain perspective, insights and strength you never knew you had. Once you are on the other side, things will be better. You will smile again. You will laugh again. You will move on. Some things will never be the same, but you do not have to be destroyed by a tragedy.

These events can strengthen or destroy your marriage. They can make you stronger or they can crush you. You can be drawn closer to God or you can use these events to walk away from God. Those choices, are up to us. It’s what we do with them.

We must remember, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4).

Roger

08

Jump Start # 1972

Jump Start # 1972

Matthew 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

 

More thoughts on the Texas church shooting. If one stands in the shoes of an atheist, what makes the mass murder in the Texas church house wrong? This opens a much deeper thought for us and it helps us to understand why people think the way they do.

 

The first answer as to why shooting other people is wrong, is because it’s against the law. It’s against the law to kill people. So, in the eyes of the atheist, wrong is determined by society or a government. Because our laws prohibit killing others, then it is wrong. Be careful with that statement. It must be qualified. Our laws allow the killing of the unborn, called an abortion. Now, don’t go dumb and say, the unborn is a part of the mother’s body, like her gallbladder. The unborn can be a different sex, different blood type, different eye color and different hair color and you’d still say, it’s just like a gallbladder? I had my gallbladder taken out. I didn’t bring it home. No one threw me a gallbladder shower like they do a “baby” shower. Truth is, folks do not think abortion is wrong, because society and our laws allow it.

 

Go even further with this. If someone breaks into my home, the laws allow me to defend myself, including even shooting the person who broke in. If that person dies, I have not broken any laws. The government allows me to kill in that sense. Even in the Texas shooting, a neighbor shot the shooter as he was leaving the church house. The neighbor who shot him is being called a hero. The military and the police are allowed to shoot and even kill under certain guidelines. So, if killing another is wrong because society or the government says so, what happens if a society or government passes laws to put to death those in nursing homes? They are old. They are no longer productive. They costs a lot of money. If the laws changed, I guess we would have to say it’s ok, when standing in the shoes of an atheist.

 

This is why same-sex marriage has become acceptable. Laws changed and the government determines right and wrong. Decades ago, saying the “D” word was censored out of movies. Gone with the Wind, was the first to push that envelop. Now, there are commercials that use that word and it’s part of mainstream language. Why is it no longer wrong? Society, laws, government changes.

 

Here’s the point: without God as an anchor in our life, right and wrong always changes. There is never a time to say that a certain behavior is absolutely wrong. As society becomes comfortable with wrong and accepts wrong, wrong eventually becomes right.

 

This brings us to the important question, who determines what is right or wrong? Religiously, we could ask, ‘who determines what is sin?’ Because I call something ‘sin,’ does that mean it is? We’ve lived with little sins and big sins. We hear of white lies and black lies. Some classify sins as mortal and venial. Who determines what is right or wrong? The government? Society? The church? You? Me? Why is shooting people in a church building wrong? Because I think so? Because you think so? Because there are laws? If the laws changed, then would it be right?

 

Right and wrong is determined by God. This is why when God is removed from our hearts and from society, then man determines what is right and wrong. Corrupt and wicked men in power can pass laws that make wrong right. Sin is not determined by the church. It is not determined by man. Sin is a violation of God’s law. Our passage today illustrates this. Rather than doing the will of God, these people were doing what they wanted to do. Jesus said that their actions were “lawlessness.” That means, without law. They were acting as if they could do as they pleased. What they did seems not only innocent, but good and even something that we’d think God would like. They were prophesying in Jesus’ name. That sounds good. They were casting out demons. Jesus did that. They were performing miracles in the name of Jesus. How could any of that be wrong? It wasn’t the will of God. It was lawlessness. God hasn’t opened the door to allow us to do whatever we want. Worship is never “surprise Me” hour. God authorizes and we follow. We are to be obedient to God.

 

What makes the shooting in Texas wrong? It’s a violation of God’s law. What makes abortion wrong? It’s a violation of God’s law. What makes same-sex marriage wrong? It’s a violation of God’s law. Some of these things may be approved by the government. That doesn’t mean that God approves of it.

 

In Acts 5, when Peter was brought before the city officials for violating their law about preaching Jesus, Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than man.” When God’s law and man’s law move in different directions, we must follow God. When man’s law says certain wrong things are now right, we must follow God.

 

With the removal of God from society, we follow the whims of laws that are constantly changing. Our world is violent, mean and selfish. This isn’t the result of following God. This is the fruit of man trying to make the rules. It’s the blind leading the blind. A Hitler, with the backing of his government, could determine that certain people should not exist any longer. The Hitler story is not too much different from the story of Esther in which a government was going to eliminate the Jews. This story is not much different than a Pharaoh who decided that Hebrew baby boys should not live. This is not much different from a Herod who decided that boys around two years old ought to be put to death. This is the fruit of a government, the laws, determining right and wrong.

 

It is God who determines what is right and what is wrong. It is God, who through His grace, can call us righteous, which means being right. God can justify us, which means not guilty. God can cleanse us.

 

Sad and tragic events, such as this shooting in Texas, can make us look deep within and help us to see lessons that can change our lives. We all need to be walking with God. We need to follow God. Right and wrong is set by God. Life is precious. It is just a vapor as James tells us. Each day is a gift. We need to use it rightly. We need to glorify God with it. We need to be His instruments to help others.

 

Roger

 

07

Jump Start # 1971

Jump Start # 1971

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

Now that the initial shock of the church shooting in Texas has been felt, the media discussion now turns to how this should have been prevented. Fingers are being pointed and there is plenty of blame to pass around. And out of all places, a shooting that took place during a Sunday worship in a church building, some are wondering what good prayers did. Some have even mocked that there has been enough prayers and now it’s time for action.

It’s hard for a secular and atheistic media to understand praying to God. I guess some thought that praying would provide magical body armor and no one would have been injured. Behind most of this thinking lies a deeper and troubling thought, If God allows a person to be killed while worshipping Him, where is He? And, Does He care? Or, deeper yet, ‘Does He really exist?’ If a person isn’t safe in a house of God, then what presence, power or even hope do we have in God? If we are on our own, why even bother with God if He is not going to come through and protect us?

Those that have little room for God in their thinking, will use this shooting as case in point that God doesn’t help us. What little spiritual thinking they have, will be consumed with the thought of children being killed in a church shooting. Some will mock God for this. Some will give up on prayer because of this. Some will be satisfied with their atheistic beliefs because of this. “If God allows worshippers to killed in church, then is there even a God?”

There are layers and layers of unrealistic expectations, misinformed minds, and a complete missing of what the Bible teaches. Luke 13 tells of the Galileans who were murdered while sacrificing to God. These same questions could have been and may have been asked back then.

So, let’s walk through some basic principles that we know.

First, God as given us a free will. This began in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had choices. God told them what to do to live. He warned them about the wrong choices. Free will allows a heart to follow what it wants. Had God stopped Adam from eating the forbidden fruit, God would have also shut down Adam’s free will. God wants us to follow Him by faith, not force. God wants us to love Him by choice, and not because we have no other choice.

So, Adam took the wrong fruit and ate. God allowed that. Cain picked up a rock and threw it at his brother, Abel and it killed him. God allowed that. God allowed the people in Noah’s day to think evil continually. God allowed the first century world to crucify His Son. And God allowed an evil person to enter a church building last Sunday with a gun and kill people. Why didn’t God stop Him? The world expects that. Would the world expect God to stop people from drinking alcohol at the ballgame on the Saturday before the shooting? Would the world expect God to stop people from telling a lie to cover up the wrong that they have done? Would the world expect God to get them out of bed and get them down to a church building on Sunday when they don’t want to be there? Just how much of our free will do we want God to take away? Do we want to be able to say anything we feel like? That’s free will. Do we want to be able to do what we want? That’s free will. Removing choices and forcing people to do what they may not want to do, sounds more like slavery than it does devotion and commitment. Do you want God to force you to apologize or forgive? Do you want God to force you to be obedient? Do you want God to make you do what is right?

Second, the thought is mockingly made that prayers didn’t help the people in the Texas church. Do we know that prayers didn’t help? Not everyone was killed. Do we know that prayers were offered? Things happened so fast and so violently that maybe prayers weren’t offered. Our passage today reminds us that the prayers of a righteous man accomplishes much. Prayer works. It is the prayer of a righteous man. Praying after things have happened can’t alter what has been done. Praying just when I am in a desperate need and then forgetting God the rest of the time, won’t do much. The righteous man is one who knows, believes and walks with God. He is right with God. His thoughts surround pleasing God. He is one who understands God and loves God. Unrighteous people praying may not move God. God may wonder why are you crying out in the storms when you are not thankful for the sunshine? We don’t know what Heaven heard that day. We don’t know what all God did that day.

Third, a lack of Bible knowledge leads some to think that God ought to and still works through miracles. This misguided thinking has led them to the impression that God has a shield around His people and no harm can touch them. Some have just enough Bible knowledge to be dangerous to their own good. Miracles served a purpose. They were to prove Jesus and His word. That’s been done. It’s accomplished. We don’t need miracles when we have a verse! A walk through the Scriptures reminds us that it was God’s people who were in lion’s dens, fiery furnaces and prisons. It was God’s people who were killed by the sword and beheaded. God never promised that His people would not be touched by harm. In fact, Jesus told His followers that they would be hated because of Him. Parents, Jesus warned, would turn their own kids in to the authorities for arrest and punishment because they believed in Jesus. Look at the Scriptures, these things are there.

Fourth, this will never be Heaven. This world is broken by sin. This world is caving in. Why are we continually shocked by sinful behavior when sin dominates this world. When told about the Galileans who were murdered, Jesus told the audience to repent. He didn’t say that the Galileans should repent, but those talking to Jesus should. Our sins contribute to the brokenness of this world. We need to be walking with God. We need to be righteous.

Finally, it’s hard for a secular and atheistic world to blame a mass killer. Isn’t this just the consequences of living without any rules? Isn’t this survival of the fittest? If we are nothing more than evolved animals, what makes any of this wrong? It’s hard to point fingers at a Hitler whose government wanted to eliminate certain people. It was what his society wanted. Without God. Without accountability. Without a higher standard. Without being anything more than a animal, why is this wrong? Animals kill fellow animals all the time. That’s what they do. If that’s all that we are, why is any of this wrong? In the atheistic world, this is as good as it will ever get. There is nothing beyond death, in their minds. There is nothing to hope for outside of what we now see. A violent, selfish world is what atheism gives us. This is not the way God intended life to be. God made us separate from animals. We are not a part of the animal kingdom. We are made in the image of God. We have a conscience and a soul. We can rise up and do better. We can control our thoughts, words and actions. We can walk righteously with God. It’s choices. Animals run on instinct. We run on conscience. Atheism has fried the conscience of unbelievers. This is why the world can say anything offensive, wear anything offensive and do anything offensive and they do not understand why people are upset. We are upset because we can do better. We are connected to one another.

The shooter in Texas preached atheism. He lived and he died without God. His choices reflected that. This morning, he now sees what a fool he was and that God is. He wasted his life believing something that isn’t true. He now understands that death didn’t end his life. He lives and now he has no free will, no choices and no hope.

Psalms 14 begins with, “The fool says that there is no God.” He can say it. Free will allows that. He can die believing that. But he will immediately understand why he is a fool. Facing God who he has denied and blasphemed all his life, knowing that his future is an eternity without God.

Does prayer work? Yes. Prayer is not getting what I want, but what God wants. I continue to pray for those families in Texas. I also pray for those who want to give up on God because of this. May they take a serious look at what the Bible really says. God prepares us for an eternity with Him, not an eternity without Him, doing what we want here.

There is hope in troubled times!

Roger

06

Jump Start # 1970

Jump Start # 1970

Hebrews 9:27 “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”

 

Another shooting has taken place in our country. This time, on a Sunday morning and in a church building. Many killed. Many wounded. Details will come out about the cause and motive. But you and I know the cause. It’s a world that no longer respects life, follows God nor cares about one another. The troubles of a broken world keep mounting. These mass killings are happening too much, nearly every month. It’s not guns. There was a truck in NYC that mowed down several. It’s sick and twisted hearts and souls that are lost and have no regard for life.

 

There are a few places that we still think ought to be off limits to wrong, and one is a house of worship. People minding their own business, peaceably worshipping God and terror strikes. Immediately our verse comes to mind. We’d like to think that when it is our time to leave this place, we will be surrounded by family, it will be a loving and memorable moment. That’s movies. It may happen as the result of violence, or a car accident. It may happen not as we thought it would be.

 

There are several lessons that come from this latest shooting.

 

First, one must live each day ready to see God. We need to be living thankfully and obediently towards God. Our lives ought to reflect that they have been touched by God’s grace. I hate what this world is turning into. I hate that my generation is handing a world to my grandchildren that is going to be fearful and not trusting of others. Life is precious. Life is a gift from God. We need to stop putting off what needs to be done. We need to say, “I love you,” more. We need to be serious about our walk with God. We must get about doing what needs to be done in our homes and in our congregations.

 

Second, death isn’t the end nor something to be fear as a child of God. Death is the doorway that allows us into the next room. For the believer, death is welcomed. It means that he is through with this place and all of it’s problems. He is welcomed into the arms of Jesus. We get so fixated with death that we forget that there is something beyond death. Death is merely a process, like birth, that takes us from one room to the next. Death isn’t the end of the story. This deranged shooter in Texas that died, either by his own hands or in a shoot out, found out immediately that it wasn’t over. It’s never over. There is no ‘the end’ to our story. We live on. Connecting to our first point, those that are walking with Jesus, death is welcomed and seen as a way to be with the Lord. Those who don’t know God, death is to be feared. It’s not the death, but the eternity that is found afterwards. A person doesn’t go to Heaven because they were a victim of crime. A person doesn’t go to Heaven because they died trying to help others. Heaven is for those who have chosen to walk with God. They have put God at the top of their lists and the top of their hearts. Their lives illustrate that. They are forgiving. They are kind. They are helpful. Death is never the end.

 

Third, our country continues to be shocked by senseless brutality. Folks do not see that this is where evolutionary and atheistic thinking leads to. Life without God isn’t pretty, fair nor kind. Life, with no accountability except to self, ends up doing whatever a person feels like. No standards. No rules. No guidelines. No examples. Without foundations under us, storms will cause us to collapse. The only real foundation is God. Congress will be pressured to pass some laws to prevent more killings. It won’t work. TV talk shows will analyze what needs to be fixed, but no one will mention God. That’s the problem. Lives without God are without any direction, purpose or restraints. A person will do whatever they feel like.

 

Fourth, it is time for congregations to get serious about security. We do not live in Mayberry anymore. Little churches in little towns, like what happened yesterday in Texas, reminds us that this could happen anywhere. Leaders in congregations need to get past the 1950’s thinking. The weekly contribution should not be taken right back up to the front where people can see all the money just sitting there. Immediately, put it in a secure place. Someone ought to be in the lobby to watch the doors. Front doors may need to be locked after services begin, which means some families need to begin getting there on time. Discussions need to take place about what should be done in case of an emergency. Get the head out of the sand and realize our world is ugly, dangerous and we need to take steps to help our people be safe.

 

Finally, because of these shootings, we can live in fear, or we can walk by faith. If we are living righteously and walking with God, the worst thing that can happen is someone takes my life. Jesus said do not fear the one who can take your life and do no more. Events like the Texas shooting can make us mean and hateful toward others. We can’t let that happen. It can make us want to keep all outsiders out. We can’t let that happen. We must continue to reach the lost. We must continue to let Christ live in our hearts. We must continue to be kind, forgiving and helpful. We let the enemy win when they cause us to be changed or to live in fear. Be smart. Take precautions. Let’s continue to live righteously and joyously, knowing that some day we are out of this place and in a place that will forever be secure and good.

 

Sinful people making wrong choices too often touches the lives of innocent and good people. When will this stop? When the Lord comes and this world ends. Until then, we continue on. We will meet Sunday. We will worship. Fear will not stop us. Bad people will not prevent us. And we live, knowing it won’t be long and all of this will be over. This certainly isn’t Heaven.

 

Our prayers are for the families that have lost loved ones. May their hearts not turn to anger. May they find comfort in the Lord.

 

Come, Lord Jesus!

 

Roger