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Making divine sense of church shootings and a prayer

Posted on November 8th, 2017 by Pastor Steve Walker

Dear Church Family,

Once again, we are saddened by the gruesome and evil murder of helpless and unsuspecting men, women, and children. Whether it’s bicyclers and tourists on a sidewalk in New York, concert goers in Vegas, night club partiers in Orlando, company staff meetings in San Bernardino, or Sunday worshipers in a Texas country church, we should never cease to be surprised and shocked by this evil.

And once again, we’re faced with making sense of it. One of the blessings of being a child of God, through faith in his Son Jesus Christ, is that God does not leave us in the wilderness of our confusion and imaginations to try and make sense of these evil and wicked tragedies. When we turn to God, we find our divine source of love, comfort, hope, and strength. My prayer is that God’s word will provide us with the understanding and the strength to deal with the evil of this past Sunday in Texas. Let’s remember that: 

  • Evil does not discriminate… Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but you are not of the world because I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you….I say to you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you….” (John 15:18-20). In divine transparency, Jesus warns that to love and follow him, is an invitation to be hated, and persecuted, and possibly even killed by hateful people in the world. Satan and all of his human destruction does not discriminate. Christians and non-Christians alike are on the receiving end of evil. But the reality is, Satan is especially motivated to destroy those who love the very One who will ultimately destroy him.

  • Evil will not relent… “Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” (2Timothy 3:1-5). Whenever the New Testament speaks of the last days, the reference is to the return of Jesus. God warns us that the closer we come to his return, the more rampant and treacherous evil will be.

  • Evil cannot win… “Indeed, God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you… when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus - they will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified  in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.” (2Thessalonians 1:6-10) “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10). Church, while we hate evil, we can know that the end of all evil is in sight. We can be sure that Jesus will have the last word and we win!

  • We grieve with unshakable and confident hope… “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep (who have died), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep…then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds (those believers who have died)  to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1Thessalonians 4:13-18). It’s ok and it’s normal to cry and to mourn the loss of our loved ones. But our mourning and grief cannot shake our hope that one day we will be together with them in the presence of the Lord forever!

  • We can’t lose heart… “So we do not lose heart…as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2Corinthians 4:16-18). The church of Jesus doesn’t give up and lose heart because we know that this life isn’t all there is. Our citizenship is in heaven where we will praise him forever more!

  • We don’t become evil in order to face evil… "Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21). While God does not prohibit us from protecting our loved ones against evil, He does warn us that vengeance is his business not ours. We must fight against our natural inclination to hate. Hate is the breeding ground for evil. Satan wins when we hate!

  • We do not fear man… “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me (Psalm 56:3)? I tell you friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I (Jesus) will warn you whom to fear: fear him who after he has killed, has the authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:4-5). Because we believe that the resurrection of Jesus is a fact, we know that He conquered death for all who trust in him. Death does not scare us because the grave cannot hold us!

  • We use evil to bring us to our knees… Scripture calls us to pray for those who hate us (Matthew 5:44), to pray for our government leaders (1Timothy 2:1-2), and to pray for our church leaders (Hebrews 13:17-19). Don’t miss this opportunity to come to God on our knees!

  • We continue to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves... (Matthew 10:16)… Jesus said these words to the 12 Apostles when he sent them into unfriendly territory to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. While being a Christian is a life of growing, daily faith and trust in God, being a Christian does not require us to stick our heads in the sand.

As a practical matter, our church has an active special services ministry (SSM) whose purpose is to do everything possible to insure the peace and safety of our church services. This ministry team is made up of active-duty police officers, former military special forces, as well as civilians who are also trained to recognize potential threats and de-escalate disturbances before they occur. We realize that it is impossible to guarantee perfect safety, but you should be encouraged to know that these men and women are roaming the halls, lobbies, and parking lots, as well as attending all services. We are also working closely with the Bothell P.D. including them on all situations that we might encounter. Please be in the habit of praying for this ministry each Sunday. If you should see any suspicious or questionable behavior, please find a pastor and let them know. If you should see behavior that is presenting danger, please call 911 and find a pastor.

Dear God, we pray for our friends in Texas who are grieving and mourning the tragic loss of loved ones. We pray that you would meet them in their sorrow with a comfort and hope that helps to ease the pain. Please remind them of your love for them as you displayed in Jesus by calling him to die for us that we may live. Please keep them from losing their hope in Jesus, from losing their confidence in the resurrection, and from becoming bitter in their grief. God you have shown over and over that you are the God who makes beauty out of ashes and who can bring forth pure gold from the furnace of tribulation. Please God, even though Satan meant this for evil, please fulfill your promise to turn it against him and make it into something good for all the world to see.  We love you O gracious and powerful, heavenly Father. AMEN.

With hope and love,
Pastor Steve Walker

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Thanking you for writing these truths grounded in the Word and for leaving us with hope. It is very much appreciated.

By Susan Sargent on 11/15/2017