Sunset in Cartagena, Colombia by Igvir
Good morning, beloved,
As the stories unfold surrounding Newton, Connecticut, I have noticed an inevitable internalization. These parents could be us. These teachers could be our children’s teacher. This school could be our school. We see pictures of wild fear, tears and we crack. We hold our children tighter. We pray for God to keep the tragedy away from us. May I suggest remembering and reminding ourselves and families:
1 I love You fervently and devotedly, O Lord, my Strength.
2 The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.
3 I will call upon the Lord, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.
We read the paper, read Facebook, watch the news and silently breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not us. What is that response? We utter, “There but for the grace go I”..(John Bradford). Does that mean we are grateful God’s grace is on us and somehow it slipped coverage on the people of Connecticut?
2 Thessalonians 2:
Sunset at Härmälä, Tampere. View over Pyhäjärvi Lake to Pispala Ridge by Nikolaus Drees
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who loved us and gave us everlasting consolation and encouragement and well-founded hope through [His] grace (unmerited favor),
17 Comfort and encourage your hearts and strengthen them [make them steadfast and keep them unswerving] in every good work and word.
We form opinions based on knowledge gleaned from radio, newspapers, word of mouth. I want to suggest to you, as a culture of Christians, I believe we’ve become ensconced in a culture we were never meant to adopt. We are surprised by people’s actions. We are horrified by violence. Let us instead remind ourselves of God’s power. I love, love, love to remember this picture:
2 Kings 6:
12 One of his servants said, None, my lord O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.
13 He said, Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him. And it was told him, He is in Dothan.
14 So [the Syrian king] sent there horses, chariots, and a great army. They came by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God rose early and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was around the city. Elisha’s servant said to him, Alas, my master! What shall we do?
16 [Elisha] answered, Fear not; for those with us are more than those with them.
17 Then Elisha prayed, Lord, I pray You, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and he saw, and
Midsummer festival bonfire closeup by Janne Karaste
behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
18 And when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, Smite this people with blindness, I pray You. And God smote them with blindness, as Elisha asked.
19 Elisha said to the Syrians, This is not the way or the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek. And he led them to Samaria.
20 And when they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw. Behold, they were in the midst of Samaria!
21 When the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, My father, shall I slay them? Shall I slay them?
22 [Elisha] answered, You shall not slay them. Would you slay those you have taken captive with your sword and bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and return to their master.
23 So [the king] prepared great provision for them, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.
We need not fear the world crumbling around us. We need not quake with terror! Rather than read story after story from your local newspaper or read how your best friend from high school’s daughter (who you haven’t spoken to since then) has been toilet trained…we can open the living and active Word of God. His Words bring life, give hope and fill you with knowledge that this world is most certainly not the end. Jesus reminds us to not lost heart. Not to lose hope!
4 Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error].
Beach at St. Andrews by rob bishop
5 For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray.
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place;
8 All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish].
9 Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
10 And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.
11 And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error.
12 And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity,
13 But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Hold on, friends. Hold on. Our perspective must remain on the truth! The Word! I think Mary might have been on to something with her song of praise. We can teach the next generation to fear life or place our hope in the mercy of God.
Luke 1:50 And His mercy (His compassion and kindness toward the miserable and afflicted) is on those who fear Him with godly reverence, from generation to generation and age to age.
mercy (eleos): of God towards men: in general providence; the mercy and clemency of God in providing and offering to men salvation by Christ.
I’ve read comics that state, Where was God in all of this? the response is He wasn’t invited. As Christians, we ask, but why? This is, for me, not the conversation we should be having on Facebook or other social media sites. I would like to suggest that we allow God’s Word to be the commentary. God’s word to be the balm. God’s word to guide the discussion. Posting God’s word as encouragement. We read the names of these precious children and their teachers and our hearts clench. Yet, friends, in our city of Chicago (an hour away from yours truly) by October of this year 436 people had died, which puts the average around 43 people a month.
436 men, women and children…snuffed out by murder. Christians around the world right now, as I type, suffering for our common faith. They are dying for our faith. These are our sisters and brothers! Ugh, it is a yucky world we live in, friends. The media would like us to believe Newton is an anomaly. We gasp at how many school shootings there have been. Oh friends, let’s get back to the truth. Not as a liberal or conservative, let’s reveal God’s compassion, and His kindness to this hurting world.
His mercy is true. It will never, ever fade. Let’s teach our next generation THAT.
19 Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear, revere, and worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You before the sons of men!
20 In the secret place of Your presence You hide them from the plots of men; You keep them secretly in Your pavilion from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord! For He has shown me His marvelous loving favor when I was beset as in a besieged city.
22 As for me, I said in my haste and alarm, I am cut off from before Your eyes. But You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to You for aid.
54. I’m so very thankful for my Dad who drove me to my appointment and drove me home and then drove himself home.
55. I’m thankful for my Ella who dances and sings and giggles her way through life.
56. I’m thankful for nerve blocks.
57. I’m thankful for hope found in Him.
58. I’m thankful for clean dish towels.
59. I’m thankful for my brothers and sisters in Nigeria standing firm.
Pray on. Don’t forget your thankfuls.