This week I’m sure your heart, like mine has been hurting for our brothers and sisters in Sutherland Springs. To lose someone you love like that is almost too much to think about, let alone to go through – and one family lost eight. I’m sure that you, like me have been praying for the families who are going through this horror – that God would somehow comfort them and be with them through this terrible time. Maybe you, like me have felt confused about what we should DO. What is the right responsefor Christians in the face of pure evil, and loss?Obviously, our first response should be love and compassion. Jesus said the defining characteristic of a Christian is our love. I have reached out to the pastor through email (Im sure thousands have, and he’ll probably not have time to respond, but) I’ve offered that our church will do almost anything to help them. It’s hard to think of practical things we can do. We can give financial support. The church is recommending that you be careful of existing go-fund-me campaigns, and consider giving directly to that church at their website www.ssfb.net. 100% of those funds would go towards keeping that church open. CBCB is making an intial contribution of $1000. If their website is overwhelmed – you can give through H.E.B. at www.heb.com/donations/sutherland-springs. Please pray about other ways you can help or support – if you have great ideas of things you’re doing and want to share – post them on our myCBCB facebook page. Of course, we can and should always pray. It’s popular to criticize Christians for just saying “I’ll pray for you” instead of doing more. For me, asking God for his help makes MORE sense than anything else we can do – ONLY He can heal. We just need to be careful to listen as well as talk in our prayer time – and do what he leads us to do. Maybe he’ll use us as part of the healing process.
Maybe another appropriate response is to think about evangelism. The one good thing hidden deep in all this tragedy is that heaven has some new arrivals. All of our friends and neighbors and loved ones will someday almost certainly face death. These “out of nowhere” deaths remind us of what the Bible calls “the brevity of life” and the urgency to tell people about Jesus.
Another important response is for us to consider any security, safetyvulnerabilities that our church might have. For the last 2-3 years we have been consulting with law enforcement, and other experts and implementing best procedures to keep our families as safe as possible. This week, we are “tightening things up” even more – especially in our children’s area. Some of these changes may make things a little less convenient – but sadly, they are necessary. Thanks in advance for understanding that some areas of the church just can’t be accessible at all times. We will now be able to better “lock down” our kids area in potentially dangerous situations. As you probably know, we also have a security team – their main function is to be a visible presence to deter potential trouble, to be available in the case of an issue, and to be the eyes and ears of the church. Our security director, Stephen Hall is now adding another layer of protection for us – something like a “sky marshal”. This will be someone in each weekend service who will NOT be visible, or uniformed but will be licensed to, and will carry a concealed weapon and be ready to take appropriate action in an emergency. If you are interested in joining our security team, please contact Stephen Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org).
– but there’s one more…
We need to live fearlessly. God is with us, heaven is before us – whom shall we fear? Satan has had a pretty good week. He’s won some battles, and trashed some lives. Let’s choose NOT to let him intimidate us, or make us fearful. Let’s not hunker down, or hide out.
Let’s choose life. Let’s “be strong and very courageous” like Joshua. Let’s worship our God, and kiss our spouse and hug our kids and love our friends and do our jobs and reach our world for Jesus.
Let’s pull together with more unity and love and passion than ever before and LIVE our lives out with joy – right in the face of the one who only loves death. He is bigger and uglier and more powerful than some people think – but he is NOT bigger than our God, or our purpose. Let’s resolve that he will NOT bully us into turning on each other or living in fear.
Satan would love for this event to steal life, or make us fear death – let’s let it instead make us LIVE our lives like never before. Christ died and resurrected so you could have a rich, satisfying, abundant LIFE.
Let’s be busy living that life instead of fearing death.
Come to church, bring a neighbor, bring your Operation Christmas child box, buy a sleeping bag for a homeless person, sign up to foster or adopt – or support someone who is. Hug someone, encourage someone, sing a worship song, tell a joke, eat a cookie.
The antidote to death is life. Live.