Posts Tagged With: newtown

Remember Us? One Breath Prayer Reminder

(From time to time I write “One Breath” posts that can be said in, well… one big breath).

Remember us? Remember how the world noticed us for 10 media minutes? Please pray for us again.

1) Haiti

2) Newtown, CT

3) Syria (civil war – Christians being wiped out)

4) Nigeria (civil war – Christians being targeted for slaughter)

Don’t let the media’s attention be what governs yours, my friends.

Thanks for considering,

-Justin

Categories: Humankind in Distress, One Breath | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where was God During the Elementary School Massacre?

Antonio Lacerda / EPA

A woman places flowers at a makeshift Sandy Hook memorial in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Anthony Lacerda / EPA

The murder of 20 little children and 6 women in Newtown, Connecticut has shaken every person who has a conscience. I’ve watched my close family weep, and I myself have not stopped the tears as they have come. Who would do such a thing? We are getting clarity (as much as possible), on that question. Someone completely consumed with a wicked, depraved heart has done this.

Where was God during the elementary school massacre? Here we have the big question. Many anti-theists (AKA atheists) will give the simplistic, cop-out answer that there is no god(s). No thank you, anti-theists, for that non-answer which you yourselves know is false.

Next try: He was surprised and grieved by it like we all were. Many well-meaning folks will give this answer in an attempt to “get God off the hook” for human evil. It sounds nice on the surface (who would want to live in a universe where God knows ahead of time that things like this are coming and yet does nothing to stop it?), but it falls flat.

All complex argumentation aside, it is simply no comfort to say God did not know because He doesn’t know the future: well then, who is in control? Would it be more comforting to know that no one is in control? How about Satan, or human beings, or maybe the impersonal stars in the sky? No thank you. I am grateful that God’s Word doesn’t teach any of these things.

Another thought that is probably the most popular: God knew it would happen, and it wasn’t His will for it to happen, but He couldn’t stop it. This is another attempt to get God off the hook for human evil, but it breaks down as soon as we look at it more deeply. It is the answer the well-meaning priest in Newtown has given to the media. It is the answer some blog writers are giving, including on the giant sites like Huffington Post and CNN Belief Blog…

Yet, it is another false comfort. God looked at Adam Lanza suiting up with body armor, packing magazines of bullets, knowing what he was going to do, and didn’t so much as have the power to thrown a falling tree onto the guy’s car as he drove there? Why not? The answer given is usually that “God cannot stop human free-will.” My dear friends and neighbors around the world, let me gently refute this lie. I understand why it is believed, but ultimately there is no truth or comfort in it for the victims in this tragedy. God could have stopped this man, but He did not.

The Greatest Injustice in All History

God was right there in the midst of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. He was there, allowing Adam Lanza to do his evil, but He was also there with the teachers and children, graciously not allowing every single one of them to be hunted down. Yet even this monstrous act was not nearly the greatest injustice and tragedy to ever happen.

When the one, innocent, pure Man who ever lived was falsely accused, arrested, whipped, and crucified on a Roman torture device, evil was riding at its highest. Jesus was LOVE incarnate – He is God with flesh on, come to earth “not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17b). Jesus had always, eternally lived with God the Father, as God the Son – and the great love between them the Holy Spirit. Three divine, perfect Persons who are LOVE and sinlessness… and the Son chose to come to earth to bear the pain and penalty of human sin as a sacrifice for us; He did it in order to swallow death and sin just as death and sin were swallowing Him on the cross…

Have you ever stopped to think about this? When the crowds and the high priests demanded Jesus be hung from nails until He died, they were committing an atrocity beyond the scale of words. The evil in their hearts was breaking out at an all-time darkness and ugliness. Jesus had come to lead them to forgiveness and eternal life, they had spit on Him and called Him a liar. He had healed their sick, raised the dead, and promised fellowship with God for eternity, they were tearing His skin off with razor-sharp bone fragments embedded in leather whips.

What is human evil? It is best seen in the crucifixion of Jesus the Son of God.

Where was God during the murder of His precious, eternally worthy Son?

Right there. Right in the midst. Unsurprised. Unprovoked. In control.

Why is this comforting? Look at what Peter said a couple of months later as he spoke to the very people who had done it:

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken[c] by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death. (Acts 2:22-23 NKJV)

You see that? They were responsible for their evil choices, and God had before determined it to happen. They’re both there. We can’t do that level of math, but there it is without apology.

What is our comfort in that, and in the elementary school massacre? Only that God is working out His gracious purposes among a rebellious, sinful, murderous human race. We are surely allowed to exercise our creaturely freedom, and we choose real, horrific evils, but God exercises His sovereign freedom to either restrain or allow us to act.

He is in control, just as He was at the cross. All of those people who crucified Jesus thought that they were rid of Him, and that they were in power. They had a moment of power, but it was allowed by God in order to then make Jesus the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Through the most evil act ever committed, God brought salvation for the world, and through the evil of Adam Lanza, there will be good and precious outcomes brought by the sovereign God, yet those ends we cannot yet see.

Shall we cry against Him for allowing it? Only if we are willing to call Him unjust for determining the murder of Jesus as the means of our salvation. We don’t want to go there, beloved people.

—–

One last thing: I know my words may seem callous, or academic, or cold. I promise you that is not my intention. This tragedy goes way beyond my or anyone’s ability to simply fix with an explanation of God’s sovereignty. My hope, rather, is to plant the seeds of healing and restoration for those torn and broken by this act. There is hope, there is meaning in what God allows to happen. We cannot see it all, but we must trust Him in His rule of our society. He has promised to heal and completely forgive the sins of any person who comes to Him in faith – looking to that cross where Jesus paid for human sin. Do you see your sin being paid in His death? Do you believe that He rose from the grave to be your Savior and God? Then call to Him today and every day, never let Him go. He will destroy your sins, evil choices, and even your death someday… these will be defeated by His gracious power.

That is the power of Jesus the Christ – He has defeated the power of death, and draws all people to Him to share in His victory. I am praying for my neighbors in Newtown, Connecticut, that they would bring their broken, angry hearts to Christ. He is the only healer who can mend these kinds of wounds.

With so much more I could say, thanks for reading.

-Justin

Categories: Jesus the Pinnacle of History, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Newtown Massacre: Special Edition of The Briefing

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Dr. Albert Mohler is President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a high-profile interpreter of world events. His podcast is called The Briefing, a daily analysis of world events from a Christian perspective. Last night Dr. Mohler released a special edition of The Briefing, and I want you to listen to it. Click here:

The Briefing Special Edition – Connecticut Shooting

In this podcast Dr. Mohler discusses what our reaction should be to this ultra-tragedy, and he interviews Rev. Joey Newtown, a Baptist minister who is there with the families of the slain. There are blessed reminders of God’s grace and sovereignty in this edition of The Briefing, and I encourage you to take a little time to listen to it.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

-Justin

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newtown, Connecticut School Shooting: At Least 26 Dead

Another gunman dressed all in black has murdered a crowd of people in America. This time the target is elementary school children, 18 so far among the 26 or more dead. This just a couple days after a man in a mall near Portland, Oregon opened fire in public… this just months after the mass-killing in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado where another black-clad gunman took as many lives as possible.

Question: how do we interpret these and what seems to be countless other incidents like it in recent American history? Is this out of the ordinary with other cultures and human history? I think so. I think our nation is spiraling downward into a black hole of our own desires: God is truly giving us the freedom from Him that we have fought for.

In other words, the grace of God that restrains outbreaks of depraved violence is being removed in America. We have gotten what we want: to be gods and to make our own Law – so now the mask is coming off of the human heart. May God have mercy on us.

My heart is aching as I write these words; there is no imagination for how those poor babies feel right now who saw classmates murdered before their eyes. There is no human penalty great enough to avenge such deeds, although the news says he is already dead. So now what?

I already see the political right and left gearing up to promote their view of gun-rights. Despicable. This is not the time for that conversation. Wait until tomorrow for the sake of anything good… and maybe just shut-up about it all together for a longer time than that. Somebody just tore the lives of 26+ people in cold blood.

All I will say is that we have sown the wind of violence and secularism. We glorify war, gladiatorial games, personal “choice” to exterminate our children through abortion and after-birth dismemberment, we enshrine the lust for blood in every section of society. We have sown the wind of secularism; glorifying man above his Creator, teaching our children that human beings are of no worth above animals, and that our lives are accidents without meaning. We load ourselves up on prescription drugs to cure our sick minds when the problem is a depraved, wicked heart of godlessness.

The land is filled with blood.

Most churches are filled with silly, irrelevant entertainment and rule-keeping. Who will give the hope?

The schools are overrun with lies.

What are we to do? Admit what we have become, and beg for the mercy of God, that He would not leave us to ourselves for one more minute. Sadly, without repentance from our death-culture, we will reap the whirlwind more and more heavily as the days run by.

Oh Lord and Creator, we have sinned against You grievously, and we are now feasting on the fruits. In Your great pity for humankind, please draw back the wicked in this land, bring revival and repentance to Your people, and cause us to weep for our children. Please, have mercy on this land. Amen.

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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