While I sat at the kitchen table writing my last post “Losing Track of Time,” my youngest daughter, Haley, went outside to watch the sun rise.
She took this picture of our church as seen from the back of our parsonage.
I don’t have a lot of time to write, but I wanted to take a moment to type away on this wonderful little keyboard. There is such a wonderful feeling I get when typing out words with both hands buzzing along, rarely misspelling a word… yeah, right.
You see, my wife and I are preparing to walk out the door and head out to the hospital for my rotator cuff surgery. This afternoon, not long after 2 p.m. (eastern), my right arm will be completely useless. I have no idea how long it will be before I am able to type the way I am doing right now, and that’s a little sad.
But on the other hand, I am going to do everything I can to keep my spirits up. This is a terrifying day, but it’s also a very exciting day! I am about to undergo the most radical surgery of my life….I am about to become handicapped… I am about to become totally dependent on my wife for things, as of this moment, I can do for myself…. I am about to sleep in a recliner… I’ve never owned a recliner until today 🙂
This day is also exciting because it is going to be the first day on a journey in which I am going to be able to prove my God is real. Already, even as of yesterday morning, the Lord has been opening my eyes to the reality that He will take care of my family and me through this challenging ordeal. We will not starve…we will not be destitute…He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory!
I will do my best to keep you guys updated along the way (the best way will be through Facebook). Even though I would ask you to keep me in your prayers, would you please keep my wife, Valerie, in your prayers? She will have a lot on her over the next couple of months as she is not only going to be taking care of me, but still taking care of my grandmother (she’s 95). Keep this in mind – my wife also had torn tendons in her right ankle!
Well, I guess I’d better go and get some more things done before it’s time to leave. In the meantime, go back and look at my previous “appeal” post, and if you can help in any way, it would be most certainly appreciated.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”
– Anthony Baker
FYI, my surgery will be at 2 p.m. at Erlanger East, Chattanooga. Pray that Dr. Lund doesn’t slip up 😉
Last Sunday, as you’re aware, a horrible, horrible tragedy befell the little town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man possessed by demonic hatred, bent on murder, blasted his way into the small First Baptist Church and slaughtered nearly half the congregation, wounding most of the rest.
To be sure, it was not simply an act of rage against his mother-in-law, but an evil attack on the very institution she was supposed to be attending. The killer could have chosen any other place to commit murder, but he chose a church…during Sunday services…and came prepared to kill them all. He hated more than just his estranged relatives.
Last Sunday was a horrible day for Texas, but it was also a horrible day for the whole country; we all died a little that day; we changed.
Immediately following the carnage – I dare say before the bodies of the slain were even cold – accusations began flying from every direction. One could even say that your’s truly got a little caught up in the accusatory stream. However, two main camps were, and still continue to be, the loudest: the gun control activists and those who are fighting to maintain gun owner’s rights. Now, I have my own thoughts regarding that debate, but even though it’s going to be the most reported, there are others worth noting, and one has to do with guns in churches.
Even before the murder of eight congregants, including the pastor, at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., I had been warning of larger-scale attacks on defenseless congregations. You see, it’s an under-reported fact that more people have been killed in churches throughout America since the 1990’s than all the school shootings combined.
Incredibly, even before last Sunday’s death toll, it was reported that over 690 people have died a violent death while on church or faith-based property since 1999.* And not counting the 27 at FBC Sutherton Springs, by “August 31 of THIS YEAR, we had already surpassed the number of VIOLENT DEATHS on Church and Faith-Based Property for ALL of last year (2016).”** Needless to say, getting killed at church is nothing new.
So, based on the statistics, increased hatred aimed at Christians (the most persecuted and martyred people in the world), and the typical soft-target demographic of churches, American congregations have thankfully now begun to prepare for the possibility of violence, and one of those ways is by facing the grim fact that stopping an armed killer may involve armed church members. What some view as sacrilegious, others are seeing as a God-given right and mandate to defend the innocent, as shepherds defend their sheep.
In my opinion, as the violence and threat of terrorism continue to rise, the debate over being armed for survival will narrow, and more churches will become harder targets, better prepared to defend themselves.
But as we prepare our churches and faith organizations for the threat of violence; as we turn ushers and deacons into S.W.A.T.-like security teams; as we replace the “turn the other cheek” mentality with one of “go ahead, make my day,” there’s literally an even greater danger we may be bringing upon ourselves – PRIDE.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for every church becoming a place where active shooters fear to dread. However, in all our preparing we must not go so far as to forget our Rock, our Fortress, our Shield, and our Deliverer. It is one thing to foolishly walk up to Goliath with nothing in hand, not even a sling and stone; but it’s a different thing altogether to assume, because of our training and marksmanship, our projectile will hit its mark without the grace of God.
In the 24th chapter of 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles 21, King David sinned a great sin against God and did a seemingly innocuous thing – he numbered the people. In other words, he ordered a census of all the able-bodied fighting men so he could know how big of an army he had. But why was this so wrong? Why would that be a bad thing? Well, normally there would be nothing wrong with it, but David’s sin was that he thought power and protection could be calculated, even though Israel’s real Defender was God.
But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” – 2 Samuel 24:10 ESV
My fear is that in an attempt to protect ourselves, our churches may go from being fearful to faithless. When we get to that point, no amount of guns in our churches could replace the protective hand of God, and no amount of firepower could hold back His judgment.
Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” – 2 Samuel 24:14 ESV
Better to “prepare to meet thy God,” than be so “prepared” we forget Him.
I was driving in to work this morning when this song came on the radio. I began thinking of a fellow Christian blogger who is going through a very tough time, her faith wearing thin. I then prayed, but something else happened.
It was just after 6 a.m., and just as soon as “Even If” by MercyMe quit playing, it played one more time. Now, who preprogrammed that into the station’s computer, I wonder?
At that moment I began praising God from my own perspective. Tears began to build up in my eyes as I listened once again, only closer now, until gravity turned the pools to streams.
You see, I’ve got burdens, needs, mountains that need moving, and questions needing answers. All the while I’ve got a host of others who need me to help with the very same kinds of things. And what do I say when the prayers don’t get answered? What do I say when the healing doesn’t come? How do I react when everything seems to be overwhelming me, but God seems silent to my cries?
I trust Him.
I mean, Jesus loved me enough to die for me; He promised never to leave me or forsake me; so wouldn’t it stand to reason He cares what situations I face? If He cares for others, shouldn’t he care for me as well? Yes! He does!
And I will trust Him.
Even if nothing turns out the way I hope, my real Hope is Jesus. Notice, my hope is not IN Jesus; it IS Jesus.
I will trust Him.
When peace like a river attendeth my way; when sorrows like to see billows roll; whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well with my soul…even if.”
As we both walked into the office this morning to clock in, a fellow bus driver asked me, “How are you doing this morning?”
I replied to my co-worker’s genuine inquiry with the following affirmation: “I’m alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic!”
“What was that?” he asked.
“I said, ‘I’m alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic!’ There’s even a song about it.”
“You know,” my friend said, “I think I’ve heard that song before, now that you mention it. But who would sing a song like that?”
“Somebody trying to convince himself it was so,” I answered.
As a matter of fact, I was on a month-long mission trip to Romania back in August of 1992. Every day was long, and morning always came too early, so the “enthusiastic” song was often sung as we fell out of our beds and stumbled outside looking for some form of coffee (usually the kind boiled in a big pot over an open fire). We would sing the words with a hint of sarcasm, yet the simple act of singing them – while feeling anything other than alert and awake – somehow brought a smile to our mutually tired and grimacing faces, eventually making us exactly what we sang…alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic.
That is one reason we sing Christian songs in church, or in our cars, or even when we are tired, sick, or discouraged. But it is not so that we can convince ourselves of something that might be true, or that we wish to be true; we sing because the Word of God IS true!
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. – Colossians 3:16
I sing “Amazing Grace,” not because I hope He is gracious, but because His grace is new every morning, and there is more than enough for ever need!
I sing “The Solid Rock, ” not because I’m standing on shifting sand, but because my hope is truly built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness! Therefore, despite the teetering foundations of man-made institutions, I don’t have to worry about sinking – He’s got this!
Sometimes the nights are long, and we get weary. At other times we may hate to see the break of day for fear of further struggles which may sap our strength. But in those moments of weakness a song of praise can give access to a Strength outside our own, making the downtrodden and discouraged “alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic!”
Songs of Truth will rebuild your faith, renew your strength, and restore your enthusiasm! So, even though others might ask, “Who would sing a song like that,” sing my brothers and sisters! Sing!