I’ve got something to say to Orlando (but it’s not my words)

Tragedy. Terrorist Act. Murder. Psychopath. Hater.

Call it what you want, but the Orlando night club shooting is a devastating loss of life on many levels. With more than 100 dead or wounded we know that thousands of family members have been effected with loss and grief. We know that a community has been shaken and stirred with fear, anger, heart ache, etc… We know that all Americans – all people everywhere – are witnesses to violence, hate, and death in the most horrific of ways. We know that with each similar tragedy we grow more numb to the reality of evil in our midst.

This event was breaking into the news yesterday as I was preaching on Psalm 24 and the sovereignty of God. It is inconvenient that the two would collide, but it is also helpful to contrast what it means for God to be sovereign and to witness tragedy and turmoil in this way. We preach and pray that God can do all things and also admit that evil is free to bring terror into our world. How can the two coexist? Wouldn’t God want to protect the many lives taken or damaged yesterday? Can’t God prevent such moments from happening? Does a shooting in Orlando tell us that perhaps God’s sovereignty isn’t as secure as we may like to think it is?

This is where I have to warn me and you to not let fear replace faith in our hearts. We can not move so quickly to explaining things before we explore them in light of who God has revealed Himself to be – sovereign, holy, loving, faithful, etc… All creation cries out to the power of God which crescendos at the cross, the empty tomb, and the ascension of our Lord. Death did not have victory over Him then and will not be victorious over Him now. Our response is not to explain why or how this occurred, but to rest and revel in the who that is working in the midst of a tragic world. God is not far off, but is nearby. To say that God is sovereign is not to say that God CAN, but is a proclamation that God IS. He is at work in this situation – through you and through me – to bring healing and a songs of hope. We respond with hearts that are full of faith in Him and a vision/hope to see the kingdom of God spread in such a way that no one would pick up a gun towards another (or any other violent act.) We carefully choose words that bear witness to the love of God for all rather than words of contempt that will divide and devastate relationships/communities/churches.

In our tears let us praise God for drawing near to us. In our hurt let us praise God for placing graceful ointment onto our souls when we feel like we have been wounded. In our heartache for brothers and sisters we did not know, let us pray that the Holy Spirit would bring good out of bad and replace their anger/hate with love. In our doubts let us ask God to renew our faith and dig deeper into every area of our life to trust in Him in all things. In our desire to seek revenge, blame an ideology, assign guilt to political platforms, let us find the courage to let God be the judge of the all while we are friends and family to all of creation. In our temptation to give up on God and His kingdom because of great loss, let us turn towards the beautiful truth that “all of the earth is the Lords” so that we may actively participate in the renewal of a lost creation that is killing itself. In our dismay let us not focus on our loss or anguish without admitting the hurt that violence and death causes to the heart of our creating God.

May we today choose to turn towards God rather than away from Him. Violence, death, destruction, sin is all around. The only promising path is into the arms of a gracious God who generously reaches out to help and heal us. Let us be a generation seeking God and not seeking revenge, hate, division, destruction, or faithlessness. Selah.

Those are a few reflective thoughts from today, but what I really want to say to Orlando is…

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it. For He has founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the rivers.
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face—even Jacob. Selah.
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory. (Psalm 24)

I Am. I Will. He is.

god is

I am disappointed in the decision Friday by the Supreme Court regarding marriage.  I am disappointed that many of my Southern friends/family have been more passionate about their right to fly a flag than about other people’s right to just live and breath. I am disappointed that in France and Tunisia another attack on human life was made in the name of Islam rather than in “submission to the will of God and obedience to His law (definition of the word Islam)”  which will only fuel the discussion of more war in the middle East. I am disappointed that some people don’t want to talk about the race problem in America and others think that is the only problem that we need to discuss. I am disappointed that we have millions that are hungry, hundreds of thousands that are orphans, tens of thousands of families without a home and the majority of us only are obsessed with what rights we personally do or don’t have. I am disappointed that it is raining today, that I have to go to work tomorrow, that the Astros lost last night, that I am not as fit as I used to be, that my kids are growing up too fast, that retirement is coming to soon, and that the part in my hair just doesn’t part right anymore.

But today is Sunday – the Sabbath day. It is a day to rest and be kept as holy. So I will not live in my fear and my disappointment and my desire to be a sideline critic with half truth, social media cracks on everything. I will not be fooled into thinking that love wins or loses because love is and love does. I will not attempt to win anything or take back nothing that I think belongs to me as an American. I will not judge others or be tempted to speak with contempt about our differences. I will rest. I will be renewed. I will worship the One true and living God. I will not let other people’s emotions and rhetoric bate me into debate, discussion or a divisive spirit. I will be the child that God created me to be, live the truth He speaks into my life, love the way He filled me to share, and walk in the light that only He can provide for this journey. This is the Lord’s day and a day like no other.

Church please hear this before you get in your cars to head to church prepared to grieve, gossip and regurgitate the weeks devastating events.

For He is…

Love – 1 John 4:16
Spirit – John 4:24
The Holy One -Psalms 16:10
The I Am – John 8:58
God Almighty – Exodus 6:3
A Miracle Working God – Galatians 3:5
The Creator of the World – John 1:3
Calling Things That Be Not As Though they Were – Romans 4:17
Infinite – 1 Kings 8:27
All Powerful – Jeremiah 32:17, 27
All Knowing – 1 John 3:20
Ever Present – Psalms 139:1, 13
Unchangeable – Numbers 23:19
A Covenant Making God – Hebrews 10:16
The Everlasting Father – Isaiah 9:6
A Father of Lights – James 1:17
A Father of Mercies & God of All Comfort – 2 Corinthians 1:3
The Author of Salvation – Hebrews 2:10
Full of Power – Romans 13:1
A God Who Raises the Dead – 2 Corinthians 1:9
A Quickening Spirit – 1 Corinthians 15:45
Mighty to Save – Isaiah 63:1
Our Maker – Isaiah 54:5
Our Heavenly Father – Matthew 6
The Justifier of the One Who Has Faith in Jesus – Romans 3:26
Meeting Our Needs through Jesus – Philippians 4:19
Giving Us the Peace that Surpasses Understanding – Philippians 4:7
Jesus of Nazareth – John 19:19
The Door of the Sheep – John 10
The Way, Truth & Life – John 14:6
The Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6
The King of Kings & Lord of Lords – Revelation 17:14
The Lamb of God – Revelation 5:6
The Bread of Life – John 6:48-58
The Bright & Morning Star – Revelation 22:16
The Light of the World – John 8:12
Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14
Wonderful Counselor – Isaiah 9:6
The Great Shepherd of the Sheep of Sheep – Hebrews 13:20
The Head of the Church – Ephesians 1:22
Jesus – Matthew 1:21
The Same Yesterday, Today & Forever – Hebrews 13:8
Our All Sufficiency 2 Corinthians 3:5
The Word – John 1:1
Dwelling in Us – 2 Corinthians 6:16
Easily Touched – Hebrews 4:15
Faithful & True – Revelation 19:11
A Sure Foundation – Isaiah 28:16
Upholding All things by the Word of His Power – Hebrews 1:3
Watching Over His Word to Perform It – Jeremiah 1:12
A Rewarder of Those Who Diligently Seek Him – Hebrews 11:6
No Respecter of Persons – Act 10:34
The True Light – John 1:9
The Author & Finisher of Our Faith – Hebrews 12:2
Mediator of the New Covenant – Hebrews  9:15
The Truth – John 14:6
Working in Us – Hebrews 13:21
Greater in Us Than He That Is in the World – 1 John 4:4
Unto Us Wisdom, Sanctification & Redemption – 2 Corinthians 1:30
For Us – Romans 8:31
Never Leaving Us or Forsaking Us – Hebrews 13:5
Always Leading Us in Triumph in Christ – 2 Corinthians 2:14
Faithful Over His House – Hebrews 3:1-6
Ruler of the Kings of the Earth – Revelation 1:5
Our Lord & Our God – John 20:28
Our Life – John 11:25-26
Our Savior – Luke 2:11
Our Redeemer – Isaiah 48:17
Our Teacher – Matthew 28:18
Our Healer – Isaiah 53:5
Our Deliverer – Romans 11:20
Our Resurrection – John 11:25
Our Justification – Romans 3:26
Our Strength – Philippians 4:13
Our Righteousness – 1 Corinthians 1:30
Our Peace – Ephesians 2:14
Our Advocate – 1 John 2:1
Our Faithful High Priest – Hebrews 9:11; 10:21
Our Bridegroom – Matthew 9:15
Our Hope of Glory – Colossians 1:27
Pleased to Give Us the Kingdom – Luke 12:32
Equipping Us – Ephesians 4:11-16
Giving Us Revelation Knowledge – 1 Corinthians 2:10-13
Giving Us the Keys to the Kingdom – Matthew 16:19
Giving Us His Name – Mark 16:17-18
Giving Us the HOLY SPIRIT – Luke 11:13; Act 2:38-39
Anointing Us for Service – 1 John 2:20
Filling Us With Wisdom & Spiritual Understanding – Ephesians 1:17
Giving Us His Armor – Ephesians 6:10-18
Providing Us Angels – Hebrews 1:14
Faithful to Complete the Work He Began in Us – Philippians 1:6
Rich in Mercy – Psalms 136
Giving Us All Things to Enjoy – 1 Timothy 6:17
Saying Well Done My Good & Faithful Servants – Matthew 25:21
Receiving All the Glory – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Worthy of Praise – Psalms 18:3

The Alpha & Omega, The Beginning & End -Revelation 1:8

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, o Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  – Psalm 19