Category: News Commentary

Tragedy in Sin City

It’s the question that many Christians today are thinking, but few are offering answers to. 58 have died. Over 500 more injured. The shooter killed himself. The country shocked. Shocked at the devastation. Shocked at the unfathomable death toll. And it all happened in Las Vegas, the city known for gambling, alcohol, and the slogan, “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” Because of this location, many Christians ask, was God attempting to punish Vegas for its reputation and “Sin City” appeal? Was this city and its many residents, business owners, and visitors worse sinners than the rest of us? Were they getting a wake up call?

I believe that we find an answer to this in Luke 13:4-5 where Jesus says, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Are mass tragedies aimed at populations of people who are the worst of sinners? I believe that Jesus teaches us here that the answer is no. Each one of us is a sinner in some way. Each of us is in need of Christ for repentance and healing. Each of us need to repent and ask for Christ to renew our hearts. That is true whether we talk about the “big” sins in our life or the “little” sins like white lies or ungodly thoughts.

Some would ask, what about the Old Testament? God told the Israelites to wipe the Canaanites off the map. Later, God uses the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar to punish Israel for its sins. Isn’t this similar? Isn’t God punishing Las Vegas for its sin the way that he used Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans for their sins in 2005? If you are asking yourself that, it is a good question. It is easy to find a parallel between these two. It’s important to remember that Israel was a nation wholly made up of believers. Today, no nation on earth fits this criteria. Not even the “Christian” nations. Also, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. However, the way that he reveals himself to his people changes. So does the way that he interacts with them. Thus, we come back to the New Testament and the tragedy at the tower of Siloam. Jesus specifically teaches that those who died weren’t greater sinners. So each of us can think on our shared humanity. Each of us are sinful. Each of us need Christ’s death on the cross. Each of us need forgiveness for our sins. Tragedies like this should be a sad, yet needed reminder for us. A reminder that regardless of where we are in life, Christ is our rock. He is our fortress that we must run to in a time such as this.

What are We Sending to Houston?

On Sunday afternoon I was listening to the post-game show for my beloved Cleveland Indians. They discussed Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Astros are relocating games to Tampa Bay during the clean up. The host concluded by saying that regardless of the baseball discussion, we need to think of the people of Houston. He then said, from all of us here at Let’s Go Tribe, our wishes are with the people of Houston. Hearing this got me thinking, is that what we should be sending to Houston? Some have also said that they are keeping Houston in their thoughts. What happened to keeping them in our prayers? A thought or a wish has little more power behind it than brain activity. The power of prayer brings with it the power of the God of Universe. Our God who created the heavens and the earth and watches over the world. And yet we are settling for thoughts and wishes?

In the day and age of political correctness, it is much easier to simply send wishes or thoughts instead of prayer. Prayer implies a high being, a creator of all of this, a God who is above all things and in all things. It’s much easier to sidestep the God debate by settling for wishes. But let us call it what it is, settling. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” When we humble ourselves before God, we will ultimately be exalted by him. When we seek his mighty hand, we see him at work. And when we cast our care upon him, we see his answers to our prayers. This what the people of Houston need today. They don’t need our wishes or thoughts as much as they need our prayers. The people who are trapped in their attics or left homeless need our prayers today. They need believers asking for the mighty hand of God to provide, rescue, and comfort them. They need to know that the God that cares for them is with them. Wishes and thoughts will never move the mighty hand of God. Peter tells us that humble believers casting their cares, casting their prayers, upon him is needed.

The same is true in our own lives. Have you ever told someone that you would pray for them, then forgotten to do so? We need to go beyond simply wishing or thinking and pray. Because God cares for us and tells us to cast our cares on him. When we cast our cares on him, we will see him answer. So to all the people of Houston, you are in my prayers.

Pastor’s Perspective – The Unseen Enemy

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The latest Pastor’s Perspective article looks at this in the context of a current movie, Dunkirk.

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Pastor’s Perspective – Violence, Rascism, and Protests

The following is my Pastor’s Perspective article that will soon be published in the Aledo Times. It deals with a Christian response to terrorism. I would love to hear your comments and feedback.

Violence, racism, and protests. These are words we’ve become only too familiar with lately as we see events around the country unfold. Recently in Charlottesville, Virginia, a “Unite the Right” rally turned deadly when a car slammed into a group of counter-protesters. One person was killed and 19 injured at the time, with the death toll rising to three in the days following. Only a week later, ISIS attacked in Barcelona, Spain. Another 13 dead with 80 more sent to the hospital. Many questions come to mind when we hear of this event. What motivates someone to be a part of the protest in Charlottesville? Could these tragedies have been prevented? More importantly, where is God in all of this? On a more personal level, how should I respond? How can I respond?

In 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Paul says, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” Even though most of us would never participate in this kind of a rally or plot a terrorist attack, we share the same heart problem. The problem of putting ourselves over and above those who look different than us, sound different, or talk different. We share the same problem of pride, the problem of selfishness, and the problem of sin. Paul’s passage reminds us that we are called by Christ to have a ministry of reconciliation. When Christ died for us, he showed a love and sacrifice that is unfathomable. He showed a heart of forgiveness that is beyond what any of us could have on our own. Yet, as we see Christ’s work on the cross and his resurrection, he frees us from our need to focus on ourselves. He frees us from our propensity to divide and separate from people who are different from us. He frees us to forgive and to reconcile with our neighbors, friends, and family. In our hearts, he allows us the freedom to admit that we might be wrong in how we treat others.

It is this division and distrust of people who are different than us that overflows into terrorism, violence, and rallies of hate. It is this same heart problem that leads to the recent news events. When we hear of the next act of terrorism or racism, ask yourself, where have I mistreated others? How have I allowed my sin to creep in and damage the relationships I have? When we forgive, apologize, and reconcile with others in light of the attacks that we have seen, we react as Christ would to the attacks have occurred and the attacks that will undoubtedly occur in the future. When we live as Christ lived, we respond as he would respond. By recognizing the deeper issue, by responding out of love, and by seeing a way forward through the sadness.