Church Shooting in Texas

All Saints' Day and Martin Luther by Pastor Jeff Gannon IMG_8693 copyBrian Ramsdale of KAKE News asked my thoughts about the church shooting in Texas. My first thought was, we are in solidarity with the people of Sutherland Springs and in particular the people of First Baptist Church. As the Sacred word says, “We weep with those who weep…” (Romans 12:15)

Hate Comes from Fear

Secondly, this church shooting is a hate crime, obviously. And, as you know from previous blogs, I strongly believe all hate is an expression of evil and is rooted in fear. (Perfect loves casts out all fear – I John 4:18). I am thankful our baptismal vows begin with the ancient question, “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of your sin?” To this day, the Eastern Orthodox Christians, when asked this question, turn their bodies to the west, and literally spit at the devil. On Sunday, I felt like spitting at the force of evil in an act of renunciation.

Martyrs for the Faith

Thirdly, I choose to believe the 26 people who died so tragically are martyrs for the faith. I hope someone will create an icon, similar to the one created when the men were beheaded by ISIS, which shows the faces of these martyrs. You can google it if you are interested. Somehow, we need to remember the price people pay for naming their ultimate allegiance to Jesus. In 2016, nearly 100,000 persons were martyred because of their faith in Jesus. That is, one person is martyred every six minutes.

Fourthly, I named to Mr. Ramsdale of KAKE News, how important it is we have Officer Jason Dautrich or Officer Mike Lloyd here every Sunday. A uniformed police presence is vital to our being able to worship in peace. I am personally leery of churches that leave security in the hands of people who are not professionally trained.

Finally, my friend Dr. Bill Gaultiere, a psychologist in Southern California, wrote something I want you to read as he reflected on the horrific event in Texas.

–Rev. Jeff Gannon

Reflections of Dr. Bill Gaultiere on the Church Shooting in Texas

One Sunday in a small town church families are worshiping God together with children playing and dancing happily. The next Sunday a madman shoots half those people, killing 26.

That was the scene at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas two days ago. November 5, 2017 marks the deadliest church shooting in US history.

If we’re not safe in a church service where are we safe? In today’s world where can we be protected from mass murderers and terrorists? Doesn’t the Bible promise us that the Lord protects those who take refuge under his wings? (Psalm 91:4) Where was God?

  • A neighbor chased the crazed killer away and he died.
  • Law enforcement officers restored order.
  • Emergency workers treated the wounded.
  • Pastors from other churches came to comfort the grieving.
  • Survivors wept, prayed, and huddled together. And offered forgiveness.
  • Next Sunday Christians will return to a house of worship to give praise to God.
  • Millions of Christians around the world have been praying about all this.

Those are some great ways God was present in this horrific tragedy. 

God also acted in many other glorious but unseen ways. 

The stories are starting to be told. God works good into the lives of everyone who loves and trusts him (Romans 8:28). He also ministers to people continually through angels. Most importantly, he raises the dead and, if they want to serve Christ in heaven, they are welcomed into the most beautiful and wonderful eternal life, far beyond what any of us can hope for.

So the Lord Jesus urged us: “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.” (Matthew 10:28, MSG)

So this world actually is a safe place for us to be — as long as we’re living with Christ in the Kingdom of the Heavens. 

Our brief life on earth is our opportunity to train with Jesus Christ and learn how to live from the resources of the heavens — now and forever!

The Master teaches us lessons like these: how to be at peace in crisis, take courage in danger, grieve with hope, give and receive comfort, offer compassion and grace lavishly, forgive freely, and love our enemies. 

That’s the character of Christ. That’s what the first Christians were like in suffering and injustice and because of their example, millions of people became disciples of Christ, one at a time.

May God help us to love others as Jesus did and does.

Read more from Pastor Jeff on St. Arbuck’s Chapel

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