Sadly my post this week will have two parts. It is so tragic that Pastor Ed’s sermon title for this past weekend begs the question in light of the horrible shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night. What was Stephen Paddock thinking and feeling? What led him to carry out such a heartless and cruel act? Was there anything that could have been done to prevent this carnage or altered the course of life for Paddock? In the days ahead many will face much anguish, self-doubt, fear and anger and the on-coming deluge of politically charged rhetoric. For the family and friends of the 58 killed and over 500 injured, we pray for God’s mercy and comfort and strength for the day. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? Please Lord, hear our prayer.
I am almost at a loss for words today. As a crutch, I turn to a blog post written a while back about a high-profile shooting and repost a portion here. The Bible states: “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.” (James 4:1-2 The Message Bible) We have met the enemy and the enemy is us. What was warring deep inside Paddock and causing such trouble that he was willing to kill? What did he lack in life that could only be resolved in death? Are there more Stephen Paddocks out there? Sadly, yes there are. What can be done? Back to my previous posting.
It is now way past time to love our enemies. Jesus stated: “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” As Christ-followers it is way past time to turn enemies into friends, to restore Godly family relationships. Of many issues raised by this infamous case, racial hatred must be addressed. Changing society and culture is seemingly out of reach for the individual Christ-follower but as a Christian community, it is time for us to shape the culture, one individual at a time, one family at a time, one church at a time. In the next seven weeks begin a relationship with a person from a racial heritage different from your own (or in today’s context perhaps a person you see as isolated and alone). Listen to their story and tell yours without judgment or defensiveness. Extend grace and offer the blessing of friendship. Expand this with your families. Have this new friend in your mind, in your heart and in your prayers. Then see what God can do. Lord, have mercy on us.
Part 2 – The beginning of wisdom is the fear (a deep, abiding respect and reverence) of the Lord. I believe wisdom will go a long way in helping us “get along” and not just get along but thrive. Pastor Ed challenged us to take each day of October and read a chapter of Proverbs corresponding to the numerical day of the month. Today is October 2 thus read chapter 2 and tomorrow, October 3, read chapter 3 and so on until the 31st. This is a GREAT suggestion by Ed. I know this process makes a huge difference in life and relationships as I personally have experienced the transformational power of the Holy Spirit using the words in Proverbs. I have kept this devotional tool almost daily since 1973 at the suggestion of a spiritual mentor, Dr. Bruce Miller, at the University of Sothern California. He is also the one who “turned” me on to the writings of Oswald Chambers and My Utmost for His Highest, another daily tool. Over the years (and some things have taken years to sink in) I have learned and practiced many God breathed principles of living. This has truly shaped my life for the better and I am sure countless many are thankful that Proverbs has done so as without it I could easily be the jerk that is in my human nature. Many matters that govern and determine the course of relationships are found in Proverbs. Following these principles and avoiding the negative patterns can lead one to succeed in life and love. Gems such as: before honor comes humility; always hold close truth and kindness; don’t hold back good from those to whom it is due when you have the power to do it; when there are many words transgressions are unavoidable but he who restrains his lips is wise; and so many more. These days, I like the verse that reads, “A gray head is a crown of glory.” Of course, there is a catch as it goes on to read, “(if) it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Oh, Lord, may I be a doer of Your Word, and thus live righteously.) Chapter 3 reads to me like a loving and wise father writing a letter of advice to his son away at college for the first time or embarking on a new career. There is so much contained in Proverbs.
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? I think we Christ-followers can by living out the words in Proverbs.