When I heard the news almost two weeks ago now that an 18 year old had walked into a grocery store in Buffalo, New York and senselessly murdered 10 people, I closed my eyes and shook my head. “O Lord…” I thought. “How long…”
Then the news came of the even more horrific shooting this week in Uvalde, Texas. Again, a troubled young man walked into an elementary school and ended the lives of 18 children and two adults. When I saw this photo of fourth grade teacher who was killed in the attack, Eva Mirales, with her husband and daughter, the tragedy now had a face.
|Eva was one of many. I took time to read through the names and stories of the victims of the shooting – 14 little girls, four little boys and two teachers. I read their stories so I wouldn’t be numb to the horror of the attack.
We would not be human beings if we didn’t respond with some level of anger to the news of the shooting. Our anger is rooted in righteousness. To take a human life is a great evil. It is a blasphemy. We think to ourselves “this has to stop.” We debate the need for tougher gun laws, red flag laws, whether to train and arm teachers, how to make schools safer, the need for expanded mental health care, with all of us wanting the same thing – to protect innocent lives from this kind of madness.
Occasionally over the past two days, I’ve heard a few voices breaking through the din to acknowledge that this kind of evil has a spiritual root. Anyone who has read Romans 1 knows that as individuals and cultures turn increasingly away from God and His word and follow the path that seems right to them, they find that the end of that path is death (Proverbs 14:12). When we persistently reject God and His ways, God gives us over to the lusts of our hearts and our debased minds.
We see the pattern lived out over and over again in the Old Testament. When the children of Israel listened to and obeyed the prophets of Yahweh, there was peace and joy in the land. When they ignored the prophets and worshipped Baal, famine and destruction abounded.
If you are expecting that the next election cycle will fix what’s wrong in our world, your hope is misplaced. If you think new laws or new policies will cure what ails us, you’re trusting in the wrong things. It’s not that politics or policies are irrelevant or don’t matter. It’s that there is a bigger sickness at work in our world today. To ignore, neglect or openly reject God and His ways is to invite trouble and evil into our land.
In Psalm 144, David imagines a day when the people of God live under His blessing. He imagines a time of peace and prosperity. He cries out “may there be no cry of distress in our streets” (Psalm 144:14). A thousand years before James declares that every good and perfect gift we experience in this life comes to us from the Father of Lights (James 1:17), David is wise enough to recognize that God is the source of blessedness. “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord” he proclaims (Psalm 144:15). And the corollary which follows is also true. Those who reject God will experience His judgment, not His blessing. As He removes His restraining grace, evil will abound.
God, speaking through Moses, warned the nation of Israel again and again. “If you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:19–20).
The hope for our world is for the hearts of men and women to turn. As you grieve over the deaths in Uvalde and Buffalo, the shooting in the Taiwanese church in California two weeks ago that left one person dead, the ongoing urban violence in major cities in our country and all the pain and hatred in our world, and as we look for ways we might be able to restrain the evil that is at work in our world today, let us remember to cry out to God for a deep work of His Spirit in each of our hearts and in the hearts of men and women around the world. May we turn to Him and humble ourselves. And may He bring to our world the peace and blessing for which our souls are longing.
parking lot picnic ~ JUNE 1 ~ 6:30P
Most people think that Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer. I say it’s when we all get together next Wednesday night for the first of three Parking Lot Picnics this summer!
Here’s what you need to know about next Wednesday, June 1.
There will be a food truck serving barbeque. You pay $10 and your whole family can eat dinner! There will be a bounce house for kids. I’ve heard talk of face painting. Games. Fun. Shade (yes, we’ll have some shady areas).
You may have seen the sign in front of the church. We’re hoping to maybe attract some of our neighbors. And we’re hoping you’ll plan to bring some friends as well.
lies men believe study ~june 3
|A week from this Friday, the men’s GunLap group begins. If you ordered a book from Jim McMurry, you can pick it up at church on Sunday. If you didn’t order a book from Jim, you can purchase your copy here or here.
FLOAT THE BUFFALO – JUNE 3
|This is the last call for anyone who would like to join with our students and float the Buffalo. Cost, details and sign up are available here. We turn in our order for canoes and reservations on Friday. This Friday. So you’re planning to attend and you haven’t signed up, it’s now or never. Again, click the link above to sign up.
And here’s a look at the summer plans for our Roots Student Ministries.
OUTDOOR WORKDAYS ~ JUNE 11 & 18
| You may have noticed some work going on out by our new playground. We are in the process of adding some seating, some sod, some fencing, and some other upgrades to the area.
And we need your help.
We’re saving some money on the fencing by installing it ourselves. On Saturday, June 11, we’ll need a handful of volunteers to come help dig post holes (we’ll have an auger to make the holes). You can come at 9:00 am, or at 11:00 am or at 1:00 pm. Stay for a couple of hours and we should be able to get the job done.
Then the next Saturday, June 18, we’ll need all hands on deck. That’s the day we’ll install the fence and assemble a gazebo area. Again, we’ll start at 9:00 in the morning. If you can spare a few hours during the day, we hope to have enough people show up to get all the work done.
Many hands make light work. We’d love to have you pitch in and break a sweat on either or both of those upcoming Saturdays.
Speaking of the playground…
We’re planning to install 40 paver stones in the playground area with scripture verses on them. The stones will look like this:
We’re hoping that as our children play in the playground through the years, they might begin to learn and even memorize some of these scriptures on the paver stones.
Here’s where you come in.
Is there a verse you’d like to see us include? You can help make this happen by selecting a verse and covering the cost for the stones. An engraved stone costs $50. And we’ve made it super easy for you to select a verse and pay for it by clicking here. Talk it over, pray about which verse you’d like to have engraved, and then click the link and make it happen!
BACKYARD BIBLE CLUB COMING!
GOSPEL ZONE – JUNE SCHEDULE
|And here’s the Gospel Zone schedule for June:
awana COMES TO REDEEMER THIS FALL
| And while we’re thinking about kids and the Bible, as we shared on Sunday, we’ll be launching Awana Clubs at Redeemer this fall. Every Wednesday night in the fall and in the spring, from 6:30 – 8:00, we’ll have kids from age 3 through third grade showing up for singing, fun, scripture memory and games.
If you are interested in helping with Awana and planting gospel seeds in young hearts on Wednesday evenings starting in late August, please let Laura White or Jen Gurney know. And we’ve had some interest expressed in adding an Awana section for fourth and fifth graders as well. If we can get some a few extra volunteers (hint hint), maybe we can make that happen!
The Bible says that there are some people who have the gift of evangelism? Are you one of them? How can you know? And if evangelism isn’t your gift, does that mean you don’t need to share your faith with others?
We’ll continue to consider what it means for us to bear witness to Jesus as we gather for worship this Sunday.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!