Current Events

A Shooter in Las Vegas Shows Us What We Need

Horrific. Gruesome. Dark.

Those are the words that came to mind yesterday morning when I woke up, turned on my PC and began reading the news alerts coming out of Las Vegas, NV.

At first it was dozens killed and a couple hundred hurt. As I am typing this post on Monday night about 6:00pm, there are 59 dead (not including the shooter) and over 500 injured.

One man armed with an evil heart disrupted thousands of lives.

Cue the questions, “Who is to blame? What is to blame?”

The media is going to offer up all the wrong answers.

  • Some will say we need more gun control and if we had limitations on the types of firearms this man owned or possessed that we wouldn’t have these mass shootings.
  • Some will blame psychiatrists that are often prescribing anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications to these individuals.
  • Some will blame bullies or mean parents from the shooter’s childhood.
  • Some will blame President Trump for his edgy demeanor and provocative language he uses that many believe have given this country greater disunity.

The media will ask good questions but they will give all the wrong answers. And the media will never get to the central solution that addresses this form of evil we have witnessed today.

To simplify, the only way that an evil heart can be stopped from committing such terrible acts is not more laws or medicines. The antidote to this kind of evil is the Gospel.

Jesus died to save these kinds of men from these kinds of evil. Plain and simple.

Jesus has saved slave traders, murderers, drug addicts, thieves, atheists, and prostitutes. The Bible says that Jesus came not to save those who are healthy but those who are sick (Mark 2:17). This shooter is exactly the kind of individual Jesus came to save. Unfortunately, it does not seem that this shooter ever saw his need for a Savior and he died in his sins.

The Gospel message is a message that says Jesus has come to offer to exchange that which is worthless (an evil heart) for that which is valuable (a righteous heart).

But here is the catch: it is not our righteous heart. It is Jesus’ righteousness (II Corinthians 5:21).

We can’t save ourselves. No shooter can atone for his own sins; only Jesus can do that.

Willian Arnot, a Scottish pastor in the 1800’s said that

“the difference between and unconverted and a converted man, is not that one has sins and the other has none. But the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded god and the other takes part with his reconciled God against his hated sin( Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, pg. 311).

This shooter cherished his sin so much that he wanted to spread his maliciousness upon the lives of others; the genuine Christian knows he is capable of the same evil (Psalm 14), but because He has trusted in Christ as His Lord and Savior, his sin no longer enslaves him (Romans 6:20). This shooter was simply acting out his evil, heart that was in bondage to sin.

What Las Vegans and the tourists that experienced this attack need right now is the hope that

only the Gospel brings.

Let’s pray for the churches in Las Vegas that love the Gospel and want their mission field to be changed by its promises. Pray that the Christians in Las Vegas would rise up to be vessels of healing, ministers of hope and friends to their fellow man.

II Corinthians 1:3

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Hurricane Harvey and How You Can Help

One major difference between the flooding in Houston and the Great Flood that took place in Noah’s day centers around the word “rescue.”
As of this morning, thousands have been rescued from the flooded waters in and around Houston. Some were trapped in their homes; others in their cars; others swimming or floating around the city; others on the roof of a building. But people are being rescued, and the videos and stories being told of these rescues are of great encouragement for those of us watching this from a distance. 
In Noah’s day, other than his family on the ark, no one was rescued. Noah did not paddle his boat around looking for survivors, because there were no survivors. God’s judgment was thorough on that wicked world.

When I ponder this difference between Noah’s flood and the flood in SE Texas, it compels me to exhort you to think of how you can participate in the ministry of rescuing those that are suffering in SE Texas.

If you know Christ, you have been rescued from sin and you know from first-hand experience what it feels like for someone to save you from a precarious and eternally life-threatening condition. We have an opportunity to do something Noah couldn’t – rescue victims from the flood.

Here are 3 ways you can participate in rescuing others.

  1. Rescue by praying. Since prayer works (James 5:19) and it is a means of calling upon our Omnipotent Creator who is sovereign and controls the weather and is not limited and loves to save others, why wouldn’t we pray? Most of us cannot travel to Texas but all of us can pray. Pray that God would strengthen the boaters looking for survivors. Pray that God would lead and direct people to safety. Pray that the churches in the Houston area would give their money, resources, and people to further the cause of the Gospel by rescuing as many as they can. Pray regularly for the people of SE Texas (I Thessalonians 5:17). 
  2. Rescue by giving. Many people will ask, “What can I give?” And the answer is, “It depends on who you ask.” Some organizations will ask for money. Others will ask for more tangible items like food, diapers, water bottles, clothes, shoes, etc. And unfortunately, there are enough thieves in our world to see these disasters as opportunities to take advantage of others. Let me recommend one trustworthy organization you can give towards – Bridgepoint Bible Church. The Lead Pastor of this church is David Gundersen – my brother-in-law. 100% of what is given to their relief effort will be used to help members of their congregation who have lost their homes and others in their community who need help with restoring their lives. Go to this link to learn more. If you are a user of Facebook, you can view some of the videos he and others have posted in and around their church, which currently has about 3.5 feet of water in it. 
  3. Rescue by going. I have heard several people in Wichita tell me they want to travel down to the area and just “lend a hand.” To that I say a hearty, “Amen.” If I had the time and ability, this would be my choice. Some of you have “time on your hands.” Some of you have financial resources to make a trip and spend a few days or week assisting the Red Cross or other local churches. If you can, go. 

In short, decide how you will participate in the ministry of rescue, and do it well (Colossians 3:23).

Some Resources to Help You Think Through the Events in Charlottesville, VA

Image result for charlottesvilleDisturbed. Saddened. Outraged. These words describe most of our thoughts about the racist uprising in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend.

The elevating of one man’s race over another is an affront of the very design of man – that we are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). It also offends the very group of people Jesus died for – all peoples of all nations (Galatians 3:28; Revelation 5). It also is murder (Matthew 5:21-26; I John 3:15).

Most Christians I know of believe racism is a sin, but many of us don’t know how to think through events like we have seen in our country in recent years in regards to the sin of racism.

Below are 4 articles I have read the last few days that have helped me deal with the issues in my heart and reminded me of my role as a spokesman of God for all peoples.

10 Reasons Racism is Offensive to God” by Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition)

The FAQS: Violence and Death at a White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville” by Joe Carter (The Gospel Coalition)

Letters from Berlin: The Lessons of History and the Heresy of Racial Superiority” by Albert Mohler

My Sunday Morning Comments About Charlottesville” by David Gundersen

Q/A Friday: What Should a Christian Think About President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigrants and Refugees?

Last week’s executive order signed by President Trump was nothing short of controversial for both Christian and non-Christian. The executive order was titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” and if you want to read a summary of all the policy changes, I recommend you read Joe Carter’s summary called “The FAQS: President Trumps’ Executive Order on Immigrants and Refugees” on The Gospel Coalition website.

What is controversial is not that Pres. Trump did this, because he said he would during the campaign. What is controversial is the questions the order has raised with the church and how Christians should respond to it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before I mention what the Bible says to us as Christians regarding the refugee and immigrant.

KEEP IN MIND

  • Pres. Trump is not banning ALL refugees. 50,000 immigrants are being allow per year, which is the same as both Pres. Bush and most of Pres. Obama’s eight years.
  • Muslims are not the only target. They may be in the majority of those impacted, but they are not the only religious people. Even Christians from other nations are being forbidden from entering.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

First, God is sovereign (Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 4:35; Job 42:2). This means that nothing is outside of God’s reign and direction. Nothing surprises God or is not being ordained of God for His glory in some way. Everything and everyone is under His kingdom of sovereignty. God is sovereign over ISIS; God is sovereign over Pres. Trump and Pres. Obama; God is sovereign over Planned Parenthood; God is even sovereign over Satan (Job 1). Thus, the displaced refugee or the immigrant is also part of God’s sovereign plan.

Second, our government’s core purpose is to protect its citizens (Romans 13:1-5). So, the government of the U.S.A. must weigh what is and isn’t safe for its citizens. It is prudent and praise-worthy of our government to act cautiously with immigration and refugees, because we know there will be some who come here to bring harm to our citizens. Our governing authorities must protect us “from all enemies foreign and domestic.” The government does not have the same purpose as the church; it’s focus is not on taking the Gospel of Jesus to people (Matthew 28:16-20). Nor is the church’s purpose like the government. The church is not called to form militias to fight terrorist cells.

Third, God loves refugees and immigrants. He does because they are made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). And He loves them, because, like the orphan or widow, immigrants and refugees are likely to be abused, taken advantage of, not cared for, and mistreated in a myriad of ways. There are a plethora of Scripture that demonstrate to us the hospitality we are to show the immigrant or refugee (Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33; 23:22; Deuteronomy 10:19; Luke 10:25-37). In short, because God loves the immigrant and refugee, we too are to show love by showing mercy.

NOW WHAT?

First, if you know someone who is here illegally, I would encourage you to encourage them to go through the legal process of immigration, because we are commanded to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1; I Peter 2:13-17), unless the government seeks to mandate us to disobey God (Acts 5:29). Especially the professing believer who is here illegally needs to be above reproach in their character and reputation (Proverbs 28:6; Daniel 1:8; II Corinthians 8:21; I Peter 3:16). Encourage the illegal to trust God to provide for them as they seek to keep a clear conscience.

Second, the government is not forbidding the church from showing mercy to the immigrant and refugee. Our mission of mercy is unchanged. In fact, Jesus even characterizes the genuine believer as one who would even visit the inmate in prison as a sign of Christlike mercy (Matthew 25:31-45). Thus, I would encourage every Christian to always show mercy to the refugee and immigrant – no matter if they are here illegally, standing in line to become citizens of our country or in prison for trying to cross the border without documentation. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).

Third, remember our mission of spreading the Gospel is still critical and maybe more urgent than ever. With the millions around our world disillusioned from their country and their country’s major religions, there is more need to give a reason for the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15). David Platt remind us in a talk he gave last July that the refugee’s greats need is not water, food, clothing, medicine or shelter; it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, when you are given the opportunity, be a good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Don’t walk by the refugee or immigrant in need and think, “I know someone will show this person goodwill.” Be the agent of goodwill for that person is need. That is mercy. That is what God did for us in our greatest need. He stopped, gave us the redemption we needed, delivered us from the bondage of sin and guaranteed an eternal inheritance. Be just. Be fair. Be merciful.

Questions

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.