This past Monday, a 16-year-old who had been within the doors of a church most weeks for the last several months, who had just recently been baptized and shared his testimony, and who seemed to everyone who loved him to be doing rather well, walked into my hometown public library with two handguns and shot four women, a man, and a 10-year-old boy. Two of the women died, the rest are in bad shape.
I didn’t know this kid, but a few of my friends knew him very well. They are all in shocked disbelief. They all knew he had struggles, but again, things had been better. He was reconnecting with his faith, he had a girlfriend who loved him, he was making positive friendships at church events… but apparently the pain inside and the outside influences overwhelmed him to the point where his mind was twisted into thinking that the only way to deal with the pain was to inflict it on others.
Cryptic YouTube videos have since been discovered that appear to have been recorded by him. In one of the videos, he describes the anger he has welled up from a life of being bullied. Last Friday, he got into a fight with what some of his classmates say was someone who bullied him, and he got suspended.
So, what went wrong? He had recently returned to church, has a girlfriend, was making friends.
But even with all this, the darkness still took over in the end, and seemingly out of nowhere.
This past week has been a volatile one. I don’t need to rehash it. Terrible things. Terrible actions. Terrible ideas. Terrible people.
Forget Trump. Forget politics. Forget all that.
Let me be clear: I do not agree with the ideology of those who stood in Charlottesville. The racism, the Nazi nonsense, all of it is horribly appalling. I am similarly appalled by the Antifa Communism ideology. And by any side of the “Lives Matter” debates when the message turns violent. I am similarly appalled by what’s left of the Westboro Baptist Church cult. I am appalled by Scientology, by Muslim extremists, and by Kim Jong Un. I am grossly appalled by anyone who calls themselves a Christian and lets hatred and bile fly off of their tongues.
But more than all of these, the person who most appalls me is… myself. I am the chief of sinners. I am worthy of no love, honor, or respect. I am the scum of the earth.
Yet, my God loved me enough to come to this earth, take my sins upon his shoulders, and die in my place.
BY JANICE EICHOLTZ
I am a thinker. Sometimes, an over-thinker. Thinkers are people who consider all sides to a story. The inner workings of this mind is constantly analyzing everything - exhaustively examining everything. A word or tidbit will get under my skin and I will dissect it and not let it go until my mind has found some sort of solution or reconciliation.
When I was younger, it was all very egocentric. I would replay conversations in my head and get my feelings hurt over some perceived mistreatment. I made mountains out of molehills and constantly held my friends and family to levels of loyalty and perfection that they could never live up to. Finally, God saw fit to give me temperance. Praise God!! Now, I have the comfort of knowing that most people's reactions and actions are also egocentric. We are all the center of our own worlds and our views definitely represent our own baggage. I've lain a bit of my baggage down, little by little through the years. Still have more of it I need to relinquish-but all in good time.
BY ROBERT STEVENSON
Believe. Know. Do not faint.
Be sure. Stay confident.
Do not lose heart.
You will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
I was all set to write a short, yet humorous piece on a recent Proverbs 27:17 experience (my iron being sharpened by the iron of a very good friend). Before I typed a single letter on the page, my wife piped up from the other room:
“They found that little boy’s body in the lake in Orlando.”
My heart sank. Every ounce of funny drained away and fled. Christina Grimmie. The Pulse. A dead two-year-old.
I tried to comfortably shift into my fleshly default mode: “BURY YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND.”
I couldn’t. I can’t. My spirit wouldn’t let me. The HOLY Spirit wouldn’t let me. The Sunday School lesson I taught a few weeks ago was on giving people HOPE. Laughter is the best medicine, yes, but people don’t need medicine right now. They need something better. They need the word of the Lord. That word is this: