Response to the Westroads Shootings

Hey everybody, I'm in Florida with my family and saw the news. I'm regretting that I can't be there with you right now, right away in the midst of this tragedy that struck our city. Last night, I was up late wrestling in prayer for all of you there as I know you guys are going through an incredibly difficult time.

I just wanted to give you guys a few exhortations from a distance of how to be working through this crisis as it happens and encourage you to stay strong in the Lord as we move through this. Four things to remember - refill, rearrange, resource and redeem.

First of all, Refill:
You're only going to be able to work through this crisis and help other people around you if you're full of the Holy Spirit and letting his power working through you. So as you start your day, make sure that you're starting off in prayer and in worship. If you need to go and be a part of a corporate prayer meeting, be sure and find one. Make sure you spend time with God. Fill your tanks up with the power of the Holy Spirit so you can be strong, and be listening to his voice for what he will have you do.

Second thing is to Rearrange:
Whatever you have scheduled for this week, rearrange it around dealing with this crisis. If you have group meetings together, start off by talking about what's happening in our city. Give people the opportunity to share. Pray together. Take steps to deal with the tragedy in our midst. There is a unique opportunity in the midst of difficulty here, so we want to be sure we are listening to the Holy Spirit, even if we have to rearrange our lives around what's he's doing in people's lives. Often times pain brings a lot of issues to the forefront.

Third thing is to Resource:
If people that you run into need to get counseling, do what you can to get them hooked up with a trained counselor as soon as possible. If you need to talk to someone, please don't hesitate to ask. Don't forget Virg Ediger and the great lay counseling team that he's got here at the church.

There is a talk from the Biggies series last fall on the CCC website about the problem of suffering and evil. It is pretty academic, but should steer the conversation to level ground. Also, my study guide When Tragedy Strikes has both the academic and the pastoral sides of helping people to deal with this kind of issue for this kind of a moment in a Biblical way.

The last thing is Redeem:
God is in the business of taking broken things and turning them into good things. That's what we are all about because that's what God is all about. Watch for moments to redeem the evil, redeem the difficulty, and redeem the crisis that we have. I'm convinced that God's going to lead people to faith in himself in the coming weeks. God's going to clarify who he is in people's minds. God's going to reach people who wouldn't be able to be reached without a tragedy striking. So take the time to redeem this event and be watching for the ways that God's going to turn it around.

Really, this is what Christmas is all about. It's about Jesus entering into a messed up and broken world and taking the sin of the world on his shoulders so that it can be redeemed and people can be brought back to him. As we press forward into our Christmas season, there is a very clear connection between the problem of evil and the solution of Jesus.