Mourn first

For two nights in a row the city of Orlando has been hit with sudden and immense gun violence. There are 51 people dead and many injured between the attacks. They have left behind friends, families, spouses, children…

CkvEXhtUoAAaAuVThe inevitable will soon follow: The president does it. Congress does it. Local authorities do it. You do it. I do it. Some time this week everybody will have a front seat to the politicalization of the issue of gun violence. As a friend of mine recently said, something has to be done to slow down these attacks. Likewise, Ecclesiastes 3.1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” There will be time for public discourse on the place of weapons in our societies. These are conversations that need to happen.

But before we go there. Before we rush into debates and arguments, social media tirades and memes, and videos and articles showing the “good” gun guys over and against the “bad” gun guys (and vice versa). Before any of it: Mourn. 

A Lost Art

I don’t know if it has always been this way, but the advent of social media and world-wide connectedness has seemingly sped up our (over)reactions. The good: we get to find out what is happening half a world away the second it’s happening. The bad: we jump right into blame shifting and skip over mourning completely. Unless you are the one going through the pain, mourning has become a lost art form reserved for 45 minutes at a funeral. If it hasn’t been removed from the public, it has been overwhelmed by partisan bickering.

Mourn because God mourns

Ever since sin entered the world, God has had reason to mourn (see Genesis 6.6). His creation is corrupted by sin and He desires good and justice to come. When He came to earth, He instructed his followers to pray that His Kingdom would come and His Will would be done (Matthew 6.7-14)– death and violence have no ultimate place in God’s Kingdom.

But until His Kingdom finally ousts the kingdom of darkness, there will be misery, pain, death, murder, and injustice. Especially as believers in this God we must mourn because He mourns. As mentioned above, God mourned when sin was out of control. God mourns at the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18.32, 33.11)– even as His justice is coming to bear. God mourns when His friends are mourning the death of their loved ones (John 11.35)– in this, He is even better than those “professional mourners” whose job it is to mourn with the sorrowful. He mourns when people reject Him for their own way (Luke 19.41).

How great is our God that even though He has promised an end to this pain, He is present with people in their pain and suffering! He hears the cries of the weak and desires to be near them in their afflictions.

…(there is a) time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3.4)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12.15)

Jesus wept. (John 11.35)

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Australia’s Voices

On February 1, I began an occasional look at little known ministries and people within ministry who have big things to say for Jesus. Here is the second installment.

As mentioned in my previous post, many Westerners (especially non-believers) are unaware of the persecution of Christians that goes on around the world on a daily basis. I was personally made aware of this ignorance while preparing to go to China a few years ago. I was at work talking with some co-workers about the upcoming trip when one girl asked, “So when you get there, are you going to do street preaching or something like that?” I was surprised at the question because in my narrow view everyone knew about China’s distrust of the Christian Church. It is for this, and many other reasons, that Thirteen Three exists.

Who they are

As their site says,

Thirteen Three is a youth initiative of Voice of the Martyrs Australia. Our mission is to empower and mobilise a generation of passionate youth to be bound with their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ through praying, giving, writing, serving and telling others.

Thirteen Three is committed to inspiring Australian youth to live out Hebrews 13:3 by remembering persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Remember the Lord’s people who are in jail and be concerned for them. Don’t forget those who are suffering, but imagine that you are there with them.”

Their ministry has committed to serving the global church– especially those who are undergoing persecution. They go on trips to serve Christians in persecuted nations by bringing Bible training, encouragement, resources, and even medical supplies and expertise to those who need it. But most of all, they are prayers and they live to lift up the specific names and issues that are going on around the world right now.

Meet Brad Konemann

Brad is the director 0f Thirteen Three. I’m blessed to have met Brad at my former Church a couple years ago and he is a great man of God. His heart for the Gospel and the Church of Christ is well seen and God has used him (and this ministry) in powerful ways throughout the world. For more information, as I have not done much justice to Brad’s Bio or the ministry in general, please see his page as well as his message from Lead 2010 (low audio quality).

Connecting

Perhaps the best way to get involved with Thirteen Three is to subscribe to their blog. Lift these brothers and sisters up in prayer as they minister to our other brothers and sisters.

Journey to Rwanda

One thing I want to start doing more on this site is highlighting different ministries and people around the U.S. and World who are serving Christ well. We begin with Rachel Andreason.

Rachel is a college student at Eastern University and a part of our FBC family. Earlier this month, she began studying abroad in Rwanda. She explains,

My journey to Rwanda is through the study abroad program Go-Ed. The purpose of this program is to learn about peacekeeping and reconciliation. By going into Rwanda we are going to learn about the culture and the history. I am going into this country with an open mind, ready to learn and experience a new life.

Not only is Rwanda a third world nation, but it was the center of a quite horrific genocide in 1994. During this time, it was believed that one could find safety within Church buildings:

With 90% of the population being Christian, people believed they would find sanctuary and refuge in Churches. However, they found no mercy, the churches became main targets for massacres. In the Ntarama church they threw grenades inside killing many people, then went in and killed the rest with machetes, clubs, spikes, guns, and spears. Outside of the church there was two other small buildings: a worship center and a sunday school. People were actually worshiping and singing when the killers came. They killed without mercy. They brought babies into the sunday school room where they smashed and threw the babies against the wall. The wall inside is still stained with blood. The sunday school room was also used to rape and mutilate women… (Read the rest, here)

 

 

 

Think about that. Members of God’s Church, hoping to find physical refuge in that building, being tortured. How devastating. How bold of God’s people to rest in their Father as death’s blows came. Pray for continued healing in this country, as time hasn’t taken the pain from women like Saraphina (mentioned later in the post). Pray also that, as Rachel has commented on her blog, we would not forget our past or that of others.

Continue to pray for Rachel and her classmates as they learn much in Africa. Follow her blog, here.

A good prayer calendar

If you aren’t familiar with Boston.com ‘s Big Picture blog, I would encourage you to check it out. It has served as a great view into our nation and world, and as a great way to be reminded of things that we as believers need to be coming before God about. For starters, here are some pictures of the fires in Texas from the drought they are experiencing.

Pray:

For our nation, and especially Texas and other places experiencing these awful weather conditions (flooding, drought, etc).

For the Church to glorify God by helping others and proclaiming Christ’s peace and greatness.

For the people involved. For their safety, wisdom, and ultimate salvation.

Pray that God’s name will not be slandered in all of this.

What has been missed

So, when you change your password on Facebook, there are many things that get reset. One such item is the Networked Blogs feature. Case in point: this past May, I changed my password and my blog ceased posting on Facebook. So below are links to the (few) posts that I wrote between May 10 and July 15.

First, I want to make people aware of something awful that I am very sad didn’t get posted at first. This video is about child sex trafficking and is truly gripping. Please take half an hour to watch this and apply yourself to fixing this problem somehow. Even if you can only pray at the moment, do so, for our Father listens well.

For all you lovers… SO MANY of my friends are getting married this Summer. I guess you could say that Emmalie and I were a good motivation for others! So with three weddings behind us and another two coming up this late Summer/Fall, I have begun reviewing some good reads for couples.

What He Must be… was the first book that I reviewed. Men, this is technically written for dads and daughters as they’re seeking a man, but you should be the audience of this book if you want to be a good man of God in your marriage.

The Christian Husband was the second book I reviewed. This again challenges men to be who they need to be for Jesus and their brides.

Speaking of Marriage, Emmalie and I celebrated 6 months at the beginning of July. I shared some thoughts on becoming more holy through marriage here. Also, it was my parents’ anniversary shortly after that!

With this year’s Lead 2011 conference in Auburn coming up, I shared an analogy of the Church here (along with a pretty crazy picture!) Also, info on the conference here.

And finally, there is Happy Birthday America! This post served as a recap of some thoughts from previous years regarding our worship of America. Just a list of three points, really.

As Christ is head

Emmalie and I finally got the chance to sit down and watch Fireproof the other night, and we really enjoyed it. The not-so-great acting aside, I really felt as though the makers captured well the truth of Jesus and how he needs to impact marriages. This is not an official review as much as it is an exhortation to buy (or at least rent/borrow) this film. I do think that believing couples should watch this and be encouraged by the love of Christ. (You can purchase it here)

The love of Christ

That is the most important theme of the film and must be our motivation, guide and example as Christian men in our homes. The best part of the movie was when Caleb (Kirk Cameron)’s dad told him that his problem was in experiencing the love of Christ. If he simply understood that Jesus forsook all that he had for our sake and that we as men must in the same way die to ourselves for our wives, his marriage would stand a chance. Otherwise, all was hopeless. Isn’t this our hope as believers any way? That Jesus is enough for us, so we are able to live for Him, the one who died and came back to life?

Lead me

This conversation brings me again to the great song Lead Me by Sanctus Real. This song is filled with great truth and should be the anthem of every man who desired to see his family love Jesus more than anything. The message is that our families are our primary ministries. View it below and be sure to check out why the lead singer wrote it.

Sex and the Superbowl

Last year I reminded us all about a few things in regards to the wonderful world of sports. This year, I’d like to bring up another issue. As Tim Sewall pointed out at his blog, there is more than football going on down South. Sex trafficking is bigger than you might think. These two blogs make that known to us.

It affects us all

Many of us have most likely seen the movie Taken starring Liam Neeson. Many people hated it, I actually really loved it. If you are unfamiliar with this film, Neeson plays a divorced dad who goes to France to save his daughter who has been kidnapped and forced into the sex slave business. I didn’t love it so much because Liam Neeson kicks butt, I loved it because it brought to light something that actually happens everywhere. People tend to think that most prostitutes actually want to be in that profession. However, the truth is that most are forced into it. So how does this affect us all? Well, never mind the fact that there are countless children enslaved in this “business”, but as believers in Christ, we believe in liberty for the captive and the redemption of sexuality – which means we are against prostitution in every form.

If you watch the game, skip the commercials and pray for the slaves. If you don’t watch the game, remember those who are enslaved and shipped off for the pleasure and wealth of others.