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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
A peaceful winter day
Photo by Doris High
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"A Time To Mourn"
"A time to mourn" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him" (Acts 8:2).
Here in the United States we have again been confronted with mass killings. It's always terribly sad news but carries a double punch during the joyous season that we celebrate our Savior's birth. Last week it took place at a shopping mall in Nebraska.
Our daughter, Ester, had no school yesterday so we ventured out in the late afternoon to our local mall. Before we walked into the main entrance Ester took hold of Brooksyne's and my hands and with a very solemn countenance she reminded us of the mall shootings last week in Nebraska. She then questioned us as to whether or not we felt safe upon entering the mall. I wonder how many others are experiencing similar feelings as they shop in crowded places during the Christmas season this year?
More innocent lives were shot down this past Sunday in Colorado; at a "Youth With A Mission" training center in Denver and at a large local church in Colorado Springs. We have connections with both of them. Several young people in our church have participated in the YWAM program including Julie, a young lady who is presently in the program (although not in Colorado.) We also have several friends who attend the New Life Church where two sisters were killed (shown in photo.) One email reader who had attended services prior to the shooting wrote yesterday giving an update and requesting prayer.
It's difficult in preparing these messages in light of news that many are aware of and situations that directly affect some of our readers. I don't always do so, otherwise the messages would be news-driven since there's virtually always something going on that affected some of our readers directly. In light of the tragic events that took place in a local Christian community it has also impacted the Christian community world wide so I want to share a brief perspective on mourning.
In the often quoted portion of Ecclesiastes we read, "A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance." Virtually all readers have experienced "a time to mourn" as have all our fellow humans since the Fall. For many it's the passing of a loved one due to age, for others it was a deadly disease or accident, but for some it was the result of a murderous act.
After Stephen was stoned, "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him" (Acts 8:2). Surely the emotions felt during their brief time on earth were no less intense than they are for us in our present losses. To "mourn deeply" has the sense of great lamentation, "to beat the breast in grief." Did they "understand" any better than we do? Surely not. But our faith must confront such reality and overcome by the grace of God.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, I pray for a steadfast heart that does not flicker during times of adversity, acts of injustice, or when evil is visibly prevalent. Incredibly, mourning the loss of innocent lives has existed since the first family of creation, with Cain taking the life of his brother, Abel. It's one thing to read of these accounts and learn of their historical and spiritual value, but when such violent acts are close to home or take the lives of members in our own family the depth of sorrow knows no bounds.
Would You bring intense comfort that is even more powerful than the inevitable mourning that accompanies the loss of precious loved ones. May You be glorified in the midst of devastation as many leaders will be called upon to give words of comfort and guidance to family and church members. Grant wisdom and healing to ministry leaders in the wake of such violence as we always want to welcome people of all backgrounds, stable or unstable, through the open doors of our churches where repentance is preached and lives are changed.
We are greatly consoled in knowing that those following Christ who breathed their last during these deadly assaults on earth breathed their first in God's sinless Kingdom that has no end. Sin is swallowed up in victory because death no longer reigns when these mortal bodies take on immortality! What is considered physical defeat here on earth is in reality a spiritual promotion to heaven. May we overcome grief with this essential knowledge that comes from Your Holy Scriptures as we commit our thoughts and our ways to You, Master. We also commit to You those who need physical, mental and emotional healing from the gunfire rampages over the past week. Amen.
"God Is In Control" (Audio) As you listen to it may you receive renewed assurance that God is truly in control over all that concerns you. This music is by a couple that minister for the Lord. "Living Proof Ministries"
"Be Thou My Vision" (Audio)
Finally, I have no idea of the spiritual allegiance of this band from the sixties but as we prepared today's message Brooksyne and I both recalled a song setting Ecclesiastes 3 to music by a band called "The Byrds". Here's a website with the song and lyrics, perhaps prompting memories for other old-timers!
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
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