I think we were all stunned with the horrific shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, this past Sunday morning. From what we have learned, the 26-year old gunman went to that church because he was angry at his mother-in-law who attended services there. The tragedy was that the mother-in-law was not there last Sunday. Instead, the shooter entered through the rear doors to the sanctuary and began shooting. People huddled on the floor between the pews while the gunman walked down the aisles shooting those lying on the floor. In the end, twenty-six people were murdered and another twenty were wounded. Eight members from one family were among the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are focused upon this small church as they mourn the loss of so many.
The first church I pastored was a small church much like the one in Sutherland Springs. We had a congregation of around 100 or so. It was a family church with a close bond between those who attended. How does a church pick up the pieces when a quarter of your congregation is taken so quickly and so needlessly? I pray for that pastor who not only mourns the loss of so many friends but also the loss of his daughter.
And, yes we should pray. What I found almost nauseating were the responses of many within the mainstream media, especially, who mocked those praying. Jeremy Hunt responded with a posting at www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/11/06/texas-church-shooting-keep-my-thoughts-and-prayers-out-of-your-political-agenda. He writes: "Yet somehow, as our country mourns the loss of innocent life, there's a new wave of indignation directed at people who dare to pray for the victims. That's right. As well-intentioned Americans pray for their countrymen who were just gunned down while worshipping God, gun control advocates are bashing them for their expression of faith." He then gives a few examples: from John Pavolovitz - "If you pray for victims of gun violence while doing nothing else - your prayers may as well be bullets for the next mass shooting." From Paula Poundstone - "Dear Pres. Trump + V.P. Pence, If prayers were the answer 2 gun violence wouldn't people at a church service be safe? Pleas make gun laws." And this from Keith Olbermann - "Speaker Ryan, bluntly: shove your prayers up your a-- AND DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE BESIDES PLATITUDES AND POWER GRABS."
Mr. Hunt goes one to write: "It's one thing to hold strong opinions about gun control. But it is entirely different to direct anger towards people of faith after such a horrific tragedy. Just because you might not believe in prayer, doesn't give you the right to publicly insult those who do.
"In some ways, this outrage against prayer is emblematic of national trends. As America grows increasingly hostile to Christianity, inappropriate and insensitive rhetoric regarding expressions of faith has become more acceptable. It seems the same people who pride themselves on advocating for religious and cultural 'tolerance' are the least tolerant when it comes to American Christians."
The author concludes: "As long as there is evil in this world, Americans should continue to exercise their right to pray for a brighter day. This is - no doubt - a troubling time for our nation. But it's times like these that often bring forth the best that our nation has to offer. Slandering the faithful among us isn't the path to a unified, peaceful America. We can do better."
The God-deniers are marching strongly and boldly today. They shake their fists in the face of a God whose existence they deny. They show open contempt for anyone and anything that reminds them of what they are trying so desperately to deny.
Let me share another article that reminds us of how far down the slippery slope of immorality we have gone. The author is Todd Starnes and his article was published on the Townhall website: www.townhall.com/columnists/toddstarnes/2017/11/02/delaware-to-let-students-decide-race-gender.
"White boys could soon self-identify as black girls in Delaware," he begins his column. "The state Department of Education is considering sweeping regulations regarding discrimination that would allow children to determine their gender and their race. The proposed 'Regulation 225 Prohibition of Discrimination' could set the stage for a gender-bending, cultural appropriation free-for-all in the nation's first state. 'All students enrolled in a Delaware public school may self-identify gender or race,' the proposed regulation states. The state educators use a term called 'Protected Characteristics' to describe race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity and other characteristics protected by state or federal law. And the proposed regulation should scare the living daylights out of every mom and dad in the state. It clearly states school leaders would not necessarily be required to notify parents if Billy suddenly decides to identify as Sally. ... The Delaware Department of Education believes it is best equipped to handle your child's gender or pigmentation change. In other words, government knows best."
Starnes continues, "But this is what happens when the government assumes they can do a better job than you when it comes to parenting your child. 'This is a 5-alarm alert for parents,' Theis told me. (Nicole Theis, president of the Delaware Family Policy Council). 'The effects of the deliberate conditioning of children as early as pre-school into believing they can deny biological facts and realities and identify as whatever gender or race they feel, and to what end?'"
Friends, we are living in a world that has lost its moral bearings. "Every man did that which was right in his own eyes" has become the clarion call of our age. As a culture we have abandoned the belief in any type of absolute moral truth. To put it bluntly, we have abandoned God! God said that He created males and females (Genesis 1:27). But, because we no longer value what God has said, we have created, at last count according to what I heard yesterday, sixty-two different gender categories.
What is happening in Delaware should frighten us. Can I be a white male today and tomorrow be a black female? What if I would then want to be a black male or a white female? Could I change my gender and race depending upon how I feel when I wake up in the morning, thus resulting in my being gender-confused and racially-confused my entire life? And then we wonder why so many of these confused people end up taking their own lives. It is because they have no anchor. It is because they have no sense of direction or of purpose. God is never the author of confusion, but the Enemy uses confusion as one of his chief strategies.
Friends, yes, it is time to wake-up. Yes, it is time to sound the battle cry! Yes, it is time to proclaim God's Truth into every avenue of culture today. I believe there is not much time remaining in this present age, but, until the trumpet sounds, we have a responsibility to be witnesses of God's saving grace.