Good Monday morning! So much news today, where do we begin? Yesterday, during church services, a man walked into a church in Maryville, IL and shot the pastor. Pastor Fred Winters did not survive and our prayers go out to his family and congregation. What about the man who decided to do this? We are called to forgive him. If that doesn't sound possible this morning, I can understand your feeling. However, we do not forgive in our own strength, but with faith in the strength of Christ Jesus. In case you haven't thought that we are serving Christ on the front lines, take this lesson to heart, we are. Yesterday a man gave up his life for Jesus; any of us could be called upon to do the same.
Does an event far away leave you feeling weak and helpless? Let me remind you that your strength or my strength will never be enough in this world. God allows us to be weak so that we will believe in His strength. The worst thing in this life would be to have the strength to accomplish on your own anything you set your mind to. I don't have that strength, and you do not either. We trust in God because He is the Almighty One. Do not avoid church out of fear; trust in Jesus to hold you close. And what do we have to fear? Paul reminds us that to live is Christ, but to die is gain. Many of us fear that our dying might be painful and prolonged. If we trust God to keep us after death, I think we can trust Him to see us through the process of getting there too! Jesus gave us this assurance for any moment of doubt in His strength: "I will never leave you nor forsake you!"
In the poor timing department: we have a news clip this morning about the number of Christians declining in the United States. This came from a survey, not from the murder of a pastor. I'm not trying to be funny here, but these two items appeared on the same news web page only a few lines apart from each other. Somewhere a news editor is banging his or her head on a desk saying, "I should have stopped that!" Surely the report about a survey that took months to complete could wait a day or two. However, be that as it may, we might want to examine the results of this survey. Is it valid? Out here from my writing chair on the plains of Nebraska, I do not agree with their results. I see many turning to Christ in these difficult times. Revival is starting and God does not need a survey to tell Him where each person stands. Always be suspicious of surveys in this world, especially if the survey result supports your point of view.
Let's change the tone a bit. Yesterday, a test caught my eye. The test was one of those IQ tests that appeal to our intellectual vanity. The score posted in the box was one that I thought I could beat and so I took the test. Alas, the questions were simply trivia questions having nothing to do with one's IQ. Would a person in India be any less intelligent for not knowing the state capital of California? I don't think so. The giveaway, and only true measure of one's intelligence, came at the end when the question asked for my cell phone number. I didn't fail that test, but it was a near thing! :-) Scammers can be very clever and with the tough economy people are seeking ways to get by. Watch out for yourself and seek confirmation of things that look too good to be true.
God bless you this week!