Reflections on a Boston Massacre

BostonI have been heart-broken to see the images and hear the stories coming out of one of my favorite adoptive towns. Boston is a city that I spent a lot of time in during my eight years in Massachusetts and a city that Karen and I came to love immensely.

Yesterday was just the latest reminder that we are vulnerable; that there is truly no way to protect everyone at all times.  It is a reminder of the terror that can be inflicted on whole cultures and the changes in life that come as a result: heightened anxiety, tightened security and fear of the most insignicant items, like backpacks and garbage cans.

At any point and any place, explosions can happen or shots can ring out and mayhem ensue.  What do we do?  Well, I suppose the answer depends on your worldview; your source of hope or ideas of the future.  For me, I hope in Christ.  I hope in the God who created, who secures, who cares…who is there.  In all of the situations, both good and bad, the God who is there.  I understand that He doesn’t always prevent.  He doesn’t always stop it.  Sometimes He probably does but we probably wouldn’t know, because it didn’t happen, but in some form or another, He always shows up.  He’s always there…in hope during recovery, in comfort during grief.  

Often, God allows the result of sin and rebellion to run it’s course in this world.  He doesn’t owe us deliverance in this life, though He often provides it.  That doesn’t mean He doesn’t care and it doesn’t mean He’s absent.  I trust that.  I hope in that.

So, I respond by praying for His presence and comfort in the lives of those who need it…right now.  In the pain. In the loss.  

I hope for a better day.  I’m not talking about utopia in this life.  That will never come.  I hope, meaning I wait for with great anticipation, for the day that Christ comes back (and He is coming back) and He puts an end to all of this garbage.  Honestly, it’s days like yesterday that make me long for it more and more.  

Maybe that’s part of God showing up.  Maybe it’s part of the process of allowing sin to strike in order to draw us in to that place where we realize we need a savior.  Maybe it’s to remind those of us who have trusted Him not to hold on too tightly to this life because it really is just a vapor, isn’t it?  Instead, I start to think less of my hopes and dreams right now and long for the dream and hope I have for a day that makes this broken world seem so insignificant.

Even so, I’m still here.  Right now.  I live.  I breathe.  I act.  I respond.  I think.  I grow…and I love.

The most heart-breaking story I’ve heard so far is of the little 8 year-old boy who was eating ice cream, enjoying cheering on the finishers one moment, then killed only moments later from the blast.  In the blink of an eye, a family is literally torn apart.

Life is but a breath and it’s gone. 

So, I determine to love well.  I hug my wife and my kids and thank God for them, hoping He gives me years and years with them, but so thankful for today.  Time is fleeting, my friends.  Last month I wrote a post about that in the Saving Daylight Series.  You can read it here, if you’d like.  

I hate death.  I really do.  As a pastor, I have such a love-hate relationship with funerals because, on the one hand, I get to celebrate the escape and deliverance from this world of those who have made it home. That’s such a good thing.  But I have to go through the agony of separation and absence with those who remain.  God, I long for the day when you bring that to an end! 

Where is your hope?  Where are you spending your time?  How do you respond when tragedy strikes?  Don’t let tragedies go to waste without reflecting on YOU.  What happens if the next one lands in your backyard; affects your family or friends and rocks your world?  

Life happens…but hope remains.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But ktake heart; I have overcome the world.” ~Jesus  (John 16:33)

Walking in the Shadow of the Resurrection

Life's enjoymentEaster’s over, the crowds have dispersed, eggs found, rabbits eaten, services conducted, Monday came and went…now what?

Maybe the answer lies in how Monday went.  Did it seem like Easter to you?  Were you walking in the shadow of the Resurrection?  Was it filled with hope and grace, forgiveness and joy?

It’s so easy to forget that Easter is not a one time a year thing, but for those who have been transformed by the power of the Spirit of God because of the satisfaction of the Father’s righteous wrath towards sin, every day is Easter!  Everyday is marked by the forgiveness of Christ so that today I can take a deep breath and, with hope rather than dread, embrace the adventure that is “today”.

Whatever you’re dealing with today, if you’ve trusted in the One who overcame death, deal with it with the resurrection power that is able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Death couldn’t defeat Christ and, because of that, you and I “are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, with context)

Quiet the Chaos

Do you ever get to that place where you get so busy and so stressed that all you want to do is climb in a corner and hibernate? Or cry? Or drink five Monsters and end it all right there? You feel like you’re at the end of the thread that’s hanging off the end of your rope, and your fingers are just…about…to slip off.

It happens from time to time. Everybody goes through it.

The question is how do you get through it? Oooh, even more importantly, how do you keep from getting to that point in the first place? Million dollar question, right? Well, I’m sure that as circumstances come, there are times when chaos is unpreventable; life happens and schedules get crazy and, well, you can’t control that.

You CAN, though, control how you go through it and I do believe that we can prevent inner turmoil that matches or exceeds that which we actually experience in our schedule.

Here’s the key.

Be still. Not just still. Anybody can be still. The problem is that if you’re just still, that crazy schedule just gets crazier as you get farther behind. People try that every chance they get, but it doesn’t work. You know, “I’ve got to just get away for a while.” Sure, we all need that sometimes, but if we’re just being still, life keeps moving while we’re not, then we have to play catch-up.

There’s more to it than that.

Be still and know that He is God. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but that’s Psalm 46:10. Great verse. Here’s why: He is God and you are not. Profundity and originality abounds at this blog, no? That means, if He’s God, He’s God over time and schedules and even chaos. Remember Jesus calming that frantic storm? He is God. Therefore, if I determine to be still in order to know Him, to listen for Him, to look for Him in His Word and to trust Him, there can be calm even in the storm as He prevents the storm from overwhelming me. As a matter of fact, He can handle it so well that all you can do when you see Him work is to praise Him in gratitude. See, that’s the rest of the verse: “I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” What happens when God takes care of your chaos? Praise. Exaltation. Peace.

Be still today. Not just still. Be still and know that He is God. Take five or ten minutes, or whatever you can do, do something; start somewhere, in the midst of your chaos, and be still.

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