Tuesday, July 29, 2008

4 Minute Devotions: Seeking God's Strength

The fatal shootings in a Knoxville Church have shocked our religious community, but we will not be defined by such a heinous act.

Podcast version here

Psalm 105:4 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

The religious community here in Knoxville is hurting. Last Sunday morning, a deranged man entered a local church with a shotgun and started blasting away at the congregation. Two people were killed and several others were seriously wounded. The shooter was tackled by three other men and over-powered before he could reload. The police arrived within four minutes and quickly arrested the guy. Our whole community is in shock and we are mourning for the victimized families.

The shooter had written a four page note blaming liberal churches for his anger. He has a long history of drunkenness and has violently threatened other people in the past. He bought the shotgun from a local pawn shop and planned the whole event a week ago. He didn’t think that he would have survived this wicked deed.

Instead of taking responsibility for his own disappointments, he blamed other people. Instead of looking for help from the very people who could have embraced him, he made a cowardly choice of shooting defenseless people. He allowed himself to be overcome by his own anger and wickedness, frustration and fear. Instead of seeking good, he got a gun. Instead of looking for heaven, he created hell.

The religious community in Knoxville is rallying around the targeted church. In the midst of all this pain, shock, and tragedy, good will prevail. We look to God for our well being and seek His strength in times like these. Next Sunday, the churches in Knoxville will be full of people, looking for comfort and guidance, forgiveness and hope. This tragedy has shocked us, but it will never define us. Our faith is in God and His Kingdom, not in the fear of bullets or deranged people. We look to the Lord and His strength; we will continue to seek His face always because that’s what we do, that’s who we are, and that’s how we express our faith here.

Prayer: Lord God, we do not understand why people seek to hurt other people. We do not know why this tragic event occurred in our beautiful town, but we do know that You are always with us, in the best and worst of times. Be near to us this day and comfort all those who are grieving. In Christ’s Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to reply to this message, please send him an email to pastor@erinpresbyterian.org

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