Monthly Archives: December 2012

Connecticut Shooting and Jesus: A Massacre of the Innocents

Peter Paul Ruben

Peter Paul Ruben: Massacre of the Innocents. Painted 100 years before Newton, Connecticut was founded and 400 years before the recent American Massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School

 

I believe that this year, the Lord wants to be near the people of Newton. Just as the birth of Jesus was seared into the memory of Bethlehem by a massacre of innocent children by soldiers commissioned by Herod, so also, satan inspired this man to kill children around Christmas time this year.

Normally, the sheep of Bethlehem were the only offerings used to please God, but God was pleased in Jesus day to fulfill prophecy by permitting the death of children. Bethlehem had been the home of King David, a renowned figure, who set Israel free from pagan oppression and harassment. Normally, the town of Newton is small: only about 25,000. The town’s most notable person was James Purdy, who helped slaves escape to Canada in the 1850s and ministered to smallpox victims during the American Civil War, but now a man enslaved by anger attacked and killed many. The athlete Bruce Jenner, political leaders, and some authors also came from Newton. Nowadays, the following industries are the most prominent: manufacturing, professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, retail trade … Like Bethlehem, Newton was an ordinary town with a proud heritage.

The news of Bethlehem was conveyed in the Good News account of Matthew of the New Testament in the Christian Scriptures. The Bad News of Newton is heard wherever you turn. The murderer in this case was apparently upset by the divorce of his parents. Herod was troubled by the threat to his throne.

This shooting was the second deadliest school shooting in American History. The deadliest was a massacre at Virginia Tech. While the massacre at Bethlehem was a deadly and brutal act during Herod’s reign, he was more known for killing his own relatives and nobles in an attempt to elicit mourners and remove competition. Bethlehem consisted of only a few hundred inhabitants in Jesus’ day, thus the death of male infants would not have been mentioned in ancient secular-historical accounts.

Out of Bethlehem came Jesus. Perhaps some Jewish scholars doubted that Jesus came from there because so many were killed. “Surely he would have died in that generation if he was born there,” they speculated. But God had a divine purposed. Evil has a limited purpose. If some lives were destroyed by evil, we can be sure that those who remain are alive for a reason. They have a calling from God to live for Him.

This may seem to be of no comfort to the parents who lost children. But we cannot go back and revive all who died. We must go on living. Life is for the living and those who are dead though seemingly alive may truly live.

You are alive. You have a pulse. Evil has yet to consume you entirely. Will you live for God or for yourself? Will you fulfill your God-designed purpose or live like a beast seeking only bodily needs and acting on impulse.

This Christmas, we do not need merely civil religion uttering platitudes. We need redemption from slavery to sin and the sickness of soul that afflicts our race. We need men like James Purdy who will not stand idly by as violence happens against the human race. We need Jesus.

May God be with those this year who suffer persecution and massacre on a regular basis in cities and towns around the world where the Name of the Son of God, the King of Israel, and the Prince of Peace is not tolerated. May Jesus also be God with us, Immanuel.

Categories: Cross, Good News, Persecution, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will Brunei vote for Jesus with their feet?

Brunei-PalaceGateDecember 1, 2012

Recently in Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah mandated the closing of all businesses on Fridays during prayers and urged young people not to intermingle the sexes, but to seek God. While it is a noble calling to seek God, doing so while under compulsion is usually met with a degree of dissatisfaction: people object. This is why there is teenage rebellion by some. Brunei is no different. The leader is trying to compel the citizens to follow the Creator and trying to rectify the waywardness of his earlier years by stricter compliance now, but he has forgotten that a life lived in the presence of God is better than trying to take refuge in the Law. Getting people to know God via the Law, did not work under Israelite kings, and it has not worked in any nation since. It just keeps people out of trouble, and the Law is good.

People have reportedly been voting with their feet and staying away from the Mosque on during Jumaa prayers. Some have said that Bruneians vote with their feet, though they are very respectful and would not fathom protesting their leader. I would not recommend such an action since the Bible clearly says, “Do not curse God or the king.” But how wonderful it would be if the saints would, during this holiday season, vote with their feet and carry the good news of Christ’s birth to the people around them. This would make their feet truly beautiful!!

As I was meditating on this last evening, I had a glimpse of the Crown Prince voting with his feet and establishing the future direction of his nation by walking from the palace to a Christian chapel. If I may be so bold as to say it plainly, the Sultan’s family has the opportunity to follow the example of Zerubbabel and build up the house of God, which is the church of living God, the pillar and foundation of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). For the Sultan to truly find mercy, he must reconcile with the body of Christ. Now, I say that as a foreigner who does not have to live under the Sultan’s rule, but as one who knows the Word of God. God has entrusted the keys to the Kingdom to those who are victorious like David and Peter.

This narrative, reminds me a little of the account of Henry IV who walked to reconcile with the pope and wait in the snow for mercy & forgiveness. –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_of_Canossa – Now I AM NOT ADVOCATING THAT THE CHURCH HUMILIATE THE SULTAN, the President or any other dignitary. But the church should indeed exercise her authority and right to pray for the Sultan and for the wisdom and salvation of Jesus to come upon the leaders of Brunei. And the leaders of the nations should humble themselves and serve the poor of the Land, even the Church of Jesus Christ of everyday saints.

Indeed, during this Christmas season, we should remember that this is what the Magi did. They left their place of comfort and went to see the King of kings: Jesus. They offered gifts. Would it not be appropriate for the Sultan, President of the United States of America, or the Prime Minister of Israel or any other nation to humbly bow before the Messiah by making a short pilgrimage to a local church fellowship and ruling with integrity and justice and mercy? This is surely the path of peace God desires.

We have the mystery of godliness, therefore, we must share it broadly (1 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, this year, how will you vote with your feet? Who will you go to to tell about Jesus who walked among us as the Prince of Peace?

In Christ, Merry Messiah-Month,
Mert Hershberger

P.S. Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing a little of the Good News with a student of priestly bearing from Iran and a sushi waiter from China who was interested in the Name.

Hip-hop, don’t stop: Get the Word to the world.
http://pray-ap.info/

Categories: Evangelism, Good News, Missions, Prayer, Revival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pray for all saints & souls at all times.

I remember a time a dear brother who worked in a retail health food store in a church I was pastoring requested prayer for his back. He had been my first employer upon my return to Arkansas and I worked at the health food store for a year. I think he later recommended me for the church where I pastored for a couple years.

He was the worship leader, but he had back trouble & NOTHING WORKED: chiropractors, expensive mattresses … NOTHING. The elders gathered & prayed. He was healed instantly as we prayed: Matthew 11:28-30, i.e. taking up the yoke of Jesus and finding rest.

That dear brother, my former boss, is now leading 3 thrift shops that serve a population of redeemed prisoners in Mississippi. God has promoted him from his own business, to the Father’s business.

This Holiday Season, do not be timid to pray for the saints with all kinds of prayers at all times. Who knows, they may be the one to win the people you love and who need love the most.

Categories: Cross, Prayer, Rest | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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