What Should We Do On This Sad Sunday?

I watched the news early Saturday morning and late Saturday night about the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and read most every news service available. The shooter killed 20 children and six adults–all women and children. The children were all 6 or 7 years old.

This is a very sad day in America. To me, it feels almost as hard as 9/11 even though the reasons for the shootings are very different.

What should we do on this sad Sunday?

First, we should pray. We should obviously pray for these families that have lost their children. We should also pray for all of these traumatized children and parents. We should pray for parents in Connecticut and parents in your hometown as well as law enforcement personnel and school personnel all over the country.

But we should pray for more than that. We should pray for revival in America, beginning in our own lives. We should pray as Jesus told us to pray: “. . .your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. . . And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6: 10-13).

Second, we should seek God. We all know we have left God. We know our children have little contact with God but pressure on every side from Satan and demonic influence. Can America survive if we don’t seek God? Isn’t it ironic? Teachers and children prayed in Sandy Hook Elementary School as they waited to be rescued. Of course they did. President Obama quoted Scripture in his remarks.

In times of tragedy we turn to God; in times of ease, we ignore God. By ignoring God, we expel Him from our lives.

Third, we should resolve to live for God so that our children can see Him in us. If our children don’t see God in us, they will assume He doesn’t matter. Children learn what you do. They have little concern for what we say but don’t live.

Finally on this sad Sunday, we should worship our king and rejoice in the coming of our Savior. Christmas is our hope. Thank God for the coming of Christ.

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4 Responses

  1. Amen as well! It is perhaps an appropriate to remind us of who we are, affirm who we desire to emulate as well as how we are going to do it. It seems we were thinking along the same lines. Go Figure! The same play book? 😉 Yes, indeed. Thank you of the opportunity to offer the following thoughts as I searched for context for the purpose of this reflection: how such an event happens and then how to put feet to prayers in the Action of His Body/Bride. First, I will consider the context of our age. Second, I will consider the context of who we are and what makes us ‘People of the Book’ who see God’s Love as a dominate Force enabled by His People as described in Romans 12.

    Today ‘in light’ of recent news I wish to talk about teenagers or more specifically adolescence. While at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary I was blessed to have as a friend and mentor Dr. Donald W. Minton and his son, Dr. Jim Minton, as a professor of Adolescent Psychology. Dr. Jim spent quite a bit of time helping his class understand all the changes that are going on in the teenage body and the many manifestations of dealing with those changes among peers. Some of you may know that I have become quite a fan of Family Psychologist John Rosemond who writes a syndicated column and answers parents’ questions on his web site at http://www.rosemond.com. There is no doubt, the period of adolescence is starting earlier and lasting longer as children are enabled to cling (be socially sheltered) to their parents longer. Consequently, increasing numbers are never letting go of those apron strings. As I have dealt with family businesses and appreciate the historic family agriculture setting, there is a distinction made. Often a young man or woman may go work for a competitor or in another capacity as part of developmental training to find out: those old folks weren’t so stupid after all. You can probably think of a few examples. I always consider it Scriptural to find some young person, building on a foundation already laid by the Lord in Business. However, there are those in this competitive world who think that they should just start at the top because of a relationship. Or, dig up the old figurative foundation to wipe out all vestiges of remembrance of opportunity now enjoyed. That for me is a quick check to verify Christ’s Lordship in Leadership. Getting back to the adolescent. Short cuts that are enabled often lead to the crux of problems with personal responsibility. Add to this the broken paradigm of the single family or the blended family and stressors begin to add up to a critical mass.

    You see, it is also in the best interest of all to have a strong family, faith based, national allegiance in developmental years. Indeed, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when is old he will not depart from it,” pays dividends for all. One of the most destructive happenings in our family was for a Southern Baptist Youth Minister to not support a parent behind their back. One of the most constructive happenings in our family was for a Southern Baptist Youth Minister to tell young people that until they are married, there will never be anyone who will love them, support them and want the best for them, even after they are married, like their parents.

    Creative, talented (and often too smart for their own britches) are the most difficult to correct (they are aware of the feet of clay around them), but offer perhaps the greatest contribution to the Kingdom. One must be careful not to relegate the same rationality in correcting an adolescent as one would an adult, if one is focused on Kingdom Building. Such opportunities, as my wife is fond of saying, are learning moments. A time for Scripture to be applied, consequences to be assessed, confession to be followed with reconciliation after repentance. I understand that to be explained by Ezekiel 33:15, “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.” It seems that restitution is big with God; as it demonstrates both to God and man the seriousness of both the confession and the Repentance. As God puts such a big stock in this formula, trying to have a relationship with an unrepentant someone who sinned against God and man is something of an enigma missing a key. It will sound like it is working to the uninformed. It takes a wise, informed, prayerful leader to build lively stones for God’s Kingdom (Romans 12) with the Direction of the Holy Spirit with the support of a ‘Like-Minded’ Body (Romans 12:5) at any age. Doesn’t it?


by Fisher Humphreys
          Calvinism is the vision of the Christian faith taught by John Calvin, the sixteenth century Protestant reformer. Naturally Calvin held many beliefs in common with all Christians, such as that God is the Creator, that human beings have sinned, that Christ is the savior, and so on.
          Usually what is meant by Calvinism is a group of beliefs that were held by Calvin but that are not held by all Christians. The principal one of these beliefs is predestination. Calvin believed that God sovereignly ordains (wills, decrees, determines, controls) everything that happens; in particular, God sovereignly predestines whether or not each person will be saved. God does this without reference to God’s foreknowledge of how each person will respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
          Calvinists believe that their vision is taught in Scripture. Apart from Scripture, they say that the best early expression of God’s sovereign predestination was that given by Augustine. The Roman Catholic Church agreed with Augustine, though it did not follow his ideas strictly. The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas and the reformer Martin Luther also agreed with Augustine.
          Calvinism has many strengths. Calvinists are devout Christians. Calvinism is a sophisticated theological vision. It is supportive of humility, piety, and worship. It has considerable support in the Bible. It is compatible with Christian experience. Calvinists have made enormous contributions to the church and to the world.
    Calvinism among the Baptists
          The first Baptists were English citizens living in the Netherlands. In 1608-09 their pastor, John Smyth, baptized himself and then his followers. These Baptists knew about Calvinism which was then the dominant view in the church in the Netherlands, and they issued official statements opposing Calvinism. They continued to oppose Calvinism when they returned to England a few years later.
          For at least twenty-five years no Baptists were Calvinists, but after Calvinism came into Baptist life in the 1630s it grew rapidly. This was true in America as well as in England.
          Most of the men who founded the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 were Calvinists. However, for the last century the majority of Southern Baptists have not been Calvinists.
          There is a movement, The Founders Ministries, which works to restore Calvinism to Southern Baptist life. In their work they draw on the writings of earlier Calvinistic Baptists such as John Gill, John L. Dagg, James P. Boyce, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
          Calvinism is being re-introduced into Baptist churches throughout the South. With occasional exceptions this is done by pastors who are committed to the Calvinistic vision and who are aware that the churches who are calling them do not share their commitment. This usually leads to conflict.
          Calvinism is being promoted effectively on college campuses by groups such as the Reformed University Fellowship and Campus Outreach.
          Today there are many excellent champions of Calvinism, among them Baptists such as John MacArthur, Jr. and John Piper, and others such as J. I. Packer and R. C. Sproul.
          Because the first Baptists were not Calvinists, and because for more than a century the majority of Baptists have not been Calvinists, non-Calvinistic Baptists may be called traditional Baptists.
    The Five Points of Calvinism
          A popular summary of Calvinistic beliefs is one that was worked out at the Synod of Dort held in Holland in 1618-1619. One reason for its popularity is that in English its five points can be presented by means of the acronym TULIP: total depravity, unconditional election (predestination), limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. In fact, the sequence followed at Dort was ULTIP: unconditional predestination, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace, and perseverance. It is important that predestination comes first, because it is the critical issue.
          Predestination means that in eternity God decided, without any reference to God’s foreknowledge of how individual human beings would respond, to save one set of people and to damn another.
          Limited atonement may mean either that Jesus’ sacrifice was intended to benefit only the elect, or that his sacrifice was sufficient to save only the elect.
          Total depravity means not only that all people are sinners, that sin has affected the entire life of all human beings, and that human beings cannot save themselves; it means also that, because human beings are spiritually dead, they are unable to respond to the gospel with repentance and faith; they must therefore be regenerated before they can repent and have faith in Christ.
          Irresistible grace means that God will work in the lives of the elect in such a way as to insure their salvation.
          Perseverance of the saints means that God will not allow any of the elect to lose the salvation God has given them.
    Calvinism and the Bible
          Concerning the Bible, many Calvinists claim that their view is the only biblical view, and many non-Calvinists claim that their view is the only biblical view. These claims lead to a stalemate.
          It seems to me that the situation is actually as follows. There are many biblical passages that, taken at face value, teach Calvinism; a classic example is Romans 9; let us call these the C (Calvinistic) passages. There also are many biblical passages that, taken at face value, teach against Calvinism; a classic example is 1 Timothy 2:1-6; let us call these the B (traditional Baptist) passages.
          Calvinists naturally take the C passages at face value, and they then interpret (= offer a meaning other than the face value meaning) the B passages. Non-Calvinists naturally do the reverse; they take the B passages at face value, and they interpret (= offer a meaning other than the face value meaning) the C passages.
          Since this is what is actually happening, it is natural to ask, “What leads Calvinists to take the C passages at face value, and what leads non-Calvinists to take the B passages at face value?” The answer seems to be that Calvinists are guided by their understanding of the sovereignty of God to take the C passages at face value, and non-Calvinists are guided by their understanding of the love of God to take the B passages at face value.
    What Traditional Baptists Believe
          First, we acknowledge that both traditional Baptists and Calvinists are Christians who share many beliefs in common. Many of these beliefs are more important than the beliefs about which they differ.
          Second, we believe that there are passages in the Bible that, taken at face value, support our view; we take these at face value because we are guided by John 3:16: God loves the world. We acknowledge that there are passages in the Bible that, taken at face value, support Calvinism; we believe that there are other, non-Calvinistic meanings in those passages.
          Third, we believe that the main issue between traditional Baptists and Calvinists concerns God’s love. We believe that God loves all people and wants them all to be saved; Calvinists believe God predestines some people to be lost.
          Fourth, we believe that God is sovereign. We agree with Calvinists that God has the power and the knowledge to do what Calvinists say God has done, namely, predestine that some people will be saved and others not. We believe God sovereignly decided not to do that.
          Fifth, we believe that God sovereignly decided to give human beings freedom and to respect the decisions they make. We do not believe that it is a loss of divine sovereignty for God to relate to human beings in this way. We believe it is an exercise of divine sovereignty for God to have decided to relate to human beings in this way and then to do so.
          Sixth, we believe that everything that God does is good. God is responsible for the good in life; human beings are responsible for their sin, for the suffering that accompanies sin, and for the condemnation they receive for their sin. People sin and suffer and are lost, not because God ordains that these things will happen but because human beings choose them; they are not God’s will but are contrary to it.
          Seventh, we believe that God knows the future. Most of us think that God foreknows everything; some among us think that God foreknows all that can be known but not everything. In either case, we believe that God’s foreknowledge does not predetermine the future.
          Eighth, we believe that foreordination is a biblical idea, but we think that Calvinists have misunderstood it. We believe that the Bible teaches that God foreordains many things: to anoint Jesus as the Christ, to save the world through Christ, to work with the Jews rather than others, to send Paul as a missionary, and so on. We believe that God never foreordains evil, only good, so that sin, suffering, and damnation are products of human choices rather than of divine foreordination.
          Ninth, we believe that predestination is a biblical idea, but we think Calvinists have misunderstood it. We believe that the Bible teaches that God predestines that all who are in Christ will be saved and will be transformed into good people (Eph. 1:4-6). We believe that God predestines to salvation those whom he foreknows will trust in Christ (Rom. 8:29-30).
          Tenth, we believe that God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved. We believe that it is tragic that many people never experience God’s love. We believe that it is our responsibility to do all we can to communicate the message of God’s love to all people. If we do so, then they will be able to trust in the Lord and be saved.
          Eleventh, usually the terms of this controversy are divine sovereignty and human freedom. I believe this is misleading. Human freedom is very important to me, but, asked to choose between these two, I would certainly affirm divine sovereignty. In my judgment, this is not the issue. The issue is predestination. Did God in eternity sovereignly predestine some people to be saved and not others? Put this way, it is clear that there can’t be a middle way: either God did, or did not, do this. On these terms, there can be no modified Calvinism and no four-point or three-point Calvinists. My principal concern about Calvinism is not its affirmation of divine sovereignty; my principal concern is whether God loves all people and so wants them all to be saved. 

    Again I say Blessings!

  2. I was so devastated by this. You are right prayer is needed for everyone going through this disaster and our nation. We all need to stop looking at government for solutions but in our own homes and communities. The Lord’s Prayer will help us all.

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