Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Strangest Week in Memory

We watched the stream of Pastor Fred's memorial service yesterday as it was happening. I have watched video of similar broadcasts, but this one was different in that we were able to identify with what our friends were experiencing as it was happening.

I was really proud of the way Cindy glorified God in her eulogy. She did much good in her affirmation of the body there and in here modeling of self control and grace. Joy in the death of a loved one is such a bittersweet paradox, yet she displayed it to a watching world powerfully and peacefully.

We continue to pray for our friends at FBCM- for as the pastor who is speaking this weekend alluded, hard times are still ahead. the memory of what happened last sunday will linger on and it will be a challenge to some more than others to focus on the priority of worship. God's grace is sufficient in even this.

Link to FBCM Slideshow

Here's one from KMOV

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God Stories

I wrote this for the Spring Production at First Baptist Maryville back in 2001. I was reminded of the theme by the stories on the FBCM site. May we all be as faithful and bold a witness to our communities and places we are called to serve as Fred was to his calling!

God Stories

Our Life is a story God writes day by day-(Phil 1:6)
A journal of joy and a drama display'd (Jer. 27-28, Luke 22:17-19)
He creates a canvas and on it He paints (Prov 7:3)
A perplexing picture of sinners made saints (1 Cor. 1:28, Romans 5-6)

We are living letters that tell of God's grace (2 Cor 3:2-3)
He speaks in and out and through all of our days (Col 3:16, Acts 17:28)
He molds us and makes us a true masterpiece (Job10:9, Phil 2:12))
A masterwork made for His glory's increase. (Eph 2:10)

The story's no fable, just let it unfold (1 Tim 4:7)
For a story's no story unless it is told (Psalm 26:7)
For ears long to hear, eyes are longing to see (Romans 10:14)
The mystery revealed in you and in me (Col. 1:26-27)

A song made of melodies born in the night (Job 35:10, Zephaniah 3:17)
A poem made of rhymes only Jesus can write (Eph 2:10 -poiema)
Words engraved on hearts purified and made new (Jer. 31:33, 2 Cor 3:3b)
The story ne'er ends and the story is true. (Ro 5:21)

Transformed by His anvil (Jer. 23:29, Ro. 9:20) and shaped on His wheel(Is. 64:8)
A tapestry woven His tale to reveal (Mark 15:38 et. al.)
Expressions constructed for Christ to indwell (Col 3:16, 2 Cor 6:16)
A story that only a Savior can tell. (Jeremiah 29:11)

So now let the storytelling never cease (Psalm 145:2)
We must not be silent- must not keep our peace (2 Kings 7:9 KJV)
For ears long to hear, eyes are longing to see (Ro 10:14)
The mystery revealed in you and in me (Col 4:3, Col 1:27)

Anthony Foster January 18, 2001

Also see 1 Peter 4:10, Proverbs 25:11, Acts 18:9)

And Then Comes Peace

This message on the FBCM site touched us and I thought I would point others to it. It is a great testimony of the difference the Peace that passes all understanding makes...Look for : Submitted by: Sheila Satterthwaite at 4:12:17 PM on 03/11/2009 ...

Monday, March 9, 2009

The More I Read the more it makes me Sick

This is a time of grief and horror for so many of my friends. If I, who cut ties with FBCM as part of my journey years ago am so affected by this-- how much more must they be? I remember once telling Fred just after 9/11 that I wish I had a rocket launcher- I sort of feel that way again today.Anger, rage, deep sadness, and loss. Just like building muscle means breaking it down first, there is an analogy with spiritual growth. Maybe there will come some fruit from all this but it is surely hard to fathom how at this point in time. What men work for evil, God works for good.

Sounds like Terry Sedlacek's lawyer is setting up an insanity plea according to press releases. Sounds like the parents knew he was mentally ill and still allowed him to brandish guns and knives. I've been praying for the Winters family today and pondering the shootings that have been occurring across the country in the past few months. Now we are hearing that Sunday was designated Death Day by the assailant in his day timer. This young man has not only decimated a beautiful family and a man who sought to serve the Lord, he violated a community of people in the body of Christ at Maryville.

Excuse me while I work this out...and I will.

Psalm 110:1 in the Book of Hebrews

The image of Jesus taking His seat at the right hand of God is taken from Ps 110:1 where David writes... The LORD (God the Father) says to my Lord (God the Son): "Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet."

Comment: Literally this begins "Yahweh said to Adonai".

David records a remarkable conversation between two Persons of the Godhead. This Messianic psalm is quoted as such at least 12 times in the NT. In Mt 22:43-45 Christ specifically applies Psalm 110:1 to Himself claiming that He is not just the son of David but David's Lord. In short, Psalm 110 pictures the Messiah as King, Priest and victorious Warrior.

This is the one who is our warrior in trying times such as this. He is the Great High Priest who sits down in satisfaction after accomplishing his work, and who continues to intercede for us. He is the King who rules with earth as his footstool. He is the warrior who is mighty to save and who is on our side.

Church shootings and quiet desperation…

Thoreau said many years ago that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. The silence is being broken all too often these days as shootings are regularly taking place in places no one could have anticipated. Garden Grove...Knoxville...New Maryville. Recently the state of Arkansas considered eliminating a law that forbade the carrying of concealed weapons in churches. Gratefully, reason prevailed and the bill failed. This context of shootings in a place where people come to cast themselves before God makes the tragedy even more unfathomable. Or perhaps not- there is likely something subconciously or even overtly symbolic in these actions

No matter the motive, a choice was made and a life is gone. A family is devastated, a community changed by a single bullet. I must agree with those who say this is an assault in a spiritual war against the body of Christ.

All around us we discern an encroaching darkness, a disregard for the value of human life and a desensitizing of mens’ hearts to the violence that encompasses us. We also find our own hearts forgetting to ponder our mortality and our need for a right relationship with God. In these dark days we need to remember who it was who brought us into his marvelous light, and take comfort that those before us who walked by faith and not by sight found the light sufficient for the day and for every day, indeed.

Fred Winters was ready to meet Jesus; we must all live with intentionality and be ready to stand before our Creator to account for our lives. Are you ready?

If you are relying on what you think is your own relative goodness to go to Heaven, you should tremble- this is exactly what sends people to an eternity without Christ- what we call Hell. Conversely, if you think you are seeking God, it is actually God who is calling to you. Don't answer the call of competing substitutes- Seek God in His Word, and you will be found.

Things to learn from this:

**It is OK to be angry and question in times of turmoil. God is big enough to love you through the doubts and pain if you will let Him. We must come to terms with our finiteness in God’s way.

**Deep times of trial and calamity and testing can be the occasion for God to glorify himself though us. He will show us how through His Word.

**Suffering can be turned into glory to God if it is not wasted and your respond by trusting and blessing God in all circumstances. This is a key to growing spiritually.

**When chaotic evil strikes, we must remember that this is the result of man’s rebellion against God and that there but for the Grace of God go we all. What men work for evil, God works for good.

**God’s will comes in two forms- his decrees, which always come to pass and his commands, which are for our blessing or cursing, involving our responses. Proper and righteous responses come by the power of God’s Holy Spirit operating in us.

**Just as we trusted Christ to save us, so too we can trust him to sustain us and give us a future and a sure hope.

**We are called to take up the cross and follow Christ- there is no such thing as cheap grace. Comfortable Christianity is a thing we manufacture all too often.

**We must understand that while there is evil and a personal Satan at large in the world, God is on the throne, and man doesn’t require the help of Satan to act according to a fallen nature.

**We must remember that there is a cost to taking up the cross and following Christ, and this is for all Christians, not just the mature ones..

**We must understand that forgiveness is offered to anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord, and that while righteous anger is normal and devastation real, there is peace that passes understanding that flows from grace.

**We all have to learn these things through incarnation in our lives- they do not come to wisdom in us by reciting them as platitudes, but by vitally living them in the real world.

CT Review of Watchmen

Read about it here... I may review later... depending on whether I can bring myself to watch it with purity of justification. I sure won't be able to on grounds of edification of the saints... though social commentary is important for us to stomach. I tend to adhere to the philosophy that the world throws enough images and sounds at me intended to scar my psyche- so I don't want to intentionally add to that. Pretty good principle to live by, I think, though it certainly limits my cultural engagement these days.

News about the FBCM tragedy

I've been availing myself to information on the effects of Lyme disease. My Dad had Lyme disease at one point, but was cured of it. Some of the press is focusing on the mental illness of the assailant allegedly caused by the disease, and others are alleging Satanic attack. Which is true? Both? Neither? Is one related to the other? To read some accounts, the tick is really the culprit.

In reality, the effects of the Fall do trace back to the garden and continue to this day. There certainly is such a thing as evil. Satan is alive and well. It seems absurd to even have to verbalize this truth given the state of the world. Disease and mental illness are real and often confused with demon possession. They are often treatable and we praise God for the wisdom of doctors who can help in cases like this. So much is yet to be revealed in this case and we look forward to focusing on the solution- and not affixing the blame from our finite point of view. We all want to get inside the head of the purpetrator in times like this, and reasonably so. We want to understand.

Perhaps in the middle there is a reasonable answer we can come to, but now is the time to pray and send up petitions, to draw close to God and find out peace that the world has tried to destroy. God is on his throne and Fred's death was no surprise to Him. So while we grieve for the family and friends, we also take assurance that we can trust God to be good, even if it kills us, there is an eternity of blessedness ahead for those who pursue the obedience of faith- to be found in Christ.

My Sinuses

My ethnoid and sphenoid sinuses that is.

They hurt. Must be due to all the work I did trimming trees and bushes this weekend in the wind....

New Barna Survey

This one tracks the worldview changes in Christians over the past thirteen years.

More Americans say they have no religion

This is not a surprise, but informative---see AP story.

Shock and Dismay

As I was on my way to Church yesterday, it never occurred to me that anything was amiss. I taught a lesson on Hebrews 1:3, had some good conversations and discussion, and we went out to Red Lobster. Upon arriving at home we had phone calls from friends in Illinois telling us the news that Fred Winters had been shot.

It took a while for the shock to subside, and even then it seemed surreal. We spent the day following up on news, calling to express our concern, and discussing the events as they were revealed throughout the day. We had ministered at First Baptist Maryville for over six years, alongside Fred, supporting the ministry there in anyway we could, from hanging drywall to teaching for him on Wednesday nights, working with the video and drama ministries, teaching Sunday School and just about anything else one can imagine.

We had different philosophies of ministry, but were still able to minister together for that time until we felt the call to move to Bethel Baptist in Troy, Il- that move led us to here we are today. And now Fred is gone. That is very real. Our heartfelt prayers are going up for his family and the church family as well.

It is a un-real thing to be reading all these accounts, to see your friends and acquaintances quoted in the news, and all this from a distance. The first thing I thought of is the fact that his daughters, Alyssa and Cassidy have lost their father.

On another level, it is a deep sadness I feel for the world we live in where these kinds of things occur. People rush to defend the Lord God saying God is not responsible as if He has to be defended. Other blogs are asking why God can't restrain "people like this." Fred is with Jesus now, and that we should all be ready is a glaring fact in the light of such a tragedy.

I see they have released the name of the alleged killer. A quick search on the net reveals someone of the same name on the St. Louis Lyme disease website - an announcement of a benefit dinner to help a Terry Joe Sedlacek whose insurance was no longer paying to treatment. Todays news in the Post-Dispatch confirms this- "The man suspected of killing a pastor and injuring two others at a suburban St. Louis church on Sunday reportedly had a mental illness after Lyme disease attacked his brain."

I don't know if he knew what he was doing - there was evidence of great intentionality in what happened. 45 caliber semi- automatic magazines can hold anywhere from 7-16 rounds from what I see on the web. So I see it as a great grace from God that the gun jammed.

I also suppose it will be revealed, in time, whether the killer knew Fred, or what triggered the attack. Please pray for Cindy, Fred's wife, the kids, and also the church at Maryville. There is no telling how this will affect the ministry there, but we can all be thankful that our God is more than sufficient for the need, and that we can all rest in Jesus if we trust him in this life.