Pastor's Blog
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June 13, 2016, 12:00 AM

Wrestling With Orlando....

So it’s happened again… this time, in Orlando Florida. A man claiming allegiance to Isis killed 50 people and wounded 53 more in a nightclub for gay persons called “Pulse.” He used a semiautomatic assault rifle and was also carrying a semiautomatic pistol, both capable of delivering multiple bullets in rapid succession. We have been where we are so many times in recent years. As sad as it is, we feel the pain more today because this most recent occurrence has happened here at home. Terrorist attacks that happen in places outside the U.S. often don’t make our radar screen in this world where violence seems to be standard operating procedure.

But I feel like this one is different, and not just because it happened on American soil. It seems different to me because several issues are involved. It’s more than simply the all too familiar story of radical terrorists killing people who don’t think like they do. Orlando is an example of that, but it’s more. The attack took place at a night club for gay persons, using an assault weapon that is generally relegated to the realm of soldiers and warfare. That brings not only terrorism into the spotlight; it also shines that light on the societal struggles of LGBTQI persons, and the debate over gun control.

I need to be brutally honest at this point: I am not sure how to feel as I write these words. I confess feeling like I’m being pulled in opposite directions. On the one hand, the patriot in me feels angry at this most recent terrorist attack and I want to strike back in kind. On the other hand, the Lord I follow calls me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. (Matthew 5:44) On the one hand, I know the passages in the Bible about homosexuality, particularly in Leviticus and Romans. On the other hand, I am keenly aware of the pain and heartache many gay persons experience at the hand of people who claim to be Christ followers – the One who said in Matthew 7, Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[a] eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor,[b] ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s[c] eye.” On the one hand, I am a responsible gun owner who was taught early to respect firearms and use them lawfully. I was raised to understand and embrace the Second Amendment as a fundamental right of every American. On the other hand, I wrestle with why any American other than those who defend our nation needs access to weapons whose primary purpose is enemy annihilation. And then there’s this Jesus who said,  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” (Matthew 5:39), and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Do you sense the tension? Do you feel it too?

Guess I’m not really sure what I want to say at this point. I guess I simply want to name the struggle going on inside of me, believing it’s probably going on in others as well. The world we live in is a complicated place, and I’m discovering answers to the challenges our society faces are not as easy or simple as some persons and groups suggest. We must always stand for truth as Jesus articulates it – but we must stand for it in the way he prescribes we should live – the way of love: “34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) And I recognize THAT, too, is a complicated thing. In this complicated world, what does it mean to love as Jesus loves?

One thing I am sure of: God is not finished with us – with me – yet. God continues to reveal his heart and purpose with each breath, if we’ll pay attention. So I find myself praying a portion of Psalm 25 more and more these days: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord: teach me your paths.Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.”

Will you pray that with me? As always….

Keep Lookin’ Up!

Pastor David


06-23-2016 at 11:00 AM
if i believe the word of GOD is truth, and it says , GODS word is the same yesterday,today and forever. that settells any argument for me. pilate asked JESUS what is truth. and he didn't relize he was looking at truth manifested in the flesh.
06-18-2016 at 11:43 AM
a concerned church member
Refreshing for a pastor to humanize the LGBTQI community, and not to hear the hypocritical phrase, "love the sinner, but hate the sin," which basically allows you to keep condemning the individual. Never been back to Sunday School because of the time the leader condemned gay people and basically told the class that they'd burn in hell if they didn't ask for "forgiveness." Our sign out back says, "Everyone Is Welcome," but if you were to ask each member of our congregation, would that still be true? If some members were to dare try to "love" a gay person, they might discover that being gay Is not a "lifestyle choice," or a willful disobedience to anyone, let alone our God. Many gay individuals are tortured inside over it, and it may drive them to commit suicide or kill many people (like in Orlando) because they or someone they love condemns what they know they can't change. The Orlando killer's father openly condemned homosexuality, and I'm wondering if Omar internalized this as a youth, and that this awareness of his own sexuality drove him to hate himself and others just like him so pathologically? There are LGBTQI individuals everywhere, including in our own church (gasp!), and their sexuality shouldn't be the barrier it is in loving that person unconditionally, just because of some ancient verses in the Bible, especially in the 21st century.
06-14-2016 at 11:21 AM
David Janz
Matt and Kevin - I appreciate both of your perspectives. It is a complicated time to be alive - and to follow Jesus. But by God's grace at work in each of us, we will find the way forward!
06-14-2016 at 8:23 AM
Matt Hayes
Please for give me, I'm not a good writer but I will try. I'm also still growing in my faith so these types of events become a consist struggle for me. We should love each other regardless of behavior. I heard that once on talking with the family radio show well driving in the car. It's a difficult topic to understand and apply in everyday life. How hard is it to love someone when you don't agree with their lifestyle choices? Let me tell you what it's difficult. So in my opinion it was just another night club that was sadly terrorized. The people involved where still just like you and me and they need help and guidance. It's a hard pill to swallow but these are the trying times that really shows what type of people we are and can be.

I'm a patriot. This is the greatest country on the face of the earth. Religion drove it from its infant stages to something great. It does seem like these days it has started to lose its way. Firearms are not terrible killing machines, but in the wrong hands they become a tool for such purpose. Does everyone need a firearm, no, but is it your right as a citizen of this great nation to go buy one, yes. It's that simply. God has give us a blessing and curse of choice. In life we face choices every day and with those choices come those consequences.

Firearms and location are not the issues at hand. It's the action of one, who brought terror to this country. The question is are we as a country going to be able to look past the fact that the terror event took place at a gay night club with a assault weapon. And focus on the needs of a country who has seemed to stumble.

I just feel like I'm rambling on and way off topic now. I hope someone can read this and understand my thoughts.

Sorry for any poor grammar.
06-13-2016 at 9:29 PM
Kevin Garmong
Well can a Christian be a Patriot? What is the second amendment for? What is a well armed militia? Could America ever become a dictatorship? Was the Holocaust real?Should diesel fuel and fertilizer be banned? Should we be thankful that the Orlando psycho didn't choose these weapons? All questions to ponder while contemplating denying my right to own the firearms of my choice as a law abiding citizen who (God forbid) could have to take part in a well armed militia...God bless you brother, I love your heart but can't go along with this.
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