Tag Archives: community

Loving One Another: A Survivors Reflections on the Las Vegas Massacre

It’s been just over a week since Route 91 in Las Vegas, and I still can’t shake the thought of losing a dear friend. The tears may not be as often, but the emptiness remains. I haven’t even started to process the personal impact to bullets flying over my head, the thought of dying or losing my wife, or the bullet that went through my wife’s hat. I want to erase it all from my mind, and even my life, but I can’t so instead I reflect.

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As I reflect, I am a victim, a survivor, a husband, a father, a Christian, a pastor, and a citizen of this great country. I reflect on the unity I saw in the moments of terror and distress, but also on the division that quickly came back into view. Until we realize what our problem is, we will never find a solution to the acts of violence we (all too often) experience.

As I crouched down below the bleachers with my wife doing our best to avoid the hundreds of rounds of ammunition flying everywhere, I couldn’t help but notice the people. There were people everywhere. It was dark but I could see them nonetheless. Off-duty police officers and firefighters, ex and present military, medical professionals and random people (including one of my best friend’s) that attended Route 91 for a weekend of great music turned into first responders. They put themselves into harm’s way in hopes of helping an injured person. Most didn’t even think twice. What they definitely didn’t do was inquire of the injured person’s race, religion, political affiliation, or sexual preference before trying to help. They were human beings helping other human beings.

I also heard countless people crying out to God. They were begging for protection and preservation. I know enough about God to know that he didn’t only listen to certain people. He heard every cry of every person in that area. Whether they believed in him or not, he listened. Whether they truly knew who they were crying out to or not, he listened.

Not too long after the bullets stopped flying, and for the days that have followed, the unity has diminished. Maybe not between the people that attended Route 91 that night, but definitely from much of the rest of the country. Instead of learning about what to do in crisis from those that were in the crisis, the rest of the country went right back to pointing fingers and blaming others.

You’d think that as a pastor, I’d shift to talking about how great the church was in it’s response to the horrific Las Vegas shooting. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. Yes, there were a few wonderful churches that stepped up. But too many individuals that make up the whole body of Christian’s which proclaim to follow Jesus participated in the finger-pointing and blaming just like everyone else.

What has this world come to? Do we longer have concern for our brother’s and sisters? I don’t have the perfect answer, but I do have some thoughts. And as a victim, a survivor, a husband, a father, a Christian, a pastor, and a citizen of this great country, I felt it was my time to speak.

We must recognize that we are part of the problem. Yes, you and I. Prayerfully, we aren’t the ones taking other people’s lives. But we take sides on every issue, whether that issue is race, religion, life, guns, you name it. We blame everyone else without considering our fault in the matter. We are willing to overlook or ignore the facts for sake of looking bad or being wrong. We demonize people because of their affiliations. We will never be at peace with one another until we realize that none of those things leads to peace. That division leads to war, much like the one I was in on October 1, 2017.

The Bible says that the greatest commandment of all is to love God AND love others. Jesus spoke those words together. Even if you are not a Christian, or don’t believe in the Bible, you have to admit that loving one another makes a whole lot more sense than hating (and hurting) one another. But what does this love look like?

Loving one another means being willing to sacrifice ourselves for others, much like those first responders were willing to sacrifice themselves for complete strangers (and some paid the price for doing so).

Sacrifice may mean being willing to squash our pride in needing to always be right.

Sacrifice may mean considerately listening to someone we are vehemently opposed to.

Sacrifice may mean we may need to step across “party lines” to make things better.

Sacrifice definitely means that we must be willing to give up some rights to protect the ultimate right, the right to life.


So the question is now, what will you do?

Excuse the Mess

This blog was originally written for and published at http://www.forhisglorycc.org

Most of us have invited someone into our homes and one of the first things we said was “excuse the mess.” Whether it truly looks like a bomb went off, or we spent (ok, really our wives spent) all day cleaning, that is typically a default statement. We do this to make sure that if indeed something is out of place, the guests do not think that we are less than perfect.

What about when it comes to our life? As Christians, we do our best to “walk in a manner worthy of the gospel” (see Phil 1:27) but it doesn’t always work out. And maybe that is due to a lack of effort, but that’s not what I would like to address today. What I would like to address is the other side of the spectrum. This is the side that belittles and breaks down. It is the side of us that is never happy with who we are (both on the inside and outside). Is this how we are to look at ourselves?

Set apart

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Ps 139:14

David here recognizes that God “fearfully and wonderfully made” him. In addition, we can see in this same passage that being fearfully and wonderfully made is likened to being “set apart (see ESV study Bible).” God not only formed and fashioned David, and us, but he set us apart for himself. This is great news!

Amazingly, God did not stop there. After setting us apart, God puts into motion a process in which he gives us a new heart (regeneration), declares us righteous (justification), and works to bring us to perfection (sanctification). Let’s take a look at this process in a few passages of scripture.


“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” Ephesians 2:1-5

God set us apart but did not leave us alone. He was actively involved in turning our messiness into beauty, giving us a new heart.


“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

The response of a regenerated heart is the reception of Christ as Lord and Savior. At that moment, God declares us as righteous. This is not because of what we have done, but because of what Christ did for us (see 2 Cor 5:21).


“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” Philippians 1:6

Set apart and declared righteous are wonderful things God has done for us. But when we examine our lives, we don’t seem to be “perfect.” While we were declared righteous, we are also being made righteous. This process is known as sanctification and it is the way by which God refines us so we become more like Jesus, until one day we are with him.

Please excuse the mess

If each of us is striving to “walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel,” we are exactly who God wants us to be and where God wants us to be in the present. He fashioned each of us individually. He sets each of us on different paths. No two people are alike so no two “progressions of” sanctification (that’s my term) are the same.

We musn’t be ashamed of who we are in Christ. We musn’t make excuses for the “mess” we are (or have made), but stand proud in our identity as children of God. And while you’re at it, don’t worry about the house. We all live in a little bit of mess there too!


Pure Knowledge

The more I study the Word of God, the more I realize that pure knowledge of God is the true key to a radical life lived for Christ. Think about the Apostle Paul for a second…

Paul went on journey after journey being opposed, beaten, and imprisoned. There isn’t recorded a single statement of doubt on Paul’s part or disobedience to God’s call on his life. Instead, Paul said he answered the call “because of the surpassing worth of KNOWING Christ” (Phil 3:9). He believed in an absolutely sovereign God and would not back down from his convictions (read the story of him going before the all the non-believing leaders in Acts 21-28).

There could have been a big danger in all of Paul’s life. You see, had Paul made claims about Christ without ever showing evidence of living them out, the recipients of his letters wouldn’t have listened and neither would we. How about us? Should we strive for pure knowledge? Do we? What dangers does seeking knowledge present? The Book of Proverbs speaks to this often. But knowing verses alone isn’t helpful so let me offer some practical cautionary thoughts in this light (and then go read the Book of Proverbs):

  1. Negating the importance of correct biblical understanding and an impenetrable view of Christ leads to watered down Christianity. We will not be motivated to do the “hard things” and will seldom invest in the call to go and make disciples (Matt 28:19-20). Instead we may just sit back and watch as others do which is a waste of the life God has called us to or we may take shots that miss far and wide which wastes valuable time in proclaiming the gospel to those who are perishing.
  2. Relying on a “surface level understanding” of Christ leads to stale Christianity and a potential bad witness. “Even Satan knew and acknowledged God” is an oft-used statement (which I totally agree with), but we don’t think of it’s implications for us. We usually use that to talk about others who claim Christ but aren’t really Christians. But isn’t it possible for us to know all the right answers without living them out? Can we preach a message to others that we should be preaching to the mirror?

Regardless of which of the above we run the risk of associating with, we need to look back to the Word and Paul’s life for our reminder…

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Phil 3:12-16

We are inspired and motivated by Paul because he talked a huge game and then lived it out. We must do the same. We cannot live radically without pure knowledge (right thinking). So dig deep into God’s Word and PRESS ON!

The Clans of the Proud (from a friend)

Simple words, yet eternally profound.

I have actually never done this before. But because the topic is so important, the result so hurtful, and the friend so dear, I decided to post her blog word for word. I encourage you to take this blog and share it with every Christian you know. Please post the link to your social media feeds and forward the email if you directly subscribe to my blog.


The Clans of the Proud by Julee Huy

We speak of unity,
And loving one another.
Do we love outside our community,
The one God calls our brother?

I’m not talking about a one world religion.
I’m talking about division,
And pride,
And separating into sides.

The air fills with the sound,
Of drums beating loud.
To tribes we are bound,
The clans of the proud.

In love, His blood was shed.
In humility He came and died.
By His grace we have been led.
In greed, we mock Him with our pride.

There is sweet unity in our cause.
Strength and wisdom yet to glean.
For one Savior we seek applause.
On one God we all do lean.

We speak of unity,
And loving one another.
Do we love outside our community,
The one God calls our brother?

The actual post and more from Julee’s heart can be found at the link below.

The Clans of the Proud