What I wish I heard in Church. What I wish the Church heard.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reaction to the Death of Jerry Falwell

Here's a couple of quotes I've heard about the death of Rev. Falwell from non-Christians:

"The only thing I am sad about is that the death wasn't more painful and more embarrassing."

"This was a bad, bad man and keep that in mind when you see the President at his funeral."

"I heard him once say that he said hateful things because he knew he'd get on the news the next day."

"The very best was when he went after the teletubbies. 'It is purple and it has a triangle on its head for no reason!'"

"Like many people of his type, I think he will be very surprised about who gets into heaven."

"Don't get me wrong, it's not a religion thing. When Billy Graham passes I will be very sad. He is a great American. So, it's not about being religious, its about using religion for hate."

I understand that sometimes a prophet will bring a message that is unpopular. I understand that many of these things may not be true. I also understand that the darkness hates the light and will attack it. However, those in the light aren't supposed to appear to hate those in the darkness. If our love isn't obvious of what good is it?

I do remember Jesus attacking people with harsh words that could be labeled hate by those he attacked. I also remember that he saved those words for those within the religious establishment who were abusing it.

I wonder how many people Rev. Falwell drew to the Lord compared to how many he pushed away. I know the character of God, so I have no doubt that Rev. Falwell is with Jesus today. I also have little doubt that it has been a surprising 24-hours for him.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Virginia Tech Shootings - Resurrection

Yesterday was an amazing day at church, as I'm sure it was all over the New River Valley. It was a time to remember that God is God and He has ultimate power over death. It was a time to celebrate the life He has given us and the hope we find in Him.

Rick reminded us, "We will not let circumstances determine our understanding of God's character." Robert reminded us that "We can offer comfort, but we don't have what people need. Only Jesus does. So, our lives need to point people to Him."

Daniel and Val, the youth pastors at the church, went through a similar shooting in Texas in 1999. And, they were able to share about their experience and recovery.

The service was summed up in a dance that was performed to a song that declared:

The enemy has been defeated
Death couldn't hold you down
We're going to raise our voice in victory
We're going to sing our praises loud

We will remember. We will proclaim the love of Jesus. We will prevail.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting - Forgiveness

As my wife and I were walking towards the Drill Field for the noon moment of silence she made the comment, "I hope they ring the bell 33 times." There were 33 people killed on Monday. Thirty-two were innocent victims and one was a murderer.

I told Lisa I wasn't ready for that. I had prayed for his parents and sister. I had prayed for the men who sold him the guns. But, I didn't have it in my heart to pray forgiveness.

As we explored the Drill Field in front of Burris Hall there are stones laid out in memorial to the dead. These are Hokie stones; a unique stone from Virginia that all buildings are required to be built out of. Each one had an American flag, flowers and a VT with the person's name on it. On one of the stones was the name Seung-Hui Cho, the killer at Virginia Tech.

Convicted that the school was offering forgiveness when I wasn't, I attended a worship service last night with members of a variety of campus ministries hoping to offer something to the hurting. It was a sweet time with the Lord. A time of passion, emotion and glory to Him.

There was a speaker, Lisa, who came in from a local AME church. Most of what she said was addressed to the students. One thing she said was straight from the Lord to me. "We are people of God. We are not going to hate this young man!"

I came to comfort the students; instead she pierced my heart. I prayed for forgiveness for hurting God the way I did.

Here is a sentence I wrote in this blog two days ago: "No the media shouldn't have shown the videos of the monster who did this." This young man was not a monster. He was a troubled young man in need of a savior, just like I was, who fell into the grip of an enemy who would kill and destroy.

Lord, I ask forgiveness from you for my lack of love to Cho, and I offer forgiveness to him. I ask you to use his experience to bring greater love into the world.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting - Photos

I have new photos from the last couple of days up on my Flickr page:

Virginia Tech Shooting - Day of Mourning

We stood on the Drillfield at 12 noon today as the bells tolled and balloons were released. Being there made yesterday's bad day a little better.

What a week it has been around here. The ugliest face of evil showed itself and continues to taunt from the grave. Yet, God was here as well. It’s easy to think that He showed up in the aftermath, but it is more accurate to say He was always here. He prepared us for what the enemy was going to do. And while the preparation didn’t make the losses any less heartfelt, it gave comfort to know that He is still God.

The day before the attacks at Virginia Tech during our church service one lady, someone not given to flights of fancy, spoke up and said she felt the presence of a spirit of death. Our pastor compared the spirit of death to campfire smoke, the smell of which clings to you long after you have left. So, the spirit of death can cling and it was present and palpable to a discerning few.

During an intercessory prayer session that same Sunday everyone praying was continually and gently prompted to pray for the University. Over and over the prayers returned to Tech. So, God was there. Why didn’t He intervene? Why did He allow us to go through this? I don’t know. All I know is the character of God. His is a character of loving-kindness, mercy and grace. We cling to that character and let His love wash over us.

And, as a little time passes, the names of the dead and wounded are released, the reporters go home and we get a little distance from the event we can stand back and realize this is not a unique attack of the enemy. Yesterday in Iraq 120 people were killed in a single bombing. Yesterday 30,000 children died because they are poor. It doesn’t make the heartache over the loss of our 32 loved ones any easier. But it reminds us that God’s heart breaks over each of these deaths. And He wants us to have His heart too.

Virginia Tech Shooting - A bad day

Yesterday was a bad day. Maybe it was because I went back to work for the first time since Monday. Maybe it was because I didn't feel like I was doing anything. In the afternoon I really felt the need to go to the campus. As I walked out the door it started raining really hard. It was a bad day.

Part of the reason may have been visiting the news every couple of hours. This is what got to me most.

This photo from South Korea:

The father of Erin Peterson saying, "My baby is gone."

Standing in front of Norris Hall and seeing the bicycles that are still locked in a pile.

Hearing about the first EMT's who rushed into the classrooms, hearing the cell phones of the victims ringing; loved ones searching for some hope.

Remembering back to Monday night and watching and speaking with the loved ones of Jamie Bishop, Henry Lee and Reema Samaha as they prayed and hoped only knowing now that they were already gone.

A cross in front of a local church draped in VT colors.

Today is a day of mourning and orange and maroon effect. Please join us in remembering those we lost.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting - Video of a killer

No the media shouldn't have shown the videos of the monster who did this. If nothing else for the sake of this community. I think there is a little bit of news value to it, and there were a lot of ratings value to it. But, most of the people in this area, if they weren't at work, were on campus or looking at news reports. For the last 24-hours all I saw was him. None of us needed that.

I think this has sparked some backlash. Most people in the area were tolerant of the media and understood their importance in getting this story out. Now everyone is ready for them to go. My wife walked across campus today with her head down and refusing to make eye contact with anyone just so she wouldn't be asked for an interview.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech - The enemy has visited

Things are plenty tense around here. There was another bomb threat with lots of rumors on campus today. The shock is wearing off and grief and anger are on the rise.

The leadership from our church gathered today to pray and strategize about what the Lord wants us to do next. As we prayed there was a call for the Lord to show us where the enemy has a foothold in this valley. We prayed if we have given the enemy authority to impact us and how to end it.

Our church speaks frequently of authority and legal rights. God works under a system of perfect justice and allows us to participate. He will work within something over which we have authority when we give him the legal right to. The same works for the enemy, and apparently somewhere he has established a legal right in this area.

We look back to last Fall when another gunman escaped from police custody, killed a security guard and a policeman, and held the community of Blacksburg hostage until he was recaptured.

Last Sunday during service a lady who is not prone to wild flights of fancy spoke up during service and said there was a spirit of death present. Rick talked about that just as the smoke of a campfire clings to you, so does the spirit of death. And this discerning lady felt it.

During a session of intercessory prayer on Sunday the group was led frequently to pray for Tech.

Death then manifested itself on Monday morning.

If there is a sanctuary for the enemy, if he has established a legal right in the New River Valley we pray in Jesus' name that God will expose it and it will be vanquished.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting - Candlelight Vigil

The vigil is over. It was short, and slightly more festive than earlier activities. The crowd was quick to start a chant of "Let's go Hokies!" when the speakers were finished. I think the shock is wearing off, which means the grief will truly set in. Students have the rest of the week off, so much of that grieving will happen outside the Hokie Nation. But, hearts are tied together in pride for the community and through shared tragedy. We will move on, but the grief will never truly go away.

I went to the vigil with Rachel. She was fine until we paid our respects outside of Norris. That was when she broke down. A 16-year-old shouldn't have to go through that.

We found out today that one of the victims was a friend of and classmate of Lisa and another attended a Bible study with my son. Please be in prayer for the Pryde and La Porte families.


Virginia Tech Shooting - Nikki Giovanni

The speech will be up on You Tube soon, but in the meantime you can watch it at:


It is short and worthwhile if you want to see how Tech is going to react to this tragedy.

A quick prayer request. I had put out on email to those of you I know that one of my wife Lisa's professor's, Professor Nowak, was scheduled to be in the area of the shooting at the time of the shooting. Authorities have released her name as one of the dead. Please pray for her family.


Virginia Tech Shooting - Part 2

We just got back from the convocation. It was beautiful and just the right tone. There were way more people trying to get in than could fit, but we were fortunate enough to get good seats. It was a sea of orange and maroon, mixed with suits and ties and frat and sorority logos. There could be no doubt where you were. The conversation was subdued but consistent until about 20 minutes before two. Then a Corp of Cadets walked in with the flags. The building went silent as everyone rose to their feet. Eventually everyone sat again, but there was a reverent silence for the rest of the session.

The first of many moving moments was when Governor Kaine, President and Mrs. Bush and the families of the victims were seated. The silence didn't break even as everyone rose again. The next moment was when Virginia Tech President Charles Steger was introduced. The applause began politely, but when it would normally fade it only grew. Everyone again rose to their feet. There have already been not so quiet complaints about the way he handled the situation, and these complaints will only grow. Maybe what he did needs to be examined. But there was only one person to blame for the shooting. He was clearly touched by the support.

Governor Kaine spoke about community and President Bush spoke about giving in to evil. Both were passionate and comforting. The highlight of the convocation however was English Professor Nikki Giovanni. She used language that a professor and a poet would use to remind us that we were innocent, just as any victim is. But, the message was screw you if you think you won. You don't know who this community is if you think we're beaten. The place erupted with the chant "Let's go Hokies!" Event the President joined in. It was a need release of emotion. As she pointed out, we're not moving on. But, evil will not triumph!

Let's go Hokies.