A Pillar of Strength

“The Philistine rulers held a great festival, offering sacrifices and praising their god, Dagon. They said, “Our god has given us victory over our enemy Samson!” When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy to us! The one who killed so many of us is now in our power!” Half drunk by now, the people demanded, “Bring out Samson so he can amuse us!” So he was brought from the prison to amuse them, and they had him stand between the pillars supporting the roof.” – Judges 16:23-25.   

It must have been some party. They had reason to celebrate. A formidable enemy was in their clutches. So the Philistines assembled at Gaza, giving praise to Dagon their god. They got liquored up and called for Samson. They wanted entertainment and Samson’s humiliation was the main attraction for the jubilant party-goers. The Bible does not tells us the details, but it would seem that they probably threw things along with insults at Samson. It must have been an enjoyable spectacle for the Philistines, this blind enemy standing before them.   

Samson’s humiliation was cruel, but fitting. It was Samson’s eyes that got him into so much trouble. Samson’s eyes were gouged out. Samson’s strength was used for his own purposes and glory, and now he was powerless to do them harm as he had often done. Samson thought himself invincible; now he was nothing but a subject for ridicule. Samson’s disobedience had finally caught up with him.   

Yet, ironically, Samson seemed to see things more clearly than he had ever seen them before. He then prayed, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” God answered that prayer. Samson was positioned in such a way that he was able to exert pressure on both main supports. When these two supporting columns gave way, the entire building collapsed. The roof and supporting beams, along with the 3,000 people standing on the roof, came crashing down upon those assembled below. More Philistines were killed through Samson’s death than he killed during his life.

Have you ever wondered what pillars in your life you need to push down? You’ve got a pillar of pride in your life: “I can handle it.”  Push it down. You’ve got a pillar of anger in your life: “I’m mad at the world;  I’m mad at myself.”  Push it down.  You’ve got a pillar of bad relationships in your life.  So pray and ask God to help you commit to better behaviors. You’ve got a pillar of debt in your life.  Work to reduce it with God’s help. If we want to be closer to God then we need to push down the pillars that get in the way of God’s purposes daily.  

Here’s the first pillar you need to push down: give up your life.  Give it up to the one who has already given up His life for you. Give it up to the one who showed His love for us by dying not just for friends but for His enemies. Give your failures to him and say, “Jesus, forgive me for the things I have done wrong.”  Then you let him lead you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What pillars exist in your life that need to be pushed down? How do we go about pushing those pillars down?
  2. What talents do we have that God can use in His church?
  3. How can we help others push down the pillars in their lives?
  4. What can we do this week to be more available to God?

Looking Up When You Are Down

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. “We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.” We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. (TLB)

The book of 2 Corinthians is basically about trouble, Paul’s physical weakness, and overcoming failure. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 talks about inevitabilities as a Christian: Are we under pressure? Yes. Do we get confused sometimes? Yes. Will we face criticism? Yes. Will we get knocked down sometimes? Yes. 

That’s life, that’s reality, that’s the truth for every follower of Jesus. If you thought anything different, you will eventually see the truth of these statements. Being a Christian doesn’t mean getting a free pass through life. Far from it. We fall short of the mark. But that does not mean we have to stay down when we are down. We need to pick ourselves up. “We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.”

The 2nd Corinthians passage ends with:“We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” (TLB) Now those words express the exact thought and meaning of what the Apostle Paul is trying to get across to us. Paul was knocked to the ground many times, but he was never permanently grounded. Through all the trials, struggles and failures God always gave him the strength to get up and get back in the race.

There was a big difference between Paul’s outward circumstances and his inner peace. Outwardly “pressed on every side by troubles,” inwardly “not crushed or broken.” Outwardly “perplexed,” but inwardly “not giving up or quitting.” Outwardly “hunted down,” inwardly “but not abandoned.” Outwardly “knocked down,” but inwardly “being able to keep going.” When faced with defeat, we too can have the inner strength through Christ to turn failure into victory.

Samson at the end of his life had experienced humiliating defeat at the hand of his enemy. Some of us may feel the same as he did. We feel that we failed and as a result were a failure. The good news is that while you may be at the end of your rope, you are not at the end of your hope. You may be down in the deep clutches of remorse, but you don’t have to stay there. Through Christ you can get up again and go on. When we are at our worst, God is at His best. When we are down, God is up. When we can’t, God can. When we are at wit’s end, God begins to work.

The Bible is full of examples. Adam was down, but God lifted him. Jacob was down, but God lifted him. Joseph was down, but God lifted him. Moses was down, but God lifted him. David was down, but God lifted him. Peter was down, but God lifted him. And Samson was down, but God lifted him in the end.

C.S. Lewis had this to say on the subject: “God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” ( A Grief Observed)

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you are down, how do you normally react? 
  2. Is failure the principal reason we are down sometimes?
  3. What can we do this week to to look up when we are down?

The Unknown Fear

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong..” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Why do people fear failure? We view failure as a Waterloo. We see it as the plague of plagues and as the worst thing that could happen to us. Perhaps the greatest problem is we associate failure through the lens of how other people view us. The idea that they may not hold us in high regard can be responsible for us holding back, instead of moving forward.  All because we fear failure.   

As a result, the fear of failure has many people in neutral or paralyzed or playing the game of cover up. We ignore our mistakes and hide our sins because to admit them would be to admit that we are a failure. People don’t get married because they fear the inevitable bumps in the road. Others refuse to tackle a job or take on a responsibility for fear of failure. Still others fail to be generous because they fear the future and its possible failures. But as we learned in the life of Samson, failures can and do happen. And Samson was not alone in that regard. 

When Abraham should have stayed in the land and trusted the Lord, he fled to Egypt because of the drought. And this was by no means the last of Abraham’s failures. Moses, in trying to help his people, ran ahead of the Lord and killed an Egyptian. When David should have been out in the field of battle, he stayed home and committed adultery with Bathsheba and then plotted the murder of her husband. Peter, in spite of his self-confidence and his boast, denied the Lord. 

There is a fundamental pattern and principle here. Sometimes God must engineer failure in us before He can bring about success in us. I want to say something up front. This is not to make excuses for sin or to place a premium on mistakes or failure. This does not mean that a person must fail before they can be a success, but our failures, whether in the form of rebellion or just errors, oversights or good-old-fashioned blunders, can become tools of learning. The point is, we must never think that God cannot use us because of past or present failures.

The bottom line is we can grow through failure if we remember that: First, we are accepted in the Lord on the basis of grace, not our performance. Second, we are human and, as a result, we are not now perfect nor will we ever be. God still has a plan for our lives. And third, God is not through with us yet, and we need to be ready to do His will without fear of failure.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How might someone’s past failures keep them from moving on with their life? How does fear of failure sometimes keep people from doing what they know to be right? Why are people so afraid of failure? Is failure always a bad thing? Why or why not?
  2. Have you ever been afraid to try something new because you were concerned about the possible consequences? When is this kind of fear healthy? When is this kind of fear unhealthy?
  3. What steps do you need to take this week to reduce fear in your life?

Failure Is An Event – Not A Person

If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.” – Proverbs 24:10-12.

It was Gene Kranz, flight director of Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions that was reported to have said, ”Failure is not an option.” Most men would agree with that assessment because men don’t want to fail. Not even once. We want to measure up and be admired, but to do that we have to be successful. Unfortunately, most people who fail end up with regrets, not admiration. This regret takes the form of: “I wish I had” or “I should have done” or “Why didn’t I?” 

Samson was the poster boy for “shoulda coulda woulda.” Samson’s story reminds us that man’s greatest fear is failure, and his greatest pain is regret.  So in life, failure is an event, an occurrence, not a person. No matter how badly you’ve messed up in your life, you probably could not match Samson. Samson failed individually, but he also failed a nation. Most of us will never take down a nation with our failures. But we will fail. To see failure in the light of the Spirit is to let failure contribute to one’s growth in Christ.

The key is to not let the failure define you. And, don’t internalize a failure until it starts to ferment into regret. Own it. Learn from it. Pain can be a great teacher. As C.S Lewis said, “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” Just because you’re down doesn’t mean you’re out. Not by a long shot. Even in our failures, God can still accomplish His purpose. It’s through our weaknesses that He shows himself strong.

When we fail, the important thing is to get up, confess it to God and, where necessary, to the person whom we have hurt, if we have hurt someone, and ask for their forgiveness. Then we need to forgive ourselves as God forgives us, and learn from the experience. Remember, too, it’s not God’s goal to make us good but to make us whole, and the more whole and mature we become, the less we will act out in harmful ways—and the less we will fail.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” (Hebrews 12:11-13)

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Samson respond to failure? What would you have done differently?
  2. What regrets do you struggle with? How have these regrets affected you and your relationship with Christ?
  3. How have you seen God accomplish His purposes in the midst of your failures?
  4. What steps can we take this week to better deal with our failures?

Near at Hand

“…Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.….” – James 4:5-8.

God puts dreams in our hearts and writes a destiny for our lives. If we trust Him enough, if we have faith, we will find ourselves on a journey toward the fulfillment of that dream. But sometimes that journey is strewn with thickets and thorns. Some of it may not be our doing, but some of it, as was the case with Samson, is our own doing. God allows the path to be difficult because He is intent on refining us to be the person He intends us to be. Unfortunately, in difficult times it is easy to take a few steps away from God.

Samson took more than a few steps. In much of his life’s journey he was doing what he wanted regardless of the fact it was leading him away from God. But what about us? What happens when we are in the desert dying from a lack of thirst? Or when a lion rises up against us? Or when enemies constantly plan our downfall? We often find ourselves at a decision point. Do we trust and lean into God? Or do we take a few steps away?   

The tough times are when we need to step toward Jesus. It was James, the brother of Jesus, who wrote to the believers in Jerusalem, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8). If we draw closer to God, he will reciprocate and draw closer to us. Drawing near to God is spending time with Him, worshiping Him, praying and talking to Him, inviting Him into every aspect of our lives. Many times God uses situations and difficulties to get our attention and stimulate our thirst for Him. What appears to be a painful or desperate situation is often His invitation to draw near.

We can fail, as Samson, and still draw closer to God if we seek forgiveness. With an attitude of humble repentance, we can enter into a more intimate relationship with God. However, if we find ways to rationalize and continue doing the same sin, we will inevitably take some steps away from God. Sin always blocks our ability to know the Lord.

If you have allowed weakness or failure to pull you away from God rather than toward Him, it is not too late. Our enemy wants to put as many steps between you and the Lord that he possibly can. Don’t let the enemy win the battle. Instead, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).

Discussion Questions:

  1. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” What does that promise mean to you? What does it mean in our daily lives?
  2. What causes us to take steps away from God? What causes us to take steps toward God?
  3. How do we draw near to God?
  4. What can we do this week to take a few steps toward God? 

Disobedience Will Eventually Cost You

“The Israelites had traveled in the wilderness for forty years until all the men who were old enough to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died. For they had disobeyed the Lord, and the Lord vowed he would not let them enter the land he had sworn to give us—a land flowing with milk and honey.” – Joshua 5:6. 

If you follow Jesus for any length of time and you seriously pursue a strong relationship, you will eventually have to make a choice: will you follow Him in obedience? There is a cost of following Him, and sometimes that cost can be heavy.

We will all be confronted with the choice to obey, or ignore the opportunity for obedience and take a few steps away from God by compromising or making bad choices. The story of Samson is found in Judges 13-16. Chapter 13 begins with the words, “Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight…”  After this, they were oppressed by the Philistines for 40 years. Samson, a natural leader in that day because of his strength, was appointed by God to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. But over time small missteps led to large consequences leading to Samson’s eventual humiliation. At the end, God forgave Samson for his disobedience, and gave Samson his strength back one last time to defeat the Philistines. The lesson Samson learned the hard way is that disobedience will eventually cost you.

Each of us has probably come to God with hat in hand asking for forgiveness for some act of disobedience, realizing we have no plausible defense nor excuse for our actions/decisions. After all, it is easy to compromise at first. It can even be fun. We will deal with the price tag on our act of disobedience at a later date. But here is the truth. Disobedience is serious business. Whether we disobey with the cost hidden or the price tag in full view, the ultimate consequences will be very real and very experienced.

The cost of disobedience is high. And it will eventually cost you. Many times it is not easy to follow and obey the Word of the Lord, but how much better to suffer for the sake of obedience, than to suffer the consequences of disobedience. “But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32.)

If you have disobeyed the Lord in some area of your life, take the steps needed to restore the relationship. God will always forgive and restore us as He did with Samson. Continuing on in disobedience is a serious mistake in the life of the Christian. Samson “paid the fare” of disobedience, and so will we when we step away from God. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think Samson failed to be Spirit-led in his life?
  2. Led by the Spirit: This is essential to being developed into the person God created us to be. How do you think about the importance of the Spirit’s work in your life? How much of your life do you think you can handle on your own?
  3. The Spirit leads us and shapes us to be more like Jesus so others can see Jesus through us. In what ways does the Spirit lead you?
  4. What can we do this week to let the Spirit shape our character to be more like Jesus?

Our Own Worst Enemy

“For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44.

Most everywhere we look, we’re reminded of the real battle that exists. We live in desperate and uncertain times. The devil does not wait until we are strong and ready for his attack. He is ruthless, determined and cunning and is hoping that we underestimate him. The more we underestimate the enemy, the more likely he is to make inroads into our lives.

God has a plan for our lives. The enemy has a plan for us too. We just have to decide which voice we’re going to listen to, and who we’re going to choose to follow each day. God had a plan for Samson’s life, but too often the choices Samson made steered him away from God and into the traps of the enemy.

We can all underestimate and forget about the reality that we have a spiritual enemy whose mission is to steal, kill, and destroy everything that matters to the heart of God. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.“

We underestimate the enemy when we walk right over the guard rails God places in our lives. We underestimate the devil when we become a little too comfortable spending time with that married women. We underestimate our enemy when we relax our ethics to make that deal. We think we know how to stand strong against the Devil, but do we? First Corinthians 10:12 says: “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” So we need to be careful that we don’t fall because we underestimate our enemy.

One of the most important principles of warfare is to know your enemy. If you are fighting a war and you have a lot of information about your enemy, it makes the battle so much easier. If you know very little about your enemy, the battle will be more difficult. As we read in 1 Peter, Satan roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. If the newspapers reported that a lion had escaped from the zoo and was roaming the streets of your city, wouldn’t it be a help to know which area of the city he is in, so we could avoid that area? Certainly. In the same way, knowing where Satan is trying to attack us can save us from a lot of problems. It is important that we know our enemy, because once you know what the Bible teaches about Satan, you will be careful and you will not underestimate your enemy.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If we do not take our enemy seriously, how could this hinder us?
  2. What can we do to be on guard against Satan? How can scripture help?   
  3. Think about the life of Samson: What is a healthy balance between blaming the devil for all of our ills and dealing with our responsibility for our lives and actions?
  4. What can we do this week to acquire more knowledge of our enemy?

What Have You Learned From Your Mistakes?

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Has you ever tried to do the right thing only to have it turn out all wrong? It happens. It can also happen in our spiritual life.  Maybe you took on a responsibility that you thought God wanted you to do or maybe you avoided a situation God wanted to use in your life to accomplish His purpose. Even when we sincerely want to follow God, we may and often do unknowingly veer off course. That’s why it’s so important to seek guidance from God before we try to maneuver our way out of a difficult situation or rush in to fix a problem. Our plans often seem logical, reasonable, or compassionate, but if they don’t align with the Lord’s will, we are potentially just getting in His way.

Samson often veered off course. And worse, he never made a course adjustment back to God when he made the mistakes. But God was still working in his life to fulfill His purpose whether he realized it or not. The same can be said of each of us. It doesn’t matter what you can see or understand. Faith requires that you trust God that He is at work in your life, even in the failures. God can use our mistakes and our failures to prepare us for some future success.

It is hard to view Samson as much more than a failure. But God was positioning him right where God wanted him to be so he could do what the Lord wanted him to do. It may not seem like God is leading you, but He is. When you feel like God isn’t there, that’s not the time to trust less, but more. Some of the most convicting and uplifting testimonies are when people rise above their failures to succeed. We all need God to help us recover when we make mistakes and temporarily lose our way. Like Samson, you may have wrestled some lions such as loneliness, addictions, financial issues, and broken relationships. 

When you fail, it’s not time to run from God but to God. When at the end, Samson too sought God. Remember the story of the Philistines basking in their victory over Samson. They asked that Samson be brought out to entertain them. Samson asked that he be put between the pillars that support the temple. Thousands of Philistines were in the temple. “Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.”

At this point, Samson was a shell of his former self, or so it seemed. He was defeated, blinded and forced to entertain his enemies. We too must overcome our tendency to run from God when we fail and instead substitute it with a habit of running to God. We can approach God boldly, just like Samson did, even when we fail: “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”  (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is it possible to live a mistake-free life?
  2. What should we learn from the mistakes we make?
  3. What is God’s role when we make a mistake?
  4. What can we do this week to run to God rather than run away from Him?

Going It Alone

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1: 9.

How often have you been in a conversation where someone comments that they don’t know how people cope with life without God. Or maybe in a small group, somebody comments that they couldn’t face what they are facing without God. I couldn’t agree more because I can’t imagine coping with the stuff life throws at you without knowing the love and grace of our truly faithful and amazing God. But that is exactly what Samson often did. 

Samson was always doing his own thing. He was always going it alone. Because he put himself in charge of his life, his personal desires dictated his actions. Another sign that Samson was going it alone was that from all appearances, he never prayed about anything, except before his final act, when he brought the house down (Judges 16:28-30). He was impulsive and he was impetuous. He didn’t take the time to ask God for direction. He just went ahead and did whatever his spirit willed him to do rather than God’s. 

What about us? To many people, God is just kind of an afterthought, a convenience. If we would just stop and ask God for direction before we jump into something with both feet and get all messed up. When things get tough and tight, we turn to him in desperation. Psalm 10: 1: “O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” But when everything is all right, we leave Him on the sidelines. Going it with God’s help means paying attention to what He says and seeking his guidance and wisdom every day. 

Samson never took that path until the very end of his life, after everything had finally fallen apart. He was captured by the Philistines, they gouged out his eyes, and they made him grind grain at a mill, a job normally reserved for animals. Notice what happened after everything collapsed: Samson finally prayed, as seen in Judges 16:28, “Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

So how do we keep from going it alone? By drawing near to God when life is both easy and hard, and also through times of difficulty. James 1:2-4 says,“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you ever find yourself going it alone by leaving God in the background?
  2. When does God become a distraction, or an afterthought in your life?
  3. What needs to happen to draw closer to God? 
  4. What can we do this week to better walk with God in our lives?   

Making Sense Of The Senseless

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalms 73:26. 

It is not news, and yet at the same time we hear each day in the news, that we live in a hurting world.

It was just about a year ago that tragedy struck the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston when  nine people were killed, including a pastor at prayer meeting. This week tragedy struck again as 49 people were killed and 53 people wounded in Orlando. Since hearing the news, my heart has been broken. I cannot begin to understand the feelings of parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews, friends, colleagues, neighbors and community members. All of us lost something this week, for some the losses are unimaginable. My prayers go out for everybody that was impacted by this senseless act. 

My reflection on this event is first, sadness. I am saddened to hear about so many people losing their lives. Secondly, I feel frustration. It is frustrating that someone would be so selfish to take other’s lives. And third, I feel a deep hurt. I am hurting because so many people lost their lives. Every person is made in the image of God. Every person is loved by God. Loved so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for each of us. The Bible clearly reveals how precious every single one of us is to God 

And fourth, we need prayer for our country and our world. After this tragic event, I can’t help but be reminded of the need for strategic prayer. God is a God who can and must be communicated with. It was Mother Teresa who said, “if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This tragic event reminds me of the need to pray for people because we don’t know if they are about to do something unwise, or if they are about to suffer the harsh reality of senseless tragedies like the Orlando shootings. 

Jesus told us the truth when He said in John 16:33, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He didn’t say it could be a possibility – He said trials and sorrows are going to happen.

But why? If you ask me point-blank, “why did God allow the gunman to kill so many innocent people in Orlando,” my answer isn’t much of an answer, but it is the best I can do: I do not know. As a pastor, I wish I had the answer. But I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. First Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 

My prayer is that God will use this tragic event to help our community and country draw nearer to Him and not drift further away from Him.