Sunday, July 27, 2008

Shooting at Local Christian Radio Station

One of our local Christian radio stations had a tragic shooting on Friday.

This is the official statement from WTLR--and I think they get it just right.

After a list of good prayer requests for the station and all those involved, including the family of troubled man who died, the end with this:

So why did this happen? Why did this happen to us? Perhaps we will never know.

We had absolutely no indication before Friday at 10:05am that anyone had ill-intent toward our ministry. No threatening phone calls, mail, email or communications of any type. It was a beautiful Friday morning and "out of the blue" this crisis came crashing down upon us.

That happens sometimes in life. All of us can face sudden, overwhelming crisis.

But this is what we do know: God knew all about it. He knew about it ahead of time. As we look back over what happened over the course of Friday July 25, 2008, we can see how He graciously moved to protect us and many, many others around us. Quick and responsible action on the part of Jason Penland to alert us and the police to protect us averted what could have proved to be an even bigger tragedy.

We bear no ill will whatsoever toward Brian Neiman. We understand that he was a troubled man. Unfortunately, that troubled man was an armed and in our sad day of frequent shootings, we must take public safety seriously. I talked with Jason Penland about the situation the day after the shooting. Jason's assessment matches our own: heartbroken. I know the law enforcement officials would have much preferred a peaceable surrender and resolution. Apparently, that was not meant to be.

Friends, it's in moments like these -- times of tragedy, crisis and loss -- that I believe Almighty God pulls back "the veil" around our comfortable and cushioned lives and shows us a glimpse of reality. The stakes are very, very high. Jesus said that the devil has only one agenda: to "steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10a).

Jesus died a horrible, cruel death at the hands of sinners. He took the awful load of our sins upon Himself. He who "knew no sin" was "made him to be sin" "for our sake". Why? "So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (1 Corinthians 5:21, English Standard Version). He shouldered the full wrath of God, due for sinners like me. He shed His innocent blood to provide atonement -- oneness with God -- as well as paying the ransom for the devil's claim over our lives, redeeming us from the curse and make us God's own cherished, purchased possession.

The sheer awfulness of what He faced, what He bore on that cruel cross two thousand years ago is more than equal the awfulness of sin and its curse. He died a death that bad to deal with a fallen human race which was that bad.

Sometimes our Christianity can take on a sterile, cushioned and sugar-coated quality that is devoid of the reality of sin and its horrendous effect on sinners. At times like these, God shows us the stark reality sin and the condition of the human race.

God sovereignly uses situations like we faced on Friday July 25th to show us the seriousness of our mission. Friends, it's a matter of eternal life or death. It's a matter of souls that are hopelessly lost apart from Christ on one hand and the radical mission that Jesus has given us to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

What do we do now? We are more convinced than ever about the importance of our mission. Jesus gave it to us, 2000 years ago:

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Amen. Read the whole thing.