Texas is the biggest State in the Union. There's no pride like Texas pride. Today Texas is known for more than barbecue and being an open carry state. Now Southerland Springs, Texas is known for mass murder in a church. South Carolina has been nudged from that distinction. Southerland Springs was a sleepy town until yesterday. It had a next to village size population.We had never heard of it, but we knew of the near city, San Antonio.
As events unfolded, we paused for a moment and attempted to make sense of it all. Our minds have become numb death and tragedy. Movies and news; media feeds and texting have made photos of corpses and blood commonplace. But church is not suppose to be a place where bodies lie across pews, collapsed on rostrums, or bleeding under a stain glass window, etched with the 'Good Shepherd.'
What we are experiencing is what Jesus told us would happen. What we are watching unfold is the mind boggling, mentally disturbing, emotionally unsettling, end of all things. Yep! That's where we are. We talked about it for years. This is not a recording. This is live; unrehearsed catastrophic events, on a global scale. Try to excuse this as life 'as usual'. You can't do it. You turn your thoughts in another direction to numb the reality, but it marches across your dreams.
26 people were gunned down while singing a hymn. The youngest of the dead was a baby 18 months (Source: NY Times) and the oldest a 77 year old woman. (Source: BBC News). Among the dead were 14 children. That's an all time high for mass murder records.When it was a 'Black thing' we ran for the bully pulpit called racial discrimination and screamed racism. Now, we are challenged with what to say. It was 'white' on 'white'. Clearer still - it was human on human!
God's word has working definitions for this season of earth's history. There are two that immediately come to mind. Let me share them with you.
- "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." (Genesis 6:11 - Noah's day)
- "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son man be." (Matthew 24:37 - Our day)
In the midst of madness, turn to the Word. Search its sacred pages. There is a Biblical answer for all things happening now. We have not been left without instruction or clarity about these times. Don't attempt to explain it psychologically, morally, ethically, relationally, or socially. Those are humanistic approaches. Filter it and speak of it, Biblically. Christ forewarned of these times through His revealed Word. He also spoke of this time in the larger context of the march out. We are given a glimpse of the duration of this world's madness within the same chapter as our passage in Matthew 24. "All these are the beginning of sorrows." (Matthew 24:8).
Faithless, hopeless believers are squeamish about these times. Hopeful, faithful believers see the unfolding events and declare - "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." (James 5:8)
Pray for the folks in Southerland Springs, Texas. They need to know, Jesus cares and He is coming soon.
Keep the Faith. Maranatha.
To: Allegheny West Conference Family
By now you have heard about the devastation Hurricane Harvey has inflicted upon the southern coast of Texas. Thousands upon thousands of individuals have lost their homes and much of their earthly goods. Many of those affected we may not know personally however our prayers and thoughts are with them. I spoke to Elder Calvin Watkins, the president of Southwest Region Conference this morning and he has shared with me the tremendous need of the saints in the Houston and surrounding areas. I assured him that his family in Allegheny West Conference would do their part in assisting in whatever way we can.
Pastor Jerome Hurst, our Community Service Director has been in constant contact with Adventist Community Service, ADRA and our sister conference, Southwest Region. The following plan has been worked out to address the needs of family:
Currently, the best donations are in the form of financial assistance. For the next two Sabbaths, September 2 and 9, we are asking that all our churches in Allegheny West Conference pick up a special offering for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. You can either donate online here on our website or mail these offerings to Allegheny West Conference and we will forward those funds directly to Southwest Region Conference.
We will give an updated report of the funds that come in and keep you informed of additional assistance that can be provided as we continue to help meet the needs of our family members.
May God's greatest blessings continue in your lives.
Yours in His Service
William T. Cox Sr.
August 12 events should be seen as a wake-up call to the people of God that time is winding up. When traditional groups continue to foster violence and now begin to come out of the shadows, we should be reminded of the words of Ellen White, "Slavery will again be revived in the Southern States; for the spirit of slavery still lives." 2 MR 299.3 When volatile, raciest behavior like that exhibited on this past Sabbath, we must reflect the character of Christ and show love, one for another. Here is the question we must answer; What difference does having the Holy Spirit in our lives make from those that do not have His Spirit? These events lets us know that we must finish the work so that sin and its consequences will come to an end. Come Lord Jesus Come!
NEW LEAF PROPHECY/DOCTRINAL LEARNING CENTER COMMENT ON CHARLOTTESVILLE
This morning the New York Times provided this overview of events in Charlottesville, this weekend as interpreted by the U.S. Department of Justice's leadership: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday that the “evil attack” in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend meets the legal definition of an act of domestic terrorism, an early declaration in an investigation after a car plowed into a crowd of protesters.
“It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute,” Mr. Sessions said on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” referring to a fatal attack on Saturday when a vehicle drove into a crowd protesting white nationalists, killing one woman and injuring others."
Mr. Session's assessment is a legal one. It is his civic and moral responsibility to analyze and review the event through Federal law. That is only a partial view, however. We are required as Biblical Christians to take a global view; a prophetic view of events as they unfold. We cannot be true to our calling as Christians and not factor our Saviour's pronouncements about our times.
In Matthew 24, Jesus outlines in graphic detail what and how things would play out before His Second Advent. This is what He said: "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.' . . . 'But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:6-8, 37).
Context and comparison are given to provide a graphic description of what we will see and experience before Christ returns. Jesus places final events in the setting of Noah's day. Moses pens the condition of Noah's time with these words: "The earth was also corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." (Genesis 6:11). Pundits, politicians, and civil rights advocates will attempt to granulate the past weekend through the small, narrow prism of race, color, economics, religion, and education. The people of God should see those developments and those in Seattle on Sunday, as a fulfillment of the Words of Christ.
Unfortunately, the inhabitants of Noah's day heard the preaching of the end of world, and chose not to believe, until the "the floods came and took them all away." I pray we will learn from their inability to see the big picture.
Jesus is coming soon. That fact, should be the lense through which we see and evaluate all events on our planet.
Samuel Thomas, Jr.