Newtown, CT: How did our God allow this to happen?

newtown ctThe breaking news from Newtown, CT is heartbreaking to say the least. I literally cannot even imagine what the families, that town, the authorities, and the churches are going through. A while back we had a single-person school shooting in our city, and it was devastating to say the least. I cannot imagine being involved in such a tragedy on this level. My prayers go out to all of those involved.

How do we respond when people ask “How did our God allow this to happen?” What are some of the best Scriptures to refer them to? Can God really be both all-powerful and all-loving in such tragedies? Does this bother God when there are tragedies happening all around the world?

When answering questions like these in tough times, we must keep in mind both emotion and truth. We cannot forget what people are feeling and the answers they are wanting to hear. So how do we respond? How do we defend our great God? Not to diminish or minimize this horrific event at all, but there have been countless terrible and tragic events throughout history that have left people wondering these same types of questions. Honestly, God does not need our defending. He is Creator, and we are all His creation. But God has given us wisdom to make sense of these type situations in accordance with the truth of His Word.

We know that horrific tragedies like these involving sin and death always break the heart of God (Genesis 6:6, John 11:35, Ephesians 4:30). Then if God hates sin and is powerful enough to stop it, why doesn’t He? That is a very difficult question to answer. We see throughout Scripture that there are many sins, tragedies, and deaths that God did not stop. Yet He ended up using them and turning them somehow for the ultimate good of His will (Genesis 50:20). Does that mean that God planned this to happen in any way? of course not! God’s Word is very clear that He never even tempts anyone with sin (James 1:13). The point is, God is so holy and removed from sin that He would never tempt with sin much less cause sin to happen. But out of His grace, God can use the sin, tragedy, and death to bring about His glory and some kind of good on the earth in the overall bigger picture and scheme of things. I can’t explain that, and I don’t even pretend to understand how good might come out of this. But that is how powerful, wise, and victorious our God is!

God turned the greatest tragedy and injustice of all history to His greatest good to ever happen. Continue reading

Rock Bottom: The Book of Lamentations


Free downloads for youth pastors:
1 – Lamentations – Rock Bottom (mp3)
1 – Lamentations – Rock Bottom (handout).pdf
1 – Lamentations – Rock Bottom (ppt)
1 – Lamentations – Rock Bottom (outline).doc
1 – Lamentations – Rock Bottom (service).pdf
1 – Lamentations – Rock Bottom (small groups).doc

This was our first service in two weeks. The tornadoes hit us hard two weeks ago on April 27th. The area was devastated as many lost their homes and some lost their lives. I’m absolutely amazed (but not all that surprised) that God had the book of Lamentations next for our study. Get this…Lamentations is all about the destruction of a city. What?! God’s timing is just absolutely incredible, and His love to speak into our lives through His Word is astounding. I’ve found through my study that a biblical process of reacting and responding through tragedy is biblical mourning which leads to biblical lamenting, biblical lamenting leads to biblical hope, and biblical hope leads to biblical restoring. We don’t need any of this ridiculous psycho-babble that is anti-Bible. We need God’s Word itself to help us on our journey when hitting rock bottom. So put down the psychology books, turn off Oprah and Dr. Phil, open up your Bible, and listen to God from Lamentations. Its some sweet stuff! And by the way, biblical lamenting is not crying out at God or even to God, but biblical lamenting is crying out FOR God. Check it out…

CRISIS COUNSELING: School Shooting in Madison

It has been a day filled with emotion, hurt, fear, drama, anxiety, worry, and chaos. The world of safety and security has been toppled upside-down for so many middle schoolers in the Madison, AL area. I heard from our secretary around 2pm today that the shooting had occurred at Discovery Middle. My phone started blowin-up with calls and text messages from concerned parents and students. Another youth pastor in the area called me and said he could get us into the schools (which were on lockdown) to minister to the kids. We went out there, got on campus, past the perimeter police, but then they wouldn’t let us in the doors.

We had several students from our church in the school during the time of the shooting.  A student was in the same hallway as the shooting, a student had just left the hallway right before the shooting, and several others were still in the building.  Some of our students knew the victim.  Some of our students knew the shooter.  One had lunch with him.  One had a class with him.  To say the least from this huge tragedy, our students are dealing with fear, anxiety, hurt, sadness, worry, vulnerability, doubt, and confusion.  A youth pastor’s question is always, “How do we counsel them?”  

1.  Whenever I counsel a student, I always make sure to listen.  Continue reading