Illustration results for Victim
Redemption and Restoration in Real Life
I conclude this morning with a story about what happened since a tragic event that took place 9 months ago around Christmas time at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. I share it because I think it makes a point about moving beyond the 'Who, Them?' To THEM!
The event was the shooting of several people in the church parking lot and building that left three dead and three wounded. The young man, who had done the shooting, killed himself after being shot by a security guard. Earlier that day, he had entered Youth with A Mission Headquarters in suburban Denver, shooting four and killing two. His name was Matthew Murray, and he had been raised in a Christian home.
The tragedy shook the church that had just started to come out of the painful and very public story about their former pastor's, Ted Haggard, sexual sin. Now they were faced with this terrible tragedy.
In a recent Christianity Today article, it was told that after granting the interview to talk about that day and its after effects, it was revealed that Brady Boyd, the current Senior Minister, called Murray's parents and asked if they would like to come to New Life and see where 'their son had passed away.' They said they had wanted to, but had refrained from do so because of their concerns for the church. They were also asked if they would be willing to meet with members of the family who had lost two teenage daughters that morning. They said yes. The same invitation was extended to the victim's family, the Work's. They said yes.
After showing the Murrays around the church where the tragic events took place, they met with the Work's in Boyd's office. "What happened there in the two hours in my office ... was the most significant ministry moment I've experienced, maybe in all of my life," Boyd said. When they first entered the office, the two families embraced. They sat, wept, and cried together, Boyd said, for "I don't know how long." Then they prayed together.
Later Jeanne Assam [the security guard who shot Murray] was invited to join them. When Jeanne, who had undoubtedly saved many lives but had been forced to shoot the Murray's son, walked into the room, "the Murrays embraced her and hugged her and released her from any guilt and remorse. The dad looked at Jeanne and said, "Please know we're so sorry that you had to do what you did. We're so sorry."
The article concludes with these words from Boyd, "We can talk philosophically about repentance and redemption and going forward with God," Boyd said, "but what I saw in that room in my office was the greatest testimony of forgiveness and redemption that I have ever seen. It was a testimony that God really can restore and redeem."
1 John 2:4-2:5
What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
Hope energizes when the body is tired.
Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
Hope endures hardship when no on is caring.
Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
- John Maxwell from Think on These Things –
Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Michael and asked him, "I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Michael replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or ... you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or.... I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or... I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life. "Yeah, right, it’s not that easy," I protested.
"Yes, it is," Michael said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life." I reflected on what Michael said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon to be born daughter, "Michael replied.”Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live." "Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. Michael continued, "...the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read "he’s a dead man. I knew I needed to take action." "What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me. Said Michael. "She asked if I was allergic to anything.”Yes, I replied." The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, "Gravity." Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead." Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that everyday we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34 After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. Are you like Michael?
2 Corinthians 12:20-12:20
My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted, the more I am believed. I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobodies friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same. I topple governments, wreck marriages, and ruin careers -- cause sleepless nights, heartaches, and indigestion. I spawn suspicion and generate grief. I make innocent people cry in their pillows. Even my name hisses...
In the Christian reader, Ramon Williams writes that on April 28, 1996,
a gunman walked into a crowded cafe in Port Arthur, Australia, and started
shooting. Tony Kistan, a Salvation Army soldier from Sydney, and his wife
Sarah were in the restaurant when the bullets began to fly. Courageously
Tony stepped in front of his wife to shield her from the gunfire, and he was
one of the first to fall. Thirty-four victims eventually died in the incident,
including Tony Kistan. As he lay dying in his wife’s arms, he spoke his last
words, “I’m going to be with the Lord.”
Those final words of faith were quoted by the Australian media and
carried to the world. “At a press conference,” writes Williams, “Tony’s son
Nesan, 24, explained why his father held this assurance and described his
father’s dedication to the gospel. Hardened journalists and photographers
were seen wiping away tears from their eyes. In life, Tony had been a man
who witnessed for his Lord to strangers and friends alike, and now in death,
he had witnessed to others through his simple last statement.”
Jeffrey Dahmer was a convicted murderer and cannibal who cooked and ate his victims. You don’t really get much more heinous than that. He was awarded 16 life sentences. While in prison, Dahmer met with Roy Ratcliff, a minister with the Church of Christ in Madison, Wisconsin, and turned his life over to Jesus Christ. He was baptized in prison, knowing that he would never leave prison alive. He had nothing to gain in this life, but everything to gain in the next.
We may scoff at jailhouse conversions, but within months of Dahmer’s baptism, people noticed a Christian spirit in him. His father and pen pals noticed the difference, and his father, who had left the church, has since been restored as a faithful member. Dahmer’s younger brother also had a conversion experience of his own.
Dahmer was killed in prison by a fellow inmate a few months after his baptism. At his memorial service, along with his own family and several Christians, two sisters of one of his victims attended, having grown close to Dahmer’s family after their brother’s death.
That may have been Dahmer’s last chance for repentance, and he took it. But many of us think he shouldn’t have been given another chance. He didn’t deserve it. And that’s true. He didn’t deserve another chance. But neither do we.
Sermon Central Staff
OUR NEED FOR PAIN
There is no tougher dilemma in the Christian life than the problem of pain. It could be the pain of broken relationship, the pain of rejection, or the pain of insults. Or it could just be plain old physical pain. Nothing tests the faith like pain.
It was physical pain that became a life's work for a man named Dr. Paul Brand. Perhaps nobody studied pain like Dr. Brand.
I became acquainted with his work through the writing of one of my favorite authors, Phil Yancey. He and Dr. Brand wrote several books together including, In His Image, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, and The Gift of Pain.
Dr. Brand died in 2003 at the age of 89. I want to read a little bit from an article in Christianity Today about him:
"Born to missionary parents in the mountains of southwestern India in 1914, Brand attended London University, where he met his wife, Margaret Berry. The two surgeons returned to Vellore, India, to teach at the Christian Medical College and Hospital. While working as the school's first Professor of orthopaedics and hand research, Brand pioneered surgical work with those suffering from Hansen's disease, a bacterial infection more commonly known as leprosy. He was the first surgeon to use reconstructive surgery to correct deformities caused by the disease in the hands and feet, and developed many other forms of prevention and healing from the disease.
"Before Brand, it was widely believed that those suffering from Hansen's disease lost their fingers and feet because of rotting flesh. Instead, Brand discovered, such deformities were due to the loss of ability to feel pain. With treatment and care, he showed, victims of the disease could go indefinitely without such deformities.
It was on this issue that Brand's work with Hansen's disease met with his theological reflections on what he viewed as 'the most problematic aspect of creation: the existence of pain.' Pain, Brand believed, was not antithetical to life, but a requisite for it. God designed the human body so that it is able to survive because of pain,' he later wrote."
Dr. Brand's research helped him form a theology of pain. He compared the body's need for pain, to alert it to danger, to the soul and the spirit's need for pain to alert it to danger and help it to survive.
You see, as Christians, we believe, that our trials, our pain, our deepest hurts, have a purpose beyond our comprehension. This dovetails nicely with what we find in the opening pages of the book of James.
(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, The Purpose of Your Pain, 2/2/2011)
Corrie Ten Boom and her family secretly housed Jews in their home during WW II. Their "illegal" activity was discovered, and Corrie and her sister Bessie were sent to the German death camp, Ravensbruck. There Corrie would watch many, including her sister, die.
After the war she returned to Germany to declare the grace of Christ.
It was 1947, and I’d come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth that they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown.
"When we confess our sins," I said, "God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ’NO FISHING ALLOWED.’"
The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a cap with skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush—the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! That place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard—one of the most cruel guards.
Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: "A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!" And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard there." No, he did not remember me. "But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,"—again the hand came out—"will you forgive me?"
And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.
In 1973, four hostages were taken in a botched bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. At the end of their captivity, six days later, they actively resisted rescue. They refused to testify against their captors, raised money for their legal defense, and one of the female hostages later became engaged to one of her now jailed captors.
The Stockholm syndrome comes into play when a captive cannot escape, is isolated and threatened with death, but is shown token acts of kindness by the captor.
Obviously, this twisted state of the psyche got its name from later studies of these events that transpired in Stockholm. But the same syndrome has since been seen in other situations in life. It is seen in battered wives, survivors of the Holocaust (not many of them left), and like situations.
It basically boils down to this. The victim feels helpless and has lost hope for relief from a situation; gropes for and clings tenaciously to any little perceived goodness or benefit coming even from the person or situation causing the problem, and eventually begins to sense a false love and dedication to the very person or circumstance they’ve been imprisoned to.
In South Dakota the community of Spencer was devastated by a tornado. Among the
many losses, including six victims, was St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. The day after the
tornado a group from the church walked with their pastor through the remaining rubble of
that community. It was an unbelievable sight. There was a grain elevator twisted and
fallen, a water tower toppled, vehicles and other heavy items strewn around like toys.
Whole buildings just gone from their foundations. When they neared the site of the church
someone called out "there’s the statue, there’s Jesus!" Sure enough, there it was the
traditional white statue of Jesus, that stands at the altar of many small churches with arms
outstretched and loving demeanor. There it, or He was, a beacon to all that was left of a
100-year old Lutheran church. The white paint on the statue was nearly gone and the arms
were cracked. But one observer that day said,
“I didn’t notice the damage, it was just so remarkable,
so moving and so fitting to look up from the chaos around us
and see Jesus, arms outstretched, welcoming,
and loving his people.”
What that group of church members were to learn only later was how two young girls,
helping to clean up for a family member in a nearby home, had taken time to come over to
where the church had been to set aside a few items of church property they found
scattered in the area. When they saw the statue lying in the rubble they figured everyone in Spencer needed to know that Jesus was still there, so they stood him up for all to see.