Summary: This sermon contemplates the HOW of the BTK? How could this church president live such a life? WHo is to blame? HOw can it be prevented? Kind of long winded here again (surprise surprise) - but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so decided to preach on
March 4, 2005
Dennis Rader has been married for 34 years. He has two children and a regular job. On top of that, he has been a church member of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita for 30 years. He was an usher and president of the church council. The Pastor of his congregation - Michael Clark - stated that he was in church as often he was. Dennis Rader, however admitted to being the “BTK” murderer a little over a week ago. He was the man who was going around Wichita and binding, torturing, and killing people. Not only was he doing this, but he was also taunting the police to find out.
When I heard this, I just couldn’t seem to get my mind off of it. I mean - HOW in the world could you be a member of a congregation for 30 years - and even a president - and do those sorts of things? Think about if that happened here - in this congregation? All kinds of questions would arise. My main question would be - HOW? In a season where we contemplate many weaknesses of the disciples - Judas, Peter, and the other ten - I am going to address this strange thing - doing my best with God’s Word to - answer this question -
Could a BTK Be Within?
I. I need to examine what I’m doing
If we had a BTK within - the first thing that I would wonder is about the whole ministry that is being performed here. When your children misbehave, you naturally tend to look at the way they were RAISED. Any parent knows what it’s like to go back in life and wonder, “was there something I could have done differently?” When I heard about Dennis Rader, it’s the first thing that came to my mind. After I read some remarks the Pastor made after leaving his prison cell, it made me question his raising even more. Here are some quotes and factoids I got from the Internet -
"We are not going to cut him off. I could tell that he was relieved. . . . He is still a part of the body of Christ - and that is something some people will have a hard time hearing. . . . His demeanor seemed to be OK, he seems to be handling things as well as he can. . . . . For now, Rader remains president of the church council - although he will eventually have to relinquish some church leadership positions.”
No mention was made of repentance and sin or sorrow - at least not in the quotes. It appears that they are so willing to forgive and accept that the idea of sin and shame has been eliminated. The point that he still remains president, even after a confession - that one shocked me. When such a heinous public sin has been committed, should support so quickly be stated with no mention of sin or consequences?
This kind of behavior needs to be reprimanded publicly. How could you say such a lifestyle is in keeping with repentance? God expects mroe. Paul said of the Galatians - I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. (Ga 4:15) Acts 19:18-20 says that, Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. . . . the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. Paul said to the Corinthians, the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)
Therefore, when people came to John in the desert, THEY talked about expectations. In Luke 3, when John was preaching repentance and faith, “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” People were willing to make a change in their lives - as God wanted. This is the natural response of a Christian who has been filled with the Holy Spirit. He wants to do what God says, especially as a Christian - even if it involves ripping your eyes out.
It wasn’t that Paul had such a powerful WAY of preaching. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. The power that Paul relied on to change people was the Law and the Gospel - as found in the Word of God. He said, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Co 1:22-24) God promised in Isaiah 55:10-11, As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. When the Word of God is properly expounded - it will produce fruit.