Sunday, March 29, 2009

Absalom's legacy

Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept.
And as he went, he said thus:
“O my son Absalom
—my son, my son Absalom—
if only I had died in your place!
O Absalom my son, my son!”
(2 Sam 18:33 English [19:1 Hebrew])
The more I read the Bible the more I come to know and love the people that God chose to remember in His Scriptures for us.

Not reading the Bible leaves us in a very vulnerable position. As St. Paul stated in I Cor. 10: 11-13
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Absalom was set against the life and teaching of his father, King David. Absalom raped his sister, murdered, raised an insurrection against his father, flaunted his immorality, and spit in the face of his father and in the face of God.

All those who knew and supported King David were (most likely) sure that this young man would come to a bad end. Some probably hoped for it. And any sane believer in that time would have prayed for God to overthrow Absalom and restore David to the throne.

And it finally happened. And what does David want? "If only I had died in your place!" he said. And in saying this David reflects the love that God the Son has for fallen humanity.

Yes, this is relevant to what is going on in our little parish. In case you missed the news from Firestone, Colorado, a man named Michael Acker killed his ex-wife, her boyfriend, and then shot himself. Mr. Acker's 24 year old daughter and her 3 year old, escaped through a window. But I'm pretty sure that Michael would not have hurt them.

Michael's mother is of one of my members. She called me today, just after church services. I went to see her. Her granddaughter, who escaped with her 3 year old, called her shortly after the shooting. She worried through the day on Saturday and finally called me today.

I spent several hours with her. What can you say to a mother who's son has done this?

Absalom, David, Psalm 130. She knew these things and understood them well. The shock of the situation is overwhelming. But she knows and trusts God's Word. If this seems like it's too simple or pat an answer for you, please learn to actually read the Bible and understand the distinction between God's Law and God's Gospel. In times of overwhelming crisis like this very few of us have the ability to rightly distinguish between Law and Gospel on our own. At these times a biblically sound pastor can be especially beneficial for each of us.

Pastor Stafford wrote to me "whatever our life situation we may find those in the Bible who experienced similar things and through the experience grew in their faith and trust in God and His forgiveness and showed that forgiveness toward others." This cannot be emphasized enough.

There is nothing that any of us goes through that hasn't already been experienced and dealt with by God through those who have gone before us. And the Bible is the best and only real place to learn how to deal with these issues through the experience of others. That is why personal Bible reading, devotions, Bible Study classes, and-especially-regular worship are so important for us to take advantage of when times are good. Then, when the impossible hard times confront us, the Word of God is there without our having to struggle to find it.

Please keep her in your prayers as she and her family deal with the fallout of this terrible event.

After I got home I got a call about Alverra O. Her granddaughter said that Alverra was about to die. I ate a quick supper and drove to Crookston. The floodwaters had receded in the city. I met with Alverra, her children, and grandchildren. We had devotion with readings about the birth, life, death, resurrection, and salvation of Jesus Christ. We sang Children of the Heavenly Father, Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word, and Jeg Er Saa Glad Hver Julekveld.

Alverra died just a few minutes after I left for home. I meet with the family tomorrow for funeral planning.

Please keep Alverra's family in your prayers also.

The youthgroup went bowling today. I wasn't able to make it. Laura and Louisa got several photos. We'll try to get those up on the youthgroup website.

When I got home this evening some of the kids were still refusing to go to bed. I'm tickled (and flatter myself) that the problem was that dad wasn't home yet.

God, thank you for my wife and children.

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