Life Can Be Cruel

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by Martin Schlomer

I just received a deeply emotional call from my son, Wesley. This morning one of his best friends, Woody Moore, died unexpectedly from respiratory failure. He was a young, intelligent, energetic, and passionate lover of Jesus. No one saw it coming because this never should have happened! Life can be cruel!

I would love to believe that young, intelligent, energetic, and passionate lovers of Jesus are exempt from the cruelty of life, but I can’t, because we aren’t. While I see this truth time and again in the stories of Scripture, I still want to believe that perhaps there may be exceptions for young, intelligent, energetic, and passionate followers of Jesus. However, these phone calls slap me and shout, “There are no exceptions.” Honestly, people have a tough time understanding and are compelled to ask, “Why aren’t there exceptions?” Life can be cruel!

As I write these words, I mourn for my son, his Christian community, and for Woody’s family. They are overwhelmed with emotions and plagued with questions for which there seems to be no adequate answers. Paul’s words echo through my own soul: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan … as a foretaste of future glory” (Romans 8:22-23a). The cruelty of this life, the questions, and the emotions create a hunger, an intense longing for a time when you and I will no longer have to put up with all the evil, sin, brokenness, suffering, and death of this life.

Folks, there is an ache within my soul that cries out, “This world is not our home!” Life is cruel, BUT God is good! He brings glorious beauty and redemption out of life’s cruelty! I can’t predict how this might happen or what it might look like in this or any other situation, but He does it nonetheless. He promised and I choose to believe Him! This is my prayer for Woody’s family, for the community of faith at Western Washington University, as well as for Christ the King Church, where Woody was so involved. God, may everyone see and experience Jesus in ways that exceed our wildest dreams!

Who was Woody Moore? Here are some posts from his friends on his Facebook page. At 21 years old, his legacy will live on.

A status can’t measure up to how much I love and will miss this brother of mine. Woody Moore has been nothing but a blessing to me as well as to others. He was a roommate, a friend and a brother. Everything he did, he did out of love. The way he lived was proof that Jesus is real. His overflowing joy and ability to make everyone smile is something I’ll miss every single day. Being there with him in his final moments was heartbreaking but also comforting because I know, without a doubt, that he is in a better place right now. I love you Woody. I’ll see you soon brother.
P.s. we were suppose to find our wives this year bro.

My heart is heavy today, my brother in Christ, the young man of God that helped bring me out of the darkest time in my life when I thought it better to not live anymore, and who helped lead me to the cross, has gone to be with Jesus. Woody Moore I love you brother and cannot wait till I see you again.

Lived for Christ, living with Christ. Woody Moore

This man changed my life. Woody pushed me, encouraged me, and loved me so well. You will always be loved and missed. Thanks for changing this world.

What a man Woody Moore was! Never met with such zeal, and willingness to go out of his way for others. He was a great friend, and truly embodied Romans 12:1
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Today is a difficult day. This Facebook post could never express how incredible Woody Moore is. You were the best roommate, friend, and brother I could ever ask for. It was a privilege to live life with you these last couple years. You are a true example of Jesus on Earth and the only joy I have is knowing, without a doubt, that you are with God. I cannot thank you enough for the impact you had on my life and for the example you were to so many people. You are one of the funniest, most loving people I have ever met and I know anyone who came in contact with you feels the same way. I can’t wait to see you again Woody, thanks for allowing me to be a part of your life. Through everything, God is good. Miss you and love you forever brother.

I still cannot believe that this is real … I’m going to miss all the laughter that was still to be had! Woody knew how to brighten anyone’s day with a love that was so incredibly sincere! But mostly, I’m going to miss this wonderful man of God! He knew his Savior so intimately and stood for what he knew in his heart to be true. It hurts to know that for the time being, he’s gone, but I find joy knowing that Woody is home, bringing smiles to all those who are with him. My heart aches for the Moore family, the friends he loved on, and those who didn’t get to know this amazing servant of Christ. Woody, thank you for touching all of the lives that you did, for impacting me! It’s clear that so many folks have been touched by your many gifts and that God’s incredible glory shines through all that you are! You’re work on Earth is done, and I know the Lord said to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” I love you man, and I will miss you until the day we meet again!

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Christmas: Grief … and joy

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By Larry Short

One of the many incongruities of Christmas is this: We sing “Joy to the World” and celebrate the birth of our Savior. But it is also, for many of us, a time of grief and sorrow … a reminder of painful personal losses.

I lost my dad, a few years back, on December 30. Darlene lost her teenage sister, Laurie, many years ago, a few days before Christmas. Many of you reading this, I know, have experienced similarly difficult losses at this time of year.

When we think of the birth of Christ, we envision angels singing Hallelujah! But what else was happening around that time? Think about Herod — seeking to kill the Messiah, and ordering the massacre of thousands of innocent babies in the process.

The arrival of the wise men, and the gifts that they bore, surely brought joy, we think. Gold and frankincense? No problem. But myrrh? An embalming spice, which releases its fragrance when crushed. If I were Joseph, I think I just might have put that third wise man’s gift right back on his camel, with a quick: “Thanks, but no thanks!”

Now think about the words of Simeon, as recorded in Luke 2, who was moved by the Spirit to prophecy to Mary and Joseph when Jesus was consecrated in the Temple at a tender age:

30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Mary and Joseph must have thought: Okay, Simeon, you should have stopped at “the glory of your people Israel.” Why did you have to go on and say that part about the sword, piercing your own soul? Merry Christmas.

Thus is the human condition: Joy … and sorrow. Life … and death.

Or perhaps I have that in the reverse order. Simeon said “falling … and rising” … because of the birth of our Savior! There’s the grave … and THEN the victory over the grave. The crucifixion … and THEN the resurrection.

It’s Friday … but Sunday’s a comin’!

As my Christmas gift to you, I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite “newer” Christmas songs (not quite a carol yet), which embodies this Christmas conundrum of joy and sorrow: “Joseph’s Lullaby,” by Mercy Me. This YouTube video sets its words against poignant scenes from the movies “The Nativity Story” and “The Passion of the Christ” (difficult to watch … but well illustrative of both the joy and the pain that is wrapped up in this thing we call Christmas).

Merry Christmas!

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How to talk to kids about tragedies, disasters

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Tips from World Vision

WASHINGTON, 15 March 2011— As information increases about the devastation of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, our children will likely see disturbing news footage and have questions about this tragedy. Below are several suggestions on how to talk with children about this disaster and its impact.

These tips are provided by Christian humanitarian organization World Vision. World Vision has worked in Japan for more than two decades and responded to the massive Kobe earthquake in 1995, and now has staff assisting in the relief efforts in Sendai.

For more information on World Vision’s efforts please visit www.WorldVision.org.

Talking to kids about tragedy 

Talking to children about tragedy is a job most parents would love to avoid. If only our children did not need to hear about things like this past week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But of course, they do hear. And they are full of questions: Could this happen to me? What’s going to happen to the children? Can I do anything to help the children I see on TV?

World Vision US, a Christian humanitarian relief organization with staff on the ground in Japan now and in numerous other relief responses each year, suggests eight ways to make a tough job a little bit easier.

1. Start by listening.

Find out what your child already knows. You can then respond in an age-appropriate way. The aim is not to worry them with the devastating details, but to protect them from misinformation they may have heard from friends or disturbing images they may have seen on television.

2. Provide clear, simple answers

Limit your answer to the question asked and use simple language.

3. If you don’t know the answer, admit it

If your children ask questions that you can’t answer, tell them so, and then do some research to try and help them sort it out. If they ask “Why did this have to happen?” don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” If you are part of a faith community, the reassurance offered there can be invaluable in helping your child sort through the truth that awful things happen.

4. Follow media reports or online updates privately.

Young children in particular are easily traumatized, and seeing or hearing about the horrifying details of the quake may be more than they can cope with. Adults, too, should ensure they are dealing with their own emotions by talking to others, so they can continue to respond well to their children’s needs.

5. Concentrate on making them feel safe.

When tragedies occur, children wonder if the same event could happen in their hometown. If it was an act of nature that could not be repeated in your area, tell children that. Placing themselves in the situations of victims is not all bad—it is a sign of empathy, an essential life skill, but watch for signs of excessive worrying.

6. Give children creative outlets.

Some children may not be prepared to speak about what they have heard, but may find drawing or other creative activities helpful to deal with their emotions and stress. Their drawings can be helpful starting points for conversation.

7. Model involvement and compassion.

Tell your child that, as a family, you will be helping the people in Japan by giving a donation to a reputable charity such as World Vision.

8. Give your child a chance to be involved.

Being involved in the solution will help relieve some of their anxiety. Invite them to contribute to the family’s gift by giving something out of their piggy bank.

– END –

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world’s poor – regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

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We live in a dangerous world … proceed with prayer!

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By Larry Short

These past few weeks have given us ample illustration of the need to bathe every aspect of our lives in prayer. Hunter’s accident, Grace’s going home to be with the Lord, Tom’s heart scare, and now the tragic situation with one of our neighbors, the Daily family, whose daughter Kimmie was murdered within a few miles of our gathering place last week, illustrates just how vulnerable we are and how much we need to be continually praying for each other.

(Not to mention all the various other financial challenges, near misses, bumps, and bruises experienced by various members of this body and those they are connected with!)

I have been hit particularly hard by Kimmie’s tragedy. I didn’t know her personally but my brother’s family was good friends with her and her family. Things they told me about this sweet, innocent, developmentally disabled but warm-spirited young woman really made me sad when I heard the terrible news.

It also made me appreciate being connected to this body. When we go through hard times, we don’t go through them alone. Thank God we have each other to ministry grace and mercy and encouragement!

So let’s continue praying faithfully for all of the needs of the Body, and just praying that God would strengthen us for whatever may be ahead. Our first calling is to be grounded and rooted in Him, to look to Him constantly as our source of daily strength, as well as our salvation. Prayer is expressing to God how much we want and need to be connected to Him as our source.

And please pray especially for the Daily family, that they would experience His grace and mercy in the midst of this unthinkable tragedy, as well as for my brother’s family and all others affected by this particular demonstration of the reality that we live in a sin-stained world.

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How do we pray through this week’s events?

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By Larry Short

This week has been a difficult one for all of us, emotionally speaking, as we have all had to deal with the terrible news of the tragedy striking the Lakewood Police Department, when four of their officers were murdered in cold blood last Sunday morning while sitting at a table in a Forza Coffee Shop in Lakewood, just 20 minutes’ drive from our church.

For some it has probably been harder than others. One of the slain heroes, Mark Renninger, was a resident (with his family) of Puyallup, and my understanding is that his daughters attend a local school here. One of the young men in our college group has done weapons and tactics training with Mark. Some of our families no doubt have children who know his daughters. Another young man in our congregation is an acquaintance of one of the barristas working in the coffee shop.

I’ve been confronted all week with the question, How do we most faithfully deal with a tragedy of this magnitude? The Bible says, “Cast your cares on Him … for He cares for you.” We know that because of His love for us, God wants us to look to Him at difficult times like this. He wants to wrap His arms around us, to provide comfort and perspective and meaning in the face of a tragedy that seems to us so senseless and terrible.

It’s in an effort to do this, to look to the Lord, that we are calling our congregation to prayer this weekend, and especially next Tuesday, the day when the officers’ memorial service is scheduled. If you could fast and pray with us on Tuesday, that would be wonderful, and we believe the Lord will be faithful to help heal our hearts and also do wondrous things in our community as a result.

Here is how your pastors and elders would ask us to pray, specifically:

* Pray for grieving families, friends and loved ones deeply affected by this tragedy. All four officers had spouses and children. It’s during times like these when God has an opportunity to speak most directly to the hearts of people who might otherwise be too busy with the cares of life to notice. Ask that He would reveal himself as the Healer, Hope-Giver and Comforter to anyone wounded by this tragedy.

* Pray similarly for emotional healing and spiritual growth for the barristas and others who witnessed this traumatizing event.

Pray for a spirit of humility and wisdom for all who are dealing with and responding to this event. Pray for the family and friends of the shooter, many of whom themselves were implicated in the event and its attempted cover-up. I was once again starkly reminded this week — during a moment of anger! — that there, but for the grace of God, go I. Thank God for His demonstrated power to turn hatred to love, to forgive sinners and to reconcile the alienated. Pray for the police officers who protect us, that they would be able to put this event into proper perspective and find healing for their own emotions so they can continue to do their jobs most effectively.

And pray for us (as a church). Pray that in the midst of tragedies like these we would be a light to the community around us, that they would see God’s love and redemptive power when they look at us. Pray that God would protect our church from the evils of such a violent and twisted society and culture, but also that when we are personally impacted by this violence, that we would be prepared to respond in manner that honors and glorifies God.

The Elim church facility will be open all day next Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., to provide a place for us to pray together. Consider fasting with us, and please swing by at your convenience to connect with others and with our Savior as we “cast our cares upon Him.”

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