As most of you were, I was completely shocked when I heard the news about the shooting that occurred in Aurora, CO in the early morning hours of Fri. 7/20/12. What was even more crazy was the close vicinity to where the Columbine incident happened. It seemed to me like evil seemed to reign in the Denver area.
Yesterday, I read a blog article written by Greg Stier. Greg is a youth pastor who works with the Dare 2 Share program and lives in Colorado. You can check out more of his blogs at www.dare2share.org. Greg’s article really hit home with me and I thought I would share his article with all of you today.
Greg’s article shows that while there are evil people in this world who do evil things, there is something much darker at work here. It is Satan himself who is at work here and each day we spend on this earth we are in a spiritual battle. At times it may not seem so because we are in our little safe circle of family and friends, but Satan is always at work trying to get at us and make us do evil in any way he can. We either choose to fight against this evil or we can easily become pray ourselves. Whether or not you want to admit it, we are all capable of great evil. With the influence of Satan in our lives, we are actually all capable of doing what James Holmes did. We really can. Satan could make any of us Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold. If you say “I am not capable of doing something that evil,” then Satan already has a good start.
Greg gives us three great ideas for ways we can actively fight this evil in our world. The first thing we can do is to pray. I think we seriously underestimate the true power of prayer. God is the only force in the universe that can overcome evil. Talking to God and having a real relationship with Him is essential if we are to stand a chance to combat evil. If we ask for God’s help and then listen, really listen, He will help guide us. He will keep us safe. If we don’t pray, if we don’t talk to God, how do we expect to get led in the proper direction?
Greg’s second directive is for us to reach out. There are lost souls out there and there will always be lost souls. It is our responsibility to reach out to them. Why is it our responsibility? Because Jesus told us it was. That is a good enough reason for me. The truth is that it is hard though. It is hard to reach out of your comfort zone and risk rejection and ridicule. Still, we need to do it anyway. Jesus was one of the least liked people on earth while he was here. If Jesus’s goal was to be liked by people, he failed pretty miserably. Fortunately, He understood the importance of making people understand that they could live in eternity with Him. He is preparing a place for us. We need to seriously take up His call and do what He asked us to do.
The last thing Greg tells us is to live our lives to the fullest. We should always do this anyway, but sometimes it takes tragic events like this to remind us how quickly we or someone we know can be gone. We just don’t know. Ask yourself this question: If I found out I had one more week to live, would I do anything different? If you would do something radically different then what you are currently doing, if you would change your whole attitude towards people, if you would become totally different from who you currently are, that is a good sign that maybe you are not living your life to the fullest. God only gives us one shot at this. There are no redos. Lets make sure we do it right. Lets always fight evil. Let’s do what we know is right, even when it does not seem to be the most popular choice. Let’s not let the Dark Knight define who we are and what we are about.
The Colorado Movie-Massacre and the Real Dark Knight
by Greg Stier
Along with the rest of America, I’m shocked and saddened at the mass shootings that took place in Aurora, Colorado, at this morning’s 12:01 am premiere of Dark Knight Rising, the latest and last of the Batman trilogy. As of this writing, twelve people are confirmed dead and many more are in the hospital. My heart breaks for the victims and their families, as I’m sure yours does, too. I hope we are all committed to praying for these families and the recovering victims in the days and weeks to come.
I live in Arvada, Colorado, only 24 miles (a 30-minute drive) away from the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center. So this shooting hits especially close to home. I also am only 22 miles away from Columbine High School, where a similar tragic shooting unfolded just over 13 years ago. For some reason, the Denver area seems to be a haven for this kind of tragedy.
This morning I got a text from my friend and fellow preacher, Derwin Gray. He is a church planter and pastor in Charlotte, North Carolina, but he is best known for being “The Evangelism Linebacker.” Derwin traveled with Dare 2 Share for two years, and we have grown a powerful friendship as a result.
Our text exchange was this:
“It’s crazy how shootings take place in Colorado.”
“I don’t understand.” (my response)
“I meant Columbine and now the shootings last night at the Batman movie.”
“I know. I just meant I don’t understand why this happens so much in Colorado.” (my response)
“I wonder if there is a demonic stronghold…”
My one word response was “probably.”
This little text exchange got me thinking. It got me thinking about another “Dark Knight” who ruled the heart of a gunman in Aurora last night. It got me thinking about Satan’s role in the Columbine massacre on April 20, 1999, when he invaded the hearts of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. It got me thinking about Satan and the stranglehold he has in the souls of so many. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that this dark knight “comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” and he did just that last night. He used the trigger-finger of this twisted madman to steal innocence, kill people, and destroy hope.
Frankly, as brokenhearted as I am for the victims, I’m infuriated with Satan. I’m sick and tired of his twisted, anti-God, anti-life ways. Yeah, yeah, I know that James Holmes is the 24-year-old suspect the police have in custody, and the judge won’t buy “the devil made me do it” defense. But, according to Jesus, we can’t hate James. Jesus said in Matthew 5:44 that we are to love and pray for our enemies.
But in times like this, we have to hate someone, and the best person to hate is the worst…Satan himself. I hate him for the deception he unleashes in the hearts of so many. I hate him for the destruction he has been directly or indirectly involved with since the beginning of time. I hate him for his hatred of everything God and everything good.
I’m dedicating myself afresh and anew to destroying his kingdom through intercessory prayer, rescuing lost souls from his grip, and wreaking havoc amongst his demonic minions. Join me. Join me in this holy uprising against the unholy dark knight—that dark knight who once led worship for all of heaven and was the chief guardian of the mountain of God (Ezekiel 28:12-15), that dark knight who led a mutiny against the King of kings (Ezekiel 28:16-19), that dark knight who was cast out of the presence of God and thrown to the earth in disgrace (Isaiah 14:12). That same dark knight who whispered in Hitler’s ear whispered in another ear last night.
And I am sick of it. I am asking you to be sick of it with me. I am angry and I’m asking you to be angry with me.
So here is our battleplan against the dark knight who rages and raves against God’s kingdom and rips and ravages the people God created:
1. We are going to start praying with passion.
We are going to pray for Satanic strongholds to be torn down (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and for God’s kingdom to be built up (Matthew 16:18). We are going to pray for the lost people in our spheres of influence to experience the hope, forgiveness, and transformational power of Jesus Christ. We are going to pray for our communities to turn to the only One who can rescue them from Satan’s strong grip. We are going to intercede on behalf of the surviving victims, the familes of all the victims, and for the gunman himself to experience the forgiveness of heaven (along with justice on earth in the form of a stiff sentence).
2. We are going to reach out.
The gospel ain’t going to preach itself. We must preach it. We must love those around us and reach out to them with the gospel message. Who knows? Your next-door neighbor may be the next lone gunman that does something crazy, stupid, and dangerous. In either case, you have the gospel message that can rescue your friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and co-workers from sin and Satan, from crimes big and small, from a wasted life.
3. We are going to live our lives to the fullest.
We are not going to hole up in fear. We are going to live life in faith. We are going to live our lives in boldness because, for those of us who have faith in Christ, Satan can’t ultimately win against us. Hebrews 2:14,15 makes it clear that Jesus, “…too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Jesus’ death on the cross destroyed Satan’s ability to keep us afraid of death. How? Because Jesus destroyed death for those who put their faith in him. Sure we will die physically someday, but we will live in eternity forever through faith in Jesus!
On December 9th, 2007, there was a shooting at the YWAM center in Arvada, Colorado, a mere three miles away from my house. Two people died in this shooting. This hit especially close to home because the YWAM center is on the same campus where my kids go to school. As I was driving my then seven-year-old boy to school the next day, I asked him if he was afraid. He said “Yes.”
I asked him, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to you?”
He thought for a moment and said, “I could get shot and die.”
I asked, “What happens when you die?”
He thought and exclaimed with a smile, “I’ll go to heaven!”
I reassured him with these words, “Jeremy, as Christians who’ve put our faith in Jesus, we can’t lose. The worst thing that can happen to us is the best thing that can happen to us.”
He went to school that day with a spring in his step because of the hope he has in Jesus Christ. You can do the same…if you’ve put your faith in Jesus. Let this tragedy remind us to live life to the fullest, to pray to the max, and to reach out with a renewed sense of urgency. And let it remind us to live lives of love, drenched in the power of God and alive with hope. For it is these kinds of lives that will destroy the kingdom of the true dark knight.