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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mystery of God

If there is one thing the new wave of authors and speakers (like Rob Bell and Mark Batterson) are helping us with is coming back to the mystery of God - the fact that we can't put God in a box.

I find it interesting that God didn't reveal himself to the religious leaders but to Mary and Joseph (common people) and shepherds. Why? Probably because the fundamental mistake the religious leaders made was trying to force God to fit in their religious boxes.

Instead of being conformed to God's image, they tried to recreate God in their image.

What they ended up with was "a God in a box."

Jesus healed people on the Sabbath, and instead of celebrating the amazing miracles, the leaders plotted to kill him. Why? Because he didn't fit in their box.

We can't put God in a box.

That's one of the by-lines of Christmas. We can't put God in a box. Who would have thought that God would have chosen to impregnate a 13 year old girl, by His Holy Spirit, so that we could reestablish our relationship with him. Can anybody reading this explain the virgin birth? How about the trinity?

I would suggest that some things just aren't meant to be "figured out." That there is an element of mystery that remains and will always remain in our walk with God. That's why God is God. If we had God "all figured out" he wouldn't be God!

In his book Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey says there are two ways of looking at the world:

"One takes the world apart, while the other seeks to connect and put together." He goes on to say, "We live in an age that excels at the first and falters at the second." Similarly, I think there two ways of approaching God. One approach takes God apart; I call it the theology of dissection.

We make God manageable and measurable. We reduce God to a set of propositions or seal tight theologies or divine formulas. We fall into the trap of reductionism. I'm not suggesting that we don't put Scripture under the microscope. But if we aren't careful, we end up with a God in a box. Or in the words of A.W. Tozer, we end up with a God who can "never surprise us, never overwhelm us, never astonish us, never transcend us."

Have you been surprised by God recently? Or is your relationship with God so stale, so routine, that you have it "all figured out"?

Isiah 55:8,9 tells us about God that, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

May this Christmas be a time when we celebrate the mystery of God.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

some practical Christmas suggestions

I am a part of a lot of conversations that deal with the idea that we must make Christmas less commercialized and more about Christ.

This is true.

As the old cliche goes, "Jesus is the reason for the season."

But how can we make that practical for our lives?

Some suggestions:

Read the Christmas story as a family either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Watch "It's a wonderful life" as a family. What a great flick. It's conclusion shows the true meaning of Christmas. I've watched it so many times I can almost quote the lines from memory.

Make some of your Christmas gifts. Nothing says, "I love you" more than a gift that is personally made.

Read aloud a Christmas book or story each day. Depending on the ages of your children, you could choose pictures books or short stories about Christmas. Every December 23 bring out a new book or story for that year and read it for the first time.

Children love to “camp out” so consider sleeping in sleeping bags in front of the Christmas tree one night. Munch on snacks, leave the lights on all night, and make a special memory!

Keep a simple Christmas scrapbook. Each year add a page or two with details about how you celebrated as a family, favorites gifts given and received, and people who shared the holiday with you. Add a few pictures, scraps of wrapping paper, and a sample of the Christmas card and letter you sent out that year.

Give your children the opportunity to act out the Christmas story from the Bible. Read it through several times beforehand, discussing the most important aspects. Then allow your children to plan and present a play for family and friends.

Invite members of your family, people from church, or neighborhood families to a potluck carol sing. Prepare copies of favorite carols, and set a loose schedule so that you have time to sing all the songs distributed. As an alternative, consider caroling at a hospital, nursing home, or around the neighborhood. Then return to your home for dessert and hot chocolate.

When setting your Christmas dinner table, set a literal place (chair, plate, glass, and silverware) for Jesus as an honored member of your family. Place a golden paper crown on the place setting for Christ.

Attend our Christmas Eve service as a family to seal the reverence of the celebration of Christ's birth as a valued family tradition.

But most of all, give.

We all have various Christmas traditions. Few of us probably have a tradition quite like the Robynson family's.

In his book "Crazy Love", Francis Chan shares their story:

"This family of five, with three kids under the age of ten, chooses to celebrate the birth of Christ in a unique way. On Christmas mornings, instead of focusing on the presents under the tree, they make pancakes, brew an urn of coffee, and head downtown.

Once there, they load the coffee and food into the back of a red wagon. Then, with the eager help of their three-year-old, they pull the wagon around the mostly empty streets in search of homeless folks to offer a warm and filling breakfast on Christmas morning.

All three of the Robynson kids look forward to this time of giving a little bit of tangible love to people who otherwise would have been cold and probably without breakfast. Can you think of a better way to start the holiday that celebrates the God who is Love?"

Wow....may we all be filled with the spirit of Christ - giving. "For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only son...." John 3:16.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's really hard not to generalize and stereotype people when events happen such as the "reporter" throwing his shoes at President Bush. (By the way, I thought that his actions were senseless and stupid).

It's easy to say, "all Iraqi people" are like that. "Those Iraqis, they do the dumbest things."

Yet we can't do that. When I was in a middle eastern country last September, it was articulated to us time and time again that the people there didn't like their government (especially their president), didn't like their policies and asked us not to let their politicians be a representation of the rest of the people - especially the "person on the street."

One woman said (and I paraphrase), "if it weren't for our governments, we would all get along."

Not every Muslim is a terrorist, just as not every American is a bigoted, racist person (and those do exist).

I guess what I am saying is that when we have an interaction with anyone of another culture, race or ethnic group, we can't throw them all into a "bad group" if it was a good experience or a "good group" if it was a good experience.

Within each society and culture are good people and bad people. Ethical people and non-ethical people. Kind people and rude people.

Not all Americans are the same.
Not all French are the same.
Not all Africans are the same.
Not all Asians are the same.
Not all Pentecostals are the same.
Not all Baptists are the same.
Not all Catholics are the same.
Not all Republicans are the same.
Not all Democrats are the same.
Not all "northerners" are the same.
Not all "southerners" are the same.

We, especially as Christians, should not be guilty of stereotyping groups, recognizing that stereotyping is different from the just and loving use of generalization.

Jesus said in John 7:24, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

In our ordinary use of language today, a “stereotype” is a generalization that is not built on what Jesus calls “right judgment.”

Merriam-Webster defines a stereotype like this: “a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment.”

Implication for Christians: Beware of forming stereotypes—unjustified generalizations. Not only do they tend to hurt people (or unduly puff up the pride of others); they are also unreliable guides in life.

Let's expand our worldview and realize that we live on a diverse planet - and at the same time seek a oneness of heart and spirit in the midst of our differences.

Monday, December 15, 2008

thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend.....

Debbie and I saw, "the day the earth stood still." It's one of the top ten worst movies that I have ever seen. The acting was horrible, the suspense almost non-existent, wow...the only redeeming thing was that we saw it on the ultra that was cool...great, comfortable chairs...

Becky came home yesterday. I'm glad she made it safely. George comes home today. It's always great to have them with us - especially for the holidays.

The children's production yesterday morning was very good. I really appreciated all of their hard work and effort.

It was good to get together as an entire church family in one service. We were able to "squeeze everyone in." There were a lot of guests - I'm thankful some raised their hands as Pastor Aldin gave an appeal for people to connect with Christ.

I was talking with Shirley Sorenson and sharing with her that I no longer need to "fight for a front seat" during the children's productions because our children are grown and out of the house. She reminded me of little Georgia Grace, my granddaughter, and the fact that in just a few years Debbie and I once again will be there at her church Christmas productions - an hour early just to get a seat near the front....ah, the cycle of life.

The Dallas Cowboys won last night. Their defense was excellent, the offense okay. I was please to see Tony Romo play so well.

Great weekend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Scars and us

The Christmas spirit is scars and us.

Let me explain.

Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao—a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony.

For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity.

Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.

Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him.

Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: "We lepers…."

Now he wasn't just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn't just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

One day God came to Earth and began his message: "We lepers…." Now he wasn't just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.

That's the true story of Christmas.

God giving of himself - so that we might connect with him.

Let's look at it this way. What was in it for Jesus to come down and "put our skin on"?

Jesus prayed in John 17:5, "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."

Stop right here. A powerful, powerful verse that let's us into the mind and heart of Jesus.

"Glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."

Jesus prays this at the end of 3 years of ministry, he's on the way to the cross and he simply asks that when His mission is all through - that he will be reinstated to His previous glory.

He doesn't ask greater glory, greater glory for all His years of effort in living on earth as God in the flesh, Immanuel.

He simply says, "Restore to me the glory I had."

In a theological sense, Jesus received nothing. He is the eternal Son of God before He comes. And at the end He's the eternal Son of god again.

Nothing more. Nothing less. What then does He gain?

Two things:


Scars and us.

I am humbled at that. Christ is a perfect model of what ministry is to be in the body of Christ. It's not, "what can I get out of it." If you are going to teach a fourth grade Sunday School class and you're looking for rewards, you are not going to get paid. A lot of people aren't going to notice you're there.

But who will notice that you are there? The fourth graders.

And there is nothing greater or more touching than to have a fourth grader, ten to fifteen years down the road to come up to you and say, "I remember you. You touched my life for Jesus Christ."

That's a wonderful reward.

Scars and us. That's the Christmas spirit that we have been talking about.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The true Christmas spirit

Christmas is 16 days away. It's coming close. That means we are either swimming or drowning in the Christmas spirit.

How do you feel about now? Stressed or secure? Anxious or anticipating?

Let me clarify what the phrase "Christmas spirit" means. Sometimes we equate the Christmas spirit with some kind of sentimental, sweet sappy feeling that comes from songs on the radio or Christmas decorations that light our house.

Before you start throwing stones, I'm not against any of that. I love Christmas songs, especially when someone like Josh Groban sings. I think Christmas decorations are great.

But the true "Christmas spirit" is something radically different. It's something more than the feel-good fuzziness that permeates commericalized Christmas.

I would suggest to you that the true Christmas spirit is a "free spirit" and a "freeing spirit."

Sometimes we think of someone with a "free spirit" as someone who is a radical "hippy" from the 1960's. Long hair, beard, eating crunch granola, and of course, only vegetables. Liberal in their politics. Wanting to "blow up" the status quo.

But a "free spirit" is someone who has distanced himself from the things of this world. He is "free" in the sense that he has been freed from sin. He is "free in the sense that he has been freed from everything that binds.

Fear. Depression. Anxiety. Substances. Uncontrolled habits. Gossip. Slander. Envy. Jealousy. Resentment. Bitterness. Anger.

Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 that the "Christmas spirit" relates less to Santa and Frosty and more to the fact that Christ was born into this world to set us free.

He writes, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."

Experience the true "Christmas spirit" in the next 16 days. By the power of the Holy spirit, be joyful, have a conversation with God on a continual basis, don't complain but look for the best in everything, avoid temptation - and experience God's peace - and be free.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Who stole my church?

Our General Superintendent, George O. Wood, recommended a book recently entitled, "Who stole my church - bringing the church into the 21st century," by Gordon MacDonald.

It's been a long time since I have read something that powerful - especially concerning the themes of change and the church and bringing new methods and ideas into the church as we know it.

I like what G. MacDonald said in his preface. Rather than writing another academic, boring book about change, he writes from the perspective of a pastor in narrative form. The book itself is a novel, sharing the story of a pastor of a traditional church and the struggles he goes through in transitioning the church into the 21st century.

If you are reading this and desire to know how a pastor thinks, this would be a great book. The first chapter alone could be entitled, "an entry in the diary of George Flattery."

The book shows how we as pastors struggle with change ourselves, implementing change and helping others process change in their lives.

Change doesn't automatically mean growth but we can't grow if we don't change.

The pastor in the novel (Gordon - which tells me the novel is somewhat autobiographical) is dealing with a situation in the church where the membership has turned down, in a rather dramatic business meeting, a 150,000 dollar sound/audio sound system.

Gordon calls together 12 "influencers" in the church and over a period of months, through dialogue and discussion, the group discovers that change is necessary if the church is going to survive.

Although the characters are "fictional" I recognize people from churches that I have pastored down throughout the years.

I encourage everyone to read this book.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Wow...Debbie and I are grandparents. It's almost surreal.

Last Friday (December 5th) we received a call from Christie that she was in labor. So we immediately drove over to Grand Rapids, Michigan and were there throughout the afternoon, and early evening as little Georgia Grace Cummins was born around 9:40 P.M.

A beautiful baby girl.

I rarely get "shocked" but I was shocked when they told me that they named her Georgia Grace (they hadn't told any one about the name). It caused me to tear up as I was felt extremely privileged and blessed.

Christie and Andrew are going to make great parents.

As I told our church family yesterday, I went down to the gift shop in the hospital and bought about 40 dollars worth of stuff for Georgia.

One of the things I bought here was a t-shirt that has on the front, "if you think I'm cute, you should see my grandpa."

I commented to Debbie on our way home that I feel a definite life change, seasonal change coming on in our lives. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I know it's there. Some of you who are grandparents could probably fill me in on this.

All I know is, we are blessed. Great kids, now a beautiful granddaughter.

Thanks, God, for your graciousness to us.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

forgiveness and letting go

Here's what I know: forgiveness releases us.

Somehow we think that when we withhold forgiveness from someone that we are hurting the other person when it reality it is we who are suffering.

We build up walls in saying, "I'm never going to allow myself to be hurt again." "They've gone too far." And so we find ourselves withdrawing from participation in a marriage, in kingdom work or in any other kind of relationship that we are involved in.

Let me remind you: the alternative to forgiveness is bitterness and resentment.

I am passionate about not ending up my time on this planet as a bitter, resentful old man.

Dale Carnegie tells about a visit to Yellowstone Park where he saw a grizzly bear. The huge animal was in the center of a clearing, feeding on some discarded camp food. For several minutes he feasted alone; no other creature dared draw near. After a few moments a skunk walked through the meadow toward the food and took his place next to the grizzly. The bear didn't object and Carnegie knew why. "The grizzly," he said, "knew the high cost of getting even."

People who refuse to forgive, hurt themselves. Bitter people are no fun to be around. They can't sleep. Ulcers line their stomach. Their blood pressure rises. They see the negative in every situation because their life is polluted with these feelings of resentment and anger.

Again: People who are unwilling to forgive may feel that they are punishing the other person but the only person paying the price is themselves.

In the book, Understanding forgiveness," by Robert Harvey and David Benner, they write, "Try a simple experiment on yourself. Make a fist and hold it tight. One minute of this is sufficient to bring discomfort. Consider what would happen if the fist were maintained in that state of tension during a period that extended into weeks, months, or even years. Obvious it would soon become a sick member of the body.

You may hurt a person by not forgiving them and thus feel some satisfying sense of getting even, but almost without exception, the hurt you do to yourself may be even greater. After a while you may not feel the pain of the clenched resentment in your soul, but its self-inflicted paralysis will have its effect upon your whole life."

Forgiveness not only releases us physically and emotionally, it also releases us SPIRITUALLY. One of the greatest barriers to effective prayer and spiritual vitality is an unforgiving heart.

DL Moody wrote, "I believe [unforgiveness] is keeping more people from having power with God than any other thing -- they are not willing to cultivate the spirit of forgiveness. If we allow the root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts against someone, our prayer will not be answered. It may not be an easy thing to live in sweet fellowship with all those with whom we come in contact; but that is what the grace of God is given to us for."

An unforgiving heart binds up and blocks the Holy Spirit's ability to work. It becomes a barrier to effective and fruitful ministry. An unwillingness to forgive disrupts our fellowship with God. It steals from us the joy of knowing His forgiveness in our lives. Are you having trouble praying with power?

Is your walk with God in a rut? Has it been a long time since you have felt the presence of God?

Could it be that there is someone you need to forgive? Do you need to "let it go"?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Supporting one another

Coach Carter is the true story of Ken Carter (Samuel Jackson), a successful sporting goods store owner, who in 1999 became head basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, California.

Dismayed by the attitudes of his players and their dismal performance on the court, Carter sets out to change both. He immediately imposes a strict regime that includes respectful behavior, a dress code, and good grades as a prerequisite of participation.

One particular player, Timo Cruz (Rick Gonzalez), initially refuses to accept the coach's demands and quits the team, only to return later with a desire to be reinstated. Timo asks Coach Carter what he has to do to play. Carter informs Cruz that he must complete 2,500 push-ups and 1,000 suicide drills by Friday - a task even the coach calls "impossible."

By Friday, Timo is short of both goals. Coach Carter, though impressed with what Timo has done, asks him to leave the gym. He has failed.

Suddenly, one of Timo's teammates, Jason (Channing Tatum), who previously had a personality conflict with Timo, steps forward saying, "I'll do push-ups for him. You said we're a team. One person struggles, we all struggle. One player triumphs, we all triumph. Right?"

As Coach Carter stands speechless, Jason drops to the floor and begins doing push-ups. One by one the entire team begins to join in to help Timo reach his goal.

That's our goal at Stone Church. To have a team of ministers (and everyone is a minister) who are reaching out to support and sustain everyone around them.

Our goal is to abandon territorialism in the kingdom and be willing to reach out to other ministries and programs to form a solid chain that cannot be broken - either by our own flesh or by the enemy himself.

Our goal is to stand united in the midst of diversity. Unity without diversity leads to organization death. Diversity without unity leads to organization chaos.

Part of what we experience may be, just might be because of our culture here on the south side of Chicago. Rough. Tough. My way or the highway. Strong opinions. A readiness to participate in conflict. Overstatements I know, yet how many times have I come across someone who "used to go to Stone Church" because they either didn't get their way or didn't agree with something?

Wow...forgive me for being so blunt.

Where are those who are willing to serve? Where are those who are willing to put the kingdom united as the priority when it comes to ministry?

We all have different opinions of how ministry should and could take place. That is to be expected. But molding our opinions into one united force is the key.

Will you join me in this? Will you make it a point to express an opinion, but then relax and go with the prayerful consensus of others?

Let's reach out and help one another, encourage one another, and lift up one another as we minister together - and maybe do a few push-ups at the same time.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

GPS and our walk with God

There is one thing that I really like about walking with God - he calls me to a life of holiness - but he knows that I can't do that by myself - so He gives me the power to do so.

All we have to do is to depend upon him. He will direct and lead us and guide us if we will let him.

This past week Debbie and I bought a GPS. It's a lot of fun. I would take wrong turns just to hear this British accent say, "recalculating route."

I guess I am old enough to still marvel at that kind of technology.

Back to our thoughts on depending on God and Him living in and through us.

John Ortberg writes:

"I'll give you a picture of this. Nancy and I were in a part of the country we had never been before. We were going to be driving on obscure back roads, so we got a rental car, and the guy at the counter said to me, "Along with this car, if you want, you can also get a GPS system." Have you ever used a GPS system? You plug it in and punch in your destination. A woman's voice will tell you how to get wherever it is you are going. Well, when the guy at the counter asked if I wanted one, my immediate response was, "No. That is going to cost something. I don't need that. I can find where I'm going without that." Anybody want to guess what my wife weighed in with? "Get the GPS." So, we got the GPS.

Here's the deal: You can get the box. You can have the lady in the car, but that doesn't mean you trust her. If you trust her, what do you do? You do what she says. You go where she tells you to go. She says, "Turn left," you turn left. If she says, "Turn left," and in your heart you think, But I want to turn right, you remember, There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof is death. Okay?

To follow Jesus means I will do what he says. I will mess up a lot. I'm going to need his power. I know that, but I form the intention. I say to him, "God, with your help, as best I can, I will do what you say. I will give you my life, my time, my obedience."

Here is the thing: If that is not your settled intent, then it is best to be honest about it. If that is not your settled intent, then whatever else you might be, you are not a follower of Jesus. An admirer, maybe. But he is looking for followers. He is looking for somebody who will say, "All right, God."

There is something else you need to know about him—something that is also true when dealing with a GPS system. At one point when we were driving in this car, I was quite sure the lady was wrong. She said to go left, and I didn't go left. I went right, because I knew she was wrong. Then as an interesting response, she said, "Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn." I knew she was wrong, so I unplugged her. That's the beauty of that little box. You can unplug her.

I got lost as a goose. My wife enjoyed that immensely.

So we plugged that lady back in, and you know what she said? "I told you so, you little idiot." She said, "You think I'm going to help you now? You rejected me. You just find your way home by yourself." No—she didn't say that. She said, "Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn."

Now see, that's grace. As soon as you're ready to listen, as soon as you're ready to surrender, God will say, "Here is the way home. Execute a U-turn." That's repentance. "I'll bring you home." That is grace. That's Jesus. He is the only one with authoritative wisdom about how to live. He is the only one who brings about the possibility of forgiveness for your sin and mine. He is the only one to give any kind of realistic hope of conquering death, of life beyond the grave.

Why would you not give your full devotion to Jesus? He does not present himself as a good, spiritual teacher to be admired from a distance. He presents himself as Master, as Lord, as the one to be followed and served and obeyed and worshiped. There is no other way. He is it."

Great stuff. May we follow the spiritual GPS of our lives - the Holy Spirit.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Auschwitz through the lens of the SS

I watched a show on the National Geographic channel last night entitled, "the diaries from hell."

In January 2007, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives received a donation of a photograph album. The photographs depict SS-Obersturmfuhrer Karl Hocker, the adjutant to the commandant of Auschwitz, SS-Stumbannfuhrer Richard Baer. Hocker was stationed at Auschwitz from May 1944 until the evacuation of the camp in January 1945.

The photographs (and the show) showed that even in the final months of the war, after Soviet troops had liberated concentration camps and labor camps to the east, SS officers stationed at Auschwitz enjoyed social functions and formal ceremonies. The album shows Auschwitz at a pivotal time - the period during which the gas chambers were operating at maximum efficiency - as the Hungarian Jews arrived and during the last months before the evacuation of the camp.

The photos show them enjoying a picnic. Relaxing on a sun deck. Singing at a "sing-a-long." Eating blueberries. Flirting (the women officers with the German men SS and vice-versa).

They are seen as people relaxing, smiling, having fun after a "hard day's work."

What has always disconcerted me about Auschwitz (having visited there in 1990) is that the men and women in charge of the camps were "every day" people just like you and me. Doctors. Lawyers. Bank tellers. Karl Hocker himself was a bank teller before and after the war.

That's what makes the crime so horrific. We tend to envision these people as the dregs of the German society who suddenly had power on there hands. They were not. They were normal, "every day" people who suddenly had the power of life and death and committed horrible crimes.

That's what makes the crime so chilling.

Jeremiah 17:9 states, "the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

Left to ourselves, we are a self-destructive people. Full of hate, pride and an unresolvable thirst for self-absorption.

That's why we need Christ. That's why we need a belief in something beyond ourselves. If anything (for the non-religious person) it serves as a buffer between the ability of man to destroy mankind and living an every day ordinary life.

Adolf Hitler tried to destroy the Christian church and anything remotely religious. In the end, it ended up destroying him - and his empire.