Special Edition of the Briefing

December 15, 2012 — Leave a comment


Today’s Scripture

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’” (John 11:33-37)

Notable Quotables

“As a country, we have been through this too many times. . . . These children are our children.” (President Barack Obama)

“I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross. . . . In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” (John Stott)

“Nativity sets should include a set of Herod’s soldiers—that is as much a part of the Christmas story as the shepherds, or the star, or the wise men.” (Doug Wilson)

“The New Testament . . . seeks to establish God’s goodness through a narrative rather than an argument, a revelation of his solidarity with human struggle rather than a philosophical proof of his benevolence.” (Ross Douthat)

“If God were small enough to be understood he would not be big enough to be worshipped.” (Evelyn Underhill)

“He comes to make his blessings known far as the curse is found.” (Isaac Watts)

“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (John the Apostle)

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Jesus Christ)

Around the Net Today

Oh, God (Article)
Ken Miller* (What’s the Story?)

An Aching Bloodguilt Rests Upon Our Nation
Doug Wilson (Blog and Mablog)

Rachel Weeping for Her Children—The Massacre in Connecticut
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (AlbertMohler.com)

School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare (Article)
Russell D. Moore (Moore to the Point)

A Lesson to All from Newtown (Article)
John Piper (Desiring God)

The Loss of the Innocents (Article)
Ross Douthat (The New York Times)

Christmas and Child Killers (Article)
Stephen Altrogee (The Blazing Center)

Heroes at Sandy Hook (Brief Article)
CNN Compilation (via Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed)

Our Only Hope in Life and Death (Brief Excerpt)
Heidelberg Catechism (via Kevin DeYoung, DeYoung, Reformed, and Restless)

* Ken Miller is a professor of theology at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, PA.

The Victims

Yesterday’s deadly rampage in Newton, Connecticut is not the only tragedy in our world, but everyone’s attention is focused here for now. That being the case, may this moment in history catapult us all into a better awareness of the plight of others—both across the street and around the world.

Suffering, pain, and tragic loss are everybody’s business. In Meditation 17, John Donne wrote, “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

In that spirit, take a look at the list of victims, which has just been released by the Associated Press. Ask God to comfort those who mourn. The bell is tolling, and we’re all in this together.

Then be inspired by an incredible act of bravery that has emerged from the story. And let that inspiration provoke a difference in your life. George Eliot asked, “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” I might have phrased it a bit differently, but his impulse is right.

A Prayer for These Days

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.


Your Children

- Max Lucado

Something to Ponder

We Are Aghast, But Our Repentance Is Formless and Void

“In the aftermath of something sick like this, we need to reconnect with the permanent things. If we don’t point to transcendental realities in a time like this—gospel truths—then we might as well sign a peace treaty with the darkness now. . . .

“It is not possible to build a culture around a denial of God-given standards, and then arbitrarily reintroduce those standards at your convenience, whenever you need a word like evil to describe what has just happened. Those words cannot just be whistled up. If we have banished them, and their definitions, and every possible support for them, we need to reckon with the fact that they are now gone. Cultural unbelief, which leads inexorably to cultural nihilism and despair, is utterly incapable of responding appropriately to things like this, while remaining fully capable of creating them. In the prophetic words of C. S. Lewis, ‘In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.’ . . .

“The reason we need to have fixed and God-given standards is not so that we might climb up some moralistic ladder, rebuilding a mythical past where these sorts of things didn’t happen to us. No, these sorts of things have always happened. We live on a screwed-up planet. We must have a God-given, fixed standard so that we may know why we need forgiveness so much. God’s law is not to pat us on the back and tell us what fine fellows we are. God’s law is given to provide a proper shape for our repentance. In moments like this, we are aghast, but our ‘repentance’ is formless and void. We need the shape of God’s holy Word so that we know how shapeless we have become. We need the Spirit of God to move on our waters.”

- Doug Wilson

Into All the World

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard.”

- Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:16-17a)

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