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Monthly Archives: December 2007

Omaha mall shootings

As the gentle snow falls all over Omaha this morning. Our little big town will never quite be the same as we try to sort out the tragic events of a very long day yesterday. Most of us here in Omaha are remembering where we were and what we were doing. Here is what I can recall.

Yesterday, December 5th, as I was busy at work my work mate and friend Don received a phone call that some one has shot people at Von Maur in Westroads Mall, the largest shopping mall here in Omaha. The mall is only 15 minutes from our office. Don has an emergency radio receiver and so we began to listen to the reports and conversations coming from this horrific tragedy as it unfolded. We just couldn’t believe what we were hearing. We were hearing about victim after victim being pulled from the store. Nearly 50 local and state police vehicles had arrived or were en route. They were calling for more emergency teams to be dispatched. As I sat there and listened and prayed for those folks who were hurt or dying. I also thought about the individual or individuals who were perpetrating this on shoppers and store employees. What goes into the heart and mind of such a person? My first thought was nothing goes in their heart and mind but what is already there. For we are born with a sinful nature. Aside from the salvation from Jesus Christ no one does good. My next thought was this: But are all sinners capable of this depth of depravity? Since I have studied God’s word over the years I would have to say yes. All men are sinners and are totally depraved. (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:10-11) It is only by the grace of God that we don’t have more tragedies like this one.

As I write, we have learned (because we are now inundated with news of this horrific event) that nine people have died including the shooter. He took his own life. And five were injured. Erik Raymond who is one of our assistant pastors at Omaha Bible Church and a fellow blogger at IrishCalvinist has written a great posting about the events here yesterday. I would encourage to go to “How Would You Respond to the Shootings at Omaha’s Westroads Mall?” and read it.

Please pray for the families of the victims, the family of the shooter, and for our little Midwest town in Nebraska.

Local news network link.

 

Music review Tuesday

Christmas is almost upon us again. When I think of Christmas music I almost immediately think of the music from the band I am going to review today. I have mentioned them in some of my other postings but have never reviewed any of their albums. I have been waiting for Christmas to come around because most of their albums focus on Christmas music. The band is Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I will refer to them as TSO in order to save me some key strokes. Anyone who is a fan of their music would recognize the acronym anyway. TSO was formed in 1996 by Paul O’Neill, Robert Kinkel, and Jon Oliva. Together they wanted to write rock operas. O’Neill dreamed of writing music so melodic it did not need lyrics, and lyrics so poetic they didn’t need music. The sum of the parts for the songs would be greater than the whole. Their biggest dilemma was that in order to create the opera the way they envisioned it they would need to have several different voices for the vocal parts. Most bands only have one lead vocalist, and on rare occasions two members who have strong vocal abilities. So they proceeded out into the classical, rock, Broadway, and R & B worlds to find the very best singers and musicians to bring each song to life. I love this quote by Paul O’Neill. When asked what Trans-Siberian Orchestra is about, Paul O’Neill replied “It’s about creating great art.” When asked to define what great art was, Paul said, “The purpose of art is to create an emotional response in the person who is exposed to the art. Seeing the pieta, the world famous sculpture by Michelangelo can cause someone to feel the pain of losing a child even if they’ve never had one. When you’re trying for these emotions the easiest one to trigger is anger. Anyone can do it. Go into the street, throw a rock at someone, you will make them angry. The emotions of love, empathy, and laughter are much harder to trigger, but since they operate on a deeper level, they bring a much greater reward.”

TSO has three Christmas albums but I am going to review their most recent one. The title is “The Lost Christmas Eve” and it is one of their best so far. The album was released October 12th, 2004 and begins with “Faith Noel” which is their version of “Noel” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” with piano and rock lead guitar. The next track is the album title “The Lost Christmas Eve” and introduces the story behind the music. The story surrounds a little angel coming down from Heaven on a mission from God to find a person most like the image of His son. “Christmas Dreams” is about a little girl that is met by the lead character and touches his calloused heart. It’s a neat story of hope. “Wizards In Winter” is and instrumental piece the next track. The piece has been made famous as the music that accompanies the Christmas lights displays seen on YouTube.com and the like. It is a great rock orchestrated piece of music.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Keeping Our Priorities Straight, 10 Priorities for the believer, Part 2

Sunday morning Pat continued with our refresher series on the top ten priorities for the church. This is a really great series and it reminds us of those simple priorities given by Christ to His church. Christ is the head of the church. He owns it. He purchased the church with His precious blood, and He cares about what goes on in His church. This relational fact can be found by reading Revelation 1 & 2. Jesus Christ gives blessing and condemnation to the local churches mentioned in those two chapters. So, as a local church we have been given priorities as a body of believers to adhere to. I presented the the first three provided in Pat’s sermon last week. They can be seen at this posting. Today we continue with priorities number 4 and 5. The priority of:

4. A pure gospel – Romans 1:16 – 3:31.

Have you ever considered that there are in fact two gospels; The true and pure gospel of Jesus Christ, and then everything else is “another gospel”. The priority of the local church is to present a Christ-centered gospel. Here is a challenge for you: Can you articulate the gospel message in 90 seconds or less. I understand that this is a requirement for membership at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, where Mark Dever is senior pastor. I am challenged by this. As believers we should all be able to present the gospel in a clear and concise way. The biggest hurdle the unbeliever needs to understand is that no one is righteous. Romans 3:10. As unbelievers we were helpless enemies of God. Does this not enhance the beauty of the cross, and what Christ accomplished there? He paid the debt we owed to God. Our debt due for our sins against a righteous God was His own wrath which He poured out on His son on the cross. When Christ said “it is finished” the debt was paid. The local church should be teaching the lost about their sin. We should not be candy coating it because God takes it very seriously. If we aren’t taking it seriously then we are in fact presenting another gospel. Galatians 1:8, 9 tells us that preaching another gospel is condemned by God. I urge you to know the pure and true gospel and know how to communicate it to others.

5. The great commission – Matthew 28:16-20.

We are commanded to tell others about Christ and His gospel. This same gospel given to the disciples and passed along to us in the 21st century should be passed like a baton to others, and to future generations. Our priority as we are going is to make disciples of Christ. This commission from Christ is not just a commission to church staff and pastors, but to all believers. The gospel is an all inclusive message, not exclusive as some might believe. We are to make disciples of all the nations, all the peoples. But we do need to tell them of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ for salvation. The word of God tells us in Acts 4:11, 12:

11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

We also find Jesus telling Thomas in John 14:6:

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the only savior for the lost.

The audio for this sermon can be heard online here.