We pray for those affected by the shootings at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. May God be with them and their families. We pray their community and the Church rallies to support them and we lift them up to God in prayer...
How can we help?
If you are interested in sending condolences, you can look for the First Baptist Church on Facebook, or mail a condolence card to the church. You can take time out right now to say a prayer for them or say a prayer at church for them.
Pray for those dealing with mental illnesses and pray for mental clarity
It's also important to pray for those with mental illness who think the only way out is revenge or violence. Jesus gives us peace and we have to ask for a "renewed" mind. If you find that you or someone you know is the victim of bullying, don't try to take it out on others, but go to a counselor, or mental health professional and here's why...
Recognizing the games the devil is playing in these end times
Several years ago, when I moved into my new neighborhood, we had a huge storm. My neighbors said it was a hurricane, but the news said that it wasn't. Tree after tree had toppled over. I knew because as I was heading into work, there were no buses the next morning and I realized, there was no traffic, and no cars going by. The trees that had toppled over had blocked the streets. By the time traffic cleared up several hours later, one of the drivers took me on a "tour" of the damage. Massive oak trees were laying on their sides, roots and all. I was in shock as I took pictures to use on our site. I asked the driver how this could happen and he said it was the recent rain. You see, when there is too much rain, the ground is so saturated with water that all it takes is huge winds to topple the trees over and that's what had happened. I looked it up and found several articles about tree growth and ground saturation. Too much water damage can rot the roots of a tree and it can topple over with even a tiny bit of wind. We're seeing that now in society, too.
Is the devil trying to push you too far?
Incident after incident on the news is pushing people over the edge. On the one hand, you have the devil and his demons. He's trying to influence people with violence on the news, gun violence in movies and video games, and when that seed is planted, it can make people "snap". On the other hand, you have Christians and God's faithful people that are under so much pressure and condemnation from the world that they can just "topple over" from the stress. The devil knows this and will try to come into churches, schools, businesses and families. When family rises up against family, this can be very damaging because if a person feels like they have "no where to turn," they may listen to the demons in this world that say, "Just give up and die."
That's why as Christians, it's important to:
None of this is to justify the action's of someone who goes into a church and takes matters into their own hands. What we are saying is these are the end times. You have to speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord, and get away from people with violent tendencies, or those that are trying to push you to violence. There are demons in this world on assignment to try to "push you over the edge" and they can be on your job, in your school, in your church, or in your own family.
In the Bible, God says He won't put more on us than we can bear. Dr. Bill Winston once said that we're not meant to carry huge amounts of stress and there's a Bible verse that reads, "The servant of the Lord must not strive." This is what happened to a girl on my old job.
When the devil plays cruel games
At an office I worked at once, there were really cruel girls in a clique and they were very mean. One day a temp started and the girls tried to undermine her confidence. Knowing that the girl was already nervous being new, they left her by herself constantly and the pressure got to be too much. I was out on vacation at the time and I can remember when I came back I asked how the girl did and one of the cliquish girls responded, "She almost had a nervous breakdown. Oh she won't be coming back." She was smiling and boasting when she said it and I thought, "Lord, help us." I knew I was seeing it so I could better understand the games the devil will try to play with people. They intentionally left the girl under so much pressure in a passive-aggressive manner to hurt her and sabotage her so they would look better in the eyes of others.
If you find that you have a situation where someone is antagonizing you, walk away. Use the tips above, and be mindful that the devil will try to distract you and he will also play games with your mind and wreak havoc on your emotions. That's because if he can play with your emotions (flesh), then it can be hard to hear from God. Be mindful to stay in prayer, seek help if you need it, and stay encouraged. Ask God for renewing of the mind and to remove anyone from you that means to harm you.
Be an encourager
A way to help those around you, aside from prayer, is to be an encourager. When you speak with people in high-stress environments, recognize that they are likely already under enough stress. Encourage them to have a good day. Ask them how they are doing. Share a funny story. Let them know that they are valued. I did this once with a delivery guy. I recognized that he was so overwhelmed, working late, not getting caught up, and I could see the stress on his face. I said, "You know, we're thankful to have you." He was so shocked I saw his face change as he said "Really?" I said, "Yes, remember, that you do a lot for our community. We don't always say thank you, but we're so thankful for you. Please stay encouraged." He needed to hear an encouraging word and so do we as Christians and the Body of Christ. Be encouragers one for another today!