A Pastor’s Response To The Recent Break-Ins.

Break inOver the last few weeks, our belief in Mayberry has been shaken.  Car windows all throughout Eastman have being shattered.  The crime spree is dominating our little Eastman new cycle (I.E. Facebook) because at some level we all affected by the crimes.  More than petty cash was stolen. Our feelings of security, comfort, and safety have been snatched away from us. And now, we are left with fear, worry, and hurt.

So how do we respond? How do regain our feeling of security and comfort? Naturally, we should be wise. We should lock our car doors, take our wallets inside, and report suspicious activity to the police.

But what about our hearts and emotions? How do we regain our feelings of security, comfort, and safety? Thankfully, the Bible has a lot to say about crime and fear. Here are five things we can do refocus our hearts!  

  1. Remember Crime is Normal:

We live in a post Genesis 3 world. In other words, we live in a fallen world in habited by fallen people. And not too surprisingly, sinful people do sinful people things (like gossip, lie, and even steal).  We can be 100% certain that people will disappoint us, harm us, and take our stuff. This is what people do apart from Christ.  As Paul writes in Romans 10:12 “no one does good/not even one.” We should never place our hope in humanity.  Rather, let’s place our hope in God!  “He alone is my rock and my salvation/my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken” (Psalm 62:1). Don’t expect a fallen world to be good. 

 

  1. Examine Our Treasures

Being robbed is not fun. My vehicles have been broken into five times over the years. I’ve lost everything from CD players to gyms bags full of stinky clothes. And as much as I hate seeing my window busted out, I’ve come to realize that break-ins do have an upside. The help us see what’s in our hearts.

Jesus says in Mathew 6:20-21: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If we are troubled to our core by the loss of a gym bag, a CD player, or our wallet we may a bigger problem than the robbery. We may be living for stuff. And if we live for stuff that can be stolen, we are not living for Jesus. I don’t welcome theft. But when we do encounter it, we should stop and ask ourselves, “Where am I laying up treasure?”

 

  1. Trust God

We are not our stuff. Just because God let someone steal from us doesn’t mean he has forsaken us. He very well might be using the events to teach us (even to admonish us). God’s ultimate goal for us is not too be happy, healthy, and content. Often such a lifestyle of peace and affluence keeps us prideful, self-assured, and independent of our creator.  God wants us to have commune closely with Him. God alone is true happiness. We should  trust in the God who loves us and is working everything together for our good (Rom. 8:28). Sure, we may lose our stuff. But in the end, we will have something far greater that can never be stolen:  the righteousness of God!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4).

 

  1. Be Merciful

Don’t get angry. I’m not saying we skip down the street singing about the latest break-in. When we are sinned against, we naturally feel hurt. Sin is always linked to death and destruction. But the solution is not to seek our own vengeance or justice. Romans 12:19 says, that we are to “never avenge” ourselves because “”Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”” We are called to love our enemies. We are told to care for those who hurt us. Yes, we should want the police to prosecute criminals. We should want to see justice. But we trust God to execute that justice through the government.

We don’t do it. We should not attack made-up criminals on social media.  We shouldn’t be planning what will do to the thief once he’s caught. Rather, we seek to minister to our enemies. And if we don’t know who they are, we pray for them waiting for an opportunity to show them the love of Christ.   

 

  1. Pray

Pray for the thief and his salvation. Ultimately, jail and counseling don’t fix people. The gospel changes people through the power of God. Pray for God to save the one who hurt you (Matt. 5:44). Pray for your enemies. Next, pray for your safety. Since God truly cares for us, we should appeal to him in times of trouble. Don’t worry about what could happen to you or your stuff. Entrust yourself to Jesus! “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on” (Luke 12:22). And lastly of all, pray for justice. God is a just God. He will vindicate the innocent and his children. Ask him work.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/13238706@N00/92520711″>Car vandalism</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Thanksgiving Every Day

thanksgiving blogSometimes it was painfully awkward; sometimes it was refreshing, and sometimes it was just a touch weird.  Yet, we did it. Each Thanksgiving after the pumpkin pie had been put away, all five of us Witkowski kids would go around the table and list the one thing we were thankful for. (The first kid always had it easy. “I’m thankful for my awesome family.” Shocker, right?) Though I wasn’t always a fan of the tradition as a kid, I’ve come to realize that we need to regularly thank our creator. And our thankfulness needs to go beyond a material goods. We need to realize that God’s favor is not tied to stuff, health, or human relationships.

This is hard for us to grasp. From the time we start praying, we tend to focus on stuff. Think about how most young kids pray. “God, thank you for mommy, thank you for our dog Calvin, and thank you for my toy helicopter Aunt sally sent me.” Our thankfulness is often determined by what God has done for us lately.

But God’s definition of love is not tied to today’s stuff; its tied to him. We read in Romans 5:8 that, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The best thing Christ has done for you and me is to bring us to God. Our relationship with him is the source of joy, life, and peace. Regardless of what we and our kids have experienced this year, we can be thankful. We can praise Jesus even if we have lost our mom, buried the family dog, and totaled our car because none of those things can separate us from the love of God! Our thankfulness is tied to cross. Let’s start abounding with it 365 days a year!

Does your family have a Thanksgiving Day traditions? I would love to hear about them!

 

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/61525950@N02/10874493605″>Pillsbury Thanksgiving Table2</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;