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Thinking about our values

Over the last few weeks I’ve begun the exciting process of collecting my own thoughts about what our church values might be. What do we value? Generally speaking, we already know the answers, don’t we? We value the bible and sound Christ-centred teaching. We value the sacraments, corporate and private prayer, Spirit filled and ordered worship services, our Anglican heritage. We value each other and therefore genuine redemptive relationships and a sense of family, we value each other’s gifts, we value commitment and faithfulness, we value servant hearted service of others. We value being a safe church for anyone who walks through our doors.  The list could well go on and on… 

I’m aware that thinking like this is not a new process for you.  Significant time has been given previously to praying, thinking, planning and writing. We want to honour that and so intend to ‘stand on the shoulders’ of those who’ve gone before us as we seek God’s will for our future together. 

Eventually, (and I do mean eventually!) Parish Council and I will publish a document that the entire parish has had the opportunity to contribute to in one way or another. For the next few blogs, I’m going to write with the aim of helping us think about what is important to us as a church family. To begin with though, we’re going to think a little about our culture here in the West and how this affects this process. How do I know what I should value? 

Individualism: What I value may not be what you value!

As we think about this we need to be aware that we are more individualistic as a culture than we ever have been before. We are more about me, myself and I than ever. What I value therefore must be right! A challenge to our individualism is the New Testament itself. Did you know that the ‘one another’ word group is used over 100 times in the New Testament and that the plural for ‘you’ is used over 2200 times? That’s staggering! Church really isn’t about me!

In addition to the danger of individualism, cultural commentators agree that since the 18th century Enlightenment, our beliefs have become linked our identity as people. What this means is that if we disagree on a value, then we are not disagreeing with the value or idea; we are disagreeing with who the person is as a human! The result? Disagreeing is not allowed. We are all entitled to our own individualistic opinion no matter how absurd some may think it is. Individualism and self-determined truth is consequently rampant.

As a result, tolerance is now our culture’s greatest virtue. Disagreeing is not allowed. Tolerance is totally unsustainable though as it requires that we are intolerant of who we decide is intolerant. We have given ourselves massive authority to decide who is intolerant and then we exclude them or keep them at arm’s length. 

I laughed Rugby Australia’s inconsistency when they sacked Israel Falau. Falau was dismissed because he was deemed to be exclusive in his views about Same Sex Marriage. He was excluded for not being inclusive! I just wish Rugby Australia said, “We are inclusive of all people and all views, and so Falau is entitled to his. We disagree with his views and they are not the views of Rugby Australia but we will defend his right to express them. He is a great player and so let’s all get on with it!” Problem solved? 

Despite the intolerance of our so-called tolerant society, tolerance remains our greatest virtue. We live in a culture where everyone is right. Saying someone is wrong is the greatest cultural no-no. To disagree is now deeply offensive. Consequently, we have lost the ability to have convictions, robust debate, disagree and remain in fellowship. I think we need to be aware of this as a church family as we think about what we value. So what’s the solution? 

The bible as our authority on what we should value

As Christians we do believe in objective truth that should shape our views. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Jesus also prayed to his Father, “Sanctify them by your truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) So, Jesus who is the truth said that God’s word is the truth. God’s word is therefore where we find the objective truth about what we should value. 

Over the next few blogs I would like frame our discussion theologically. This will give us the tools to find out what God wants and not necessarily go on our own personal and individual views which may or may not be helpful. 

Just to get the ball rolling, how do these verses shape what we should value as a church? 

  1. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 10:27)
  2. “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4ff)

Here are some texts for further reflection: 

  1. Acts 2:42-47
  2. Ephesians 4:1-16
  3. 1 Corinthians 12 

As we read, pray, think and chat with people, let’s think about what we value as a church family. Let’s work at making these values clear, and then let’s make all our decisions according to those values. 

Above all, let’s pray that what we value is what God values. That way,  our decisions will be God honouring, Christ exalting, prayerfully dependant, people, community, nation and world transforming decisions. How exciting! 

Your brother, 

Gus 

The salvation coin

For today’s blog we look at the other side of the coin from 2 weeks ago. What’s the coin? The coin is the tension between God’s sovereignty on the one side and on the other, human responsibility. 

The first side of the coin we looked at was the sovereignty of God in our salvation. That is, God is totally in control of our salvation from beginning to end. Why is that? So that no one may boast before him or anyone else. In my last blog, we were reminded from the Scriptures that God chooses who are his before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3ff).  Clearly our salvation has nothing to do with us if we were chosen by God before we even exist! 

God’s choosing us before the foundation of the world also means there’s great comfort for people in other parts of the world who have not yet heard of the Lord Jesus. Our salvation does not come down to where we were born, whether we are ‘good’ people or ‘bad’ people, if we were born in the West or in the majority world, if we are economically stable or less stable, if we are upper class, lower class, middle class or other class, whether we’re educated, uneducated, male or female;  whether I’m raised in a Christian home, Muslim home, atheist home, secular humanist home, materialistic home or whatever home. Our salvation comes down to the fact that God chose us before the foundation of the world and nothing more. 

The tension is clear. If God chose me then what’s the point in believing, trusting, turning to God in repentance and faith. Surely if God chose me then I can just relax and do what I want! It’s the classic problem of, “I believe but I don’t need to take obedience seriously. I don’t need to go to church, meet with other Christians, read my bible or pray.”  Enter the second side of the salvation coin – our responsibility…

The bible is equally clear that I must respond to Jesus. When I hear the gospel – the good news of salvation through Jesus, I must genuinely turn to Him in repentance and faith. I must turn from my own selfish pride and desires, and turn to Jesus, follow him and be obedient to him. If there is no repentance and turning to Jesus in obedience, then there is no salvation. There are plenty of verses that point to this reality of our responsibility to respond. 

The apostle Peter preached a brilliant Christ centred sermon (Acts 2). Imagine being there! We read that those who listened were moved deeply. “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (That is, what is our responsibility given what we’ve heard?) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37ff) Of course, the Lord Jesus taught exactly the same thing. He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” That is, the Kingdom has come because the King of that Kingdom has arrived! What should I do? What is my responsibility? I must turn to the King by repenting and believing in him. 

The Bible is clear. God is sovereign over our salvation from beginning to end AND we must respond to that salvation. To be very clear: God is sovereign over our salvation and yet if I don’t respond rightly, then there is no chance of salvation (unless God grants salvation later). God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are the 2 sides of the salvation coin. God’s sovereignty never negates our responsibility and our responsibility never negates God’s sovereignty. How do we deal with this tension?

One of the best places we can go is John 3. In this famous chapter of the Bible, we learn about what it means to be “born again.” The notion of being born again is a controversial one because it has been used to describe fundamentalist Christians. You might have heard it said, “Oh, he is one of those born-again types”. I do sympathise with the critique against fundamentalist Christians. However, the reality is that Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) So, rather than running away from the ‘new birth’, we need to see what the Bible says about being born again not what our culture might say about it.

The idea of the new birth is a helpful way of handling the tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Can I ask your question? How much control did you have over your physical birth? Clearly the answer is none. You had no control over your physical birth. So it is with our spiritual new birth. This is the case because, as we have already seen, God is sovereign over our salvation. 

The Apostle Paul talks about the new birth in slightly different terms. He writes in Ephesians 2, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved..” Here Paul talks about the new birth as being ‘made alive’. We were dead and now we are alive. That is something that God does, not us. Dead people cannot believe or repent. They can’t ask for life, nor can they reach out for help. God is the God of the resurrection and he gives life to the spiritually dead. 

What this means is that the Christian faith is not about making good people better but it’s making dead people alive. It’s not about self-improvement, it’s about people needing to be born if they are going to live and it’s about dead people being made alive. 

I wonder if you can see already how this tension of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility might be played out?  If God gave me ‘new birth’ or if God ‘made me alive’, then I start breathing spiritually – so to speak. If I’m given life, then I’m alive! Being alive clearly looks different to being dead! That’s when our responsibility comes into play. If God has given me life, then I need to choose to live with the life he has given me. That life is a life of repentance and faith. We read in Ephesians chapter 2, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one my boast.” Even our faith is a gift from God so that no one may boast! 

The Apostle Paul again put it like this, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20). To put it simply, because God has given me life in him I now exercise my ability to believe and to live by faith in the Son of God. The only way I can do that is if God gives me life and faith first according to his sovereignty. 

Another text that brings this tension together is 1 Thessalonians 1:4. Here the apostle Paul writes, “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction”. Can you see from this text the sovereignty of God in choosing his people? God chose them and so when the gospel came to them, it came with deep conviction through the Holy Spirit. The text goes on to show how this deep conviction lead to a profound transformation in the way that they lived. Paul goes on to write in verse nine, “For they themselves report… how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thess 1:9-10) This transformation (v9-10) was clearly only possible because God chose them from before the foundation of the world (v4). 

There is a difficult pastoral question that comes out of this. Why does God choose to save some and not others? Why does God choose to give some repentance and faith and not others? What happens to those who God hasn’t chosen?

This is indeed a hard question. So here we go… 

The question to start with is not why God saves some but not others, but why God saves any of us at all! We have all deliberately sinned against God in thought, word and deed and therefore we are spiritually dead. That’s not God’s fault! That is the natural consequence of us trying to run our own lives as we please without reference to God. I don’t deserve salvation. I don’t deserve to see God face to face. If I’m honest with myself I see that I have separated myself from God. What this means is that God does not send necessarily send us to Hell. We walk there ourselves, by our own choice to live independently of God. God in effect says, “Ok, you choose independence, I will honour your choice.” Nothing can be fairer than that!

 It is really important to know, believe and trust that we have put ourselves in this position. And yet!… God in his great mercy has saved some. I don’t know why he chose some while letting others go their own way. I for one will forever be grateful to God that he has stepped into my life and saved me from my own choices. He gave me faith and repentance, life and new birth. 

Hell will not be full of repentant people who missed out somehow. The people in Hell have chosen to be there. That is, they don’t want God or his people and would prefer eternity that way. Sometimes my own free choice can be the most frightening thing imaginable. We desperately need God to intervene in our own free will, grant us genuine repentance and faith so that we can choose him. We need salvation. Perhaps even now you could ask him to give you ever increasing, genuine repentance. 

Our Anglican Prayer book outlines this theology brilliantly in our confession of sins: 

         Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, we have followed to much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against the holy laws, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us: but thou, oh Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders: spared thou them, oh God, which confess their faults, restore thou them that are penitent, according to the promises declared onto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord: and grant, O most merciful father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of thy holy name. Amen 

In the Confession, we see that the problem of sin is our own doing and God grants repentance transformed behaviour even as we genuinely repent. The words of the ‘absolution’ teach again that our genuine repentance which we exercise, actually come from God. “Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do at this present, and the rest of our life here after maybe pure and holy…. 

A picture image to finish:

Imagine that you walked through a gate that had a sign that reads, “Salvation” above it. You are genuinely walking through that gate exercising your own responsibility. Once you are through the gate, you look backwards. Above the gate you’ve just walked through, you read the same sign from the other side. It reads “Chosen”. There’s the tension of the salvation coin. One side says ‘repent and believe’ and the other side says ‘chosen’. The only way I can exercise my responsibility of walking through the salvation gate is if God has chosen me first. 

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.

Was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.”  – John Newton 

How are we to live in light of this incredible salvation from God? As we sing in “When I survey the wondrous cross”:  Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life and my all. 

With love, Gus 

Safe at home where I belong

After bible study last night, I got home and watched the late night news. The CEO of FairTrade Australia and New Zealand was being interviewed. Once again I was tempted to despair as I was reminded of the evils of the chocolate industry. I was reminded that today there are more slaves than ever before in history, that children are still trafficked for harvest labour on the cocoa farms. According to Peter Whoriskey from the Washington Post, “Mars, Nestlé and Hershey pledged nearly two decades ago to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labour.” 

Last night on the news, I learned that Nestlé has decided not to do business through the FairTrade system. What that means is that for Nestlé, child labour will continue and the farmers will be paid less for their cocoa than it costs to produce. On the Nestlé website they say that they are the, “World’s leading, Nutrition, Health and Wellbeing Company”. 

I don’t think so, Nestlé. 

One of the harvest kids is quoted by Peter Whoriskey as saying that “he’s hungry, tired and he has a very sore back”.  Needless to say, there’s no Mum or Dad to bring comfort, food, rest and healing. No family for a sense of belonging and value. Just the next bit of scrub to clear. Just the next swing of the machete to look forward to. The kids hardly talk apparently. Their distinctive faces have the commonality of utter emptiness. Nestlé couldn’t care less about nutrition, health and the well being of those kids.  I think I’ve had my last ever KitKat and glass of Milo  – I won’t miss them a bit. 

I promised you that I’d write this blog on the biblical tension between God’s total control over our salvation and our need to genuinely respond. Why on earth would I start with the gut wrenching story of child labour in west Africa? Is it because I want to remind us of the job God has given us as a church family? To reach the ends of the earth with the good news of his Son Jesus Christ  and to seek earthly justice for the poor and the marginalised? Yes! Definitely. Arawang Anglican is not about us. Arawang Anglican has been put here for a purpose. That is, you and I have a purpose. We are here to make disciples of all nations and all generations. We are to seek first Christ’s righteousness in ourselves, in our community, territory, nation and world. As much as I am totally committed to that, it’s not why I started this blog with west Africa. 

I started the blog with west Africa because I was devastated to think of those kids not having any assurance of where they really belong and if they’re loved. Personal assurance is vital to our sense of well-being and health. Imagine if someone you loved deeply came to you and said, “Are you my friend/wife/husband/father/mother/brother/sister because I’m not actually sure that I am? That question would be devastating to both parties. 

See, the doctrine of God’s sovereignty over our salvation boils down to our assurance. Can I be sure that I’m loved, I belong and I’m a child of God? Can I be sure of that? Is there any chance the spiritual equivalent of west Africa could happen to me where I don’t know where my Heavenly Father is, or I can’t be sure even who my Heavenly Father is? I can’t be sure of where I belong because I’ve been taken from my ‘spiritual home’? 

God’s sovereignty is therefore not just abstract, geeky, philosophical, academic theology. If it remains like that, we’ve missed the point! God’s sovereignty over my salvation is about whether I know that I am safe at ‘home’. It’s about my assurance of my safety now and my safety in eternity. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it: “What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ…” I can be assured because God is sovereign, God is faithful and God keeps his word. 

In this blog, I’d like to start by showing you from the Scriptures how God is sovereign over our salvation. He is the initiator, he makes it happen and he will keep his people safe for ever and ever and ever. 

God is Sovereign over my salvation because he chooses who are his. Have a look at these select verses. There are plenty more I could use too: 

A “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” Genesis 17:4ff

Here we see that God chose Abraham. 

B “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Exodus 6:7

Here we see that God chose his people and saved them out of Egypt. 

C “All things have been handed over to me by my father, and no one knows the Son except the father, and no one knows the father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matt 11:27 

This text shows us the tension between God’s choosing and our responsibility to respond. The text goes on to say, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” So God chooses us and therefore we ‘come to Jesus’. We cannot come to Jesus unless God chose us first. 

D Jesus said, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 11:27-28

Once again this text is helpful in trying to understand the tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Jesus says that he has sheep that are known to him and he gives eternal life and they are safe. At the same time Jesus says that his sheep follow him. They are responsible for the action to follow. 

E Jesus said to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you or harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” Acts 18:10

This text is important because we might be tempted to think that because God is sovereign over salvation and he knows where his people are, we don’t need to tell people the good news about Jesus. The opposite is true though. Precisely because Jesus said that his people are in Corinth, Paul is told to go and find them, speak and not to be silent. Paul didn’t know which one were which. I don’t know which ones are which, but God does! Imagine if Jesus said to you, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you or harm you, for I have many in Kambah, Tuggeranong and in Canberra.” I think there is truth in that and so we are reminded of the job we have to do in God’s strength. 

F Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:3-4

G Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

H Paul wrote, “and you were dead in the trespasses and sins……But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great Love with which he loved us made us alive in Christ.” Ephesians 2:1ff

Christianity has never been about making good people better people. Rather it’s about making spiritually dead people alive in Christ as totally new creations. Needless to say, spiritually dead people cannot initiate salvation. We need to be made alive by a Sovereign Saviour. 

God is indeed sovereign over our salvation. From these texts we can see that God knows whose are his people since before the foundation of the world, he makes them known to Jesus who then sends his disciples out into the world to find them. When they are found, they come (not necessarily immediately) and their souls, even if their bodies die, are kept safe in God’s care for eternity. God never loses his sheep. Praise Him.

A good friend of mine, David Greeff was a missionary for many years in Namibia. He is now the General Secretary of the WA branch of CMS. David always signs off his emails like this:

“Until His nets are full,

David.”

I love this sign off. It reminds me that God is Sovereign over the salvation of his people. He knows how many fish will be in the net and he knows them by name – not one will be lost. David’s sign off reminds me that as Jesus called the first disciples to be ‘fishers of men’, we must serve and serve faithfully until all his nets are full. Some are teachers and pastors, some evangelists, some governors, some financially provide, some work behind the scenes. We all must play our part. Only then, when his nets are full, will Jesus return, roll up the pages of history and say “enough’s enough let’s all go home”.

There are important questions that arise out of this. What about the people who are not ‘chosen’, what must I do in response to what God has done? For those, you’ll have to wait until next week. 

Those poor kids in west Africa were taken from where they belong. They had no parents and no hope in this world. Because God is sovereign over the salvation of his people, this will never be the case for our souls. We can be assured. We will never be taken from where we belong. We will never find that our Father can’t be found. We are safe. God planned it, bought us, sealed and keeps us. Not one of God’s people will be lost and God keeps his promises. Eternal life means eternal life!

We will always know where we belong and we will always know we are loved. 

With love

Gus 

A heart warming and glorious truth

A glorious and heart warming truth
Over the next few blogs we are going to think about a glorious, heart warming truth. We are going to be thinking about the sovereignty of God. The reason why we’re looking at this now is because soon in Hebrews we are going to open a can of worms! That can is this: Can we lose our salvation? This question of our assurance and whether or not we can lose our salvation is akin to asking, “Is God sovereign over our salvation?” So over the next few weeks we’re gong to have a look at the sovereignty of God generally and then the sovereignty of God particularly as it relates to our salvation. I’m not going to be able to deal with this issue in full during the sermons and so I intend to cheat and use the blogs to help us out. I pray the sovereignty of God will be a glorious, heart warming truth for you too. 
I love that God is sovereign. I love that nothing takes him by surprise. I love that He is before all things and so never reacts to anything. I love that he is always proactive. I love that he knows what I need before I ask for it. I love that he knows my thoughts and knows what I need before I even ask. I love that he is totally in charge and in control. Nothing takes him by surprise and nothing will ever thwart his purposes. 
This is truly wonderful news. Imagine if God was 1% sovereign, or 80% sovereign or 99% sovereign. Imagine that he was only partly in control of what’s going on in our world, his plans for his people and his plans for the world. We would all be in serious trouble.  We would be in terrible trouble with no assurance, no real comfort and no hope. I truly love that God is sovereign. 
God’s sovereignty is tied to his Godness. Without his Sovereignty, God is not God. God’s sovereignty does not mean that he can do anything though. God cannot do anything that is contrary to his perfect character. He cannot do anything evil or that will thwart his purposes. There is wonderful comfort in this. It means that God is sovereign over the COVID crisis. He is sovereign over evil in the world, even if he cannot and will not ever be the source of evil. I love Genesis 50:20 which helps us understand this tension,  “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
I remember going for a bush walk with my family a few years ago. There was a particular point in the walk where the grass got taller that our Jo! She couldn’t see where she was going and it was impossible to see her! She had simply stopped walking. I approached her and held her hand and she was happy to keep pressing on. Why? Because she could see? No! The grass was still taller than her. She was happy to keep walking because she trusted the one who could see – me! We can’t often see the path as God’s people but we hold the hand of the one who can see, who is sovereign and good – and so we press on. 
God’s sovereignty poses a significant challenge for us though. If God is good and sovereign then how can he let bad things happen to good people? Boy! That’s a tough one. The only way I can get my head around this is by looking at his Son, the Lord Jesus dying on the cross. Why does God in his sovereignty allow bad things happen to Jesus – the ultimate good person? He died on the cross so that his people could be forgive. Jesus’ death was good. That’s why we call Easter Friday, Good Friday. How can Easter Friday be good? Because in the death of Christ we see the death of death itself. In the death of Christ we can have our sins paid for. Good Friday is indeed good. Jesus is a final fulfilment of Genesis 50:20, “as for you, you meant evil against me (to kill me on a cross), but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive (ransomed, restored, healed and forgiven), as they are today”. We often cannot see the good that God is bringing about by terrible events. Sometimes we can see it (like the death of Christ) but often we can’t.
The martyrs who have paid the ultimate price for their faith in Christ appeal to the sovereignty of God when they cry out, “‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longe, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were killed as they themselves has been.” (Rev 6:10) God knows there’ll be more martyrs! Those might include you. The might include me, who knows!  God knows and he is sovereign. I don’t know why he would allow this but I trust that evil people mean evil and God in his sovereign goodness uses evil for good. Praise Him!
Let’s be people who walk through the long grass – not by sight but by faith, trusting the One who can see and will fulfil his purposes for us. 
“To the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen”  – Jude 25