After Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old Muslim from Fort Pierce, Florida, murdered at least 49, and wounded another 53 at “Pulse,” an LGBT nightclub in Downtown Orlando, many don’t know what to do. As Christians, what are we to do in times of terror?There are helpful things you can do for your “community,” such as providing food, shelter, and donating blood. However, the most important task the Christian can do is cling to God’s Word in times of terror, and speak it to those who mourn. Here are three helpful things that pastors can direct their sheep to do, and how Christian fathers should instruct their families to respond.
1. Go to Church. Don’t just go to any church; go to your church. Go to your pastor; ask him questions. Ask him to show you what God says from Holy Scripture. Take your wife and children to church. Speak with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Get away from listening to your feelings, the opinions of the world, and false teachers; instead, listen to what God’s Word says.
Avoid going to unionistic/syncretistic services and vigils where various denominations and religions are all represented by having their “part” in the service. There is a tendency to “put all differences aside,” and to “join in worship and prayer” in times of tragedy and disaster. However, whenever this happens, it compromises God’s Word and loses the absolute comfort of the Gospel. Why? Because this puts the One true God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—on equal footing with the idols and false gods of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism. In these “prayer vigils” and services, various gods are prayed to, worshiped, and glorified. As Christians, we know these things belong to the One True God alone (1st, 2nd, 3rd Commandments, and 1st Petition of the Lord’s Prayer). Sadly, even in unionistic services with other Christian denominations, God’s Word is compromised!
Unionism undermines the Word of God. For example, the ELCA does not condemn the sin of homosexuality (Romans 1) or abortion (Exodus 20:13); the Roman Catholic Church does not teach salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2); the Baptist church does not believe that Baptism saves (1 Peter 3). As Lutherans, it is our deepest and earnest desire to see the church on earth in real unity without divisions or denominations. We strive for this at all costs, but never at the expense of God’s Word. To join in these services gives the impression of unity when there is no unity; they say “peace,” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6). We pray for this unity; but, we do not pretend to have this unity. God tells us what to do when we are in the midst of false teachers: He exhorts us to flee from them (Romans 16).
If you desire a Prayer Vigil with your community, the best practice is for the pastor alone to lead the Vigil in his church and invite the community to hear God’s Word purely preached. Ask people of all denominations, religions, and faiths to sit in the pews, learn the liturgy, and listen to the preaching of God’s Word without compromise. It is evangelism. It is loving. Nevertheless, when preaching God’s Word purely, don’t be surprised when the world persecutes and slanders you. This persecution is the cross that God has given the faithful to carry. Therefore, don’t compromise His Word to be “liked” by the world. Don’t conform the Word to the world. Transform the world with the Word.
Preach the Law in its full sternness, the Gospel in its full sweetness, and exhort the hearers to live godly lives. Condemn the false gods of other religions, culture, feminism. Call them to repent of their sins of homosexuality, murder, idolatry, adultery. Preach the comfort and promise of Christ as the only way to the Father (John 14). The world will persecute you; but, rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven (Matthew 5). Fathers, teach your children to expect this persecution since the world hates God and His Word. Remind them that God gives a crown of glory to those who remain faithful until the end (Revelation 2). Rejoice that you would be counted worthy to suffer disgrace for His name (Acts 5).
2. Read the Bible. The most precious thing in the world is God’s Word. It is worth more than all the silver and gold on this earth. Why? Because the Word of God gives something that money cannot buy: the forgiveness of every sin through the death and resurrection of Christ. Only this can set us free. As a result, this is what the devil attacks. The devil knows that, without God’s Word, faith dies. Therefore, satan’s lies are his only attack against the church. These lies bind you to your sin, this world, and your condemnation. God’s Word sets you free. God sanctifies us in the truth; His Word is truth.
To be defended from the lies of the devil, read Holy Scripture. Tell your pastor to read the words of Holy Scripture to you. Read it to your wife and children. Be careful with “memes,” and “Pinterest” theology that you find online, or ideas found in popular books. Rather, read Holy Scripture. God’s Word is clear; it is sufficient. Meditate on what God has caused to be written down for you. Direct those who mourn to Christ, who has destroyed the works of the devil by His suffering and death on the cross.
Here are some helpful lessons from Holy Scripture:
• For those grieving the murder of a baptized Christian: Psalm 23, 37, 140, 143, 145; Matthew 10; Luke 23; John 10; Romans 5, 8, 12, 13; 2 Corinthians 5;
• For those who struggle with homosexuality: Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:22; Psalm 32, 38, 51; Romans 1, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 6, 10; 1 Timothy 1; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 1; John 3;
• For heathens, and those who have left the faith: Psalm 53, 115, 119:41-48; Ezekiel 34; Luke 15; John 6:66-69; John 8, 10; Acts 4; 2 Corinthians 4; Colossians 2; 1 Timothy 6; 1 Peter 3; 2 Peter 1; 1 John 4; Jude;
• For those who are anxious or afraid: Psalm 4, 34, 91, 94, 118; Matthew 6:25-34; Mark 4; Romans 8; Philippians 4; 1 Corinthians 7.
3. Pray. Everyone keeps saying #PrayForOrlando. However, there’s no point in praying for something if you do not know to whom you pray! Moreover, in times of terror, many don’t know for what to pray! However, you, dear Christians, know to whom you pray—your Father in heaven—and you know what to pray for—His Will to be done. When there is nothing good in your heart, and when you do not know what to ask, repent and pray the Lord’s Prayer. Recite the very words that God has taught you to pray to Him. Teach this to your children. Pray this for yourself, and for all those who suffer. Then, thank God for His visitation upon you.
Study the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer in Luther’s Small Catechism; instruct others on the significance of each petition. Focus on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Pray that God’s kingdom come. Pray that He graciously give you faith to believe His Word, and to lead a godly life here in time and there in eternity. Pray that His Will is done. How is God’s will done? “God’s will is done when he breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will” (Luther’s Small Catechism, The Lord’s Prayer: The Third Petition).
Pray that God gives you the heart to forgive murderers, idolaters, and adulterers, and that He deliver you from the evil one. What does this mean? “We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven” (Luther’s Small Catechism, The Lord’s Prayer: The Seventh Petition). Focus on the words and meanings, and commit them to memory.
Pray the Litany in church and at home. The Litany asks for God to be gracious and merciful to us. Here, we plead for God to deliver us, according to His Will, from the very things that happened this past weekend. Listen to the words from this excerpt: “Be gracious to us. Help us, good Lord. From all sin, from all error, from all evil; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death; from pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and from rebellion; from lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water; and from everlasting death: Good Lord, deliver us” (The Litany, LSB 288). Pray the Litany whenever tragedy and terror strike in our nation in church and at home. Learn to ask for God’s mercy, and know that He listens to your pleas on account of Christ.
Finally, sing hymns. Hymns are a confession before God and man. Pray them. If God has blessed you with children, start by teaching them, “I am Jesus Little Lamb” (LSB 740), and tell them to focus and memorize on the third stanza: “Who so happy as I am, Even now the Shepherd’s lamb? And when my short life is ended, By His angel host attended, He shall fold me to His breast, There within His arms to rest.” Also, teach them to sing LSB 546, O Jesus So Sweet, O Jesus So Mild. Focus on the second stanza: “O Jesus so sweet, O Jesus so mild! With God, we now are reconciled. You have for all the ransom paid, Your Father’s righteous anger stayed. O Jesus so sweet, O Jesus so mild!” These are simple melodies that you can learn and teach your family, friends, and loved ones. For further meditation, read, pray, and sing the following hymns as well:
• LSB 334, O Lord, How Shall I Meet You
• LSB 513, The Clouds of Judgement Gather
• LSB 514, The Bridegroom Soon Will Call Us
• LSB 515, Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers
• LSB 516, Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying
• LSB 555, Salvation unto Us Has Come
• LSB 556, Dear Christians One and All Rejoice
• LSB 594, God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It
• LSB 636, Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness
• LSB 666, O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe
• LSB 745, In God, My Faithful God
• LSB 750, If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee
• LSB 754, Entrust Your Days and Burdens
• LSB 755, In the Very Midst of Life
• LSB 756, Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me
• LSB 758, The Will of God is Always Best
• LSB 759, This Body in the Grave We Lay
• LSB 760, What God Ordains is Always Good
• LSB 766, Our Father, Who From Heaven Above
• LSB 768, To God the Holy Spirit Let Us Pray
• LSB 777, Grant Peace, We Pray, in Mercy, Lord
• LSB 897, O Rejoice, Ye Christians Loudly
Go to church. Read God’s Word. Pray. You will be tempted to stop. Resist that temptation. Reach out to your neighbors and loved ones with the very Word of God. Memorize it. Keep it in your heart and mind so that out of the abundance of God’s Word in your heart, your mouth will speak these words of God! Stand up for what is true, and speak God’s Word boldly. Face whatever persecution comes your way. Carry the cross that God has given you. Don’t find temporary and fleeting comfort in false hopes, or the appearance of unity and solidarity. Don’t find it by compromising God’s Word. Don’t distract yourself with work, TV, social media, or comfort dogs and other animals. Rather, set your eyes on things above. Although many things might bring temporary happiness, eternal comfort and joy are found only in the precious wounds of Christ.
See, my soul, thy Savior chooses
Weakness here and poverty;
In such love He comes to thee.
Neither crib nor cross refuses;
All He suffers for thy good
To redeem thee by His blood.
Joy, O joy, beyond all gladness,
Christ has done away with sadness!
Hence, all sorrow and repining,
For the Sun of Grace is shining!
(LSB 897, O Rejoice, Ye Christians Loudly)