Townville Elementary School and Fear – In His Grip – Week of September 14

Townville Elementary School and Fear
by Sharon Betters

The mother of a student at Townville Elementary School told CNN Greenville Affiliate WYFF  that her daughter and classmates huddled in a bathroom.

“Her teacher was shaken up. I know all the kids were scared. There was a bunch of kids crying,” the unidentified woman said. “She didn’t talk for about five minutes when I got her. … I’m just so scared. I don’t even want her to go to school now.”

The mother said she was praying for the families of the injured. (Source: SC Shootings: Three wounded at School, Man Dead at Home by Steve Almasy and Keith Allen, CNN)

Terror in an Elementary School

Media quickly spread the cause of these chilling words from the mother of an elementary aged child:

  • Two students and one teacher shot, one student critical.
  • Teenager in custody, subdued by a volunteer firefighter.
  • Father of suspect, Jeffrey Osborne, 47, found shot dead at nearby home.
  • Investigators know of no motive.

Source: Huffington Post, Townville Elementary School Shooting

I thought of our elementary aged grandchildren as I visualized terrorized little children running to the bathroom of their classroom,  gun shots ringing in their ears and I recognize the fear and profound shock in this mom’s words. Who cannot imagine the tears and near hysteria as the children tried to remain quiet, hoping the gunman would not find them. Did scenes from other school shootings rush through their young minds?

Because of my own life experiences, I know that these families will not soon “get over” the fear of sending their children to school or even letting them out of their sight. If I could speak to this mother, I would share how fear drove me to find a way to live life without constantly waiting for the “other shoe to drop.”

My story goes back to a summer night in 1993.

I Guess We’re Starting Over Again

Chuck and I followed our seventeen-year-old son, Dan, out to the car. Our faces revealed the fear bubbling up into our words. “Dan, follow the speed limit, don’t rush, watch out for other drivers. . .” And then we repeated the same instructions, knowing we had to let him go, terrified this could be the last time we would see him alive.

Fear. The root of fear is the fear of death and it can be a powerful force for good. Stories about fathers lifting a car off of their child or a mother’s strength overcoming grown men trying to stop her from running into a burning building to save her sleeping baby. . . These stories fill us with awe and we wonder if that same supernatural strength would be ours if our loved ones were in danger. And we’re sure nothing could stop us from saving our child.

Yet, Chuck and I could not prevent the deaths of our youngest child, sixteen-year-old Mark, and his friend Kelly, who were in a fatal car accident a few weeks before this moment with our son, Dan.

Dan was eighteen months older than Mark. We often commented that the boys were connected at the hip. Before that horrific accident, Mark would have been getting into the car with Dan that warm summer night. That night that we hovered like helicopters over our third child.

Dan showed remarkable restraint for a seventeen year old, as we repeatedly cautioned him to be careful. He looked at us across the hood of the car and kindly asked, “I guess we’re starting over again, aren’t we?”

I could barely respond, as tears threatened to fall, “Yes, Dan, we’re starting over and I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Even as I’m writing those words, the terror of those days rushes back and tears freely fall.

“It’s ok, Mom and Dad. I get it. And I’ll be careful.”

That was over twenty years ago, and Dan came back safe and sound. But that was the beginning of learning to face each day without allowing fear to control my thoughts and actions. It’s been a long journey and such news stories remind me that fighting fear is a ongoing battle.

Fear can be a powerful force that drives us to make decisions that will protect not only us, but those we love. But the flip side is it also can be a force that locks us up into a cage, a prison.

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Discover the Book – September 14

Godly Women and Mothers

Mark 14: 3-10. It’s just a day before the end of Christ in his earthly ministry. On this night before that long last supper/betrayal night, one of the most touching scenes from the ministry of Christ occurs.

A love filled woman, driven by gratitude, smashes a jar containing her life savings and lavishes it upon Jesus. What a moment to see … Haven’t you wished you might have been there to see, hear, smell and feel such love? And haven’t we all wished we could have done the same? We love Jesus so … And to lavish with selfless abandon a priceless treasure would be our desire. Its mine and I’m sure it is yours today. The song writer has captured this moment in these words:

Such love constrains me to answer his call follow his leading and give him my all…

The good news is that we can offer a similar gift to the Lord Jesus Christ today. In fact Peter tells us that God is face to face now with us and is waiting for it.

Now turn with me to 1 Peter 3:4. What is the context of this gift we can freely give to God? It’s in the context of our study of the biblical family.

Peter, nearing the end of his ministry writes for God this inspired snapshot of what a gorgeous woman in God’s sight looks like. It’s a timeless, never out of style, supra-cultural absolute. This is what a woman of god has always looked like. But watch out it is very different from the woman of today, the woman of vogue, cosmopolitan, Victorian and so on. It cuts against the grain of culture and society. Well, what does God say a woman of godly virtue is to be? He gives a four part look:

  • V. 1-2 in her actions she lines up with god’s plan for the church and the home. Thus, she is submissive.
  • V. 3 in her adornment she looks like a woman in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, thus she is modest.
  • V.4 in her attitude she longs to offer God what he is looking for. Thus, she is gentle and quiet.
  • V.5-6 in her attention she is focused on the home. Thus, she is feminine.

Now, to go thru these verses and see the Word of God explaining these truths please copy and paste this URL into your browser bar:

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Pick Up God’s Declarations 

Joshua summoned all Israel … “…you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” – Joshua 23:2;14 Joshua spent most of his life enduring adversity, setbacks, and disappointment. And yet, he never stopped believing that God would keep His promises. By the end of his life, Joshua saw God’s faithfulness come to pass, which is why he told the Israelites to recognize and remember God’s promises.  The thoughts you fill your mind with are crucial because what you cling to influences your worldview.  If you choose to dwell on God’s promises, you start to recognize God’s blessings during uncertain times. Plus, trusting that God will redeem your present pain equips you to walk forward in faith and keep on fighting.  As you walk forward today, reflect on some of God’s promises, and let them transform the way you think:  God will sustain you. God’s peace will guard your heart.  God delights over you with singing.  God will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.  God is your refuge and strength, your help in times of need.  In all things, you are more than a conqueror because God loves you.  God will never leave you or forsake you.  God’s perfect love casts out all your fear.  Nothing can separate you from God’s love.  God’s not done with you. God’s not done with you. God’s not done with you.  Pray God’s Promises:  God, I’m so thankful that the Scriptures are filled with Your promises. Help me to cling to what I know is true. Remind me of Your faithfulness. When I am tempted to forget what You’ve done or how You’ve shown Yourself faithful, cause my heart to remember. Keep me steadfast. Amen.  

Bible Studies for Students – Week of September 9

Handling Tough Questions

Verse: Luke 19

Why so many stories?

 Luke 19:47-48  The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Suffering strikes like an earthquake, without warning, causing sudden devastation. Twenty-nine teenagers die when a school bus plunges off a bridge. A hurricane smashes into Mexico. An epidemic of cholera breaks out in South America.

Psychological tremors follow, often in the form of questions. “Why did God let this happen? Did we do something wrong? Why does God permit such suffering?”

In Jesus’ day, rumors buzzed about two catastrophes: Pontius Pilate’s slaughter of Galileans and the collapse of a tower (see Luke 13:1-4). Naturally, people around Jesus questioned him about these events, but his answers puzzled them. He refused to be drawn into a discussion of the age-old problem of pain. He merely dismissed the common opinion that tragedies happen to people who deserve them and deflected the issue back to the questioners as a general warning (see Luke 13:4-5).

The Heart of the Question

Jesus’ response to the questions on suffering illustrate how he dealt with difficult issues. Religious leaders and philosophical types were constantly trying to stop him with an arsenal of tough questions. Usually their tactics backfired as Jesus expertly turned their questions back on them.

Conscious of the listening crowds, Jesus avoided long arguments, instead emphasizing the need for people to change behavior. His answers cut to the heart of the question, and to the hearts of his listeners.

When teaching, Jesus often relied on a parable—a compact short story with a moral. Speaking in parables allowed him to continue training his disciples “privately,” despite the throngs of onlookers (see Luke 8:10). He could explain the meaning to the disciples later on when they were alone together. Parables also helped preserve his message: Years later, as people reflected on what Jesus taught, his parables came to mind in vivid detail.

Simple Stories With a Profound Point

Luke, a master storyteller, collected 18 parables that appear nowhere else, and he also retold some of the most familiar. While Matthew emphasizes parables of the kingdom, Luke adds those that focus on people: the good Samaritan, a persistent widow, the lost son. His parables speak to heavy subjects, but in an unexpectedly disarming way.

Jesus’ style of handling tough questions contrasts sharply with Paul’s. The apostle Paul wrapped concepts in theological words and gave formal explanations. In careful prose he patiently probed such complex words as forgiveness and justification.

Jesus, speaking to a restless crowd of thousands, communicated the same message in three progressive stories—the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son (see Luke 15). Scottish Christians like to call that last story “The Wonderful Father.” It expresses the heart of Jesus’ message about as well as any ten-volume theological work.

Life Questions

What one question would you most like to ask Jesus in person? Given how he handled tough questions in Luke, can you imagine how he might respond to yours?

This devotion is from the NIV Student Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.