Along with the rest of America I'm shocked and saddened at the mass shootings that took place in Aurora, Colorado at this morning's 12:01 am premiere of "Dark Knight Rising" the latest and last of the Batman trilogy. As of this writing twelve people are confimed dead and many more are in the hospital. My heart breaks for the victims and their families as I'm sure yours does to. I hope we are all committed to praying for these families and the recovering victims in the days and weeks to come.
I live in Arvada, Colorado, only 24 miles (a 30 minute drive) away from the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center. So this shooting hits especially close to home. I also am only 22 miles away from Columbine High School where a similar tragic shooting unfolded just over 13 years ago. For some reason the Denver area seems to be a haven for this kind of tragedy.
This morning I got a text from my friend and fellow preacher Derwin Gray. He is a church planter and pastor in Charlotte, North Carolina but is best known for being "The Evangelism Linebacker." Derwin traveled with Dare 2 Share for two years and we have grown a powerful friendship as a result.
Our text exchange was this,
"It's crazy how shootings take place in Colorado"
"I don't understand" (my response)
"I meant Columbine and now the shootings last night at the Batman movie."
"I know. I just meant I don't understand why this happens so much in Colorado." (my response)
"I wonder if there is a demonic stronghold...."
My one word response was "probably."
This little text exchange got me thinking. It got me thinking about another "Dark Knight" who ruled the heart of a gunman in Aurora last night. It got me thinking about Satan's role in the Columbine massacre on April 20th, 1999 when he invaded the hearts of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. It got me thinking about Satan and the stranglehold he has in the souls of so many. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that this dark knight, "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" and he did just that last night. He used the trigger finger of this twisted madman to steal innocence, kill people and destroy hope.
Frankly, as broken hearted as I am for the victims I'm infuriated with Satan. I'm sick and tired of his twisted, anti-God, anti-life ways. Yeah, yeah, I know that James Holmes is the 24 year old suspect the police have in custody and the judge won't buy "the devil made me do it" defense. But, according to Jesus, we can't hate James. Jesus said in Matthew 5:44 that we are to love and pray for our enemies.
But, in times like this we have to hate someone, and the best person to hate is the worst...Satan himself. I hate him for the deception he unleashes in the hearts of so many. I hate him for the destruction he has been directly or indirectly involved with since the beginning of time. I hate him for his hatred of everything God and everything good.
I'm dedicating myself afresh and anew to destroying his kingdom through intercessory prayer, rescuing lost souls from his grip and reeking havoc amongst his demonic minions. Join me. Join me in this holy uprising against the unholy dark knight. That dark knight who once led worship for all of heaven and was the chief guardian of the mountain of God (Ezekiel 28:12-15), that dark knight who led a mutiny against the King of kings (Ezekiel 28:16-19), that dark knight who was cast out of the presence of God and thrown to the earth in disgrace (Isaiah 14:12), that same dark knight who whispered in Hitler's ear whispered in another ear last night.
And I am sick of it. I am asking you to be sick of it with me. I am angry and I'm asking you to be angry with me.
So here is our battleplan against the dark knight who rages and raves against God's kingdom and rips and ravages the people God created:
1. We are going to start praying with passion.
We are going to pray for Satanic strongholds to be torn down (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and for God's kingdom to be built up (Matthew 16:18.) We are going to pray for the lost people in our sphere of influence to experience the hope, forgiveness and transformational power of Jesus Christ. We are going to pray for our communities to turn to the only one who can rescue them from Satan's strong grip. We are going to intercede on behalf of the surviving victims, the familes of all the victims and for the gunmen himself to experience the forgiveness of heaven (along with justice on earth in the form of a stiff sentence.)
2. We are going to reach out.
The gospel ain't going to preach itself. We must preach it. We must love those around us and reach out to them with the gospel message. Who knows? Your next door neighbor may be the next lone gunmen that does something crazy, stupid and dangerous. In either case you have the gospel message that can rescue your friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and co-workers from sin and Satan, from crimes big and small, from a wasted life.
3. We are going to live our lives to the fullest.
We are not going to hole up in fear. We are going to live life in faith. We are going to live our lives in boldness because, for those of us who have faith in Christ, Satan can't ultimately win against us. Hebrews 2:14,15 makes it clear that Jesus, "...too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of deathâ€”that is, the devil â€” and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."
Jesus' death on the cross destroyed Satan's ability to keep us afraid of death. How? Because Jesus destroyed death for those who put their faith in him. Sure we will die physically someday but we will live in eternity forever through faith in Jesus!
On December 9th, 2007 there was a shooting at the YWAM center in Arvada, Colorado, a mere three miles away from my house. Two people died in this shooting. This hit especially close to home because the YWAM center is on the same campus where my kids go to school. As I was driving my then seven year old boy to school the next day I asked him if he was afraid. He said "Yes."
I asked him, "What's the worst thing that can happen to you?"
He thought for a moment and said, "I could get shot and die."
I asked, "What happens when you die?"
He thought and exclaimed with a smile, "I'll go to heaven!"
I reassured him with these words, "Jeremy, as Christians who've put our faith in Jesus, we can't lose. The worst thing that can happen to us is the best thing that can happen to us."
He went to school that day with a spring in his step because of the hope he has in Jesus Christ. You can do the same...if you've put your faith in Jesus. If you haven't do so now. Go to www.gospeljourney.com to find out how.
Let this tragedy remind us to live life to the fullest, to pray to the max and to reach out with a renewed sense of urgency. And let it remind us to live lives of love, drenched in the power of God and alive with hope. For it is these kinds of lives that will destroy the kingdom of the true dark knight.