One Matthew; Many Timothys

matthewmurray.jpgFive years ago, things were very different.

At that time Matthew Murray was enrolled in the Youth With a Mission training center in Arvada, Colorado, preparing to go overseas with a ministry team.

How different was Matthew from the best Christian young people you know? 

  • Came from a “very, very” religious family
  • Home-schooled
  • Had an Uncle who is a pastor.
  • Participated in Youth Missions training.

Fast-forward to Sunday, December 9th, 2007.

“You Christians brought this on yourselves,” Murray reportedly wrote on a Web site for people who have left Pentecostal and fundamentalist religious organizations, shortly before the second of his two attacks.

“I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. … God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die in the shoot-out.

“All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

(from http://tinyurl.com/346yvw)

By the time the world knew of this posting, Matthew was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and the bullets of a volunteer security guard.

I had heard about the shootings in Arvada that morning as I prepared to go to my own church in Morrison, just 15 miles away from the tragedy.  I grieved inwardly at the loss of life, especially to members of my Christian family.

Later that morning, while Matthew was driving to Colorado Springs, I was at Red Rocks Baptist Church where I serve, among other areas, as the Children’s Pastor.  This past Sunday was our annual children’s Christmas program.  For a portion of our morning service, I was privileged to lead about 40 children in the adoration of Christ and ministry to His Church.

What a contrast!

I am constantly encouraged through my ministry with the children of our church.  Sure, there may be a Matthew in their midst.  But many, many of them are more like Timothy.  Remember the commendation Paul gave to an adult Timothy?

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15, NKJV)

I was so proud watching the young people sing and act and preach the Nativity of Jesus Christ last week.  I only get to spend about 3 hours a week with most of them, and yet I see the promise of Christ being fulfilled when He said “I will build my Church.”  I remember so fondly our recent time in Junior Church when we spent three weeks preaching through Peter’s sermon in Acts 2.  I can still see the kids’ eyes as they thought through the invitation of Peter to that crowd to “Repent and be baptized.”  Two weeks later, I cried my way through a baptismal service where six of these precious souls followed the Lord in the ordinance He modeled for them.  My heart is gladdened when I listen to these young people recite doctrinal catechism and Scriptural support for their answers in our Kids4Truth program on Wednesday nights.

These are modern-day Timothys and I am profoundly humbled to assist them in their spiritual walk.  Sure, the shootings last Sunday were tragic in an earthly sense.  People lost loved ones.  Others were traumatized.  Evil was revealed.  But, my friends, if the gates of Hell cannot prevail against Christ’s Church, Matthew Murray will not either.

Later, at lunch, I heard about the second and final shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, a church where a Youth With a Mission office was also located.  Again, I grieved over the loss of, at that time, one teenage Christian girl.  Later, we would hear that her sister also joined her in Glory.

Why did Matthew turn against Christ and His followers so vehemently?  What caused him to snap?  Maybe we’ll discover the answers as the investigation continues.  Maybe we won’t.  Maybe we’re asking the wrong question.

I know that the right question was asked on Sunday.  Not here, perhaps, but in a celestial throne room, glorified beings in white asked the right question of their Maker: “How Long?”

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. (Revelation 6:9-11 , NKJV)

According to this text, God has selected a certain number of His followers who will be killed before the earth is judged in the Great Tribulation.

You know, it could have been my church that Matthew targeted on Sunday.  He probably drove by our new facility many times on the nearby Interstate.  It could have been my teenage daughter who was killed.  It could have been me.  However, there is reason to take encouragement and even give thanks for this tragedy.  Why?

1. Because there are many more Timothys than there are Matthews.  God is still building His Church.

2. Because another four of God’s martyrs have been clothed in white robes and taken their place beneath the altar in Heaven.  We are closer now to the return of Christ and the judgment of sin than ever before.

Rejoice, my brothers and sisters!  (Luke 6:22-23)  Our salvation is closer than ever! (Romans 13:11)

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Matthew, Many TimothysA pastor’s thoughts on Matthew Murray and the recent church shootings. Bowing Down.Posted on 12 Dec, 2007Permalink | CommentsChallies on BloggingUber blogger Tim Challies’ excellent […]

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