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"Tony Robinson is one of the most active church leaders in the United States, greatly in demand as he teaches congregations and denominations about church life. His work has a deep theological underpinning, which many congregational-development gurus don't have."

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author of The Gospel and the New York Times and And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament

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Another terrible mass shooting. And yes these atrocities are becoming in President Obama’s sad word, “routine.”

The week of this most recent shooting, in southern Oregon, I was working on a devotional based on Psalm 91. It is a psalm full of promises of divine protection like this one, “Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.”

On one hand, these promises are inspiring and they do inspire trust. On the other, they seem naive, even untrue. The virtuous are not exempt from suffering or evil. In fact, their virtue may bring on suffering.

But it occurred to me as I pondered this psalm that such promises of God’s care are intended as an antidote to fear. Even if “bad things do happen to good people,” it is wise not to let fear run rampant, to let fear get the upper hand. A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.

There are a lot of lives being lived in fear these days. Fear is stoked by public figures, by some of the media, and by those who profit from it like gun lobbies and manufacturers.

While we cannot literally expect exemption from suffering or evil, the inspiring promises of Psalm 91, and of so much of the Judeo-Christian faith, are designed to ward off fear, to keep it from getting the upper hand in our lives and society.

Widespread and irrational fear is what happens when faith is lost or diminished.

“Standing on the promises” is a line from an old gospel song. In a fearful time, faith offers promises to stand on, promises like these:

“You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress;
my God in whom I trust.’
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence...” Psalm 91: 1 - 3


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Keynote Speaker and Preacher