Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Larry Porter and Debbie Perry - Murdered (Yet There's Good in This Story)

In Great Sadness... Yet Praise for the Open Bible!

Remembering Larry Porter and Debbie Perry

(Larry Porter is the tall man in the red shirt in the back row
- Debbie Perry is in the back on the right with the bandana)

Have you ever thought about how long you have to live? No one knows their personal time of death. That is something known only to God. But when a tragedy strikes, death can come in an instant. Plans are halted mid-stream when life comes to an abrupt end. And for those who are left behind to mourn, the big question such tragedies cause is: Am I ready? - Life may unexpectedly bring us to the Final Exam - ready or not.

Permit me to interrupt the normal blogging for a reality check - I give this now because I'm thinking a lot about it, given the circumstances, and I always want to keep this blog "real"...  

On September 3rd, my cousin, Larry Porter, and a friend named Debbie Perry, were both murdered - shot multiple times in Larry's home. It was a sudden and horrific end to two precious lives. 

We were able to piece together some of their last moments, just from the way things were in the house, as well as talking to the police investigating the crime....  Larry answered a knock at the back door -  a man whom Larry had taken in to try to help was there. However, as the police report says, that the man used pepper spray on Larry and Debbie. So its possible that they never knew the identity of their assailant, even though he lived on Larry's property.

What motivated the attack? Larry had been allowing this man (whom police have identified as Travis Bean) to park his trailer on Larry's property in order to provide him a place to live. But things proved difficult between them, and Larry asked Travis to leave. Finally, Larry served Travis with an eviction notice. 

Travis entered Larry's home this last Saturday evening and opened fire. There were about 25 rounds that were involved in the crime! It's beyond imagination...  

Our friend Debbie, who was a former member of our local fellowship group, was in Larry's home at the time. She called 911... That was the last...  They found her body near the front closet, where she apparently tried to hide from the gunman.

In a matter of minutes their lives were brought to an abrupt end.

Amidst the tragic news, one key thought became a focal point: When death comes at last, will I be saved? I mean - really! You know how it can be with us - humans - we can be on again and off again with God. And if we have chosen to be "off" from our relationship with God at the instant of death, well...  that's a far bigger tragedy than our mere death alone.

Death. It's the final say in a life. I remember when a man we knew died. The man had a grand mall seizure. He went to church regularly and appeared to be a committed Christian. But, when death found him, his family began going through his things and was shocked at what they found. There were receipts from visits to disreputable massage parlors. There were items hidden in his possession that he certainly didn't want others to know about. Clearly death had caught him unprepared...

Dealing with the tragedy of Larry's and Debbie's loss, made me think a lot about my own mortality. The question burned in my mind... How will my soul stand in the day when death comes for me? What evidences will they find in my house? And how about you? What if (God forbid) that gunman had come for you? Would you be spiritually ready to go? If death comes and we aren't ready, we will have lost our lives now and for all eternity! That is why we are encouraged to live each moment as the consecrated children of God. The connection with Him must always be maintained and daily deepened.
My husband, Mark, and Christopher (our son) along with two men from our Bible  fellowship group went down to Larry's house (about an hour's drive from our home) to clean up the crime scene.  

When Mark entered Larry's living room, he found a beautiful testament to how Larry and Debbie faced death at last. There, laying open on Larry's couch, was a Bible and and a Keys to Living Like You've Been Saved book. These open books gave a powerful testimony that Larry and Debbie had been spending their last moments with God! We were filled with thanksgiving at this discovery!

Don't you want that to be true of you? Don't you want to be spending your last moments in the loving worship of God? I do! Nothing matters more in this old world than reaching the finish line of our lives - covered under the Blood banner of Christ.

So, today's Encouragement for the Battle is this...  You don't know how long you have - but you can use what time you have in your Father's Service. You can love God first and best each and every day. That's what I prayerfully choose to do. And my prayer is also that when I die, folks will find my open Bible on my couch!

Here's the link to the news story - about the man who committed the murders

Heaven's Arsenal - Part 8

Heaven's Arsenal: "The Power of Love" (continued)

 The Fruits of the Holy Spirit - LOVE

As I mentioned in my prior blog (part 4-7 of the Heaven's Arsenal series), Heavenly Love demonstrates one's attainment of full spiritual maturity. This is because God works to teach us to love even those who hate and abuse us. This is Heaven's kind of Love! 

"For if ye love them which love you, what thanks have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thanks have ye? For sinners also do even the same." Matthew 6:32-33

The opposite of having Heavenly Love towards our offenders is having bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. The problem with bitterness is that it is a soul-poison, which we take internally, never realizing that we're bitter. Bitter people never think they're bitter. When I was embittered towards Brandi and her family, I never thought of myself as bitter towards them.

So the first step in developing Heavenly Love for your offenders is releasing one's own bitterness. And the first step in being delivered from one's bitterness is recognizing it. The following are some tell-tale signs which reveal that bitterness is present in the soul:

1) You speak badly about the person you are bitter against. Romans 3:14 says, "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."

2) You rehash the things that your offender has done against you over and over again - to person after person. (You may not be aware of doing this, but ask your family members if you tell the same old offenses over and over again.) Doing this creates "sides" between yourself and your offender.

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very (close) friends." Proverbs 17:9

3) Your close family members or dearest friends are bitter against your offenders. Bitterness spreads from you to those who are closest to you. The "bitter root" in Hebrews 12:15 is first described in Deuteronomy 29:18.

"...Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit."
4) Over a long time, holding onto bitterness will even rob you of your health. 

Concordia University psychologists Erin Dunne and Carsten Wrosch collaborated with University of British Columbia's Gregory Miller for a study on bitterness, which was to be published in the journal Health Psychology.  Wrosch connects bitterness to physical ailments:

"Health psychology has shown that negative emotions can influence stress responses and release the hormone cortisol. Chronically high levels of this hormone in turn can disrupt other bodily systems, including the immune system. If this happens, it can increase vulnerability of a person to developing a number of diseases."
Bitterness is obviously most likely to develop in situations where you feel you have been wronged by someone. And it is especially likely to develop when we believe we have been wronged without having done anything to deserve it. 

From a spiritual warfare perspective, bitterness is the opposite of Heavenly Love. We cannot love someone - with God's kind of love - and be embittered against them at the same time. But bitterness goes even deeper than that. For when we are embittered against another person, we also cannot truly love God.

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." 1 John 4:20-21

This is why it is vitally important for every Christian to gain the Spiritual Warfare weapon of Love - which may only be accomplished through overcoming bitterness.

In the next few blogs, I will address the ways God showed me to overcome it - in order to grow in love for those who were my offenders. And the good news is - by God's Grace - it is possible for us to learn to let go of bitterness and learn to love others - even those who are our enemies!

(To be continued in the next blog - Heaven's Arsenal - Part 9)