By Michael Hernandez
(Editor’s Note: Mayor Rob McCoy begins a free lecture series on the American Legacy this Thursday, June 6th at Godspeak Calvary, 320 Via Las Brisas, Newbury Park, CA 91320 in the Village at Dos Vientos starting at 7 p.m. kicked off with a BBQ from 6-6:45 p.m. A few spots are still open for History Makers Thousand Oaks Youth Leadership Academy for middle and high school youth that starts at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $30. For information contact [email protected] or call 818-263-9881.)
THOUSAND OAKS—The cities of Virginia Beach, Virginia and Thousand Oaks, California have been linked together (West Coast with East Coast) by separate shootings (13 killed including the perpetuator at 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 7 at the Thousand Oaks Borderline Bar and Grill; and 13 killed including the perpetuator at 4:40 p.m. on May 31 at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center).
This Tale of Two Cities is not the historical novel by Charles Dickens set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution but a story of “real life” violence perpetuated by two former “mentally tormented” trained military servicemen (a four year U.S. Marine Corps who had been deployed eight months in Afghanistan in the Thousand Oaks shooting; and a six-year Virginian National Guard member who served in Norfolk, Virginia).
Now, 69-year old Virginia Beach Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer (a former physical therapist for 40 years who served as a member of the city council for 14 years and is professor of government at his alma mater, Regent University before being elected Mayor in a November 2018 election despite being outraised nearly 5:1 by his opponent) and 54-year old Thousand Oaks Mayor Rob McCoy (pastor of Godspeak Calvary since April, 2001 and first elected to the City Council in a special election in 2015 and winning a four-year term in 2016 before being nominated Mayor in November 2018) have a bond that both wish did not exist under the circumstances of two violent shootings that generated national media attention.
Mayor Rob McCoy shared with his congregation Sunday how he (Mayor of a city of 129,000) and Mayor Bobby Dyer (Mayor of a city of 442,000) have communicated since the Virginia Beach shooting.
In the aftermath of this recent shooting, Pastor Rob McCoy said that he changed his planned Sunday sermon to address issues that victims of violence and that citizens of their communities face.
“God is pro-choice” said Pastor Rob to a startled Godspeak Calvary congregation. “I am 100 percent opposed to the destruction of a baby in the womb” (and so is God) but God is seeking “who will you serve?”
Pastor McCoy continued, “Why choice? People exercise choice when they choose to disobey God’s standard, it brings us into inescapable suffering. Most people think of evil as anything that causes harm but the scripture goes deeper in the definition of evil. Evil violates God’s moral will and displeases God. Moral wrong violates God’s principles.
“We perpetuate evil by doing what God doesn’t desire. The question I hear is if God is all good and all powerful, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? If God can prevent it; has the ability to prevent it; why does God allow it to happen?
Pastor McCoy said the answer goes back to the Garden of Eden when “evil entered into the hearts of Adam and Eves as they rebelled and ate what was forbidden (see Genesis 3). The curse fell upon them and the world became a world of hurt. They sacrificed Paradise.
“When we hurt those we love, we become aware of our sin and their pain reflects evil. We fail to grasp the severity of our sin. What is sin? It just means ‘missing the mark.’ We sin when we fail to acknowledge God’s moral standard.
“God did not force Adam and Eve to do evil. God gave them the freedom to make choices. God is pro-choice. The problem of evil is the problem of freedom. Without human freedom there would be no evil. We want our freedom and then blame God for our suffering.
“To argue that God should not permit evil or suffering is to argue against human beings having meaningful choice—it is to insist that our choices be inconsequential and therefore meaningless. Every day is a choice.
“God wants us to love Him, not because He forces us, but because we see His love. Whenever we’re tempted to think God has messed up our nice world by interjecting evil and suffering into it; we forget that Christ was beaten and He died for the remission of our sins.”
Many hold a “naturalistic view of the world…with no absolutes—no moral system—but the one thing that a naturalistic world cannot explain is goodness, humility, compassion and mercy. In a naturalistic view you cannot say there is wrong or there is evil.
“God wants us to choose. He wants us willingly to choose Him. It is called love. He unconditionally loves us. We receive mercy.”
The psalmist says, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51.1).
“Evil visited the Borderline Bar and Grill in our community. How is this possible? I don’t have an answer. I can’t explain why?
“I can say people make consequential choices. God is both pro-life and pro-choice. God holds back the full tide of wickedness. There is an exponential degree of evil that God restrains.
“We have a choice. Choose who you will serve?”
For more information see: http://loveforvb.com/.
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 24 years as a middle school teacher. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].