Armed In Church? Yes, please.

The local media posted a story this morning with their usual Left-slant, claiming they had talked to local pastors (though an actual investigation finds that they actually quote exactly ONE). Their agenda is pretty clear in attacking armed churchgoers. So I crafted the following reply to post on social media, but thought it justified its own post here as well:

shooter1Interestingly – no-one tried to contact me, a local pastor. But I will share my thoughts here:

Arkansas law leaves the decision of whether or not firearms are welcome on a church property up to the local church (where it always should have been).
Show me one example of where a sign or statute has prevented someone from taking a firearm someplace and doing great harm – The infamous church shooting in Texas a couple of years ago is an example – the law in that state at the time made it unlawful to have a firearm in that church.

The reality is – if someone means to do harm with a gun, no policy, law, or signage is going to prevent them from bringing that firearm.

On the flip-side, as was demonstrated in the shooting Sunday – it was law-abiding citizens who stepped up to prevent far worse from happening. While I grieve ALL the loss of life (even the “bad guy”). I mourn what kind of wickedness must be rooted in anyone’s heart to want to go into a church service and kill people. The depravity is just unfathomable. But praise God that there were people willing to step up and stop the threat. Also – notice this entire event began and ended in less than 1 minute. Police are not magical angels who can appear in 2 seconds to end a threat. And even churches with hired/appointed security teams – can’t be everywhere at once.

As a pastor, I am glad to know that there are solid folks who are carrying a firearm every time the doors are open (and even when they are closed if I am on campus!). If we were to attempt to ban firearms – that means ONLY those who mean harm would have guns. That isn’t a positive position. As a pastor, I have the biblical responsibility to “protect the sheep”. I will do whatever it takes – whether that means I am armed, or I am confident there are good people in the congregation who are armed (or both).

If a local church’s leadership decides they want to try to ban firearms – that is their right. They can post their signs, they can make all the policies in the world. But if, God forbid, someone with nefarious designs comes in – woe is them who then are defenseless. But again – that is the church’s right.

And one last comment – I have read several posts and seen statements given complaining that church people shouldn’t feel the need to be armed. They should “be willing to be a martyr”. I’m sorry – but it is not loving to sit idly by while your neighbor is shot dead. It is not Christ-like to watch as those who very well may not be spiritually ready to meet Jesus have their lives snuffed out. And it is most definitely not the Christian thing to let children be slaughtered. Just because I believe I am prepared for my last breath – doesn’t’ mean those around me are.

guns_in_churchWhat it all comes down to is that we pastors are tasked with the protection of the flock entrusted to us. While most think of such protection as primarily spiritual protection, we are also tasked with trying to promote the safest environment possible for worship, learning, teaching, discipleship, and service that we can. If that is gained by knowing that there are solid, God-fearing people who are armed at any given time, then so be it.

What it comes down to is this: Pastors are responsible for the flock entrusted to them. While we primarily think of that care as spiritual care, we are also tasked with doing all that we can to provide an atmosphere for worship, learning, discipleship, and service that is as safe as possible. I take that

 

What are you Protesting?

One of the foundational rights we have in this nation is the right to assemble – including for the purpose of making a statement of protest or support. A major part of the Civil Rights battle here was won on the backs of those willing to take a stand and assemble in protest over discrimination and racism. I myself have participated in more than a few marches or gatherings – from the annual March For Life to multiple TEA Party assemblies at our state capitol.  Indeed, I am all in favor of the people making their voices heard – even when I disagree with their position.

So we take a look at current events – and the last few years of “protests” that cross the line from protest to simple anarchy and even criminal activity that is NOT protected by the Constitution.  Whether it be protests that turn to riots and looting in Ferguson to Baltimore and Charlottesville. We see professional athletes who proudly disrespect this nation and those who gave all to protect their right to protest, by taking a knee during the National Anthem.  When asked, most of these highly-paid athletes cannot even begin to articulate a coherent and logical purpose behind their act of “protest”. Sometimes it is said that they are making a point regarding police violence against Black Males (despite statistics that actually prove that Caucasians are more likely to be shot by police). Others say the protest is about systemic racism – yet few actual examples are provided. Others simply throw up a hand and speak of the #BlackLivesMatter movement (thought few can really even explain what that means). Amazingly, those who hinge their Anthem protests on the death of Black Americans completely ignore the leading causes of death among this same population – with Abortion being #1!  They ignore the inner-city violence that kills far more African-American males than all police shootings. They ignore the systemic crime and generational poverty caused by drug addiction and gang violence. They chase a narrative that flies in the face of facts. They blame “the system” instead of the real causes of death.  Simultaneously, many of those in this same movement get truly angry when you try to say that ALL Lives matter.  Hypocrisy.

And now we have the latest cause to march for – Gun “Control”.  All spawned by a tragic shooting in a predominantly white school in Florida. Immediately (even before the bodies were removed from the school), calls for banning guns, expanded background checks, age restrictions, and more were flying across the airwaves.  Quickly, a handful of student “survivors” became the public face of what has become “March For Our Lives” – what is billed as a “grass roots” movement of students sick of being scared for their lives in schools because of a supposed epidemic of mass shootings in schools.  The media has been beyond supportive. And the claims and numbers being published by the media, uttered by these self-appointed leaders are duplicated and repeated ad nauseam despite being proven to be either twisted or in many cases total fabrications. And again, we see total hypocrisy as blame is again placed on inanimate objects. No mention at any of the protest marches (amazingly organized and funded) in Washington DC and in cities around the nation this past weekend) of the FBI’s utter failure to even begin to investigate credible and documented threats by the Florida shooter. No reference to an agreement between the school and the Sheriff’s department which meant no students would be arrested or charged with crimes – even when they proved to be violent and a clear danger to themselves, their family, or other students. No mention of the school resource officer who took cover and made no attempt to save lives.  Not a word about an entire Sheriff’s department that showed up yet again, simply took cover and chose to not even attempt to save lives. No mention of the shooter being diagnosed with mental disorders that SHOULD have prohibited him from purchasing a firearm regardless of his age.  An entire system that failed.  No blame even placed on the young man who carried out the horrific shooting.  The only blame they are willing to place is on a piece of metal and plastic that is perfectly legal and is incapable of inflicting injury on its own.  Their response – additional laws.  I’m sorry, but how do new laws accomplish what old laws that are not enforced could not do? They are actually going to further trust a system that has blood on its hands?

You see – it’s really totally misguided and misdirected outrage:

These students (backed by big-money including Michael Bloomberg) claim to be scared for their lives – even though, statistically, they are exponentially more likely to be injured or killed by their own texting while driving, by drunk drivers, or by being killed by bare hands. Where are the organized marches (supported by, or even mandated by schools) against these far more threatening devices, tools, and actions? Compared to the tragic number of students who have been killed in schools by shooters, where is the outrage over the thousands of unborn babies ripped from their mother’s wombs every day? Where is the outrage over their fellow students killed by illegal drugs?  Where is their outrage over a mental health system who’s “solution” to those with depression and other personality issues is to heavily medicate with psychotropic drugs with a proven history to CAUSE or encourage violence (one fo the most common threads between the various mass shootings).

Where is the outrage and protests regarding widespread bullying and school failure to reign it it (or the penalties that seem to penalize the one being bullied more than the one carrying out the bullying?).

I  can’t help but harken back to the words of a parent of a Columbine school shooting victim – who testified that it isn’t a gun issue, but a heart issue. You see – our society has grown progressively away from valuing human life.  This is the product of many factors, but among the most damaging are that our entertainment (movies, television, gaming, etc.) have become progressively more bloody, and our ongoing defense of abortion – the taking of human life that represents the most innocent and defenseless of humanity. And of course – how can we miss that the problem of violence is a hate issue – one that runs directly contrary to the commands of Jesus who said to LOVE your neighbor? We as a nation of rejected God and His precepts (the very same precepts identified by this nation’s founders as the foundation of our freedom and national system).

I am heartbroken for the senseless death we see going on.  I grieve for those who’s lives are taken, regardless of the circumstances. But I also grieve for the many misguided individuals and groups who jump on the protest bandwagon while failing to actually know what you are protesting – or whether it is actually a problem.

Gunshots, Death, Schools, and God…

I have intentionally held off this afternoon and evening commenting formally on the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. One reason is that I needed to have time to pray about it and to give authorities time to make sure things were clear and victims being taken care of. Also, to give others plenty of time to speak up and respond. Further, my desire was and is to not overly politicize this tragedy. Many already are trying to use this shooting as yet another foundation to push their own misguided political agenda.

I was pleased to read President Trump’s quick and measured Tweet:

 But was further saddened to see the immediate responses by many who’s ugly and vile response to the President’s message betrayed the core of why I believe we are seeing these horrible acts of violence.

Let me begin by saying – we are seeing ugliness in this nation – acts of violence including mass shootings, we are seeing increases in all sorts of crimes, and at the same time we are watching an entire generation appear to collectively lose their minds (demonstrated by such acts as the recreational “eating” of Tide Pods!). We see cities like Philadelphia celebrate their professional football team’s Super Bowl victory by taking to the streets and systematically causing as much destruction as they can, while simultaneously looting businesses of their merchandise and other property.  You see – these are all symptoms (and some may say – “signs”) of both the times we live in and the absolute corruption spreading in the hearts of mankind in our nation.

The horrible and deranged acts of madmen shooting up concerns venues, night clubs, movie theaters, schools, and more, are all the product, not of WHO the President of the United States is, it isn’t the result of the “NRA” and any undue influence or money they seem to exercise towards politicians.  These acts that so shock us are not the product of a vast Right Wing Conspiracy, or of racism.  They are not the product of “white privilege” or the desperation of the poor in the “inner city”.  Every one of these acts are the direct result of unregenerate hearts.

Mankind has been carrying out violent acts and murder against man since soon after the creation of the world.  Cain killed Abel because of self-pride and a corrupt heart. Joseph’s brothers beat him, cast him into a hole, then sold him into slavery out fo pride and a real hatred for their own brother.

Jesus Christ, the very Son of God was murdered – put to death, though innocent of any sin or violation of the law Himself – because of jealousy and sinful pride of the religious leaders of His day and the willing, unregenerate population of Jerusalem.

Even in “church” history – the sad reality is – many have killed in the name of Jesus – but out of their own hate and pride or who was “right”.

Violence has been a part of this creation since the fall of man in the Garden. It is one fo the many symptoms of the who don’t know the Lord our God, and instead “turn each one their own way” doing “what was right in his own eye”.

Within minutes of today’s shooting, and on the heels (and in reply to the President’s prayerful Tweet posted above), very real hate, vitriol, and total heart corruption was put on display.  Hearts that are every bit as corrupt before a totally righteous God spewed fowl language at the President, mocked not only the President but all Christians for their “useless” prayers. Posts and Tweets across social media mocking God in particular –

And I say this – every one of them serve as a vivid reminder of just WHY God ALLOWS these horrific events to happen.  The answer is quite obvious to anyone who has ever spent any effort to read the Bible.  Just take a look at what has happened to every nation that rejects God – that turns from God (in the case of Israel/Judah). When a people functionally kick God out – turning to their own idols and pride – God has regularly allowed judgement to come in the form of unholy leaders, oppression, violence, suffering and much more.

While the context is not the modern USA (in context, God was speaking to nation Israel in a specific time and set of circumstances), the message still rings loudly –

My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~2 Chronicles 7:14

Or the words God spoke to Isaiah:

“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.”  ~Isaiah 1:15

You see – all we really need to do to face the horrible things we see unfold before us and begin finding solutions, is to see that we – a nation that at one time really was known as a “Christian nation”, has blood on its collective hands.  We have sat idle by (either literally, or functionally) and watched as 60 million babies have been murdered, depriving them of the most basic and fundamental right of man – the right to LIFE.

We have, as a nation, systematically torn down the institutions that God instituted from Creation – redefining those institutions to suit our own fancy, instead of honoring the God-ordained order.

We have decided that gender is an artificial construct and not set by any standard by your own “feelings”. Need mind that even at our very biological core – the DNA specifically identifies our gender.

We have not only thumbed our noses at God’s ordained patterns and systems, we have also collectively told God to “take a hike” – shoving all mentions of the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit from the public square. We have wedged in definitions of the founding Father’s choice of guaranteeing the freedom of religion to be free FROM all religion that includes the biblical God (but amazingly have tolerated or even promoted the false “god” of Islam and other pagan religions, ultimately setting up a national religion (specifically prohibited by the Constitution) of Secular Humanism.

No – it isn’t “the guns” that are responsible for these killings (in fact, I have never seen a gun load and fire itself at anyone). It isn’t because some people actually understand the Constitution and the reasons for the Amendments wisely included.  It is the corrupt hearts of man – that will continue to kill and hurt others until Jesus Christ returns and sets things straight.

NO amount of finger-pointing at Presidents or politicians, organizations, or inanimate objects is going to fix the corrupt hearts of men.

Might I suggest we begin by humbling ourselves before God, repenting of our hard hearts – confessing that we have failed to speak up, failed to witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ (in words OR in our actions). Might I suggest inviting God back in to this nation as a welcome King? Might I urge the reader to not just let this latest horrible event just add to your hate and anger – but instead to turn your eyes upon Jesus…

Are there major problems in our society? Of course.  And yes, we have a responsibility to act responsibly – but we must begin in the strongest position of all in this world – on our knees before a Holy and Righteous God –

“The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”

“The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

Noah Webster, (author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary)

 

 

The Blame Game, Agendas, and Reality

After a troubled night of sleep, much prayer, and time in God’s Word, I am still struggling with the events yesterday Sutherland Springs, Texas. I’m struggling with what could drive a person to commit such a horrific act. I struggle with my own family and their safety – especially after the news that the pastor of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs (who was out of town) lost his daughter in this mass murder.

And then I turned on the news this morning. Sadly, after recent programming change in our service, the only news network we have right now is CNN – so that definitely slants the reports coming out. And not surprisingly, the talking heads are already speculating and laying blame in every direction except on the real root issue in this case.  Indeed, it doesn’t take a degree in psychology, law enforcement, or in criminal investigation to know the real cause, but I will address that later in this post.

Of course, the first blame is being “aimed” at guns. Those evil guns, along with the wild and clueless rush to identify specific kinds of guns.  CNN’s anchor used the identification “AR556” – later to discover it was apparently the Ruger version of the popular AR-15 sporting rifle. Later reports say that he had a Glock handgun and some other .22 caliber handgun in the vehicle he was in.

Within hours of the shooting, the former President tweeted a mostly good tweet, but had to insert his own political agenda into the atmosphereobamatweet.png

I’m all about reducing violence, but not by capitalizing on the grieving hearts of people who have lost entire families. But the very last part is rather ironic in this snappy attempt to use this tragedy for political gain is the bit about wisdom to reduce “weaponry in our midst”.   Why do I call this ironic? It now appears that this shooting was stopped by the neighbor who lives across the street from this church – who pulled his own AR-15 firearm to engage the church shooter. It was the very kind of firearm so hated by the political Left that was used to STOP this attack.

Guns are not the problem.  Research, documentation, and statistics all verify that. Indeed, additional laws do nothing but take away firearms from the very kind of guy who stopped this mass murderer.  And I’m going to really stir the pot: no-one has ever been killed BY a gun of any kind!  Many people over the history of firearms have been killed WITH a firearm. Guns are tools – tools for sporting purposes, tools for recreation, tools for hunting, and tools for self-defense (as well as defense of our nation from tyranny – as our Founding Fathers indicated – the primary background to the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution).  Mankind has always had the proclivity to kill, using whatever tool or method is available. It is a problem that has existed nearly as long as mankind has walked the earth (see Cain slaying his brother Abel). But again – this is a hint to the real cause…

Gun laws? The shooter in Texas purchased several firearms, despite a military criminal history and apparent dishonorable discharge that SHOULD have prevented him purchasing said firearms. The Pentagon/Air Force apparently hasn’t or doesn’t reported military crimes and convictions to the NCIS system. Laws not followed don’t help.

But some of the laws being proposed – would have disarmed the guy who is now being hailed as a hero for confronting the shooter with his own weapon.

Do we blame beer for drunk drivers? There were drunk drivers when the USA had prohibition. Indeed, it is speculated that alcohol abuse actually increased under prohibition! No – drunk drivers kill – because they made a series of bad decisions that included the alcohol.

There are many now pointing to mental health failures and the possibility of anti-psychotic drugs that have become so prevalent, though there are no indications of a diagnosed mental disorder in this case. Indeed, even if there was a diagnosis for the shooter, contrary to popular opinion, mental disorders still do not address the actual cause.  Mental disorders don’t kill people, people kill people. Anti-psychotic drugs do indeed play “Russian Roulette” with brain chemistry – and are also probably over-used. Has anyone really taken an honest look at the INCREASE in violent crime, including these mass casualty attacks and the vast expansion of the use of these drugs to “treat” the perpetrators? A quick scan of previous cases show a terrifying number of shooters who used or had used these chemicals. But again – drugs don’t kill, but they might open the channels for what is inside to emerge and carry out what one might not normally do.

No – laws, and rules will not make us safer. Additional restrictions to Constitutional rights for law-abiding citizens is counter-productive. All the pontificating on mental health seems to only lead to more excuses for tragic behavior. We must address the core issue at hand.  These acts are carried out by people who have a heart of sin. A heart that is evil. A heart that is not filled by the Holy Spirit. Humanity stands condemned because we all are sinners. But when one still has their heart of stone that comes with the natural man, you tend to do what the natural, unregenerate do – and that is sin, including beating your wife and child (as the shooter in this case was convicted of while in the Air Force). An unregenerate heart  leaves open the door to seeking out others to commit harm to other people.  A sin-filled, evil heart, refuses to see the value in human lives. A broken, twisted, unregenerate heart isn’t changed by anti-depressants or anti-psychotic drugs.  The only cure for the kind of heart that we all begin life with – is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will not deny that there are cases where some people have chemical disorders in the brain that CAN be aided by some medications – but without the Gospel, they still have the sin-filled, violence-prone heart.  Why is it that the most successful drug treatment programs and criminal rehabilitation efforts all are founded on faith-based, Christ-centered efforts that begin with the Gospel, then deal with the other issues.

And the ultimate “fix” for all the evil that is so pervasive in our world is the same: Jesus.  The Gospel is God’s answer. I pray daily for a great spiritual awakening to seep our nation – beginning with hearts being regenerated and drawn to Christ. But if that isn’t to be, then I pray for the return of Christ as was promised. when Jesus comes, guns, drugs, and other things will no longer even figure in to the situation. All things will be made new –

But as a side-note.  I have heard several things that have been encouraging in this otherwise horrific and dark event. First is the neighbor of the church who picked up his AR-15 and engaged the shooter at the church, apparently wounding him and causing him to drop his rifle and flee. Add to that, another driver picked up this neighbor to give chase and keep law enforcement eyes until they could arrive.

I was also encouraged by the family members of victims in the church who spoke boldly of faith, of turning it all over to Christ -and the need to cling to Jesus in all of this.