Do We REALLY Need ARMED People to protect the church?

I recently read a letter from a church bishop who serves a particular denomination. In his letter, directed to all churches under his authority, he instructs them to create a gun-free zone. We are to advocate "peace and security," he writes.

This dear minister, who does mean well, actually thinks that if you post a sign forbidding guns on your church property, that such will be obeyed - perhaps even by those with criminal intent.

In all honesty, bishop, how many places where massacres have occurred, would NOT have happened, if a sign forbidding guns had been hanging on the outside doors? 

If you try to create a gun-free zone by posting such a sign, do you think that when the killer arrives he will have a change of heart - based on a sign he glances at while on his way in to slaughter? 

Tell me, I ask, where has that occurred? 

Consider this, dear bishop. Up and down the roads of our country, speed limit signs can be seen everywhere. There are thousands of such signs lining the roads of our country.

Furthermore, those signs are placed there because the legislature of each state grants their approval for them to be there. They are there as a result of the passage of laws. 

However, in spite of this, according to some sources, over 100,000 speeding tickets are issued every day in the United States.

Think about this: we have passed speeding laws in our legislatures, and back it up with signs up and down the freeway: Yet, in spite of all this effort, we still have over a hundred thousand people ignoring these laws and signs every day (and that's just the ones who get caught).

Is there anything that works? Is there a way to slow ... people ... down?

Yes, there is. 

Put a police officer on the side of the road with a radar, and people will ... slow...down...

I am certainly not saying that having armed security, or concealed handgun carriers, will always stop a killer: but it may be helpful to have a good man with a gun - if a bad man with a gun shows up.

Paul the Apostle understood this.

Paul didn’t always utilize the “faith-only” approach when it came to his personal protection. Sometimes, he took advantage of... “armed security.”

Read it for yourself….

In Acts 23 a group of about 40 men vowed to not eat until they had killed Paul. They were so enraged at his teaching about Jesus that they determined to kill him.

They convinced their leaders to summon Paul to court under the pretense of asking him more questions.

But their aim was to murder him. 

Paul’s nephew learned about the plot and rushed off to tell him. Paul’s response is worth noting. He did NOT tell his nephew, “Have no fear my son, the Lord will protect me.” Instead, Paul used common sense. He summoned a nearby police officer and told him to escort his nephew to the commander.

The nephew then met with the commander and exposed the plot. The response is, to say the least, very interesting. Read it for yourself: 

“Then the commander called two of his officers and ordered, 'Get 200 soldiers ready to leave for Caesarea at nine o’clock tonight. Also take 200 spearmen and 70 mounted troops. Provide horses for Paul to ride, and get him safely to Governor Felix.'”

Think about that for a moment. OVER 400 ARMED GUARDS WERE ASSIGNED TO PAUL! These men had...SWORDS...SPEARS...

The religious mentality often tells us, “We should just trust the Lord for protection.” But the SPIRITUAL mind is different. It realizes that “faith without works is…DEAD.” Paul could have told his nephew, “Don’t panic. The Lord will get us to Rome. He promised us!”

Rome was Paul’s destination. God had told him he would testify before the authorities in Rome. And here we see God using armed people to fulfill His purpose for Paul.

Paul will eventually get to Rome - and the Gospel will spread throughout the Roman Empire - with the assistance of Armed Security!

God could have protected Paul with Angels – or a dozen other ways – but He chose to use a large group of ARMED men to provide cover for His Servant.

Antonio Milow is a Denver, Colorado Police Officer. A few years back, on a Sunday morning - after working the midnight shift - he came home and asked his son what he would like to do today.

“Take me to church dad."

Antonio got dressed, secured his gun on his person, and off to church he went…

When the service ended, the minister told his small congregation (about 40) that he felt led to pray for some of them. He soon summoned Antonio to the altar. “Antonio," the minister said, "God told me you’re going to do something you’ve never had to do before. And you’ll be brave and you’ll see it through – and you’ll be ok.”

A few minutes later, a man crashed a stolen car in the church parking lot. Then, to everyone’s astonishment, he exits his car and starts shooting, killing Antonio’s aunt who had rushed out to help.

Antonio ran outside and the gunfight was on. The battle rages; Antonio shoots the man several times, but he doesn’t go down. Antonio goes back inside and warns the congregation to stay put. Meanwhile, the gunman enters the church and Antonio engages him again. 

Antonio shoots the killer just inside the door, ending the killer’s life.

Antonio saved several lives that day. 

Not every church can afford to hire police or security services. The budget of some churches barely keeps the lights on. In light of this, we make our appeal to all churches, and their denominational leaders, to recognize the Second Amendment, and, based on the laws of your particular state, encourage and allow the churches to defend themselves as they deem necessary

Dear Bishop and other Church Leaders: there may come a day you find yourself in a lawsuit. The charge will be that you restricted your people from protecting themselves in the face of a massacre. Your posted sign kept your flock gun-free: but had no affect on the heart of the murderer.

There could be a tragedy in one of your churches that might could have been prevented had someone who was armed been allowed in the church (or its property).

A terrible tragedy happened to a friend of mine in Illinois. Her name is Mary Shepard.

In 2009, while working inside her church, the 69-year old woman was viciously attacked. Her co-worker, 76-years old, was also beaten. They were attacked by a man burglarizing the First Baptist Church in Anna, Illinois. 

The attacker was 6'4" and weighed 240 pounds. 

Mary Shepard after her attack, which occurred inside her church.

Mary Shepard after her attack, which occurred inside her church.

Mary's injuries were severe. According to Arrest warrants, the would-be killer repeatedly kicked the heads and bodies of Shepherd and her fellow worker (he got away with less than $600).

Mary suffered a skull fracture, concussion and a possible broken bone in her right cheek. Medical staff at the hospital told family members the injuries were like nothing they had ever seen. Miraculously, she suffered no damage to her brain or eyes.

But Mary wasn't content with just recovering from her injuries (which still plague her today). She knew that she had to do something to protect others from such violence.

So, she sued the State of Illinois for denying her the right to self-defense. She won and became one of the first recipients of a concealed carry permit.

Now let me be perfectly clear about something. I am NOT a gun-fanatic. I HAVE NO OBSESSION WITH GUNS. I own two handguns, that's all. TWO!

 But I am a fanatic about the prevention of violence committed by criminals such as the one who attacked Mary and her sister in Christ.

I am a believer in the Second Amendment because I am a fanatic about the Second Commandment: "Love your neighbor." And love, the Apostle Paul said, "...always protects..." (1 Corinthians 13:7).

And these individuals who want to storm onto our faith-based property and kill the innocent, must not be tolerated. 

We must LOVE our people enough to provide them with some means of security, and not feed them with faulty ideas such as "God will protect us while we are in His house."

If that be true, that divine protection is warranted when inside a church sanctuary, why, then, is God not protecting other houses of worship around the world? 

For example, beginning in 2012, over 1000 churches in Nigeria were eventually burned to the ground. WHY DIDN'T GOD PROTECT THEM?

Why didn't God protect Mary Shepard?

Why isn't God protecting all of the Christian women overseas, 6 of whom are raped every day because of their faith in Christ.

Why didn't God protect the Rev. Carol Daniels, who was murdered inside her Oklahoma Church in 2009? An autopsy report indicated Daniels had been stabbed several times and her head was nearly severed from her body. Police reports state Daniels’ body was posed in the form of a cross. Other reports say the killer set her hair on fire.

There is one other matter I must quickly call to your attention. Have you ever heard of the Reverend Daniel Simmons? Rev. Simmons was one of the 9 parishioners killed at Mother Emmanuel in Charleston, S.C. in June of 2015.

According to his son, Dan Jr, his father was the family’s protector. Furthermore, his father had a concealed weapons permit and nearly always carried his pistol – even in church.

Dan Jr testified at the trial of the killer, admitting, "I didn’t understand why he didn’t carry a weapon to church that night. It was hard for me, not knowing why he didn’t protect everybody.”

When Simmons received the keys to his father’s car from the coroner, he got his answer. 

“When I opened the car, it was sitting on the front seat,” said Simmons Jr., before collapsing into sobs on the witness stand. “He took it off before he went to church."

The list of examples is endless. Please, dear bishop and all other church leaders, love your flock enough to put something in place to stop these killers. 

Yes, pray for the attacker: pray against all violence in your city and that which is aimed at your flock. Cry out to God, fast, seek Him in sackcloth and ashes if you must.

Do not allow yourself to to be "dumbed down" by your theology, evidenced by telling your flock that we must be willing to suffer for the gospel. THAT IS NOT WHAT IS GOING ON IN THESE CHURCH KILLINGS! Only 6 to 9 per cent of these killings are motivated by religious hatred (persecution). Most of the time they are the result of domestic violence, and the culprit is nothing less than a cold-blooded, vicious, ruthless killer, motivated by his hate.

The killer at the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas unleashed over 400 rounds at the worshipers inside the church. One witness reported that he shouted, "Everybody dies..." (followed by an expletive). She said he also targeted crying children,

Dear God in heaven, arouse your warriors! Awaken us to hear the cry of the victims of violence, and empower us to stand in the gap and fight on their behalf! If we find ourselves in the path of the violent offender who seeks to destroy innocent life, in that moment empower us to defend our families and friends, and to use whatever means is available to us to stop the wicked one from completing his awful task. Let us heed the words of Nehemiah: "Fight for your wives, your daughters, your sons, your homes..." (4:14)

AMEN!

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Yahoo! News did a story on Sheepdog Seminars recently. Read it here.

UPCOMING SHEEPDOG SEMINARS

Our "Sex is on Fire" (and a lot of people are getting burned)

BY JIMMY MEEKS

The sex scandal stories continue to surface. And anyone who monitors the news knows that such stories are not confined to Hollywood; the church has its share, too.

For YEARS we have been warning attendees at our Sheepdog Seminars of the dangers of sex crimes on their property, or at church-related functions. Such crimes far outnumber the church shootings. These crimes are often committed by a church volunteer or a staff member. Every week the stories pour into our inbox.

I recently revisited one such story. In 2016, at an Oklahoma Baptist Camp, a 36-year old man lured a 13-year old girl into his room. According to documents obtained from a news source, he then, "...closed the door to his bedroom, tied the girl’s hands behind her back with rope, and violently raped and sodomized her..."

And another such story surfaced in Pennsylvania, wherein a 20-year old woman faces sex crimes charges, stemming from an incident at a Lutheran Church Camp.

But the story that has grabbed world-wide attention centers on a minister in Tennessee who is accused of engaging in sexual relations with a female high-school student when he served at a Texas church 20 years ago (as a youth director).

His accuser says he took her home one night after church. On the way home, she writes, "...he passed the turn he should have made to go to my house. I asked him where he was going. I don't remember his exact response, but it was something along the lines of 'you'll see,' or 'it's a surprise.'" 

Instead, he drove her to a deserted back road where he soon sexually assaulted her.

We often hire these youth ministers right out of seminary, and have no idea who they TRULY are. A background check, which is necessary, only tells us if there has been an actual arrest. Often, the offender has not yet been caught, thus there is no record (evidence shows that many offenders will strike over 150 times before getting caught).

But here's my question concerning this recent scenario: WHY WAS HE ALONE IN THE CAR WITH HER??? To be fair, it does appear that the church had rules in place that forbade this practice. But apparently that did not stop him.

Here is my point. You must make it clear to your youth workers that they are NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allowed to be alone with any of the youth. Furthermore, you must always have additional workers present until "no-one-but-no-one" is alone with the kids - and they are all safely on their way home. Put simply, someone has to be monitoring all the kids, all the time. In addition, those doing the monitoring must also monitor the monitors.

PERIOD.

You must have these rules in place and enforce them.

Look your youth director in the eyes and say something along these lines: UNLESS HELL FREEZES OVER, you will never, never, never be alone with any of the youth. Do not allow him to counsel any youth by himself: do not allow him to go to their school and visit the kids by himself: do not allow him to have the youth over to his house (unless other adults are present.) Use the "Jesus-Rule," the practice of being sent out in twos. 

You should also know this: such crimes as this are not because the actor "snapped." They are not the result of something that "popped" into their mind one night for the first time. More than likely, the perpetrator had planned out the attack. Anyone who has does their homework on this subject knows this to be true. They eagerly search for the opportunity to gratify their flesh. They wait patiently for the time when they can ISOLATE THEIR VICTIM - and then inject their venom.

Scripture tells us that after the devil tempted Jesus, he departed from him until "a more opportune time." This method of hell is employed by all predators (Luke 4).

Here's the deal, church staffs. You can continue in your naivety or, at some point, you can wake up and realize what you need to do - MAKE IT CLEAR TO ALL CHURCH STAFF PERSONNEL (and volunteers) THAT THEY ARE NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, TO BE ALONE WITH ANY OF THE YOUTH.

During our years conducting Sheepdog Seminars we have constantly warned of the dangers of sexual predators. Because of what has happened at churches in terms of shootings, churches have braced themselves to stop the shooters: but the truth is, the SEXUAL PREDATOR is a far greater threat to your congregation (insurance companies who cover churches will tell you the Number One reason for lawsuits are the sex crimes).

Many of our youth ministers (and pastors) are trapped in a web of sexual sin. I remember once receiving a call from a seminary student in Ft. Worth, Texas begging me for help. He had heard me on a radio show and thought I could assist. "I recently slept with a prostitute and I don't know what to do. Can you help me?"

Let's be honest: the sex crimes in church-related scenarios are not going to stop. There is no magic pill that will rid us of this plague. There is simply too much sex sin in the church. Consider this: about 52% of ministers view porn; and about 68% of church-going men are into porn. And porn feeds the sex crimes. 

And finally, a word to both parties in the present scenario and a closing comment to the church...

Mr. Savage, I beg you to do everything in your power to help Ms. Woodson through this. Set an example for the world by displaying what true repentance looks like. Take full responsibility for what you did. I can't help but think that deep inside your heart you want to make things right. I know this has deeply affected you, your church, and certainly your immediate family. Fully cooperate with those who are committed to your restoration. In doing so you could show your fellow ministers that there is life after such a tragedy. Your doors of opportunity do not have to be permanently closed. Our God is One who delights in mercy. 

And to Jules Woodson, the victim...

Ms. Woodson, I have a wife, five daughters, two granddaughters, and one daughter-in-law. These "little girls" are my world. This tragedy you have suffered could have happened to one of them. And if it had, I'm not sure what I would have done (I probably wouldn't be sitting here typing these words). A daughter who is wronged ignites a father's wrath.

Ms. Woodson, I type these words through tears. I am SO sorry for what you have endured. For 20 years you have been ignored by those who hurt you, all the while suffering silently. I can only imagine how many pillows you have drenched with your tears, longing to tell someone, but knowing that you might be blamed - and even shamed.

It wasn't your fault.

Your courage, your bravery, exhibited by your speaking out, has earned you a title: you are a HERO!

One more thing, Ms. Woodson. According to news reports, his congregation "broke into 25 seconds of applause" after he confessed to the incident in question.

I want to make you a promise, Ms. Woodson. Should you ever grace us with your presence at a Sheepdog Seminar, you will receive a standing ovation that shall never be forgotten - and it will far exceed 25 seconds.

Heroes such as you are worthy of such.

One final word. To the churches across this country that have provided opportunities to the predators: Wake up and put a stop to this crap! EVERYWHERE we conduct a seminar, someone will come up and tell us a story of a sexual predator that was in their church (usually on the staff).

When you search for someone to work with the youth, consider hiring someone in your congregation, as opposed to bringing in a stranger. Very, very few youth ministers have any intentions of staying long at any church that employs them. Find someone committed to your kids and give them the job. About 70% of youth quit going to church after they graduate high-school. Find you a man (or woman) who can stop this train wreck of faith amongst our youth.

And be sure to put the proper rules in place and enforce them. Let your church gain a reputation for protecting the children.  

If we as a church do not get our act together concerning these sex scandals, we are going to be a living fulfillment of the judgment described in Jeremiah 13:26-27 ...

"I will pull up your skirts over your face
    that your shame may be seen—
your adulteries and lustful neighings,
    your shameless prostitution!
I have seen your detestable acts
    on the hills and in the fields.
Woe to you, Jerusalem!
    How long will you be unclean?”

 

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On a side note here are some "announcements" you might be interested in -

  • The best organization for learning how to protect your children from sexual predators is Ministry Safe. Click here to learn more.
  • There are two things you can do to help the men in your church break their porn addiction. 1- Insist that the entire church staff join Covenant Eyes. 2- Take your men through The Conquer Series. It's the best stuff out there on this subject.
  • For info on a company that provides background checks, we recommend Protect my Ministry.
  • Charleston, South Carolina Police Chief Greg Mullen will speak at our Sheepdog Seminar in Greenville, South Carolina this month (Feb 23-24). He will be joined by Lt Colonel Dave Grossman. Many have registered, but there is room for more. Click here for info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5th of November, 2017 (the untold story) - By Carl Chinn

I (Carl Chinn) am now starting my 19th year of collecting data on the most violent incidents at faith-based facilities in the U.S. In all those years, no day was as emotionally draining as November 5th, 2017 (i.e. the Sutherland Springs, Texas massacre). I wasn’t alone, as those of us across the country, passionate about this subject, felt a collective kick in our gut.

My first thought, as the number climbed to 12 dead in Sutherland Springs was, “I wish so much we were wrong about this message that churches should be prepared.” As the number rose through the day, and finally stopped at 26, it was hard to function.

That alone was a record in any one day. Everyone knew of that one.

Many of us also knew that later that same day, an estranged husband killed his wife and her boyfriend as Mass was letting out at a church in Fresno, CA. Then we were at 29 deaths associated with faith-based property in one day (though the suicide came after the Fresno killer drove away).

Very few know the day had begun, just after 1:00 AM Central Time, with a tragic life and death struggle at a church in Rockford Illinois.

30-year-old Rockford Police Officer Jamie Cox had been with the RPD a little under a year, having transferred over from being an Illinois state Game Warden.

Prior to being a Game Warden he had served in Afghanistan. Resulting from that service, he had earned the honors of an Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, a Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Illinois National Guard Abraham Lincoln Medal of Freedom Ribbon.

There is another character in this story. A 49-year-old man. We know very little about his life leading up to 1:00 AM on November 5th. We will just call him, “the Driver.” I find many pictures and stories of Officer Jamie Cox prior to that, but no stories and only one picture of the Driver.

I would say the two following pictures offer clues of what happened. The backdrop behind Officer Cox is one of honor. Behind "the Driver" is shelves stocked with liquor. The look in their faces seem to reflect the impact the backdrops have had on each of their lives. A picture is, as they say, worth a thousand words.

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Jamie pulled the Driver over because the tags did not match the vehicle. After he was pulled over, it became known he was driving on a suspended license.

What happened next may never be fully known. What we do know is that Officer Cox became entangled with the Driver’s vehicle as the Driver took off. Two blocks down the street from where the stop was made (and Officer Cox’s car remained) the two were found on the property of the Unitarian Universalist Church. The Driver was dead at the scene, Officer Cox died at the hospital.

Jamie Cox died of blunt force trauma most likely caused by the vehicle. The Driver died of gunshot wounds from Jamie’s firearm.

Think About it…

The end for both men came on the church property under a 25-foot long black and gold banner declaring, “Black Lives Matter.”

I will stand against racism any day. Some of my best friends, including my personal pastor of more than 20 years, are black. My wife knows if I die soon, he is to do my funeral. But I have no tolerance for the BLM movement.

Consistent with expectations, an attorney is now involved with the family of the Driver. The same attorney who led a lawsuit against the RPD in another case where an officer killed a domestic abuser in a church in Rockford on 8/24/09.

Though the Universalist Church took the banner down for a few days after the incident, it went back up again a few days later.

The sun set on America on November the 5th, 2017 with 31 people having died a violent death on (or associated with) faith-based properties that day. The prior 1-day record was nine.

I want all of us who hurt for Sutherland Springs (as we should) to not forget officer Jamie Cox who had died early that same morning under a Black Lives Matter sign in a cold church yard in Illinois. Officer Cox, we salute you.

"I'm Done With The Churches"

"I'M DONE WITH THE CHURCHES..."

I was speaking to a friend of mine who used to be a police chief. He was very respected in his community and had served them for a long time.

He decided one day to host a luncheon and invite all the pastors in his city. He set the date, got the food, and anxiously awaited for the special day.

When the day came came, however, NOT ONE of the pastors in his city attended the luncheon.

Not one.

He told me something I'll never forget: "Jimmy, I'm done with the churches. They fight with each other, they don't get-along. And I'm done with them."

I was embarrassed on behalf of my fellow ministers. 

Unfortunately, I have witnessed this scene play out all over this country. 

The chief's purpose was to enlist the churches in the fight against crime, as well as to build a stronger community. He believed the churches would help them. He was, to say the least, disheartened at the church's response.

Someone will say, "Our church isn't like that." Well, that's good, so spare us your comments. This is for those churches who continue to think the world is going to break down your doors to get to your Sunday services. 

They're not.

At some point the churches must learn to engage the community - to show concern for their communities. To "go after" the people.

I once tried to get a minister to reach out to the local police department and invite them to a Sheepdog Seminar we were having at his church. He ignored me. "Please, pastor. We might even be able to save some lives" (of the police).

But he ignored me.

Two weeks after the seminar, two police officers were assassinated not too far from his church.

Dear pastor: if you are serious about serving in your city, you must reach out to the local police department. I encounter very few churches that are willing to do this. 

Have you ever considered this? When God decided to go outside the Jewish world and win the Gentiles, the FIRST PLACE He went was to the house of a man named Cornelius. Cornelius was a... law-enforcement officer. 

How interesting. When God decides to go after the Gentile world, He begins with the ... police...

Engaging the community is a must.

We have a seminar this weekend (January 27) on this very topic in Ft Worth, Texas. Former Charleston, SC Police Chief Greg Mullen will speak. Chief Mullen is the one who walked Charleston through the dark days of June, 2015. It was then, in Charleston, that 9 precious Brothers and Sisters were murdered at church while attending a Bible study. It's not too late to join us. 

His name is Satan - and here's his plan

The scripture is quite clear. In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul writes of the devil, and says: "...we are not unaware of his (satan's) schemes."

114 people died a violent death on church and faith-based property in 2017. That's a new all-time high (surpassing the 77 such deaths in 2015). On top of that, countless sex crimes on faith-based property were reported (we used to list the sex crimes on our website, but keeping up with them became too demanding of a task).

Let me ask you to consider the following: Is it possible that in this violence, the devil himself may be making a "contribution?" Could he not only be behind much of it, but also seeking to take advantage of those affected by it? Is it true that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against spiritual dark forces committed to our destruction?

If the scripture is true, and I believe it is, what is our adversary's purpose in these attacks? What is it that he is after?

The scripture does make it clear that satan is an "opportunist," and when such violence occurs, he certainly sees his chance to act - and to interject his "opinion" in the matter.

In my 35 years as a cop, and 44 in the ministry, I conversed with a ton of people who had lost a loved one to violence, or had themselves been a victim of a violent crime. Often, they shared the same attitude as a result of what had happened to them, or their loved one: Their FAITH had been assaulted, and now doubts about God had become a constant companion.

My friend Russell was only 11-years old in 1980, when an armed assailant entered the sanctuary of the church where he was, shouted "This is War," and then shot 15 worshipers - killing five. Years later, when Russell spoke of this tragedy, he confessed: "It took away my FAITH."

Russell never recovered from that dark day. By his own admission, with the exception of maybe two times, he never again darkened the door of a church. His life began a downward spiral from which he never recovered. And though I was able to lead him back to the faith about 5 years ago, I would soon learn that his wounds were much deeper than I knew: he killed himself in January of 2014 (34 years after the tragedy).

After the Sutherland Springs, Texas tragedy, in which 27 precious lives were murdered and another 20 injured, I went there to see if I could be of any assistance. While standing around where many had gathered, I saw a woman holding an empty cup and staring at the ground. I could tell that something was not right, and since no one was with her, I struck up a conversation.

"Jimmy," she said, "he killed two of my relatives." She was numb, shocked from what had happened - and understandably so.

But then she said something I'll never forget: "I can no longer believe. This has made me question my faith. If you cannot trust God in this situation (i.e. to protect you in a house of worship), where can you trust him?"

I admired her honesty and I immediately thought about how often I had concluded that such violence always assaults our FAITH

And herein we see the intent of our enemy: To Destroy ... FAITH.

He wants you to throw in the towel. He wants you to quit. He is fully aware of the fact that when such tragedies occur, you will question the existence of God, as well as His love for humanity. It has always been his style to cast doubt on God and what He has said. 

Isn't this what he did in the Garden of Eden? He said to Eve: "Did God REALLY say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'" (Genesis 3:1- CAPS mine)? In the serpent's words, can you not see his intent -  to CAST DOUBT. Why? Because he is hoping you will succumb to doubt, and then begin your downward spiral (from which you may never recover).

That is the card he plays when tragedy strikes our life: to cast doubt on God's goodness love.

"If God were truly there: if He really existed: if He really loved us, would He not protect us from such harm and violence???" These are the questions the enemy will pose to your mind. And he does so with a specific agenda: he wants you to abandon the faith

Don't misunderstand me. Having questions in the midst of tragedy is totally acceptable and understandable. Your Heavenly Father welcomes your questions. He welcomes your complaints. He is big enough to handle whatever you have to say. But allowing these questions to cause me to abandon faith is an altogether different matter. Faith needs to be tested: but not abandoned.

Faith is very important. Without it, the scripture says, you cannot please God (Hebrews 11). Faith is, one might say, the "keys to your car." If you lose your keys, you cannot start your car.

Jesus realized how important faith is. He once warned Peter: "Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your FAITH may not fail" (Luke 22:31-32 - CAPS mine).

Jesus knew that Peter would soon deny Christ, and doing so would bring Peter a tremendous amount of grief and disillusionment. And in that state of despair, Peter's FAITH might crumble. That is why Jesus was praying for him.

Yes - this is what the enemy wants. He wants you to doubt the existence of God: to doubt the love of God: to doubt His goodness. He - the devil - knows that as you wrestle with these questions, they could sink too deeply into your heart - and you might abandon the FAITH. 

And that's the enemy wants from you: to quit on God.

"But Jimmy, in light of all these tragedies, how can we be certain of God's love and goodness?" That's a great question, and I have an answer! Read carefully...

God's love is primarily revealed, not by the prevention of heartache and tragedy, but by the giving of His Only Son! I know God loves me because He gave Jesus to die for my sin. Jesus, crucified on the cross, is the PROOF of God's love. Hear this dear reader: The bloodied, beaten, battered, bruised, broken body of Jesus - nailed to a tree - that is the PROOF of God's love for you.

GET THIS: If God prevented all tragedies: if God gave you a fancy car: if God put you in a mansion, and then loaded your bank account with a billion bucks - AND HAD NOT GIVEN HIS SON FOR YOU - He would not have shown His great love for you!!!

Let's just be honest: this world is a bummer to live in. This world has its share of disaster, tragedy, heartache, and despair. The list of undesirable and unwanted events stretches across the planet.

C.S Lewis hit the nail on the head concerning this matter of where we presently live:

“Enemy-occupied territory---that is what this world is.”

But...

This world is not our "home." Think about this: you and I are not yet HOME. Our "home" is in another world. Our home is a place where someday, "God himself will...wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain..." (Revelation 22).

Wow! No more TEARS...DEATH...MOURNING...CRYING...PAIN...VIOLENCE...

But... for ... now...

But for now, we are "at war." Our enemy, who desires to destroy our life, is committed to stealing our faith. He wants us to quit, to walk out on God, to turn our backs on the Almighty. 

SO...YOU...MUST...FIGHT!

I want you to consider another C.S Lewis quote from his book The Screwtape Letters. In this book, a high-ranking devil ("Screwtape" he's called) is training a lower devil ("Wormwood"). Screwtape is teaching Wormwood how to ruin the life of the believer he has been assigned to. See if you can figure out what he is saying here:

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will (i.e. God's will), looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Let me explain what Lewis is saying...

The high-ranking devil (Screwtape) is telling the lower one (Wormwood) that the cause of the devil is in trouble when a believer cannot understand what is going on: is troubled by the events that surround him: has questions about God and His goodness: YET, IN SPITE OF ALL OF THIS, THE BELIEVER STILL MARCHES ON - DETERMINED TO OBEY HIS HEAVENLY FATHER!!!

That believer is a ... threat to hell and all of its causes!

Yes, I have wanted to quit. I have wanted to abandon God. I've wanted to give up on the faith.

Since I began this "Sheepdog Thing" it seems that one difficulty after another has crossed my path. One of my daughters lost four of her children (two miscarriages, and two more were born only to die minutes later). Other children of mine have suffered in the same manner. 

All of us have stories of heartache that go with living in this shattered world.

Even now, as I type these words, the tears flow as I think about these things. I long for the better world! And brothers and sisters, that "other world" will someday be our permanent address.

But until we arrive on that shore, let us... fight...

In closing, let me remind you of those famous words of Winston Churchill:

"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never. In nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy..."

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ON A SIDE NOTE: Charleston, South Carolina Police Chief Greg Mullen will speak at one of our "mini" Sheepdog Seminars in Ft. Worth, Texas on January 27. Chief Mullen, now retired, served as chief when, in June of 2015, nine precious lives were gunned down at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston. For more info, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PASTOR: There is one thing you could do that might help stop the Violence at Houses of Worship (and other places)

Pastor: there is a certain truth you must come to grips with: the violence we see escalating is NOT going to stop. We are going to continue watching news stories of slaughters -                   

  • inside houses of worship... 
  • at the mall...
  • schools...
  • anywhere else a killer can gain entry.

Why will these massacres continue? It doesn't call for deep research to figure that out. These killers are ANGRY, and woe unto them who get in their path. Those who kill want their voices heard. Their goal is a large body count, and the more corpses that lie in their bloody path, the more they will gloat. And anger is the driving force that pushes them forward.

What kind of anger must have resided in the heart of the Sutherland Springs killer? How much hate must possess a man to drive him to commit such atrocities? 

Even animals are sometimes the brunt of someone's anger. Recently, a man in South Carolina set his girlfriend's 10-month old dog on fire in a church parking lot. He later confessed to a deputy, "...I feel sorry the dog DID NOT LIGHT THE FIRST TIME." 

Pastor: YOU can help. There is something you can do. In all honesty, this could be your "finest hour" - if you exercise the wisdom needed in your ministry. And what I would like to do for next few moments is help you address this "elephant in the room."

First of all, you will need "fire" in your preaching: the kind that comes with the Holy Spirit's power. This is a missing ingredient in the lives of a lot of preachers. You are going to have to practice a kind of preaching that our forefathers possessed; the kind that is saturated with spiritual power.

It is the kind that Peter had on the Day of Pentecost. It was said of his message that it "cut to the heart." It was so effective that the hearers cried out, "What must we do to be saved?" It is the kind of preaching practiced by John Wesley, George Whitefield, and so many others. Mass conversions were recorded under their powerful preaching.

The truth is, dear pastor, if you preach the truth, yet lack spiritual power that brings conviction, your words will merely fall on deaf ears. Your congregation will forget your message by the time they are back home.

I can't think of five sermons I have heard in the last 10 years that "cut to my heart." Of course, some of that may be due to my own hardness, but it is also because of the shallowness that accompanies much of today's preaching - and the conspicuous lack of power.

The Great Revival Preacher Charles Finney knew something of powerful preaching. It was not uncommon for his hearers to fall under conviction long before the conclusion of Finney's sermons. It was said of his voice that it was like "a fire … a hammer … [and] a sword."

You must find this fire! As the old prophet Leonard Ravenhill used to say, "Unction in the pulpit brings action in the pew." 

Secondly, you must take on the culprit that lies behind much of the violence we see playing out. And that culprit is anger.

Millions of people are filled with anger. And some of those millions are in your city - and in your church.

You have men in your church who are on the brink of disaster. They are inches away from hurting someone in their family. Some of them do not attend your church, but their wife does. If she were to pour out her heart, you would soon learn of the rage that controls her husband - and the fear she lives in daily.

I remember my fellow officers once responding to a domestic disturbance where a man had fired two shots into the ceiling. And why had he done so? By his own admission, his wife had not consented to his demands for sex.

Have you ever considered the possibility that some of the women in your church who wear excessive make-up may be doing so only to cover the scars?

In 2014, in Florida, a man killed his wife and her friend. But he didn't stop there. He also went to the church and shot and killed the pastor

These angry people are often not calmed until they have done as much damage as possible. And the "damage" is sometimes a string of dead bodies in their path.

In my last five years as a police officer (prior to retirement), I noticed the escalation of anger: neighbors mad at one another, road-rage, disturbances in stores - and the list goes on. Anger, if not dealt with, is a ticking time bomb.

And "anger" is a subject you must address from the pulpit and Sunday School classes (and anywhere else a platform is provided). Let me suggest 2 approaches:

1- Help your people see how anger is destroying their life. It puts the heart at risk, increases the chance of a stroke, weakens the immune system - and so much more.

But there is a dark side to anger that is seldom addressed. In Ephesians 4:26 Paul warns his hearers to not allow anger to linger in their life: "Do not let the sun go down on your wrath." The reason for this warning is found in the very next verse: "And do not give the devil a foothold" (v27).

Now we are treading where demons dwell. You must help your congregation to see that unresolved anger opens the door to the dark side - the demonic side. Yes, those who do not lay aside their anger, and allow it to linger, invite the powers of darkness into their life.

When Cain's gift was rejected, he sunk into depression, as well as anger. In his sullen state, God warned him that sin was crouching at his door; but he ignored heaven's plea, and a few days later murdered his brother.

4000 years later when the Apostle John wrote about this, he told his recipients, "Do not be as Cain who killed his brother, because he was of the devil" (1 John 3:12). Cain chose to not deal with his anger. Allowing it to find a home in his heart, he sold out to Satan - and became a murderer.

2- Help your congregants to see that anger grows in the soil of selfishness. If your people are born again, and the Spirit of God resides within, they may be able to see this. Anger can only occur when one does not get what he wants. James 4:1 is quite blunt: "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"

Angry people are control-freaks: they want everything in life to live in subjection to them. They want drivers on the freeway to clear the way - for them; they want the wife to put out sexually upon demand - for them; they want the children to act with perfection - for them; they seldom think of others. They are narcissists. They have stared into the pond and seen their own reflection - and have fallen in love with the image.

I am NOT speaking of those who "lose their cool" every now and then. I am speaking of those who carry an ample supply of anger in their soul, who allow it to linger, who permit it to not be a guest in their house - but a resident! They are defined by their anger. Some of them even think they are God's prophets, expressing His righteous indignation. It is such people that sometimes resort to violence, and do so "in the name of God" (ever heard of Jihadists?) 

3- Spend time with the men in your church. Lay aside some of the activities you are engaged in that are fruitless. Get out there with your men! Heed the words of Proverbs 27:23 - "Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds..."

Get away from some of those meaningless meetings you have at church. Shun them! I spent a week with a church in Washington in 2015. Not one time did I see any of the staff members leave the office to check on members of their flock. Instead, they devoted their day to time on their computers. 

Find out where your men work and meet them for lunch. If they are self-employed, ask to go to work with them. Hang out with them. As you do so, you will gain their trust. And should anger be a pest in their life, you may help them be rid of it.

There is so much more that can be said, fellow minister, along these lines. Anger is a demon perched on many shoulders in our day: a bear in hibernation, and when awakened, there can be hell to pay. Study its causes, its roots, and help your people to see its destructive path. WE NEED YOUR HELP PASTOR.