Do you recognize the man standing next to me in this photo? His name is Stephen Willeford. Stephen is the one who shot the killer who took 26 lives at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas last November. I spent an hour with him recently. His love for Jesus was evident.
Stephen was at his house, not too far from the church, when he was alerted to the gunfire. Though barefoot, he grabbed his rifle and headed that way, with no regard for his own life - but driven by love for his fellow citizens.
Stephen is a true Sheepdog.
I also got to meet David while I was in Sutherland Springs (left photo). David was shot 8 times in the church that day, but somehow managed to survive. In spite of enduring such horror, his faith in Jesus is absolutely stunning. Life pours forth from him.
David, along with the pastor of the church, Frank Pomeroy, recently joined me in a Facebook Live Event from the church (watch it here).
When I began this “sheepdog thing” I thought everybody would be appreciative. I just assumed they would be grateful for my desire to help them protect their flock from being gunned down in cold blood, or their children from sex crimes. Are those not noble concepts?
I never expected some of the reactions we have gotten.
However, in the process of running around the country conducting these seminars, I discovered something: There is a disorder that is slowly, but surely, affecting a lot of people. It’s called N.T.D. - “Non-Thinking-Disorder.”
Its “victims” are everywhere, but mostly confined to a few select groups, including, but not limited to:
· church people
I recently read a blog by a man who possibly suffers from this disorder. He had attended one of our seminars. As he wrote about his experience, it clearly revealed he might had contracted this disorder. He criticized us for our belief that to have a fighting chance against killers who come to your church, you might want to consider having an armed response. A gun inside a house of worship seemed to greatly offend him.
He argued that we should “turn the other cheek.” It was obvious that he had not given too much study to what Jesus actually meant, nor its context. As so many others do, he isolated the text and tried to build an entire doctrine on this single verse.
Apparently, he believes that we should simply allow these killers to enter our houses of worship and kill at will.
He ignored about 90% of what we had taught at the seminar. For example, he failed to address our presentation on protecting children from sex crimes (a terrible problem in churches across the country). He also failed to mention other ideas we promoted that might help stop a massacre, other than an armed response.
Perhaps worst of all, however, he had no idea that his “disorder” was promoting cowardice.
It also appeared that he believed everyone who is gunned down in a house of worship gets a free ticket to heaven. After all, they’re “dying for Jesus.” And if they love Jesus, they will simply “turn the other cheek” while the murderer has his way.
It was obvious that he had failed to do his homework. If he had, he would have soon discovered that less than 10% of the killings on faith-based property are motivated by religious persecution. In other words, these killers are not mad at Jesus or the gospel. On the contrary, they’re usually angry at their spouse, or another family member (as was the case in Sutherland Springs, Texas last November).
And I suspect that he’s never thought through another matter...
Suppose there are five visitors at your church one Sunday when a gunman enters and begins his killing spree. Let’s say these visitors are not believers but have simply come to hear the gospel. However, the unexpected took place - and all five are murdered in cold blood. Now they are rushed off into eternity to meet their Maker – totally unprepared.
Let’s say you – or perhaps our blogger - were in attendance on that bloody Sunday. But you are a pacifist. You just stood there – or hid – in the name of your belief, while innocent lives were swept off the earth. You did nothing to stop it.
These are the deadly symptoms of your “disorder.”
You are opposed to an armed response. Or for that matter, you’re possibly opposed to any form of resistance. You advocate a faith that doesn’t exist in holy writ. You fail to understand that when there is legitimate faith, there is a “work” that will support it: for “faith without WORKS is dead.”
You had no chance of stopping these guys because of a faulty belief that has taken root in your mind. You also allowed your misinterpretation of scripture to rob you of the love that you should have for innocent victims of violent crimes. Thus, you not only have N.T.D. – you also suffer from L.O.L.D. (Lack of Love Disorder).
This blogger in question called attention to Jesus’ command to “turn the other cheek.” This is the one verse that the N.T.D. folks hang their hat on.
But here is the challenge I would issue to them: If you are going to take these words of Christ seriously, are you not also bound to give heed to the other ones, such as –
· You will need to sell all of your goods and give the proceeds to the poor ... (Luke 12)
· You will also need to quit burying your loved ones when they die ... (Luke 9)
That’s just a couple of verses: I could give a whole lot more. For example, some call attention to Jesus' declaration that if you "live by the sword, you will die by the sword." This, of course, is true. But look carefully at His words. To LIVE by the sword means to adopt as one's lifestyle the way of the sword, or violence. If your way of life is constantly intertwined with violence, you stand a greater chance of dying a cruel, violent death. Membership in a street gang is proof of this.
A serious study of Jesus' words (about turning the cheek) would reveal to us that Jesus was referring to acts of retaliation: he was not issuing a prohibition against self-defense. Retaliation, plotting revenge, "getting back" at our enemies; these are the acts that are forbidden. Retaliation and Revenge is God's business (Romans 12).
Paul the Apostle would later help us understand this. In Romans 12:18 he wrote, " If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Did you catch the opening words of his words: "IF IT BE POSSIBLE..." Paul understands that it's not always possible to be at peace with others, and conflict is sometimes unavoidable.
Imagine where we would be today if our forefathers, those of the Greatest Generation, had adopted the N.T.D. way of thinking. They would have stayed on home soil, refusing to fight Nazism. And just where would the world be today if that had been the case?
C.S. Lewis was right:
"I can respect an honest pacifist, though I think he is entirely mistaken."
And what would you do with the teachings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran Pastor who died because of his stance against evil? Bonhoeffer, recognizing the evils of Hitler, actually joined in a plot to assassinate him. Let his words sink in –
“If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can't, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”
Will you wrestle the steering wheel away from the madman behind the wheel (or the gun)? Or do you think it Christlike to sit and watch the slaughter. Will your conscience trouble you in the least as you stare at those coffins, knowing that you might have been able to do something, had not your faulty beliefs taken root?
And what will you do with the author of half of the New Testament, Paul the Apostle? When Paul learned from his nephew that a group of men had vowed to not eat until he was dead, he did not resort to passivity. On the contrary. He made no mention of turning the other cheek. Instead, he instructed his nephew to summon the police.
“Paul,” our blogger might ask, “Where is your faith?” The police did indeed respond to Paul’s plea. Several hundred ARMED GUARDS took custody of Paul to guarantee his safety (Acts 23).
I hold no grudge against this dear brother blogger. This is common thinking among the sheep.
There is another error these N.T.D. “victims” espouse. They are quick to say that “no guns should be allowed in God’s house.” It is stated by those who have not dug into the scripture and learned what “God’s House” is.
Has it ever dawned on you that every single time the word “church” is mentioned in the New Testament, it is a reference to the “People of God” – not a physical structure with a steeple on top - and the word “church” on a sign out front?
· Hebrews 3:6 states “we are His house.”
· Acts 7:48 “...the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands...”
To believe that the Lord will protect us while we are in a house of worship, is not spirituality – it is superstition!
I have actually heard people say, on more than one occasion, that God will protect us when we are in His house. They further argue that all that is needed is “faith.”
I’ve even heard this statement from men who serve as pastors, who have a degree from seminary! My goodness – how did you draw such a conclusion, in light of the lack of scriptural evidence in the Bible?
Furthermore, are you paying no attention to the news? What will you say to ...
· The precious, God-fearing people at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, who endured the tragic loss of 26 of their fellow members: gunned down in a “house of worship.”
· What will you say to the suffering saints in Nigeria, who have endured the destruction of more than 1000 houses of worship since 2012?
Truth be told, a house of worship is no different than a Wal-Mart or a local bar. They are mere buildings. Your Father’s House is YOU! Yes, He dwells in your heart by His Blessed Spirit.
Let me ask you something: if “faith” is the only weapon necessary, then why do you wear a seatbelt? Why do you lock the doors of your house before bedtime? Why keep your kids near when shopping? Why not “entrust them to the Lord,” and allow them to wander about the store, while you shop? WHERE IS YOUR FAITH??
I could go on and on with such examples. Alas, “faith” continues to dumb down the saints.
I am NOT saying that you must be armed. I am not a gun fanatic. I own two guns. If you want to bore me, bring me to your house and show me your gun collection. I’ll doze off in a matter of minutes. No, I am not a gun fanatic. But I am fanatical about loving people. I advocate for the Second AMENDMENT because I believe in the Second COMMANDMENT. I love people, enough to protect them when possible. "Love always protects," 1 Corinthians 13 tells us.
And religious people are not the only ones who suffer from N.T.D. Celebrities and politicians are some of its worst “victims.”
We could all name a few Hollywood folks who suffer terribly from this disorder. You see it manifest when a mass killing takes place and they blame everyone but the killer -
- They blame the President
- They blame the gun enthusiasts
- They blame the NRA (I am not a member of the NRA and the number of gun shows I’ve been to can be counted on one hand).
That leads us to a discussion about another symptom that often comes with N.T.D: hypocrisy.
Let me explain...
Many politicians and celebrities often want to ban everyone’s guns – EXCEPT THE ONES USED TO PROTECT THEM!
If you doubt this, just try to get close to a celebrity next time one is around. Or, try to approach the president for an autograph. And then see what happens.
There’s an arsenal around the White House, as there is in the lives of celebrities. The entourage that protects these “stars” have weapons of all kinds inside that coat.
And I am ok that...
Mr. or Ms. Celebrity, I believe in your right to have armed protection. In view of your fame, your wise to do so. Beatle Legend George Harrison was once attacked inside his house. A man broke in and stabbed Harrison about 40 times. Harrison had no means to protect himself. All he could do was cry “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna” in a vain attempt to stop him.
We actually had a someone tell us that if a shooter enters the sanctuary, we only need to stand up and say to him, "In the name of Jesus, I rebuke you." She was confident that if we did so, our would-be killer would comply, and lay down his weapon.
N.T.D. folks constantly decry the weapons. They actually believe if we rid the world of AR-15s, it would decrease the killings. But then facts get in the way of their belief: The Virginia Tech killer used two handguns: the killer at the school in Sante Fe, Texas used a shotgun and pistol (I do not own an AR-15).
I am not saying that we do not need to reconsider some new gun laws. But heck, it might help to enforce some of the ones we already have.
But there is something you N.T.D.s "victims" must come to grips with: people with evil intent will not have a change of heart because of the passage, or existence, of a law!
There are laws all over this country that dictate speed limits, yet, in spite of these regulations, and the signs posted along the roadway, still, over 100,000 people are ticketed every day for speeding.
This shows us something. N.T.D. has a terrible side effect: it blinds one to the wickedness that lies in the ... H-E-A-R-T.
It fails to see that if one has murder IN HIS HEART, he will find a way to fulfill his evil desire, whether by the use of a gun, a knife, or even a pencil (I use “pencil” as an illustration because of an incident I saw when I was a school cop. “Stephen” got mad at a fellow classmate because he mocked Stephen’s favorite band. So, Stephen grabbed a pencil and stabbed the kid in the hand).
If you don’t want to have an armed response in your church, that’s perfectly fine. There are other options. Consider pepper spray, or a Taser, and by all means, attend some legit training. Learn some “take down” moves.” And whatever else you do, make sure you fine tune your verbal skills.
But for heaven’s sake, and for love of your fellow man, do something! Rid yourself of this awful disease before it’s too late. The wolf doesn’t care about your beliefs. He’s coming to kill. You may be willing to die for your beliefs, or turn your cheek, but that does not mean that everyone in the room with you has the same attitude.
Let me remind the men of one more important matter. Genesis 2:15 tells us that God put the man in the Garden to "work it and to keep it." The word "keep" is quite interesting. It means to "defend, protect, save life." Brother - are you catching this? One of your purposes on this earth is to defend the lives of others, to protect them, to save them.
I remind you that you were made in the image of God. Exodus 15:3 tells us that "The Lord is a Warrior." Thus, if you are made in his image, you, too, are a warrior: you are called to protect the innocent!
I am sorry that we have to think this way. I am sorry that we have to put police officers in schools; I am sorry that we have to consider having armed people in the church. I grieve that it is this way. But this is the world we live in, a world, the Apostle John said, "...lies under the power of the evil one" (1 John 5).
I shed tears over this violence almost everyday. My emotions are shot, my heart is heavy, my eyes ache for lack of sleep. THIS VIOLENCE IN OUR WORLD IS AWFUL! My Father knows my heart. And I am confident that though the press - and even fellow believers - will attack me relentlessly on this matter, I am called to stand strong in my defense of the victims of violent crimes. I have, like Queen Esther, come into the kingdom "for such a time as this." (and ... so ... have ... YOU ...).
I wish it were as easy as a brother in Oregon once told me. He said if a killer gunman walked into the church, he would simply verbally de-escalate him. Oh my, I thought, he has no understanding of the potential for evil that lies in the hearts of these killers.
If you have serious intentions about stopping these killers, you will need to consider an armed response. That may mean you hire an off-duty police officer or a security guard. The reason for this is simple: these killers are coming to church with guns, and, as my title says, "May God Help Us." May He help us do what is right - and safe - for our flock.
I can agree with my blogger to a certain point. I believe that our love for Jesus must take top priority. And to that I would call attention to Jesus' words when He asked Peter if he loved Him. "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus told him to prove it by taking care of His sheep.
Let us do likewise.