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Archive for the ‘violence’ Category

I was listening to Dennis Miller on the radio yesterday and picked up on an interesting topic of conversation concerning the Christian view of heaven and hell.  He said that the majority of Christians that he knew were good people, but he really couldn’t stand the groups that say those that don’t profess Jesus to be Lord are going to spend the rest of eternity in hell.  I like Dennis and can understand why it seems a little unloving to send a message that really leaves the listener with no choice.  Where is the love in a God that forces you to call him Lord or throws you in the fires of Hell for all eternity?  The message that says “you are all going to hell!” surely isn’t the “good news” talked about in Scripture is it?

I think the problem has arisen through the message some Christian’s send that is not “news” and could no way be considered “good.”  The problem is that we have confused the message we are supposed to be sharing to the world with the message we are supposed to be sharing with the church.  We all need to learn to speak the words of Paul and say “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” (1 Cor 5:12)

The problem is that there is no more “good news” left in our message.  We share about a God who is going to either send you to heaven or to hell and it all depends on whether or not you agree to the reality that he died and rose form the dead three days later so that one day on the distant future you will be forgiven of your sins and get to spend an eternity in heaven with this God you don’t know while all your friends here on earth spend their eternity in hell burning like Johnsonville brat’s on the grill for all eternity with no hope of ever receiving relief. 

If you look at Paul’s message in Acts 17 you will see that he mentions nothing of hell to the pagan philosophers of the day.  This message instead brings the good news of God’s unveiling of himself to the Greek people of the day.  It was a message that revealed a God that could be known and walked with through life.  A God who allow sinful man to have relationship with him despite their out and out rebellion towards him.  Finally these men could stop talking about God and begin to talk with God.  Eternity could start now and this was evidenced in the resurrection.  The good news is that heaven has come to earth and all those willing could enter this rest today.

I think this whole heaven and hell thing would be better understood in the answering of this question: “Is this life more like heaven or more like hell?”

Jesus said that hell is a place where there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.  (Matt 8:12)  Is this something we can relate to, or is it pain we cannot relate to?  Just this week there have been two murderers brought to justice and at each of their sentencing the families who spoke were definitely weeping and gnashing their teeth.  Anyone who has lost a loved one, suffered divorce, been wronged by a friends, been robbed or cheated, suffered loss, etc. has experienced pain and gnashing of teeth. 

For people in these times of life’s troubles, does it not stand to reason that they know more of what hell is like than what heaven is like?  For most people hell is their point of reference.  This is why when Jesus looked at people he saw men and women who were already suffering, not needing to hear another message about suffering. (Matt. 9:36)

What would happen if Christians began to express a message that heaven was coming to earth and that anyone from the most seedy to the purest of us could freely enter?  What would our generation have to say about the good news then?

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First we were shocked.  Then we were grief stricken. Now we are haunted with the voice of a killer. A killer who senselessly took the lives of 32 innocent people in broad daylight. It hit me today while I was watching a Netflix commercial while waiting for the video of Cho Seung Hui ranting before his senseless acts of violence on a camcorder, that more disturbing than the homicides themselves is the way in which we as a culture deal with such atrocity. Our country faces a crisis of senseless killing after senseless killing and no one really seems concerned with addressing the heart of the issue. The news agencies air the dirty laundry freely and are all too willing to give the deranged in our society the ability to shout their messages to the public at large. Is this video something we should be broadcasting in the midst of such grief and loss? Did this psycho earn the right to have his message broadcast over satellite and Internet feeds. More importantly, should the media, who claims to be about the greater good, be profiting off of this kind of thing?

If it were my daughter or son or brother that fell victim to this criminal, I would be in the office of every major network asking them why they felt the need to broadcast this senselessness. This is no different than the Arab networks who broadcast terrorists videos from “unidentified sources” without hesitation. 

The networks need to clean up their act! Sometimes you have a responsibility to look beyond the ratings and do what is right for the society you claim to be protecting through free speech and disclosure. I’m not saying the video had to be ignored, but it also didn’t have to become the center piece to every news headline in the country.

I for one am willing to waive my right to the full disclosure of this video out of respect for the families of all those involved. Hasn’t this guy hurt these families enough without rubbing it in their face from the grave?

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A couple weeks ago I strayed from my normal study topics of theology and ecclesiology when my friend Kenny Hirt handed me a book to read. As an officer of the law for over twenty years and a hostage negotiator for the county his choice in literature differs from mine considerably. 

The book he handed me was written by Lt Col Dave Grossman and the title of the book was On Killing. The book itself was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and is a popular resource for law enforcement, FBI and the military. The book touches on a whole new field of research that Grossman pioneered called killology.

My first thought was that the book was going to be about the nature and many ways in which one might kill another person, which was intriguing enough to get me past the cover into the first chapter. I quickly found that the premise of the book had little to do with how humans kill, but rather the disturbing research into the fact that we are a generation of killers.

Some of the most enlightening research had to do with the number of combatants in earlier wars that had not fired their weapon throughout their service on the front lines. Grossman points out that in World War II only 10-15% of soldiers fired their weapon throughout the entire military campaign. His research found that many officers reported difficulty in even getting their troops to fire at the enemy in the heat of combat, literally having to walk their line and kick soldiers in order to get them to engage the battle. 

The data showed that in the Korean War the number of soldiers on the front line willing to fire their weapon rose to 50% and that by the time the Vietnam War was resolved the figures were up to 90%! 

In the book he addresses the question of why we are getting more and more willing to kill as a culture and what are the factors that have caused such a cold shift in the American psyche. There are several factors that Grossman attributed to this killing mentality, such as, television, video games, and a loss of respect for life in a modern industrialized nation. 

As I read through the reasons Grossman was outlining it dawned on me that most of these causes were the same techniques the church uses for discipleship. As a church leader I have used videos and pictures, training techniques such as role playing and have removed people from a less sinful world and into a conditioned world of Jabez books and contemporary Christian Music. (Jesus forgive me!)

When I saw the news of the shootings yesterday it brought these insights into the forefront of my mind. Could it be that we are a generation trained in violence? Are we being discipled into killers?

For most of my life my first response to this question has always been “no”. After all there are thousands of people playing video games and watching prime-time TV and most of us haven’t shot up our places of employment. But then I have to accept the fact even in my greatest discipleship efforts only a small percentage actually get to the level of maturity I had hoped for. Maybe the peaceful majority is just awaiting for the right opportunity where the one who discipled us can see the fruit of his labor? Could it be that we have all been conditioned to kill and in the right environment and circumstances we would all act out?

I am by no means a pacifist and enjoy guns and a good war movie. I shot my first deer a few years ago and thought it one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I don’t believe that violence in and of itself is evil, but that sometimes is necessary. However in the wake of recent events in our country I cannot help but acknowledge the fact that we have a problem. It has nothing to do with guns. (we killed each other for thousands of years before the gun was invented.) It has nothing to do with our individual desire for peace. (sorry my hippie friends) The problem is that we are all followers. Anyone who has been around children understands that modeling is everything. 

Life is what we learn. 

Who are you learning from?

My prayers go out to those who fell victim to the shooting yesterday, and the hurt, pain, fear and distress that is in the wake of this attrocious act. Join me in lifting them up to the Lord today. 

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