The LORD is my Shepherd. . .

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First of all, my humble apologies for being so late on this study. It has been a busy, busy week.

In Psalm 23 we read, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  

The word “shepherd” is distant to us here in our time and place. It seems to conger up images of fuzzy little animals, and a guy with a stick sitting on a rock in a green meadow. In this misconception the verse isn’t that significant in our minds, because we don’t see the relevance. Is David saying that the Lord is this guy with a stick hanging out with all the fuzzy little animals? Why? In order to fully understand what David means, let’s examine David a bit further. What did this word mean to David? He grew up tending sheep, which was quite a task in those days. We recall in the 1st Samuel 17:34 where a young David told King Saul about his accomplishments as a shepherd. He tells the king he went after lions and bears when they took his sheep. He adds that when they would turn on him, he grabbed them by their hair and killed them. King Saul might not have fully believed David, and written him off as a young man with a big mouth, until he ran to the battlefield, sunk a stone in Goliath’s forehead, and cut his head off. His actions after his speech probably lent some creditability to his speech in the mind of Saul. David knew what shepherds did, he was one. They stood in defense of the innocent, the ones who were in the mouth of the lion and the bear. He put his life on the line for the weak. I believe when he called the Lord his shepherd it was a sign of respect and admiration.

Another observation is David calls the Lord by His precise personal name here, Yahweh. There are several words used for God throughout the Old Testament text, but this is his personal name and not a generic term meaning God. Here David is personally relating the Creator of the universe to a being that removes the lambs from the jaws of the lion and the bear. He then adds he shall not want for anything, because the Lord is his shepherd.

I can’t fathom a better back up when the lions and the bears come to steal away the innocent. Let us acknowledge Him and take time to speak with the Lord this week.


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Psalm 23:1 – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

 

God Bless,

Marc

Where Does Courage Come From?

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Courage is a word that inspires us. When we watch movies, or read books where the central character defies the odds and emerges victorious it motivates us. We sit in audible gratitude, and sometimes in immutable silence when we see great acts of courage. It is a thing that stirs the soul. When you hear the word courage, what image is conjured in your mind? Is it the image of a person taking a firm stand for what they believe in despite the odds being against them? Is it the image of a blood soaked warrior striving valiantly while fighting for what is right and good in this evil world?

 

The Merriam-Webster definition of courage is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.” It is the nature of courage to only exist within difficult circumstances. With this idea in mind, let’s think about our answers to the next two questions. Where does this indomitable spirit hide within us when things are wonderful, fuzzy, and nice? Where does it exist within the depths of humanity when not called into action by a perilous environment?

 


There is no half-brave, and no partial-valor. 


 

 

Courage exists in letting go of the fear of death, because you realize your life is worth less than what you are fighting for. It is the intentional subjugation of your earthly existence to a cause, and your level of courage is attributable to your perception of the cause. Simply stated, the greater the cause, the greater the courage will be. In my mind, its that simple. This understanding has two separate and distinct implications. The cause must be significant enough to warrant such a wager, and the person must submit to this cause with every fiber of their being. There is no half-brave, and no partial-valor.

 

As we address this first implication, I believe that courage for Christians is found in Christ. I think of when Jesus asked for the cup of His crucifixion to pass from Him, but consented to the will of His Father. I think of His knowledge that brewed within his core when He stood before Pilate knowing what was going to happen. Think about that for a minute. Exactly what was His cause? What was He willing to accept this for? Who was He willing to accept this for? The Bible teaches that His cause was nothing less than you and I. It was the only way to fulfill the implications of The Law that so freely, and rightly, issued harsh judgment from our God against sinful people. It was His love for both the righteousness of God, and His love for us. He couldn’t simply just give grace without judgment, because He would deny the goodness of God’s Law; however, He refused to allow only judgment to flow from our Creator on people who find it difficult to live without illegitimately hurting others.

 

The more you understand the first implication, the easier the second flows. In order for a Christian man or woman to reveal Godly courage in the midst of horrible circumstances they must have completely submitted to their own life being second. This is what the Apostle Paul was trying to get across to his readers in Philippians 1:21 when he said: “for to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

 


. . . courage does not appear out of thin air. It does not come to the surface of something that is empty.


 

 

As I ponder this topic, I think of Proverbs 28:1. We read, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Ladies and gentlemen, courage does not appear out of thin air. It does not come to the surface of something that is empty. If you truly choose to prepare yourself for acts of gallantry, you must first locate your cause, and I can think of no greater cause than the cause of Christ, and the goodness to humanity that He teaches and represents. The one who accepted what was right and wrong on His own flesh, and bore our infirmities upon His physical body. His cause is one that clings to the righteousness of God Almighty, yet equally clings to the love He has for humanity. When we understand this, we are invincible, because we stand with the God of this universe who has already won the battle. We are to be as bold as a lion, because we stand with the Lion of Judah, Jesus the Christ.

 


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Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

 

Thanks,

Marc

 

 

 

The Face of God and Politics. . .

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In the midst of this presidential race, emotions are high for many people. The direction of our country is at stake, and many who have sworn oaths to defend her become understandably animated with support or opposition to core ideas in this race. All in all, we live in a world that is rapidly losing it’s passion for the ethics taught in the Bible, and their application within our society.

 

Many have asked for the hand of God to move in a mighty way in this nation. Many have gone into their “prayer closets” and prayed for our leaders. Many have lifted prayers on high for the direction of our moral compass as a nation. These are good prayers: however, we may be going about this the wrong way.

 


“Think of the excitement that can traverse the airspace between giggling children’s faces on Christmas morning to the hearts of their parents.”


 

 

We, as a nation, must shift our focus away from God’s hands towards His face. Think about this for a minute. When we pray for His hand to move, we are asking something for ourselves. We are asking for His actions in this fallen world that can make it better for our children and ourselves. The thrust of this idea, at its core,  is firmly rooted in mankind, and not rooted in God. This is the problem. What about seeking His face? What does a face represent? Think how one can read another person’s face. Perhaps a deep conversation has pricked a nerve in your fellow converser, and their face answers your hidden question. Think of the excitement that can traverse the airspace between giggling children’s faces on Christmas morning to the hearts of their parents. The face is a thing on the human body that is intimate. It displays the person like no other area on the body. The eyes transparently illuminate glimmering bits of internal beauty, or they prove chasms of darkness internal. The mouth speaks whirlwinds of good and evil into our hearts as human beings. The face is a telling part of the person, and it is a telling part of God.

 

What does God mean when He says to seek His face? It means quite simply we are to work towards knowing Him intimately. We are to know how He ticks, if this is possible for men to perceive. We are to digest His Word with unmitigated fervor knowing the end of this meal will diminish the work involved in preparation. We are to spend time in prayer with Him, we are to slow down and take the time to do so. It is only then will we have learned to place Him first in our lives.

 


We must stop praying for His mighty hand to move our surroundings to comfort us while we neglect the delightful task of being comforted in seeking His face.


 

 

We must stop praying for His mighty hand to move our surroundings to comfort us while we neglect the delightful task of being comforted in seeking His face. He knows what will become of our country, and our world. This is not a call for passivity in the electoral process, but a call for priority of individual actions. Let us collectively seek His face, before we ask Him to move mightily for us. Let us seek His face, before we choose a human being to direct the course of our nation. Let us remember the words of the Psalmist: “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

 


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Psalms 27:8 – “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek.’ ”

 

 

Thanks,

Marc

The Next President of the United States. . .

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Last night I watched the GOP Debate. I was reminded by the nature of the questions that we, as a nation, have fallen from grace. We have seen the Judeo-Christian ethic lose ground, leaving behind a murky quagmire of ethical confusion. A lack of Biblical knowledge reduces Christianity to a simple altruistic system, and nothing more in its social implications. There is a real and tangible problem. Then, of course, we have the whole issue of a rapidly growing epistomology thinking it a good thing to murder Christians, Jews and Americans in general. This is also a real and, unfortunately, extremely tangible problem. It is a tumultuous time in the history of The United States of America.

 

It is my policy to not endorse anyone for any political position, but I am an ardent encourager of people to get involved. I am, however, well aware that some people don’t know how to responsibly vote. We always see talk show personalities interviewing people on the streets and speaking with them about presidential candidate’s policies when the time to cast ballots gets close. They reveal clearly that many people have no idea why they are casting their vote for their candidate. They just like them, I guess. Perhaps this simplistic strategy should have no place in this up and coming election.

 

If we are going to reverse the moral degradation of our country it will take more than voting for a person because “you like them.” How do we then choose the correct person for the job? How are we to evaluate human beings for this position? Let’s take a look at a passage in Exodus that may help.

 

Where we open the text, Moses has led the Israelites out of Egypt, and has subsequently taken on great responsibility in leading the people. The Amalekites attacked the Israelites, and caused a battle between the two groups of people. Joshua led a great battle against them and won as described in Exodus 17:13. It is a tumultuous time in the history of a young Israel.

 

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, has brought Moses’ wife and children to him in the wilderness, and is spending some time before his departure back home.  He sees Moses trying to do everything himself, and gives some friendly “father-in-law” advice in Exodus 18 and verse 21. “. . . look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” Here Jethro gives Moses some parameters that he should look for in finding qualified leaders. A look at this list shows us that these are good things to look for today as well, and just might help in our evaluations for the next president.


 

WE ARE TO LOOK FOR ABILITIES

As we really dig into each candidate, we should be mindful of what the job entails. This position has long been thought of as “The leader of the free world,” and this is a task that should not be taken lightly. Is this person able to think clearly in difficult times, and make decisions that can be life and death for human beings? Can they negotiate agreements between nations that can prohibit evil people from possessing the ability to murder more efficiently? This is not simply a popularity contest to see who can sway the most votes for themselves via the use of rhetoric.


 

WE ARE TO EVALUATE THEIR MORALITY

Some people have often questioned the Biblical phrase “fearing God.” It isn’t my intention to enter this realm in this post, but it should be sufficient to say here: Christianity is more than altruism. It is more than just being nice to people. There is a moral code that is taught by The Bible, and this should be the basis for a morality that is steadfast in the seas of media momentum. The Judeo-Christian ethic is a lighthouse for men and women who live in our world today. Jesus’ teachings are not summed up by loving everyone, holding hands, and singing. He taught love and grace, but He also flipped over tables and yelled at people when they needed it. The next president should be a man of grace, yet also be one of uncompromising morals.


 

WE ARE TO EVALUATE THEIR TRUSTWORTHINESS 

How many times have we heard of a scandal in politics? When I was in the Marines, I was working a NATO operation, and asked a question by a German soldier. He asked me my opinion about my president and a young female intern. Most importantly he asked if a man does this, then lies about it should lead the United States. I was embarrassed because I knew the world looked down upon something that I held in very high regard. I knew the world was right, and my president was wrong. We are to evaluate these candidates the best we can in this area, so we are not embarrassed before other nations.


 

WE ARE TO EVALUATE THEIR INTENTIONS IN GOVERNING

This is perhaps one of the most substantial ones for me in this race. We must evaluate, or at least the best we can, their intentions in seeking this position. Is this person seeking to benefit themselves, or our nation? It is a lofty goal to become president, and quite a check mark on the ole’ bucket list. I think history has shown what self-serving leaders have demolished in their tenures. Several just came to mind, but I will spare you those silly details.


 

This race will be quite a spectacle, but I urge you to prayerfully consider these categories that Jethro gave to Moses right after the Great Exodus from Egypt. Please do not simply vote on who you like. Vote on who you believe will help lead this nation through the tribulation that is coming during the next presidency from both outside and internal evil forces. Let us humble ourselves and seek The Lord’s face, but don’t forget to read what He wrote down for us as a guide.

 

 

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Exodus 18:21 – “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”

 

Thanks,

Marc

 

 

What Does Your Social Media Say About You?

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Last week, I offered some encouragement to all of you to stay the course and, if necessary, renew the correct course in your lives. In the start of a new year many commit to doing things different and redefine the “normal” in their lives. Things like making commitments to eat healthier, exercising more, items of that nature. Although, these are good things, I left you with some goals that have eternal significance and not some that have merely a lifetime’s significance. This study is a follow up to these goals.

 

I am still relatively new to social media. I started an account several years ago when teaching a college and career group at my church, and found it a wonderful way to contact people and organize events. After I stopped teaching that class, I stopped using it for several years. At the beginning of last year, I started this website as a forum for these studies and have realized the vast potential that social media has. If a person wishes to share information with their friends its as easy as pushing a button on their phone, and I have seen this be a huge advantage for this ministry. In the big picture, social media has tremendous potential for spreading information when it is leveraged correctly. This is a great thing when the message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

In my tenure as a police officer, I have seen vehicles used for good things and bad things. I have seen innumerable emergency vehicles save lives, but I have also seen several vehicles be used as weapons. One comes to mind of a person who ran another over with full intent, and murdered the victim the rest of the way with a hammer. Things can be used for good tasks and evil tasks, and social media is not immune.

 

I wanted to ask you the question today: What does your social media say about you? Does it reflect real life, or just what you want your friends to see? Furthermore, the main question is what do you want your friends to see? Do you want them to see things that make you look like you’re perfect, or do you want to use this forum to show yourself for who you really are? Do you want people to see what you “like” if you will. In this light, consider the message that you are sending to your friends.

 

The Book of James speaks well to how we should behave towards each other, and these rules apply to social media as well. We read in James chapter 3 about the human tongue and the need to control it. He uses the analogies of great ships being steered by small rudders, and a great forest fire being set by a small fire. He follows the later analogy in verse 6 that “the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.” We begin reading verses 8 through 10: “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

 

This is a powerful message for us in the first study of 2016. We are to align ourselves with God’s Truth, and before we push the “share” or “like” button we are to remember that there is a power that is being conveyed. Should we allow our social media to foster evil things, or should we drive our social media to be a reflection of The Gospel of Jesus Christ?

 


 

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James 3:10 –  “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,  these things ought not to be so.”

 

Thanks,

Marc

 

 

I’m Calling You Out. . .

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2015 is almost gone and we enter the year 2016. As I reflect back on where this ministry was at the beginning of this year to now, I am amazed at what God has done. This began as a simple email to some guys at work and in our first year in a website format we have received hits in 46 countries. This is because you have shared the studies. You have talked about this ministry to your friends and family and God’s Word has been imparted into more hearts. This is going to be an exciting year for us, because I’m excited to see what God will do.

 

At the end of His earthly existence, Jesus gave His disciples a “Great Commission” that we can see in Matthew 28:18-20. We read “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ ” He commissioned His disciples to go and make disciples. This is the last idea contained in Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew wanted to make sure that we understood this is our commission as well. We are not to simply read emails and go about our daily lives. We are to allow God’s Word to work within our lives. We are to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to a dark and dying world, and then, if needed, use words. People should see the Gospel in our lives because we act upon it. We put our actions in line with what we truly believe.

 

When we look at Christ’s example here we see a geometric progression. In other words, we see Jesus teaching His disciples, then they teaches others, then they teach others, so on and so forth. This is a powerful idea. It is the same way that we are to operate today. There isn’t a better way in any church or other ministry because ministry is about people and people doing ministry. So, I’m calling you out.

 

I’m calling you out to not focus on small New Years resolutions that will help you lose a few pounds to put it back on again. I’m calling you out to make disciples – that will make disciples – that will make disciples. You may not think that you are ready to speak to others about Jesus and I would disagree greatly. If you have dedicated your life to Christ because you believe that He is the reason for your existence than your are called to “go and make disciples.” Be truthful, transparent and honest and people will see your heart. The heart that will become more and more like Christ’s when you “go.”


 

Forward this study and “Call out” some of your friends as well!


 

Allow me to help with your New Year’s resolutions. Here are your missions, if you choose to accept them:

  1. Go to a Bible preaching church at least once a week.
  2. Memorize a Scripture verse every week.
  3. Sign up to receive this study in email so that you are sure to get every one.
  4. Share this with friends who will do this program with you to hold you accountable for memorizing your verses.
  5. Share and talk about what you are reading with friends.
  6. Pray
  7. And. . . “Go and make disciples of Jesus Christ”

 

I have a goal to set before you in this ministry. If you think this ministry can help your friends, coworkers or anyone else in your life. Tell them about it. The first goal to be set is 5,000 followers combined with social media outlets and email. Please pray for this ministry, but above all else please set New Year’s resolutions that have implications for much longer than the few months it takes to put weight back on.

 

Check out exactly what this ministry is by clicking here.

 


 

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Matthew 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . .”

 

 

Thanks and Happy New Year!

Marc

 

 

 

The Implications of Christmas. . .

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Scroll down for this study in video format and let me know what you think!


 

Christmas is fast approaching, and we remember what we are celebrating. The beauty of God made manifest in human form. God incarnate holding the bonds of the universe in His hands as he traversed the birth canal again comes into our minds. It is a beautiful picture, because we remember that He came to live a life for us to emulate, be tortured, and subsequently die an excruciating, horrible death as a sacrifice for our waywardness against the God of this universe. These are beautiful things to remember because they show the tremendous love that Our Creator possesses for us. We know that He loves us because of His actions that freed His people from the Curse of the Law.

 

That’s the warm and fuzzy part, but what about the rest? Everyone wants hear that God loves them, but fewer and fewer people want to do what He says. We live in a world where men and women who stand up for what is right are villanized by evil people. We live in a world where people who believe so fervently in saving innocent life that they risk their own existence are being attacked, but a person who was born a man and now thinks he is a woman is called heroic. Let us not mix words and be confused here. The meaning of Christmas is exclusive to people who not only call Jesus Lord of their lives with their mouth, but who act as He is LORD over their lives. There is an exclusivity of Christmas, because Christ stands in stark contrast to the world that we live in today. He is loving and displays His steadfast lovingkindness to His people, but the Bible teaches that this grace does not extend to those who oppose Him and lead His people away from His truths. Grace is not what is received when people idolize themselves, make a mockery of what is good and right, and turn from Him.

 

One of the most profound passages in all of Scripture is contained in Matthew 7:21-23. We remember that this is the same Jesus that we are celebrating today. We read: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” This is a scary verse for a Christian if we quickly read it, and don’t look at it clearly. However, when we take our time we see the ones whom Jesus disavows here are the ones who called Him Lord, but took no action within themselves. They were “workers of lawlessness.” They simply don’t realize the impact of the statement: “Jesus is LORD.” The implication is that we must do what He says.

 

Jesus did not give grace to those who opposed His teachings in the New Testament. He was quite stern with them, and even said things like “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” speaking to the pharisees in Matthew 23:33.

 

As we remember Jesus the Christ this Christmas season, let us not think of Him only as an infant, let us think of Him as the LORD of our Universe and remember the implications of Him being our Lord. Let us think of Him correctly, and not just as a guy who was nice to people in the first century. He is to be Lord of our lives and all the implications of that statement should follow.

 

He is The LORD, not just a baby in a manger.

 

 


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John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ”

 

Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Marc

 

That Perfect Christmas Gift. . .

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It is that time of year. The shopping malls are packed, and it is virtually impossible to just swing by the store for something quick. Shopping for Christmas gifts can sometimes be challenging. Especially challenging if your a man who isn’t inclined to walk through stores without a specific goal.

Admittedly, I don’t have a great track record on being the best gift giver. I vividly remember when I bought my now wife a set of cordless phones for her new condo she purchased. In my mind it was functional, and a need; therefore, a good gift. It seemed to be the perfect gift because anyone would need them. When she opened the package it was obvious that it was not perceived the way that I intended. I should have thought that out a little better, and, yes, I learned from that experience. I failed to purchase a gift for her by simply purchasing a gift she could use. There is a significant difference, and I am now well acquainted with this fact.

In Matthew 2:11 we see the wise men coming to see Jesus. We read: “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” These gifts were reserved for people of high esteem as they were a way of displaying submission to authority. A beauty of this text is quite simply what kind of gifts were brought. These men came bearing not just gifts, but gifts that were fit for a king. They thought about this. It wasn’t a gift card to a first century superstore that sells everything from garden hoses to guns and jewelry.  These gifts were fit for a king, the King of Kings.

Consider the thought the wise men put into this. It is postulated that these wise men would have traveled the trade route from Babylon. This followed the Euphrates River north, then south through the Orontes River valley traversing Syria, and finally entering Palestine. If they followed this route, it is about 900 miles. This would have been quite a while to think about what they were doing, and more importantly who they were going to see.

This Christmas season, as we go through the hustle of life, I want to encourage you to think about the recipient of your gifts. Think about who they are as human beings. Think about the blessings they have brought into your life, and think about what gift would show them your gratitude for their influences upon you. Above all, think about these wise men and their thought put forward into action.

When we give gifts this Christmas season, let us remember these first gifts brought by these wise men. Let us remember the fact that they fell down and worshipped Jesus the Christ, and then gave gifts to the King of Kings embodied in humanity. Most importantly let us remember that Jesus is the ultimate gift from our Creator to His children. He is The Most Important Thing.

 


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Matthew 2:11 – “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

 

Thanks,

Marc

 

 

 

Gun Violence and The Problem of the Human Heart. . .

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As I sit alone on my couch, with my children and wife sleeping, I ponder the activities of my day. I was privileged enough to speak to a group of wonderful people at an event centered around gun violence and related crimes. I was part of a panel of seven speakers that held various viewpoints on this most important issue. It was a wonderful experience. I shared with them what I want to share with you now as you read this.

 


It was a grotesque scene, but I was limited to only observing it in pictures. This body seemed to lack humanity, yet I was reminded of this once living, breathing human being by his mother’s uncontrollable weeping in court.


 

I remember working one particular murder trial as a bailiff many years ago. My job was to secure the courtroom and ensure defendants were in the right place at the right time. In doing so, I had a great deal of contact with defendants, and so begins this story. This was a case where the victim was murdered, buried, and subsequently exhumed. Enough time had passed to ensure that his body still resembled the human form in shape, but not in feature. It was a grotesque scene, but I was limited to only observing it in pictures. This body seemed to lack humanity, yet I was reminded of this once living, breathing human being by his mother’s uncontrollable and constant weeping in court. These kinds of things were no longer just in the news.  It was real. I was pretty new in law enforcement, and experiencing these horrors of life for the first time. It was here where justice would wage against this murderer who would soon to be found guilty 0f this horrendous offense, but this wasn’t the most significantly influential thing for me. The most significant thing was the fact that this defendant was a hilarious human being. When the fact that he was a cold blooded murderer was removed, this is the kind of guy you would want to hang out with. It wasn’t significant that he was funny all by itself. It was significant that he was funny and a murderer all in the same human being. This was a strange dichotomy of horrible acts against a fellow human being contrasted in the backdrop of his humanity. My young mind was stunned, and found it difficult to process. How could this person do this thing, yet show no remorse? How could he look at these pictures, hear the mother crying, and as soon as he was out of the courtroom start telling jokes? My answer would come after doing this job for a few more years. My answer would be solidified in experience, and looking through the lens of Scripture.

 

Over the course of my career I have observed a great Biblical truth emerge. I am reminded often of Isaiah 5:20-21 where we read: “Woe to those who call evil good and  good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” These words indicate a vacillating morality being addressed by God, and the word “woe” indicates the coming of divine judgment. Morality that is driven by individual people, gangs, and societies will always vacillate. They will go this way for a while and that way for a while modifying what is right and wrong as they flow. This is the reason that this funny guy did not show any conscience. Nothing even in the arena of feeling sorry for what he did, because he believed it was right. It was a morally superior solution to his problem in his mind. This isn’t a conclusion that I have solidified based upon one case, it is a conclusion that I have been persuaded to believe steadfastly after an untold number of interactions with evil people. Quite literally they have told me so during interviews by saying repeatedly that they “didn’t do anything wrong” while still claiming culpability for the action itself.


Morality exists apart from me and apart from you. If we try to ignore this, we will always have gun violence. In the future, perhaps, we will call it laser violence, or whatever new thing becomes the manifestation of the evils within the human heart.


 

In the Christian faith, morality is not a thing that we can change. It is not up to us. This system of morality was handed down from our Creator who is unashamed about telling us like it is. The text does not hide that He will stand in judgment of our hearts and our innermost being, but He took our sins to the cross for people who call Him Lord. He took this judgment for people who make Him Lord of their lives. Morality exists apart from me and apart from you. If we try to ignore this, we will always have gun violence. In the future, perhaps, we will call it laser violence, or whatever new thing becomes the manifestation of the evils within the human heart. We recall the word “woe” indicating a coming of divine judgment for the person who goes against God’s prohibitions with our own human behavior. We must remember that calling Jesus “Our Lord” has the direct implication that we are subject to His morality and not our own. Simply put, we must follow what He says.

 

People sometimes think that murderers, rapists and the like are not human beings, and I disagree strongly with that idea. They are human, and their actions represent the part of humanity that will judge with a righteous anger. When we call these people animals, we remove their God given responsibility towards their fellow man, and I cannot remove anything that God has placed in its place. Remember again the word “woe.”

 

Until our world stops creating and recreating what is right and wrong this societal problem will always exist. Until we align ourself with God who created human beings in His own image, and teaches us that innocent human life is sacred this will always be an issue. Dr. Billy Graham succinctly encapsulates the idea that will clearly identify our problems in this world. He says that it is the problem of the human heart.

 

This has implications for all of us. Every single one of us. We must look into the mirror and see who we really are. We must stop acting and screaming out of hatred, yet be steadfastly firm in our resolve to preserve innocent life. We must love our enemies, but not live with our heads in the sand and pretend they do not exist. If that day finds us we must have previously prepared ourselves to visit overwhelmingly superior violence on the evil to preserve innocent life. We must not altruistically allow evil to overcome, and we must reject the idea that Jesus did not take a stand for what was right and wrong with decisive action. He forcefully aggressed to His task, a task that we were unable to accomplish. I am grateful that He did this for you and for me. He took the “woe” for people who serve Him as Lord of their lives.

 

We must wrap our minds and hearts around the certainty that God will not bless our nation, and our world until we turn from our selfish intrinsic morals and turn to His system of righteousness. Our morality needs to be firmly rooted within the entire text of the Bible, and not in just one or two verses that we like because they make us feel warm and fuzzy.

 


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Isaiah 5:21 – “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”

Thanks,

Marc

 

 

Something Different about San Bernardino. . .

 

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To my fellow Christian warriors: Share this post in all ways possible. People need to hear this yesterday, and take action now.


 

In the aftermath of the murders in San Bernardino, I need to wear two hats in this post. The foremost is the teacher of Scripture hat, but I will also place my police officer and police tactics instructor hat on for a bit. These things need to be said, because people’s lives depend on it.

 

Something different happened today in San Bernardino than is statistically typical of active shooter incidents here in the United States.  At first glance, this isn’t something that can cause alarm for us in police work, but it should. It is a change from the normal, and should cause us to take a moment and process. They attempted to flee. This is, at best, a historical infrequent action when active shooters are concerned. While all the information is not in on the incident, and I will refrain from getting too detail oriented here in this forum, this can strongly indicate a separate motive from the normal “I’ll make them pay for what they did to me” motive. This, in my mind, can indicate the intention for these perpetrators to commit further acts, and not make this the big crescendo of their lives as so many before them have done. Then you add in the wearing of body armor, the deployment of long guns and we have a change in the game. Why does this matter? Why does this need to be posted here in this study? Because we need to think long and hard about what we do as police officers. We need to think deeply and seriously as human beings who know that evil exists, and must be confronted. The days of most police officers going their entire careers and not being placed in lethal confrontations are rapidly coming to an end.

 


 

If it is true that these violent acts are increasing here in our homeland, we must prepare. We must be ready when that day finds us.


 

We need to address physical fitness. Let’s face it. There are some officers who are in shape and some come in other shapes. Remember, if that day finds you it will be your job to combat these evil people in order to save innocent lives. You will not rise to the height of grandeur, and you will sink to the level of your training. You can’t shoot straight if you can’t breathe. If you can’t shoot straight than innocent people can die.

 

When David came to the battle lines between Israel and the Philistines, he heard Goliath yelling and intimidating the Israelites. Having none of that, he enquired as to what was going to be done about this fellow. When no man in the army would go, a young shepherd boy took the reigns. He went to the king, argued with him about going to fight this man, and placed King Saul’s battle dress upon himself at the king’s request. The important point to ponder here is what David says while in King Saul’s armor. We read in 1 Samuel 17:39: “and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, ‘I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.’ So David put them off.” David had not tested these items. He had not trained with them and was not used to them, so he put them off and went without. David knew that he must be prepared for this battle, and to make a change at the last minute would be potentially fatal. It is clear to us from this text that we must be confident in our equipment, and that confidence only comes from hard work and training. Training like innocent lives depend on it, because they do.

 

When I teach the breaching portion of active shooter classes, I always add a strong encouragement for officers to spend their own money on individual sets of breaching equipment and medical supplies. Some have the opinion that if their agency didn’t give it to them, than they don’t need it. I exceedingly, strongly and forcibly disagree with that idea. If that day finds them, and they can’t get inside to do their jobs they will have to live with it. They will have to live with hearing the screams on the other side of the door when they close their eyes at night. They will have to live with the gunshots as they step over the dead bodies when they finally make it into the structure to solve the problem they were unprepared to solve until the proper equipment arrived.

 

Goliath said to a young David, in 1 Samuel 17:44, “Come to me and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Undeterred by the seemingly invincible giant of a man, David replied with unmitigated fervor. “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” David was sure of who he served. He knew and believed that the God whom he served was more powerful than this giant, his nation, or any gods they believed were real. He was steadfast in his understanding, and this caused all fear to melt away leaving pure courage in the face of seemingly certain mortal demise. There are no atheists in foxholes. People sometimes live life as though God does not exist, but when this day finds you it is better to have sorted all that stuff out earlier. No time to talk after it begins. There is only time to go to work, because that is the most important thing in your universe at that time. Check out The Most Important Thing for clarity on this. Contact me with a comment below for further questions on the topic.

Our last verses in this passage is 1 Samuel 17:48-49. We read: “When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.” David showed two things here that are important for us to know. First he displayed decisiveness in action. He knew what time it was, and what time it was about to be. He did not nonchalantly walk towards his foe. He ran towards him. It was go time. The second thing here is there was no hesitation from closing the distance to swift violence of action. As soon as Goliath was in range, David “pulled the trigger.” He did not talk with him any longer. There was no time for exchange of pleasantries. The giant was still a threat. He took the fight to him, and swiftly terminated his abilities as a threat. The time that hesitation presents in a lethal force situation is directly associated to innocent lives being lost. The faster the threat is down, the faster the murdering stops. The time that is wasted in doing anything that distracts from that end goal, is time that can lead you to your demise and subsequently more innocent lives are lost. No time to talk, no time to play around, and there is no time to catch your breath.

Big picture for all of us to keep in the forefront of our minds.

  • We are to see this as a different kind of incident than a statistically historical active shooter incident in the United States.
  • We are to prepare our bodies for this day.
  • As young David worked towards solving this problem, we need to be prepared to do the same. It is a race to the scene, and it is a race to the murderers. We should only be limited by our ability to process information and deal with threats.
  • Train with your gear. We should be proficient in every tool needed to accomplish tasks that are required of us.
  • Take personal responsibility in your ability to accomplish a life saving mission even if it costs you money.
  • We are to be undeterred by the scope and size of our enemies.
  • We are to deal with our relationship with God now, so we will not have anything crossing our mind in a situation where we might see Him sooner than we would like. Solidify this now.
  • We are to be decisive. Then we are to be decisive, and we are to be decisive as well.
  • In the real world it’s fast and violent, so we must be faster and possess the capacity for overwhelming violence.

 


 

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1 Samuel 17:45 – “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’ ”

Thanks,

Marc

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