How do we Respond?

sandy hook

26 innocent women and children were shot dead Friday. They were our neighbors. 20 students killed by former student Adam Lanza. He was 20 years old. The 6 teachers and administrators were heroes. They did not shrink back, giving their own lives to save others. The Newtown community is devastated. The Nation is in shock and unbelief.

Everyone is asking: Why?

Everyone is saying: What can be done to prevent this?

Most feel saddened, frustrated, fearful and powerless.

I watched a nurse being interviewed on site vocalize the frustration many are feeling: “I wanted to do something to help, but it was too late. There was nothing I could do. They were already dead.” (paraphrase)

One of our town’s sports organizations is collecting teddy bears for the children of Newtown. A positive, symbolic gesture birthed out of compassion and desire for action. Others around the country are sending wreaths, donations and other gifts. But, if you are like me, you ask: is that all we can do?

In the vacuum this disaster has left, the President, politicians, interest groups and the media are beating the drum of increased gun control, mental health and security laws, programs, and regulations. Petitions are flying around the internet tapping into human frustration and desire for action and control. However, the reality is: man-made solutions only offer an illusion of control and do precious little to avert disasters like this. Yet, with certainty, impulsive regulation risks further diminishing liberty and freedom.

Consider CT already has tough gun control laws. The guns were stolen. It did not prevent the tragedy.

Consider Nancy Lanza was well-off and could afford the best mental health care for Adam. It did not prevent the tragedy.

Consider Sandy Hook had just installed a state-of-the art security system this fall. It did not prevent the tragedy.

However, there is something we can all do which will eradicate senseless killings like this, but it is largely hidden from view. It doesn’t appeal to the self-centered nature, which is ultimately the crux of the problem and critical to the answer.

The Answer

The answer as to what can be done is more profound than anything man can devise or legislate: we must repent and turn back to God. He will save us from ourselves. He will protect us. The answer is Jesus.

The Difficult Questions

Why did this happen?

Where was God in all of this?

I think these questions are best answered by looking back at 9/11. 3000 people died that morning when evil visited the U.S. Everyone was asking those same questions.

I believe the most God ordained response back then came from Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham’s Daughter) when she was interviewed on Larry King Live…

KING: And what do you say to people who obviously must ask you the endless why?

LOTZ: You know, when we get to heaven, I expect a lot of people will be asking God that: Why? And I believe one of the reasons is, you know, it’s a wake-up call, Larry. And I feel like we’ve seen some wonderful things come out of this tragedy on September 11th. And one of the things is that I think it was “The Wall Street Journal” said that God has shown up.

You know, we’ve turned back to God in a way. We’re calling on Him. We have a little phrase “God Bless America” everywhere, which is refreshing, because after 1963, basically we’ve told God to get out of our schools, and we’ve told Him to get out of the marketplace, get out of our businesses, get out of our government. And you know, it’s all right if he stays in church or in a synagogue, but we’ve not wanted Him on the streets.

And so God who is gracious just, I believe, has backed out of our lives, and I think it’s time we invited him back in.

So one of the positive things for me after September 11th has been that we’ve called on God and asked Him to come back and be a part of our national life.

(full transcript here…)

If we have ears to hear, essentially Anne Graham was saying this: the tragedy is another wake up call for the people of the United States to return to God. The question is not: “Where was God in this? How could He let it happen?” The question is: “Where are we in God?” If we have kicked God out of our schools, businesses and government, how can we expect him to be there for us? Yet, somehow we still expect God’s protection from evil. Sounds like quite an incredible self-serving and self-centered perspective, doesn’t it?

Umm, excuse me God, could you just limit yourself to church buildings? We don’t really need you in daily life given advancements in science and technology. Besides, it’s not really fair to have to choose You on Your terms instead of our own terms. You know, we have free will. Also it’s not really fair to those who don’t believe in You anyway. You understand, right? Maybe you could just come rescue us when we need help or are dying. Thanks. We’ll take it from here.

Obviously the position we have taken as a Nation is preposterous. It is just hypocrisy. Somehow, we want the benefits of God (blessings) without the commitment (love for God). Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

If you doubt this message behind 9/11, I encourage you to read the book: The Harbinger. You can also watch this interview Rabbi Jonathan Cahn on Sid Roth.

The lessons of 9/11 apply to Friday’s tragedy.

We the people, through the Supreme Court, removed God and prayer from our schools in 1962 (Engel v. Vitale) and 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp). So, why are we surprised that we are without God’s protection when evil befalls us? Have we checked with God on this? Read Deuteronomy 28. Here is an excerpt:

…if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God…Blessed shall be the fruit of your body…The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated

…if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God…Cursed shall be the fruit of your body…The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies

So yes, it’s that simple: we must turn back to God. We must allow God back in our schools through prayer. Our children and teachers are worth it. Now is the time. How many more have to die?

For anyone who objects that such prayer isn’t constitutional because of “separation of church and state”, consider the ample history of our Nation’s practices before, during and after the U.S. Constitution and the first Amendment were written:

1. In 1789 the First U.S. Congress passed a law hiring Christian Chaplains to lead Congress in prayer. Every session of Congress since has been so opened in prayer (read more here…)

2. The principal textbook of 18th century American schools was The New England Primer. The framers of the Constitution were taught from it. There was absolutely no effort to remove it from schools after the Constitution was written (editions of the Primer were used in schools through ~1930). (click here to read…)

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3. The founding fathers saw no “entanglement” with respect to prayer and religion within government or schools. In fact the opposite was true (read quotes here…). The colonies’ form of self-government was indisputably founded under God (read Fundamental Orders of CT and Mayflower Compact). The 1st amendment establishment clause was written to prevent the corruptions of the state imposed Church of England, as this was the very tyranny the Puritans and Pilgrims left all for in order to pursue religious liberty in a new land.

In fact, the country was consecrated to God right after that first amendment was passed in Federal Hall, NYC. On April 30th, 1789 at St. Paul chapel, NYC (incidentally part of Ground Zero), George Washington led the first Congress in prayer on the day of his inauguration (the first Federal capital was NYC). If there is any doubt, listen to the wisdom in our First President’s prayer:

“It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves . . .  In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and . . . can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage…

Now pay particular attention to the close of Washington’s prayer and it’s biblical truth:

“We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained .”

If you think it’s just antiquity, ask yourself this: where did common law come from? Answer: The Bible. No one is suggesting we throw our laws out.

Ask yourself: why is it acceptable for the President, the Governor and the First Selectwoman to lead an inter-faith prayer service in the Newtown high school auditorium mourning the tragedy, but it is illegal for teachers and students to pray in the Newtown schools where the tragedy took place? Many prayers went up from students and teachers that tragic morning on 12/14. No one wants to ban those. Do you see the hypocrisy? We must get understanding. We must get wisdom. This is foolishness!

Ponder this “coincidence”:

The first massacre of this type (mentally disturbed mass shooting at a school) is generally considered to have occurred in 1966 when Charles Whitman killed 13 from the clock tower at The University of Texas, just a few short years after prayer was banned from schools. Since that time, many many similar types of mass shootings have occurred in our schools. Mesa. Fullerton. Grover Cleveland. Stockton schoolyard. Lindhurst. Westside. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Chardon. Sandy Hook. Need we go on? How many more children have to die before we humble ourselves and say its OK to pray? 1000 more? 10000? This is the real “Why?” question each one of us should be asking.

In concert with this (and for further inspiration), read the heartfelt testimony of Darrell Scott (father of a Columbine shooting victim) before Congress in 1999. (click here to read…)

How Do We Respond?

We don’t have to be frustrated by a lack of action. We don’t have to grasp at straws and jump on board the Politically Correct action bandwagon. There are three biblical responses all of us can implement. All are modeled after: “What did Jesus Do?”

1. Prayer.

As a Nation, we must return to prayer. Jesus started every day in prayer. Often before the sun came up. He prayed continuously. So must we (1 Thes 5:17).

2. Compassion.

How can we have compassion toward the victim’s families? We can pray. We can comfort. We can mourn with them. We can release healing for the wounded in Jesus name. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt 5:4). We also can offer help and moral support, not only to them, but toward each other in our own neighborhoods. Maybe a random act of kindness. Maybe not pushing our way onto the train or subway. Maybe not cutting someone off on the road. Maybe not thinking about what our little ones are getting for Christmas as much as thinking about helping someone we don’t know.

3. Repentance.

Jesus was not silent. He warned and rebuked a wicked generation in the hopes of saving them. The first sermon of Jesus’ ministry was: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matt 3:2). Similarly it was Jonah’s message to Nineveh: “Repent or face destruction” (Jonah 3:4)

Repent for what?

What have we done that’s so “wicked”?

– loved ourselves more than God
– served our own agenda and called it God’s
– built our own kingdom and called it God’s kingdom
– made money our life blood
– put comfort and materialism ahead of sacrifice and obedience
– massacred 55 million innocent children through abortion

Imagine if 200 shooters were released into prenatal care wards across the country, killing 4000 children every day. Are these not the youngest and most innocent of all? Do they not have “… their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.” Why does anyone have the right to take their life?

– promoted adultery, promiscuity, fornication, pornography, lewdness, sexual perversion as excitement/entertainment
– called homosexuality a civil right instead of sin
– endorsed the lie that God does not belong in government, schools, business, academia and mass media

We need to admit: I’m part of the Problem.

We need to call the Church to repentance first.

First, we must not blame someone else for the problem (“the heathen” are the problem). We must look within our own hearts and see where we are culpable.

Remember, “Judgment starts within the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17) and “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways…” (2 Chron 7:14).

We may not be aborting children, promoting homosexuality or banning prayer, but the honest truth is: We do serve ourselves. We have trusted in the “Almighty Dollar”. We are self-centered. We do have have strife and division amongst us. We have not forgiven. We are self-promoting. We have trusted in ourselves more than God. We worship “being in control”. We are prideful. We divorce too quickly. We fall to sexual temptation. We do not love our neighbors as ourselves. We do not discipline our children as we ought. We have made an idol of our children and family units. If we are guilty of these things, is it no wonder we have no moral authority to stop abortion and reverse prayer bans?

So, let’s start here. With us. Within the Church. What business do we, God’s people, have heralding a message of “repent” if we are unclean ourselves?

The number 20 in the bible means Holy (2 Chronicles 3:8). Let us not forget the blood spilled in this tragedy: 20 children dead. 20 year old shooter. God is calling us to 20:20 vision, returning to Holiness.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

Hebrews 12:14. Sandy Hook tragedy was on 12/14. God is calling for a move of Holiness in the United States. A great definition of Holiness is not conforming to this world (Rom 12:2). The Methodists called for Holiness during the 1st and 2nd great awakening. It was known as the Holiness Movement. Hebrews 12:14 was one of John Wesley’s favorite scriptures. We too must pursue Holiness as part of a 3rd great awakening. “Be Holy for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

I would encourage all to read through the following material and consider it’s implication: (read about Baal here…) Ancient Baal was simply a god fashioned out of serving yourself. We must divorce all foreign gods and idols, known and hidden. Read Ezra 9-10. Make no mistake, idols and foreign gods do exist today in the U.S. and in the Church. They are not made of wood or stone, but are very real. Remember that 5 out of the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3 were told to repent.

Can Only Be Done Supernaturally

These actions and accompanying emotions (for example: having compassion, rebuking, warning) can seem to be at odds with each other within our human limitations. But Jesus acted in all simultaneously and supernaturally through the Holy Spirit. So must we. Remember, Jesus is as fierce and unrelenting as a lion yet as gentle and compassionate as a lamb. So must we be. He never shrunk back from the truth.

If we have compassion for the families affected, but shrink back from vigilantly warning the Nation, we fail because we are not helping people in the long-run (for eternity) and the devastation and death will continue.

If we warn and rebuke in anger without hope and compassion, we don’t have love (1 Cor 13:1), and we are totally ineffective.

And finally and most importantly, if we call for repentance without having “taken the plank out of our own eye” (Matthew 7:5) we utterly fail, because we are hypocritical, religious and worthless. One thing unbelievers can rightly discern about “Christians” is that we are all-to-often hypocrites.

When we put it all together by the Spirit as Jesus does, we do well and please the Father.

This is the true Christmas Spirit.

PRAY.

HAVE COMPASSION.

REPENT.

BE NOT SILENT.