My rant!

I read Carl Chinn’s guest blog this week, and it was so obvious how prevalent violence in the church has become. If you haven’t read it, you might want to. The statistics are almost unbelievable. It just goes to show how far our society has declined, and the true hold that Satan has on much of our society! I will stop here, and leave it as the end of my first rant, even though I could write pages on it. Something tells me I would be preaching to the choir.

As is common, I also looked back over the news and information that I found or was sent this week. I couldn’t help but wonder if some people haven’t lost their ever-loving mind because of mass shooters, and the fears that they have about them. Some of this news just made me shake my head. I especially am shaking my head about putting a bucket of river rock in each classroom for students to throw at a mass shooter.

It seems that a school administrator in Pennsylvania has come up with a bucket of rocks in each classroom as a “last ditch” effort to defend themselves against a mass shooter in their school. Now don’t get me wrong, using anything against someone actively trying to kill you, or someone else, is better than laying down and dying. Of course we can also look at David and Goliath; it seems a rock did help David out.  I mean, we do teach the Run, Hide, Fight (fight as a last resort) and the ALICE training, but books would do the same thing as these rocks to distract and/or hurt a shooter, if needed. Still, is it really that smart to provide teenage boys and girls a bucket of rocks against someone wanting to kill them?

I don’t know about most of you, but when I was growing up, I thought I was invincible. As a six year old, I jumped through a  garage entry door (that had windows from top to bottom) while playing batman (I was not the brightest child).  That caused me to have numerous stitches, and from what I am told, it was touch and go for a while from all the blood loss. The worst part was I didn’t learn from that experience. When I was 11 or so, and my family was building a house, When we were sheathing and shingling it, I would regularly jump off the roof, a 10-12 foot drop. Why? Because it didn’t take as long as climbing down the ladder. I look back and think of the many times I pulled stupid moves similar to this, including working on my three wheeler and making it run almost 90 miles per hour at the ripe age of 15. I also think about others, people that have good common sense today, that used to build ramps and jump an ATV over power lines on their farms, and the kids I knew as teenagers that used to play with fire and gunpowder. If any of today’s teenagers have the same mentality I (and others) did when I was that age, then they have played it out in their mind how they would save the rest of the school from a shooter because of their pitching arm. Unfortunately, that will likely get several killed.  Perhaps it would be better for the school to have fundraisers and provide some better security measures. On the other hand, at least they aren’t ignoring the situation. Still, I believe that they are putting their students at more risk.

My final rant is based on the recent rash of explosives. A few months ago, I predicted that bombs would start to be an issue. I also predicted that they would eventually work their way into our houses of worship. We only need to look at the past two weeks to see how this is beginning to come to fruition. Over the last few weeks, we have seen a bomber in Austin, a man that sent explosives to 11 military bases, a teenager who brought a bomb to school, and various other incidents related to explosives. These types of incidents only leads me to believe that we will see more of these types of incidents, and they will begin to filter into our churches. Please be vigilant, and look for anything suspicious in our houses of worship, whether a person or a package. The devil and his minions are unfortunately alive and well. Let’s try to thwart their success. Until next time, … Mark

Planning and mitigation works!!!!

As is becoming commonplace, I am a day late with my blog submission. I know that this blog keeps many of you informed. I apologize for being late (again)! Unless you do not watch the news, you know that my prediction last week of another mass shooting, almost rang true . I say almost rang true because the school, and those involved with protecting children in that community, had a plan. As soon as news broke, multiple people began to text me and call me about the incident. One of my university students (who has been amazed at my predictions) even asked if I was a prophet. While I would be honored to take that title, I can only say that I foresee when mass shootings will happen through following the statistics.

As I said in the last paragraph, the school and public safety community had a plan. Not only did they have a plan, but they had the resources in place to deal with such a situation. It is unfortunate that the shooter died, but that was part of that shooters own choice. They had a choice about bringing the gun to school, they had a choice regarding whether to shoot or not, and they had a choice on shooting at the School Resource Officer. The shooter had choices, but those he shot, and shot at, did not! The shooter in exercising his choices, did not allow his victims to have any choices.

Fortunately, the schools and public safety made choices long before the incident ever happened. The primary choice was whether to plan and implement mitigation measures, which they did. This community thwarted not only this attempt, but also the one before it at Leonardtown High School . By planning, only the Lord knows how many lives have been saved in just this one community.

The point I want to make from this: Churches also need to make plans and undertake serious mitigation measures. Some churches believe that a few firearms in the church (alone) are enough to protect a church. It is not, and this type of mentality may lead to a shootout similar to the one at OK Corral. In that type of scenario, you are creating an environment where innocent people may be shot, and possibly even killed. Serious plans need to be made to keep a shooter outside of the church. While there is no “one-size fits all” plan for churches, there are some basic concepts that need to be in place.

  1. Total situational awareness-take your head out of the sand and watch for something out of the ordinary, or dangerous, that might be evolving!
  2. Implement layered security-Identify multiple areas where a shooter can be denied entry and denied access to parishioners. Use those layers to make it harder and harder to get to their target(s) (such as a person monitoring the outside, greeters that know what to look for, ways of quickly securing doors, door film to stop entry, trained security teams, etc.).
  3. Train parishioners– Train everyone in the church on what they should do if a shooter gets past your defenses and the shooter overcomes all mitigation measures.

The end goal is not to kill someone with evil intentions; the end goal is to protect church goers. If it is possible for law enforcement (or even a security team) to take the individual(s) alive, that gives the church the opportunity to show this person God’s love, and to even lead them to the Lord later on. This could even be while they are in prison or even possibly a mental institution.

As I close, I look at the statistics again. The next shooting will be harder for me to predict. Why? Because a school district, local law enforcement, and a school resource officer did not ignore protecting their students. Additionally, the media has not provided nearly as much coverage about this incident or about how the shooter was stopped. Because of this, there is a good chance that the next mass shooting may be delayed. Then again, it may create a challenge to someone else who thinks the last shooter botched their own infamy. No matter what happens, I praise the Lord that no innocent students died in this latest attack and that more were not shot. I can only pray that more schools and churches learn from this latest shooting. Until next week, … Mark

Get off the fence!

If you have read my blog before, you know that I am a firm believer in preparing. Unfortunately, many church leaders have the mentality that it will never happen in their church. They bury their heads in the sand, while the enemy plans to come not only to the front door, but into the sanctuary.

In John 10:10 (NIV), Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” While we have eternal life in Christ, we also have a biblical duty to protect those in our current world, who are not capable of protecting themselves. We are to be a sanctuary for those that believe or are coming to learn about the Lord. While some may be chosen to be martyrs, it is highly unlikely that God wants and entire congregation to do so.

We need to realize that evil comes into our houses of worship regularly. Whether it is a scam artist trying to get money under false pretenses, or someone the intention of coming in to kill and maim others, they are in our churches and on the property regularly. While we need to fulfill our mission in Christ by serving others and sharing the Word of God, we also need to make sure that we don’t go home to meet our Lord in an untimely matter. We need to keep being missionaries, but we should not do it in a foolish way. No matter what the mission field, whether in our home church, on the local street, a foreign land, or even in the streets of war torn country, we need to plan and prepare before we act.

I would like to share the stories I heard from other first responders after Hurricane Katrina and relate to planning and preparedness in churches. Many spontaneous volunteers decided to self-deploy to the area after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Many of those individuals did not prepare or plan, they just went. In some cases, they had six bottles of water and a few protein bars to survive on. Some just had enough gas to get to the area, with no money or plans on how to get the gas they needed to get home. Because of their lack of planning and preparedness, these people essentially became part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. While the government was trying to rescue and save hundreds of thousands, they also had to worry about feeding, housing, and transportation for tens off thousands of people who had good intentions, but they did not plan or prepare for the situation. These were often referred to as the disaster after the disaster. In my opinion, churches that do not plan and prepare for mass shooters are the disaster before the disaster.

There are those that say that if something happens, it is God’s will, that it would not happen unless God allowed it to happen. Think about Lot. God allowed the evil one to tempt Lot, but he didn’t want him to die. The same likely holds true for us in most circumstances; God will allow Satan to tempt us, but He wants us to live, and to live life abundantly in our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are still thinking about starting a program to protect the flock from evil, it’s time to get off of the fence! In James 1:8 (NIV) the Bible instructs us that “Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do”. While I am not usually one to switch from one translation to another to prove a point, I think that the Webster’s Bible translation explains this a little better. It states “A man unsettled in his opinions is unstable in all his ways.” Perhaps this should be a warning to you and your congregation to get off the fence. The time is now! Do something to protect your flock!

I feel bad about talking about this next part, but I thought I should mention it anyway. I am an avid study of the statistics of mass shootings, and I have become (unfortunately) rather good at predicting mass shootings (to a certain extent). Statistically speaking, we are nearing another mass shooting attempt in the next few weeks. Do not let these evil individuals have free reign, shut them down before they ever enter your church, school, or business! Take action! Make a plan! Get trained! Start taking those baby steps that will protect your church, and keep taking those steps until your church is hardened. Lock evil out!!!!

As I close, I wanted to say that unless another headline diverts me, I plan to get off of my soapbox, and get back to providing more tips on keeping your house of worship safe. I apologize for the last few weeks of preaching what needs to be done, but I felt led to make sure that God’s Children knew that this is not an issue that should be ignored. Until next week, I pray that the Lord keeps you safe and free from violence in your house of worship, … Mark

Are you monitoring your child/grandchild?

First let me apologize for being late with this weeks blog post. I unfortunately had to spend a few days in the hospital, and I am now playing catch-up.

I wanted to take a few minutes this week to encourage parents and grandparents to monitor their children. All too often, after an attack we hear “We didn’t see any warning signs” from the parents. After further investigation, we find out that the signs were there, but the parents were too busy trying to make a living, taking their kids to events (or some other thing), so they missed these glaring signs.

We need to make sure that we listen to our children and grandchildren regularly! We see the case of the grandmother that reported her grandson in Washington State and most likely saved a lot of lives. She found a rifle hidden in a guitar case, and then his manifesto. His grandmother was alert, and watching for signs. She did the right thing, and likely saved a lot of lives.

Having said this, we need to know what our children are doing (even adult children). Who they are hanging out with? What are they posting on social media? Are they fascinated with guns or death? Of course, this is just the starting point, and there is much more that we need to be aware of.

Some say that this is an invasion of their privacy. Well, perhaps it is, but isn’t it our responsibility to ensure our children and family members are mentally and physically well? Shouldn’t we watch them and guide them so they do not get into trouble? Isn’t it our responsibility?

Beyond keeping our children from getting into trouble, we need to make sure all is well with them. In today’s world, our children can be bullied, and now it doesn’t even have to happen face-to-face. Cyber bullying and other types of bullying can lead children and young adults to commit suicide. Some have even suggested that it can cause them to become violent revenge killers. Being aware could save their life, or others lives.

We also need to make sure that our children are not suffering from depression. Sometimes, just the shear stress of being a teenager can cause a mental breakdown. Only those parents that are involved with their children will be able to see problems, especially if the child is trying to hide it from their parents.

We also need to realize that some children, young adults, and even older adults, can lose control if they feel unwanted. This is especially true if they feel unwanted by the opposite sex. Several male mass shooters have spoken (either on their manifesto or on camera) that the girls that have ignored them will pay. Others mass shooters were going through (or had recently gone through) a divorce or split. We need to make sure that friends, family, and our children are safe, and that they are not on the verge of committing a horrible and senseless crime or even killing only themselves.

Finally, I wanted to talk about the consequences of not identifying these behaviors prior to someone acting out. I am fairly certain that most of us could not forgive ourselves if we missed certain common signs, and family members or our children killed people. Even if they do not act, but just talk about acting on the impulse, it can ruin an entire family’s life. If you watch the video below, you can see how the actions of one had unintended  consequences for the entire family.

I hope that you will not forget what was said in this week’s blog. We can stop some of these acts of violence by being aware of what our children, grandchildren, and other family members are doing. If it appears they may be heading down the wrong road, do not hesitate to call the police. While it may be difficult to turn our own flesh and blood in, how much more difficult would it be to know you could have stopped them from doing something, and you didn’t! Until next week, please make sure you are vigilant, … Mark