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

Warning signs

As more details emerge from the Florida school shooting, many people feel outraged. Many signs were missed, and many of them were glaring red flags. All that was needed was for someone, anyone, to put two and two together, and then come up with the answer of four. I will not play Monday morning quarterback by second guessing potential failures of any agency, but I will point out missed signs that could have prevented this tragedy.

Whether you believe CNN delivers fake news or not, many will admit that when it comes to mass shootings, their investigative team is top notch. In fact, it makes an individual wonder what others, even law enforcement, can learn from them. I will be posting many links to CNN and their investigative reports in today’s blog, as well as CBS.

As most of you already know, I refuse to give glory to mass shooters, in order to help prevent another mass shooting. For that reason, this shooter will only be referred to as “Florida (FL) Shooter” or “the eventual shooter”.

Troubled childhood

CNN reported that a neighbor saw a troubling signs from the FL shooter, even at a young age. From the age of nine years old, she saw the FL shooter had a dark side. That dark side included killing animals for fun, hitting other children for no reason, and much more. According to friends and neighbors, as the boy grew, so did his dark side.

At a party the neighbor once had, the Florida shooter (still a young boy at the age of 10 or so) spilled a drink on his lap. When the other children teased him by saying it looked like he wet his pants, the boy locked himself in the neighbors bedroom, and destroyed a train set. He was easily provoked into violent behavior, even at that young age.

Also at 10 years old, the eventual shooter threw a rock at the neighbors son, and hit him in the eye, on purpose. She described how the FL shooter had so much rage, that his bedroom walls were filled with holes from his violent outbursts, and this was confirmed by other neighbors as well. As a middle school student, the FL shooter made weapons and killed toads, then pulled them apart or dissected them. He also used his BB gun and other weapons to kill small animals. While this in itself is somewhat normal for young boys, this eventual shooter was took it to the extreme, killing multiple animals in one day and gloating about it.

This same neighbor described how when her dog had a seizure, he stood over the dog that was violently twitching and foaming at the mouth, and watched with excitement. It was obvious that he was enjoying being able to watch this animal suffer, but his demeanor changed when he realized he (himself) was being watched.

As the boy grew older, multiple neighbors recalled seeing the police called, usually for conflicts with his mother.  There were reports of hitting doors with pool equipment, multiple violent outbursts, punching walls, and throwing objects. One neighbor stated she would see the police holding the eventual shooter in the back of a squad car, while they investigated. Both the shooter and his mother would always blame others for the troubles he had. Of course, all of these signs are red flags.

In 2016, the neighbor notified police about the shooters Instagram account. He was posting pictures if an AR-15, stating that he couldn’t wait to be old enough to purchase the weapon. He also posted (around that same time) that he “wanted to shoot up the school”.  He soon began to post and disturbing pictures of himself in tactical gear, holding multiple guns, or even holding menacing knives.

The two years prior to the mass shooting

Multiple warning signs were present in the two years before the mass shooting. CNN reported multiple signs were seen, but not acted on. On February 5th of 2016, the police were told that the eventual shooter planned to commit a school shooting. After an investigation by police, it was determined that the eventual shooter only had knives and BB guns, so he was not recognized as a threat, even though he made specific threats.

Over the period of a year, the FL shooter gathered a collection of firearms. From what information is available, it appears that all seven of the firearms he collected in a year were rifles.

In September of 2017, the eventual shooter would tell a video web-blogger that he was going to be a professional school shooter. The incident was reported, but no action was taken. Also in September,  according to CBS news the Department of Child and Family services visited the shooter and his mother. The mother was suspected of medical neglect, because the FL shooter had depression, ADHD, was a self-cutter, and he reportedly had autism.  They started the investigation because of a report that he was not being taken to a doctor or psychologist for treatment of these ailments. These are more red flags that were missed.

In November of 2017, shortly after his mothers death, a relative reported that the eventual shooter had rifles, and that she felt he was unstable. A friend of the eventual shooter agreed to take the rifles, and to keep them safe for the eventual shooter. Later in November of 2017, someone that the eventual shooter lived with, reported that they had a no gun policy in their house, and they believed that the shooter had hidden a gun (or guns) in their back yard.  No weapons were found by law enforcement. Just four days after the previous incident, police were notified about a fight between the eventual shooter and the son of the people he lived with. In that confrontation, the FL shooter threatened to shoot the son. When they arrived, the mother reported that the FL shooter had bought a gun and “tons of ammo”. She also reported that the FL shooter had put a gun to someones head in the past. These reports, once again, reveals an abnormal fascination with guns.

Just a few days after the last report, still in November of 2017, the FL shooter was forced to move from where he lived, to another house (presumably because the other family worried about their, and their sons, safety). Again, a different person called authorities about the eventual shooter. The caller warned that the FL shooter was collecting guns and knives, and that he had made threats about killing himself, which is a serious warning sign. In that same phone call, the caller also suggested that they felt he could become a “school shooter”. If someone makes these comments about another, it becomes a red flag; especially when they felt he had the ability to become a school shooter.

In January of 2018, another caller talked with authorities. The said that they felt compelled to call because the FL shooter had been portraying erratic behavior, as well as disturbing social media posts, that he had purchased multiple guns, and that he had expressed a credible desire to kill people. Again, these are serious warning signs.

One of the few friends of the eventual shooter stated that FL shooter had a dark humor. While the friend had not seen the shooter in a few months, he stated that regular topics they would talk about included guns, ISIS, shooting up the school, and other similar disturbing discussions. The friend shared nothing with anyone, even though there were warning signs.


These multiple warning signs are just from one incident. Ironically, many of these signs are present in almost every other active/mass shooting incident, long before the shooter acts. As a warning, these signs should always be reported, and if they are not taken seriously, then make more phone calls. Don’t miss the signs, and don’t expect someone else to call!, … Mark