Posts Tagged With: church

I'm a Pastor… And I Carry a Gun

On any given Sunday, many pastoral leaders around the country begin there day in similar fashion. Eat a hardy breakfast… check. Spend alone time in prayer… check. Grab their Bible… check. And load one high-velocity round into their semi-automatic handgun…. check. Sadly, this has become a very real scenario for many of us who have accepted the call into ministry. While pastors who arm themselves have become a very controversial subject, there’s no denying that the alarming rise in church shootings have led members of clergy to reevaluate if the Word of God is really the only protection they need to be carrying.

Before I begin, let me state where I personally stand on this issue. I am an ordained minister that believes that the primary weapons for spiritual warfare is the Bible and prayer. However, I also believe that God’s Word not only condones self-defense, but also mandates the protection of one’s family (Exodus 22:2; Luke 22:6). While most of my time in ministry may not be spent at the helm of a pulpit, writing for my own website and three international news organizations has led me to obtain a very large web presence. With that comes hails of praise and thankfulness; but also those people that Jesus warned about, “You will be hated by everyone because of my name” (Matthew 10:22). There have been many times where disagreeing with my views on faith have escalated past the point of mere theological indifference. And the chance of someone harming my family or myself has become a very real threat. Therefore, not only do I have a concealed weapons permit, but I carry a gun on me at all times. While some may disagree with my view on this issue, let me state that I openly declare, I am a pastor… And I carry a gun.

In 2007, I was a member of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On December 9th of that year, a gunman entered the church and quickly turned this house of worship into the devils own personal playground. Just after the second service had let out, a gunman identified as Matthew Murray age 24, entered the church and opened fire. In the wake of the shooting, four people were injured, and two sisters Rachel and Stephanie Works were senselessly killed. Thankfully the nightmare ended when a church security volunteer, shot and wounded the gunman who then turned his gun on himself. Having this incident occur so close to home in my former church, I know all too well that the threat of violence against clergy members is very real. In fact, as the statics show, Deadly Force Incidents at Faith-Based Organizations in the United States is climbing at an alarming rate. Since January 2009 until present, there have been 568 incidents of violence on church grounds or ministries. Of those incidents, 398 people were killed (Chinn).

While attacks in church buildings in particular have awakened the attention of many Christians, there are still many that hold to the belief that those called to ministry should not bear arms. It is not my intent to write this article to debate these two opposing views. However, it is my intent to show why I firmly believe that the right to bear arms in not only a constitutional right, but also a biblically accepted mandate. A mandate that many parishioners may not be aware that pastoral leaders are secretly embracing. In fact, there are very few pastoral leaders that I personally know that don’t carry a concealed weapon today.

If you are one that disagrees with ministry leaders carrying weapons I would like to turn my focus directly to you. As Christians, the use of force in the preservation of life is a biblical doctrine. As the prophet Ezra wrote, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). Other scriptural passages include Proverbs 24:10-12; Exodus 22:2; and John 15:13–14. Now I’m not saying that all pastors should just go out and buy a firearm without being trained. As scripture details, those whom took up arms were often shown as being skilled to do so. “Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (Judges 20:16). These scriptures where not provided by God as a means to authorize harming others; but illustrate that we do have a right and obligation to defend life, liberty, and property in the midst of a fallen world and an ever declining government.

With respect to those that state, “Well Jesus never carried a weapon.” You’re right, Jesus never carried a weapon but His disciples did. Let me turn your attention to Luke Chapter 22 where Jesus Himself said, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). In those days, a sword was the most lethal weapon that a person could carry on them as opposed to a firearm today. Remember also one of Jesus’ most widely used assertions today, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). There are two very important things to take from this statement. First, when Jesus told Peter to “Put your sword back in its place,” where was “its place?” It was at Peter’s side, which was concealed under his cloak somewhere. Secondly, Jesus’s makes the statement, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Interestingly enough, Jesus did not rebuke Peter for having a weapon. His words were representative of only using a weapon as means of defense, and never as means of cold-blooded murder. In fact, there is no question that Jesus knew that His disciples where “packing” so to speak. At the Last Supper, Jesus’ disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” Jesus replied (Luke 22:38).

One of Jesus’ favorite metaphors that He liked to use was about the role of a shepherd; for a shepherd has many roles. He provides food, correction, support, leadership, comfort, and yes protection to the flock. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd, “a person who tends to God’s flock.” This is a responsibility of every church leader today. While sheep are cute and fluffy, they have one huge disadvantage; sheep have almost no means of defense without the aide of the shepherd. While they may be able to run away, they really can’t kick, bite or scratch their way out of harms way. This makes them easy prey. Therefore, sheep need protection, and the protection of the shepherd is where they find it. However, in the role of protector, I believe that scripture clearly shows that it IS NOT the role of a pastor to carry a weapon as means of providing personal security to the flock. As Luke wrote in the Book of Acts, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them (Acts 20:28-30).” I believe this to be a very important passage to the true role of pastoral leaders. As protectors, pastors are called to provide spiritual protection of the flock and keep them from going astray and defend them against the savage wolves who may try and ravage them. With this in mind, I do believe that it is a pastor’s obligation to insure proper security is in place by security teams within the church. As the Apostle Paul exhorts in his farewell speech to the church at Ephesus, leaders must “Be on guard” for themselves and “for all the flock” (Acts 20:28).

Still, there are many critics today that believe that if a pastor, or security teams have to carry a gun then there is a lack of faith that God will protect him, his family, or members of the congregation. Is it a lack of faith? Absolutely not. Just because it’s a church building, are people really any safer inside than those outside of a church? As someone who has endured a church shooting and witnessed the aftermath of such horror, we need to come to the realization that churches are no longer off limits. Some say that it is a house of worship, and there is no place for weapons of death in such a place. To those critics I would say, you’re right. But unfortunately, those looking to harm others don’t see it that way.

As an ordained man of God I wholeheartedly follow the sixth commandment, “Thou shall not murder.” To murder is defined as, “The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” When a person, in this case a pastor, chooses to carry a weapon in self-defense it is not being done with the intent to commit murder. I for one hold to the biblical command to take reasonable precautions for the self-defense of my family and my personal safety. Yes, my primary weapon of choice will always be the Bible, prayer, and faith; but as a follower of Christ I must also remain vigilant with the knowledge that, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come” (Mark 7:21). We live in a fallen world and the Bible warns that in the last days we will live in “perilous times” because of the increase in evil character of man and people who actively “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

In closing, I would love to say that working in full-time ministry is all about joy and happiness where the love of God flows through everyone; and to be honest, most of the time it is. But unfortunately as many ministry leaders recognize, there is a very dark-side to ministry as well. A side where the forces of evil are very real and Satan really does use flesh and blood people to carry forth horrific acts of evil that can only be thwarted with physical protection. There are some that stand on the defense of, “How could anyone shoot a child of God?” Look, I hope that if I ever have to draw my weapon in self-defense it will be merely enough to show them my weapon and deter them from acting in violence. But one must also remember that if the time arises, it will not be a child of God whom you are likely to be defending yourself from. Rather those, whom are consumed by evil that do not have the love of Christ flowing within them; in fact, it may be someone so fueled with hatred towards Christians that they derive great pleasure from the suffering or death of others. In the event I, another pastor, or a Christian for that matter must pull our weapons in defense of ourselves, our families, or other believers, we would not be shooting a child of God. Instead, we may be the one God chose to protect a child of God by being properly trained and fully equipped to use lethal force to save a life. While some may still disagree with my and other pastoral leaders views around the world, there is no denying that in scripture Jesus is found telling His disciples to carry swords as they prepare to go out and evangelize. Therefore, if Jesus’ disciples carried swords… then shouldn’t a pastor carry a gun?

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Chinn, Charles “Security!? In a Church” http://www.carlchinn.com. 2009-2012. Web. August 17, 2012.

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Would Jesus use an iPhone?

“Just Do it!” (Nike). “Have it your Way!” (Burger King). “There’s an App for that” (iPhone). Today, we are constantly bombarded by product messaging that wants to tell us how we should eat, live, love, and even speak. Unfortunately, this constant assault extends beyond just television. Radio, telemarketers, billboards, junk-mail, email, door-to-door salesman, and even those pesky internet banner ads are all-vying for your and my attention. It seems that no matter what great invention immerges, the big conglomerates immediately snatch it up, tweak it, and then repackage it so it can be resold back to the American public in its “new and improved” version. All this quick and easy living has brought America to the point where we feel almost “entitled” to have things our way.

Today, our need for self-indulgence has become so bad that it seems to infiltrate every aspect of our lives. Let me prove it… Ask yourself this; what is my primary means of communication today? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m that techno-nerd that stands in line at 3 AM for the latest version of the iPhone. I’m just as guilty as the next guy who finds it much easier to communicate with electronic devices than with man himself. This having been said, it should come as no surprise that people today use text messaging and email as their primary means of communication over verbalized speech. Thus, our ever-growing need to do things easier and faster seems to be gradually deteriorating our knowledge of how to verbally communicate with one another. Which brings one to ask, “If Jesus was ministering on earth today, would He use an iPhone?”

As we look back at the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Gospels details many ways Jesus chose to communicate. Yet, what’s interesting is that while blogs, email, and Facebook did not exist due to lack of technology, Jesus still managed to reach the masses while communicating His message of hope. As we read in John 8, Jesus kneels down and writes on the ground before a group of Scribes and Pharisees. So it’s clear Jesus had the ability to write and then have his message transcribed and passed amongst the regions. Yet, as most biblical accounts confirm, Jesus chose to communicate by using spoken words. In fact, the Gospels detail story after story of how Jesus approached people and spoke with them in one-on-one conversations. Jesus understood that the key to presenting the Gospel did not take place while hiding behind a computer screen as many of us do today. Jesus knew that the power of the voice held the key to how the Gospel was to be received. In fact, it’s worth noting that some of the most profound messages that Jesus ever conveyed took place while he was engaged in one-on-one conversations. Take for example the scripture that every new believer in Christ to the most esteemed pastoral leader loves to quote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This quote occurred during a one-on-one conversation between Jesus and a religious man known as Nicodemus.

Have you ever noticed that many times when we hear someone sharing his or her faith it almost seems like a canned response? They repeat the same testimony; the same scriptures to everyone like an automated telephone answering system. Therefore, is it any wonder that we begin to see that same glazed look in the eyes of the person they’re speaking with? The person who once looked for guidance has now completely disconnected from the person speaking and all they’re doing now is trying to quickly come up with an excuse to get away from this newly perceived “religious nut.” Is this the example Jesus gave to us? While it may sound like a bit of a cliché, one of the best ways to determine how we as Christians should communicate today is by asking ourselves “W.W.J.D.?” Or, simply put, how would Jesus communicate His Gospel?

Not only is Jesus our Savior, our provider, and our deliverer; but He is also the perfect example of how we should communicate with others. If there is one thing we can learn from Jesus when it comes to communication, it’s that He took His time with people. He didn’t just stand there with His Starbucks latte in hand, and iPhone spilling out the latest trendy sermon of the day. No, Jesus took the time to adapt His conversations depending on each person’s needs and the situations unfolding in their lives. Throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ, we are able to see that whenever anyone needed healing or support, Jesus spoke. He knew that for a person to be healed or comforted was completely dependent on hearing His voice. Likewise, the scriptures declare, for within us holds the same healing and comforting powers as Christ. Jesus gave us the right and privilege to use His authority when we communicate. “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18).

Today we live in a technologically advanced society. Mass media and Internet resources make it much easier to essentially cast out the proverbial net and reach millions of people at the same time. Like Jesus who once stood atop a rock in an effort to amplify His voice to those seeking His truth; Christians have a plethora of electronic tools and websites available to cast out their nets. Yet, the one thing we need take away from this message is that Jesus understood people. He understood that there was a much greater difference than preaching at someone than there is when ministering to someone with a personal touch.

So to answer the question, “If Jesus was ministering on earth today, would He use an iPhone?” I believe that the answer would be, YES! There is no doubt that technology has enabled us to achieve widespread communication with people who we would never meet face-to-face. Yet, with every technological advance carries the curse of technology. The curse that keeps us from having personal interaction and true fulfilled relationships with those we share our daily lives, and unfortunately sometimes even in our own homes. The difference is that unlike most of us, I believe that Jesus would quickly come to understand the advantage of the on/off button. We as a society must come to understand that there needs to be a balance. We need to learn how to disconnect from technology. In closing, the words of the Gospel are strong on their own; but when delivered by ones voice they are magnified. Jesus would no doubt use every available tool to spread His message of hope, faith, and love; yet He would never forget that the true power of the Gospel lies within person-to-person contact and the relationships we take time in developing with one another.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living, Jesus Christ, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

"It's Just Like an iPhone…”

Have you ever heard these words, “It’s just like an iPhone”? It seems that no matter what great product comes on the scene, rival companies quickly snatch it up, duplicate it’s look, and rebrand it so it can be passed off to the American public in a “just like the…” version. First and foremost, you know when it comes to the iPhone, most people know I am an devout junkie. Yes, I stand in line at 3 AM anxiously awaiting the doors to open so I can be one of the first to have the new version in hand. And I openly admit I am one of the people a recent poll referred to when it said that “35% of the people polled would buy a new iPhone version; sight unseen.”

As you read this you’re probably wondering what does this have to do with Christianity? Well, awhile back, I was reading an article on The Christian Post about all the different religions that are available today. All under the guise that they are considered “Christians.” I’d list them here, but as http://www.worldchristiandatabase.org provides, “There are over 9,000 Christian denominations worldwide.” As I was thinking about this, that now famous quote, “It’s just like an iPhone,” started ringing in my head. The fact of the matter is there are a lot of smart phones out there. And to be fair, let’s take the price factor out of the equation for why someone can or cannot afford different smart phones that are available.

A lot of these phones look like an iPhone. They have a touch screen, they run apps, and some are so close that from a distance you would actually start to believe that it’s an iPhone. However, while they may look like an iPhone and seem to work like an iPhone; they are not real iPhones. And just because there is an imitation posing as the “just like” version, doesn’t mean that it comes close to being like the genuine. Like most products, because there are replicas, you can be certain there is a genuine; a benchmark that all imitations can be measured by. Whenever someone says to me, “It’s just like an iPhone,” my response is simple. “If it’s just like an iPhone, why not buy the genuine?” Obviously if someone refers to an item as the “just like” version, by their own admission the genuine article is its purest form; one that others are trying to duplicate.

Which brings me to the question, “Why are there so many different religions and denominations available today? How do we know which belief is true and genuine from all the others? Just like the iPhone, when it comes to religion you can be assured that Satan will come along with his own “just like” replica. As the Apostle Paul confirms, Satan has a plan to confuse and make us believe that the replica is just like the genuine. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

Jesus Himself warned us to be on the lookout for imitations. In Matthew 13, the parable of the wheat and the tares is a great example of what the fake and genuine looks like when they are compared to one another. In His story, Jesus tells the account of the farmer who painstakingly planted a great field of wheat, but when night fell and no one was looking, his enemy snuck in and planted tares; tares is a plant that looked exactly like wheat. In fact, without careful examination, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two while it first begins to grow. Once it matures, the tares begin to uproot the wheat and by the time the farmer can recognize the imitation, his crop has already been affected and dies off.

Today, just look around at what passes off as “Christians.” On the surface with a little lip service it’s hard to tell if they are the genuine deal or the imitated version. As the Bible warns, in the last days, there will be genuine Christians and fake Christians. Jesus Himself told us to be on the lookout, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15). At first glance, they might even fool real Christians. They are sporting the NOTW bumper sticker, quote their favorite scriptures to you, and put on a religious front every Sunday; but on Monday they are no different from the rest of the world.

As believers in Christ am I saying that it’s our job to go out and single-out who the fake Christians are? No, as stated earlier Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15). Just like the iPhone, the imitations will try and pass off that they are just like the genuine, but spend a little time with the imitation. Soon, how it operates and functions in the real world will be revealed on its own. Anyone that owns an iPhone knows why it’s the standard for other phones to try and imitate. We who call ourselves Christians need only be focused on one thing. We just need to make sure that when people look at us closely, they recognize that we are genuine followers of Jesus Christ; and not Satan’s knock-off version in an attempt to deceive the world.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living, The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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