Posts Tagged With: Spiritual

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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Flee for Your Life!

Listen to me like you’ve never listened to anything else before. The warnings found in the Bible are upon us, “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

We have become a generation that believes in God, but does not fear Him. A generation that has created a fragmented version of who God really is; accompanied by a watered-down version of the Gospel, living by the mantra, “I believe in God, but I’ll do whatever I feel like doing.” This generation wants enough of God to keep them out of hell, but just enough of God to get into heaven. They have created a “god” little “g” that believes they are serving Him, but requires no real change in how they live their lives. And why is this? Because they believe in God, but they do not fear Him.

I’m sure many of you have come across these types of believers; someone who believes in God, yet live life like He doesn’t exist. It’s called, “Cafeteria Christianity.” They’ve taken God from an almighty and powerful God big “G” and reduced Him down to this cute little guy that fits into their pocket. It’s like walking down a cafeteria line and saying, “I’ll take a helping of grace and forgiveness please, but you can keep those requirements of obedience and servanthood.” Sound far-fetched? If you are a devout follower of Christ you will immediately agree that what I’m speaking about is not only true; but running rampant in the American church today. And if you are one of these misled Christians that believe this way, let me tell you, you don’t know God. If you are living your life with no real fear of God, it’s because you truly don’t know Him.

In our society today, so many people claim a belief in God, yet how bad is it when the Bible shows that even the demons are smart enough to fear Him, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror” (James 2:19). Our country has slowly moved from a nation founded upon a biblical worldview to one that has created a generation of “Cultural Christians.” These false converts believe in God but practice a Christianity that requires no real change or obedience. As Christ Himself said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command”  (John 14:15). These are the words that these believers profess they follow; yet their actions say, “I love Christ, as long as I can do whatever I please.”

I used to be one of those lukewarm Christians that shrugged off prophesy being fulfilled and the “We’re living in the last days” comments. But as I’ve come to study and really seek God, he has shown me that we truly are living in the last days. And there is nothing else that is more vital today than laying our lives down for the purposes of God. I shake my head in disbelief as I watch how the Body of Christ has been reduced to nothing more than a Sunday school picnic. But hear me… God is not inviting us to eat Martha’s potato salad or beat Uncle Dave in a sack race. We are in a war… a spiritual war. Not a war about opposing views of Christ or conflicting views of theology. But a war for the souls of mankind; in fact, for many of you, this is a war for your life.

My mind is forever seared by the images and stories of Christian missionaries and leaders who have been martyred for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Story after story of men being murdered, women raped, and children tortured throughout the world, all because someone feels so much hatred for our beloved savior. And in some cases, many of them willfully placing themselves in harms way, because they felt it was their sense of duty. Each time I read about these horrific tragedies it brings me crashing to my knees and crying out to God, “Please God, never let my sense of duty be any less for the purposes of glorying Your Kingdom.”

We live in a perilous climate of false doctrine and deceptive theology. Where those now, “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Universal apostasy has overtaken this earth and false prophets now stand on the pulpit proclaiming a watered down gospel that teaches the doctrines of man, and not God. Where Christians who stand up for biblical morality once where revered, now are persecuted and hated as Christ Himself warned, “You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers” (Matthew 24:9).

Body of Christ… the times in which Jesus warned us about is upon us. We have political leaders sitting in power that not only contradict our biblical beliefs, but also are now taking to the streets and professing that those involved in immoral lifestyles should “forcefully push for equality.” They stand with arrogance and proclaim Christianity, all while spewing out twisted scriptural passages and false theology. And while these cultural Christians are attempting to rewrite God’s law, a small army is beginning to rally once again in this great nation. Mighty men and woman of God who are standing up and declaring, “enough is enough!”

Enough sitting by as we feel God’s heart breaking over immoral practices that are attempting to fall under the guise of a civil right. Enough of allowing millions of abortions take place while being shielded by an agenda that speaks of pro-choice; yet thinks nothing of the choice that the innocent child should have. Enough flooding of television and media outlets with messages condoning pre-marital sex and experimentation with free-love. And enough with treating God’s name as a party joke or a blasphemous acronym. If you really want to know what OMG stands for, rest assured; God’s Word promises a day that we will all “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). And at that moment, I’m sure all that anyone will be able to say is “Oh… My… God…”

The Lord says, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and…pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Beloved church Flee!

Flee from churches where men and not Christ is glorified. Where gospels are preached that only focus on self-gratification, prosperity, and wealth. Flee from those using the name of God to pick your pockets for their own personal gain… Flee!

Flee from churches where no Bible can be found. Where there is no cost in their theology… no repentance from Sin. Flee! They’re not preaching the truth… Flee from churches that do not mention the blood of the cross, where you’re not convicted from your sins. If you can step into the House of the Lord having sin in your life and you still feel comfortable. Run away from it… Flee, it’s unclean!

Flee from churches that are not centered upon prayer, having no reliance on the Holy Spirit. Where more focus goes into big stages, light shows and pyrotechnics in an effort to entertain you like a rock-concert, than where it should be and that’s worshipping the Lord. Flee!

Flee from pulpits filled with men preaching their own political agenda, and not God’s. Preaching ungodly spasmodic movements, and endless empty prophesying. Men more concerned with getting a laugh on the pulpit, than leading their flock back to the foot of the cross. Beloved church Flee!

The Bible is not trivial, but man makes it trivial. God is not trivial, but man makes Him trivial. And His commandments are not trivial, yet man still tries to make it trivial. We as Christ’s followers are bound by an obligation to the objective truth of God’s Word; otherwise how do we dare stand for our Father in Heaven and call ourselves Christians? It’s time for the true Body of Christ to stand up and take our Gospel back. We need to take to the streets and proclaim the truth, no matter the cost. Where is the outcry? Where is the indignation that God’s truth is being trampled upon and twisted to fulfill man’s desires and not Gods? Have we as a community of believers really become more concerned with being labeled “hypocrites” or “out of step with modern principles,” in an effort to avoid conflict? Today I stand and say, NO MORE!

I want to be among those who are standing up and not running away from the conflict, but running into the conflict saying “Flee for your life.” The days of sitting around and just talking about taking action is over. Church, today is the day we begin to take back our great nation. And that begins by fleeing into the streets and declaring His infallible Word to be truth. Get up now and flee… run like you have never run before proclaiming “Flee for your life.” Because in the end, this really is… about your life.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time..

Pastor Steve

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