Another Mass Shooting
As I write this, I am monitoring news coverage of yet another mass shooting. This time the incident is much closer to home–only about 90 miles away, in the City of San Bernardino, CA.
At this moment, I know what everyone else does, which is not much. A news conference is scheduled to take place, soon. I’m sure there are many people around the country, maybe around the world, glued to their television and computer screens.
Paris. Colorado Springs. San Bernardino. An Islamic terrorist attack. A man who’s motives are yet unknown. Anywhere from one to three gunmen either neutralized or still at-large.
(Pause: Watching the first press conference regarding the incident.)
The Chief of Police for the San Bernardino Police Department just reported that 14 people were murdered and an additional 14 people wounded. There are as many as three suspects still at-large. It is presently believed that the suspects fled in a dark-colored SUV.
Officials are reporting that they do not know if this was a terrorist attack.
In Times of Crisis
The shooting at the Inland Resource Center, in San Bernardino is often referred to, in first responder circles, as a “critical incident.” Critical incidents include, but are not limited to: mass casualty situations, traffic accidents, medical emergencies, natural disasters, the loss of a friend or loved one, or being the victim of or witness to a crime.
Most people will experience one or more critical incidents in their lives. Regardless of the circumstances, critical incident or post traumatic stress can be very difficult for anyone to handle. I would like to provide some practical assistance, from my years of experience as a deputy sheriff and law enforcement chaplain, you (the reader) might find helpful, if you ever experience a critical incident and the post-incident stress often associated with it.
Common symptoms of post traumatic stress include:
Waves of emotions
Difficulty sleeping or eating
Reoccurring thoughts of images, sounds, and/or even smells from the critical incident.
These symptoms (and others) can last for just a few days or several weeks, and usually decrease over time. It is important you understand that experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, does not mean you are crazy.
Experiencing things like the above symptomology after a traumatic incident is normal.
If symptoms occur for more than a few weeks, consult your physician.
Here are several things you can do to help minimize and overcome post traumatic stress:
Get plenty of rest.
Engage in regular, moderate exercise in keeping with your present physical condition and/or limitations.
Eat regular, healthy meals and drink plenty of water.
Don’t try to numb the pain with alcohol or drugs.
Talk about the details of the incident with people you trust.
Don’t spend too much time alone. It’s good to be around people who care about you, during difficult times.
It is also not uncommon for people who have experienced a traumatic incident (whether victim, witness, or first responder) to contemplate their own mortality, to think about life after death. Again, you are not crazy if you think this way.
It’s normal to think about the ultimate statistic, which is this. 10 out of 10 people die. And it’s normal to ask yourself the ultimate question: “What happens to a person when they die?” Most people think that they are good people. In fact most people believe that God will see their goodness and let them into heaven when they die.
Here’s the Truth
As this critical incident continues to unfold, as you wait for “Breaking News” to flash on your computer or television again, if the reality of your own human frailty won’t leave your mind, please consider the following very carefully.
Jesus Christ is Lord.
He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Isaiah 44:6-8; Revelation 1:17-18). He was with the Father in and at Creation. All things—all things—were created by Him, and through Him, and for Him. Nothing has ever been made that was not made by Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-20). He is the sinless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36). He is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who will judge both the living and the dead (Revelation 5:5). He is King of kings and Lord of Lords (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).
Jesus Christ is sovereign over all things (Acts 4:24; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 6:10). He owns every person, just as He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and it matters not if the person is living in wanton rebellion against Jesus Christ or is living in loving submission to Him as one of His born-again, beloved children. Jesus owns it all.
There is but one living and true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; 1 Corinthians 8:4), an infinite, all knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)—each equally deserving worship and obedience.
And this God, for there is only one God, is the God before whom every person will one-day stand to give an account for their lives. Because God alone is truly and perfectly good, He will judge each person according to the perfect moral standard He has written on every human heart—His law (Romans 2:15-16).
Sin is the violation of God’s law (1 John 3:4).
Sin is rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18)
Sin is any thought, word, or deed that does not proceed from faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 14:23b).
Everyone knows it is a sin to lie because they are created in the image of God, and God is not a liar. God is truth (Romans 3:4).
Everyone knows it is wrong to harbor bitterness, resentment, and hatred in their heart toward another person because they are created in the image of God and God is not a murderer. God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).
Everyone knows it is wrong to fornicate (to engage sexually with a man or a woman outside the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman; they know it is wrong to look and think with lust; they know it is wrong to commit adultery; they know it is wrong to engage in homosexuality, lesbianism, or any other form of sexual depravity (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 21:8) because they are created in the image of God, and God is not a fornicator. God is not an adulterer. God is not effeminate. God is not immoral. God is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
Everyone knows it is wrong to take the name of the Lord their God in vain, to bring his name down low and use it as an adjectival term of excitement, anger, sorrow, or fear, because they are created in the image of God, and God is not a blasphemer. God is holy (Isaiah 6:1-5).
Everyone knows it is wrong to worship false gods, whether they be the false god Mary of Roman Catholicism, the false god Allah of Muhammadism, or the millions of false gods of Hinduism and Mormonism because they are created in the image of God, and God is not an idolater (1 John 3:2-3).
Everyone who stands before God to give an account will do so without excuse (Romans 1:18-23). No one will be able to claim innocence or ignorance of violating God’s law—whether in thought, word, or deed. Because God is good, because He is holy, because He is righteous and just, He must punish sin (Jeremiah 14:10; Hosea 9:9; Luke 13:1-5; John 8:24; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-15). The punishment God has determined for sin, all sin, is eternity in Hell (Matthew 25:41-46; Revelation 21:8). It matters not whether a person believe this. What matters is that it is true. Truth is not determined by what one believes. God is truth, though every person is found to be a liar (Romans 3:4).
Truth is that which comports to reality, as perceived by God. Truth is what conforms to the mind of God. Truth is whatever God says. And any attempt to live life apart from the reality of God is to live a life of chaos, absurdity, arrogant denial, and sin.
This same God—again, for there is only one God—who is angry with the wicked every day, whose wrath abides upon the ungodly, who will judge the world in righteousness, is the same God who is loving, merciful, gracious, and kind. And He showed His great love for mankind when He sent His Son to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully Man, yet without sin (Philippians 2:5-11; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin just as the prophet Isaiah declared more than 700 years before Jesus’s literal, physical birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), lived the perfect, sinless life you cannot live. For some 33 years, Jesus lived a life in perfect obedience to the law of God–in thought, word, and deed–a life you and I could not hope to live for a mere 33 seconds. And then He voluntarily went to the cross (John 10:15, 17; 19:1-27).
Yes, it was the Jewish people who hatefully and viciously demanded Jesus’s execution. Yes, it was the Roman government that carried out the despicable act. But they were all merely instruments in the hands of another. For it pleased God the Father to crush God the Son under the full weight and fury of His wrath against sin (Isaiah 53:10-12). God the Father made God the Son, who knew no sin, to become sin on behalf of those who repent and believe the gospel so that through the sacrifice of His Son many would be made righteous in the eyes of Almighty God. In other words, on that great and terrible day God the Father looked upon God the Son as if He had lived the depraved life of a sinner and in exchange—a great exchange—God the Father looks upon those whom He has caused to be born again (1 Peter 1:3), to repent and believe the gospel, as if they had lived His Son’s perfect, precious, and priceless life (Colossians 2:8-15; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus shed His innocent blood on the cross. He died a literal, physical death on the cross. And He was buried in a tomb not His own. Three days later, Jesus forever defeated sin and death when He physically, bodily rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). And unlike every false god created in the imaginations of men–whether the false gods of Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oprah-ism, or Atheism (a religion like every other spiritual “ism”)—Jesus Christ is alive today and He will return at a time of the Father’s choosing.
What God commands of you, and all people everywhere, is that that you repent (Luke 13:1-5; Acts 17:29-31). Change your mind. Stop believing lies and believe the truth you know—the truth for which you are responsible and will be held accountable. Turn from your sin and turn toward God, and by faith alone receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
You must come to God on His terms. God does not negotiate with sinners. God will not be bribed by your religious practices or what you may perceive as “good works” acceptable to God. God will not weigh your “good” against your “bad,” for God does not see you or anyone else as good. God’s definition of, God’s standard for goodness is moral perfection, and only One has ever, only One will ever meet that standard. And that is Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Messiah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. As for you, as is the case for the rest of mankind, you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
If you do not hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and see it for what it is (good news), it is because you love your sin more than you love God. It is because you love yourself more than you love God. It is because the love of God and the Truth of His Word is not in you.
However, if God causes you to be born again and extends to you the gifts of repentance and faith, which only He can give, then He will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. You will begin to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. You will stop presuming upon God’s forgiveness as if it is something you have earned or deserved. Instead, you will have the confident assurance He has forgiven you—not on the basis of any deeds you have done in righteousness, but based entirely upon God’s mercy, grace, and love, and for His glory (Titus 3:4-7).
Why would God allow His one and only Son to die a sinner’s death He did not deserve in order to take upon Himself the punishment sinners rightly deserve for their sins against God, so that sinners could be forgiven and saved? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Please repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, while God has given you time.