The 17

Like many of you, I have cried this past week from the tragedy in Parkland, Florida.

I work at a school, I have a daughter in high school, and a daughter in college. It could happen anywhere.

What breaks my heart the most, is where all of the attention seems to be in the aftermath. No one is talking about much about God.

I have taken 23 screenshots from all types of news sources, including our own al.com. My original plan was to use those here, like a slideshow of hate speech against anyone and everyone, but I have decided not to further their agendas.

All I saw and heard was…yelling. It’s like the one and only time I went to a monster truck show and the ear plugs didn’t work well.

In the few moments that most people give to the news each day, they run the risk of walking away with misleading headlines, sharing a unconfirmed story, seeing blame thrown in every direction, but no solutions – while the media and political groups are in a frenzy, like sharks in bloody water. Literally.

Everyone who has an agenda is trying to exploit and capitalize on….death, the 17 deaths in Parkland, Florida. It is so shameful. Could we have at least let them mourn for a few days?

When groups like Everytown for Gun Safety are done gleaning from the grief and agony of this community, they will leave town like a cheap travelling carnival.

Who are they? This is the group that reported their own brand of high school shooting statistics (the 18 shootings so far this year) that was picked up by almost every major news agency this week. Even Bernie Sanders tweeted about it. I believed it, and briefly wondered how I had missed all those shootings.

Then, we began to hear a few mentions that the data wasn’t entirely accurate.

How many of us saw a retraction? Was there a reason behind why Everytown for Gun Safety was even considered a reliable source?

Can I just start my own organization and report statistics on the internet, based on my personal parameters? On the issues that mean the most to me?

We only saw the headline, and it was like throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire.

When the platforms and microphones are gone, and the reporters and cameras move on to the next headline, this school and these families will still have raw throats from the crying that doesn’t seem to end.

Yes, they deserve answers. There is certainly a debris trail, seemingly five miles long, on this killer who raised every red flag in the book.

What they also need is prayer, to know the love of Christ and His peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). They need to know that He is close to the brokenhearted and He rescues those whose spirits are crushed (Psalm 34:18).

We need to speak each name of those who were killed and specifically ask for a hedge of protection around their friends and family.

We need to pray God will move in their lives, and if anyone does not know Jesus…that these deaths would spark awareness in their hearts and many would be saved.

This was my hope at my brother’s funeral one year ago. It was also the hope at my father-in-law’s funeral in September. We wanted our loss to be heaven’s gain – if anything about the life or testimony of our loved one could direct even one person to the Lord.

The gates of hell are rattling. The devil doesn’t want people to pray for Parkland, FL, and he definitely doesn’t want anyone to know what it means to be saved…to know Jesus Christ. He wants us to fight. He wants controversy, social media battles, and any lofty thing that can distract us from our Redeemer.

The gates of hell remain silent as we fight. He is at ease when turmoil and hate are being spewed from one end of the internet to the other, by video, audio and by the stroke of a keyboard.

He is greatly pleased with his work of spreading division. Those reporters, he thinks, they are so easy to deceive. A little misinformation here and there, and now the author of confusion controls what you read.

It isn’t actually about the liberals or the conservatives. This is where we are all guilty.

Our battle is not really with flesh and blood…not with your spouse, children, neighbor, co-worker, enemy or friend. No.

We are fighting the wrong way and with the wrong weapons. Until someone wants to report on that angle, then no, the evil that seeks to kill, steal and destroy will continue his rampage. He has the power to turn us against each other.

We are not just facing weapons, pipe bombs, airplanes, chemical/biological warfare, etc.

We are facing evil. That is not a good headline though, because it would be considered religious. We can’t admit to the root of the problem because that might offend someone.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

As scary and supernatural as this might sound, God is more powerful. Our kingdom authority badge as the joint heirs of Jesus Christ say that if we resist the devil, then he must flee.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.

Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. 

Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. 

James 4:1-7 (NLT)

Our enemy has to surrender to the name of Jesus Christ. I know his ultimate surrender is not going to happen until the return of Christ…so we do what we can for now, fighting the good fight of faith.

Alas, it seems it is now offensive to offer “prayers” to people. I can tell you this…your thoughts, and even good vibes, don’t go anywhere.

I am so sorry. It is a nice gesture, but there is absolutely no evidence that thinking about someone does anything for them across time and space.

They have no idea you’re even doing it unless you post about it, or send them a card. I apologize to my friends who might read this and are in the habit of making this statement, but to deny someone the promise or mention of prayer, for the sake of being politically correct, is terrible.

It is another brick in the wall that we have built between the hand of God and our golden calf.

Prayer is the most powerful thing we have to give. If you are reading this, then have you ever had anyone pray for you? Have you felt it’s power?

Has anyone ever held your hand, or knelt beside you, or even prayed over the phone? I don’t mean a congregational public prayer that was recited during a service or ceremony.

I mean, someone took the time to be at your side, to stop what they were doing and really pray. They held your pain and burden in their own heart for a few moments, out of their belief in Christ and their love for you, and spoke audibly on your behalf to the King of kings, to Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides…to Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals…in the name of Jesus. 

If we want to bring about change in this world, then we need to be on our knees asking the only One who can do it.

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Lifehouse Everything

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The Bible says God controls the hearts and minds of kings. He establishes all authority on earth. If this is not your belief, then I pray your heart is softened and you experience what I am trying to explain. Soon.

People can feel prayer. People can feel a peaceful presence that allows you to take a deep breath, and for a moment, stop crying.

It is quite unexplainable. That is probably why the Bible describes it as the “peace that passes all understanding.”

❤️

This is who they were (abbreviated from npr.org), and I hope we will all pray for these families and their friends, not just today, but in the weeks and months to come, as the enemy descends on that town trying to use this tragedy for his advantageturning people away from God.

Alyssa Alhadeff – Alyssa was 14, a talented soccer player.

Scott Beigel – Beigel, 35, was a geography teacher and the school’s cross-country coach. He was killed after he unlocked a door to allow students in to hide from the shooter, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Martin Duque Anguiano – Martin, 14, was a freshman at the school.

Nicholas Dworet – Nicholas, 17, was a senior at the school with Olympic ambitions.

Aaron Feis – Feis, 37, graduated from Douglas High School in 1999 and had been an assistant football coach at the school since 2002, the ­Sun-Sentinel reported.

Jamie Guttenberg – Jamie was 14.

Chris Hixon – Hixon, 49, was the wrestling coach, along with his role as athletic director.

Luke Hoyer – Luke, 15, was a freshman who played basketball.

Cara Loughran – Cara was 14 and loved the beach.

Gina Montalto – Gina was 14 and a member of the school marching band’s winter guard.

Joaquin Oliver – Joaquin was 17. He moved with his family to the U.S. from Venezuela when he was 3.

Alaina Petty – Alaina was 14 and in the JROTC.

Meadow Pollack – Meadow, 18, was a senior who planned to attend Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., in the fall.

Helena Ramsay – Helena was 17 and headed for college next year.

Alex Schachter – Alex, 14, played trombone in the marching band.

Carmen Schentrup – Carmen, 16, was named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.

Peter Wang – Peter, 15, was in the JROTC.

1 Comment

  1. “Prayer is the most powerful thing we have to give”….this gets overlooked so often, and most people don’t even realize just what a powerhouse prayer really is. Unfortunately, it’s not just non believers who feel this way, there are many Christians who don’t understand the depth of God’s fountain of mercy…just waiting to be tapped into by our humble prayers. Thanks for the insight.

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