PK in the News: Mass shooting at California school renews gun discussion

November 19, 2019By PK ManagerCulture, News No Comments
This article appeared in Baptist Press.

As the U.S. deals with its latest mass shooting, with at least two killed and four others injured Thursday (Nov. 14) at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., evangelism and gun control are cited to Baptist Press as possible remedies to stem the tide of violence.

Police and other emergency personnel responded Thursday (Nov. 14) when a 16-year-old student killed two fellow students and shot four others, including himself, at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif.

A 16-year-old Asian male Saugus High School student described as the suspected shooter was being treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound less than three hours after he is believed to have opened fire at the high school of about 2,500 students. One student was treated and released, and two others remain hospitalized.

In the hours following the shooting, many students were sheltered at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita, a non-Southern Baptist congregation that hosted a night of prayer Thursday.

Baptist Press interviewed Southern Baptist evangelist Greg Laurie, whose 29th annual Southern California Harvest Crusade in August marked the longest-running evangelistic outreach in U.S. history. BP talked with Promise Keepers Chairman and CEO Ken Harrison, a former police officer who leads the evangelistic and discipleship outreach to men, and retired pastor Al Meredith, who was senior pastor at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1999 when a gunman killed seven and injured seven others before killing himself.

Laurie, in his 2019 Southern California Harvest Crusade, reported more than 8,000 professions of faith, 65 percent of them from Millennials, he said.

“I believe that the ultimate answer to so many of our problems in the culture today, from acts of violence against others to even acts of violence against yourself,” he told BP, “is the Gospel. But we have to understand what the Gospel is.

“The Gospel obviously means Good News; the bad news is we’re sinners,” Laurie said. “The bad news is we’re separated from God; the bad news is we’re broken. The Good News is Jesus died to forgive us of our sin, and rose from the dead. And if we turn from our sin, put our faith in Him and follow Him, then He’ll change us.

“But that doesn’t mean you’re not capable of doing something horrible,” he said. “So it’s not just believing Jesus; it’s following Jesus. And it’s living by what His Word says.”

God is working among youth, Laurie said, “but we need to redouble our efforts to proclaim the Gospel.”

The motive of the suspect in Thursday’s shooting has not been revealed, but the shooting did occur on his birthday. He was taken into custody while hiding at the school with a .45 caliber semi-automatic weapon, authorities said.

“I’m sorry, it’s just not enough to say you know, ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people,'” Meredith told BP. “Why is our death rate so much higher? Why do we have mass shootings that have become common place, they don’t even register on our emotional radar? And other countries like Scandinavia, and Germany and France and Great Britain, they shake their heads in amazement at why we allow these things to happen.”

Days and weeks before BP’s interviews, two young men had killed 34 people in one weekend in August in the U.S. In El Paso, Texas, a 21-year-old man had killed 22 people and left 26 others injured at a Walmart, and a 24-year old male gunman had killed nine in a nightlife district of Dayton, Ohio. The previous weekend, a 19-year-old male was identified as the shooter after three were shot dead at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., about 300 miles north of Thursday’s school shooting.

“Hope is two-fold,” Meredith told BP, as tragedies make more common the term “domestic terrorism.” His views are his own, Meredith said, and not those of the church that in September marked the 20th anniversary of the 1999 shooting there.

“One, only God can change dead hearts into living hearts. Only God can transform evil characters into God-honoring people,” Meredith told BP. “In one sense, all these mass killings are an issue of the human heart. And it’s a sign of our failure as evangelicals to win the world to Christ.

“The other level,” Meredith said, “is it seems as though our problems are systemic in our society.”

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the U.S. registered 3.85 deaths by guns per 100,000 people in 2016, compared to rates ranging from 0.12 per 100,000 in Germany and 0.03 per 100,000 in Singapore. The numbers, released in 2017, do not include deaths from armed conflicts, accidents or self-harm, the institute said.

“And that should tell us,” Meredith told BP, “there’s something wrong with the system (in the U.S.)…. Something must be done to change the system, both in the area of some semblance of restriction on the availability of automatic weapons. And the other issue is mental health, and somehow do a better job of caring for and bringing healing and normalcy to people that are emotionally disturbed.”

At the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2018 annual meeting in Dallas, messengers passed a resolution “On Gun Violence and Mass Shootings” addressing many of these issues. Read it here.

Harrison, whose Promise Keepers ministry focuses on evangelism and discipleship, sees the answer more in evangelism and discipleship than in gun control. “When you look at mass shootings, they’re … mostly young men who, they don’t know that Jesus loves them,” Harrison said. “They don’t know that they can be forgiven for their sin. They don’t know where to turn for answers.

“The number one thing the church needs to do is let these young people know about the grace and love of Jesus Christ,” Harrison said. “But more practically … one of the biggest problems that these young men have, is they don’t have dads in the home. They don’t have positive male influences, and they’re filled with anger. I was able to see the effects of that when I was a policeman in South Central Los Angeles in the Watts-Compton area.” There, he said, where 95 percent of the population was law abiding, the influence of gang violence was prominent and left people in fear.

Problems were exacerbated by fatherlessness and a lack of Gospel evangelism, he said, adding that a father in the home doesn’t necessarily equal a stable environment.

“We as Christians, we have got to be active in sharing our faith,” Harrison said, encouraging Christians to seek opportunities to share the Gospel with people they encounter in daily life. “Just say, if there’s one thing I can pray for you today what would it be? Unbelievable where that goes.” In his experience, people rarely refuse to talk and such conversations most often lead to salvation experiences, he told BP.

The suspect’s father died two years ago, according to ABC7.com.

Praise and Thanksgiving

November 18, 2019By PK ManagerDevotional

For many years the Babylonians held the Israelites in bondage. After King Cyrus of the Medo-Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians, God stirred the heart of Cyrus to give the Israelites their Temple back.

In Ezra 3 we read about the rebuilding of the altar so that the exiled Israelites could again freely worship their God. Once the altar and boundary walls were completed, the rebuilding of the Temple itself began. There was much rejoicing and thanksgiving as they saw their land restored.

The people raised their voices to openly acknowledge God’s hand in forgiving them of their sins and bringing them back home. The words to their song and chant are preserved for us in the book of Ezra: “He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” (Ezra 3:11)

God is always at work in our lives — past, present, and future — even when we feel as if we are in “exile” or as if our lives are on hold. Today, many people are fearful, anxious, and yes, even depressed. The plight of our nation, the growing concern about the decline of moral values, and the numerous personal problems surrounding our loved one’s cause many to feel alone and desperate.

Thanksgiving is a great time to remind ourselves that we serve a loving and merciful God who wishes to bless His children with peace, joy, and abundance. He challenges us to trust and obey, even when it seems unnatural to do so.

The writer of Proverbs tells us, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” Despite our challenges, let’s try to remember, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NIV)

May you and yours have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. We encourage you to have each person at your Thanksgiving table say one thing they are thankful for. May you find that His grace is sufficient.

Personal Application

What are you thankful for? Tell someone how God has blessed you today.

This devotional is a guest post by Dr. Jim Grassi. He is the founder of Men’s Ministry Catalyst, a ministry partner of Promise Keepers.

The Power of Gratitude to Change Your Life

November 11, 2019By PK ManagerDevotional

This is a guest post by Pat Boone. Pat Boone is an American singer and actor who has sold more than 45 million records, had 38 top-40 hits, and appeared in 12 Hollywood films. He is also a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and the proud father of four daughters. Earlier this year, Pat’s beloved wife, Shirley, went home to be with her Father in heaven. In this post, originally written for the Promise Keepers newsletter, Pat shares how gratitude can change our lives.

Life isn’t easy — no matter who you are.

I’ve been a recording artist for over five decades, and I’ve experienced fame and success. But it hasn’t spared me from heartaches, trials, and grief. For me, one of my greatest sorrows has been losing my wife, Shirley, this year.

Early in my life — when hardships or heartaches came — I learned a secret. Gratitude can lift our thoughts from what’s troubling us, change our perspective, and ultimately change our lives. Being thankful is one of the most powerful forces known to humanity.

Recently I’ve been thinking some new things about gratitude. When I make a list of things I’m thankful for, “breath” is at the top of my list! That sounds pretty elemental, but I find that appreciating something as simple as my breath leads to gratitude in other areas of my life.

For example, when I think of how I received life and breath from my parents, it reminds me to be grateful for my God-fearing, Bible-believing, church-going parents who brought me up to believe the Bible.

For 35 years, I’ve started my day reading the Word of God. I read through it every year, start to finish. And when I read the Bible, I learn that God breathed life into Adam, the first man, and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). I also learn that before Jesus ascended, He breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).

Asking God to Breathe into Me

Now, when I start my devotional every morning, I ask God to lean over me and breathe into me His Holy Spirit as He did with His apostles. Just simple gratitude for my breath leads my thoughts heavenward in a plea for His Spirit to fill me and guide me in everything I do and say.

I know that when the Day of Judgment comes and I stand before God, His first question is going to be: “What did you do with My Son? I gave Him to die for you; did you receive Him?” And then, “How about you as a husband and a father? Did you teach your wife and your kids about Me?”

Those questions are going to be asked of every man. And, brother, we’d better be ready to answer those questions because every breath we take is bringing us closer to that moment.

Put Gratitude and God’s Power to Work in Your Life

So I encourage you: Make a list of everything you’re grateful for right now. Remember to put “breath” on your list. The fact that you are alive means God has a plan and a purpose for you.

Then ask God to breathe His Holy Spirit into you, and you’ll find your life will change! You’ll be a better husband, a better father, a better businessman, a grandfather. You’ll think things and view life from God’s perspective.

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 2:12-13, which says: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

When we breathe in His breath, God causes us to want to do the right things and then gives us the power to do them. But good luck trying to do them in our own strength!

The rest of my breathing days I look forward to sharing this message with other men because it is a great goal of mine that men would continue to grow into the manhood that God wants each one of them to have. God bless you!

At-Risk Boys? We Call Them Future World Changers

November 4, 2019By PK ManagerNews

Help Send 500 Young “Men of Honor” to PK’s 2020 Event

The Men and Ladies of Honor—a Christian ministry based in the Dallas area—teaches chivalry and virtue to at-risk boys and girls on public school campuses in the United States and locations around the world. The majority of students served are fatherless and live below the poverty level.

Through The Men and Ladies of Honor ministry, students are mentored and instructed in core values and leadership, with an emphasis on good character, honor, and integrity. Their mission is to develop passionate followers of Christ, urging students to create a culture of honor, excellence, and exemplary behavior in their schools and communities.

Your Opportunity
We have a vision for 500 of these young “Men of Honor” to attend Promise Keepers’ next national event in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on July 31–August 1, 2020. If you sense God’s leading, you have an opportunity to help provide a scholarship for one or more young men to attend the event. A gift of $100 to our Scholarship Fund can provide a ticket for one person. To help, click here and choose “Fund a Scholarship.”

You Can Do This Now
Interested in having an impact on others? We’ve created another simple way for you to encourage a young man to attend Promise Keepers. Share an audio testimony by calling (877) 880-1181 and leave a message with your story of how God has worked through Promise Keepers to change your life.

We’ll use your stories to encourage and strengthen others. Thank you!