Tragedy in Texas

broken-heart-valentine-background_1048-4957For many people, today’s shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas has stirred-up unwanted memories of Las Vegas, Columbine and Charleston. We should not be surprised that these events are beyond our comprehension, because they are often perpetrated by people who lack a conscience.

Sociopath and psychopath are words that have been used to described shooters or mass murders like Harris, Klebold, and Roof, as well as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Dennis Rader. The DSM-5 classifies sociopathy and psychopathy as Antisocial Personality Disorders and sets certain criteria for a diagnosis:

  • A disregard for laws, social mores, and the rights of others
  • A failure to feel remorse or guilt
  • A tendency to display violent behavior
  • Sociopaths are agitated, disorganized individuals, and they are unable to blend in with society

Psychopaths are high-functioning individuals who manipulate people with their charming personality. While they do not actually feel emotion, they can learn to mimic emotions to blend in with the crowd.

Due to their lack of conscience, people with these disorders process emotions like a blind man negotiates a maze; one doesn’t feel, the other doesn’t see, and both find the task daunting.

Dr. Martha Stout a Clinical Psychologist and former Harvard Medical School instructor, offers this assessment: An emotional word is love, hate, anger, mom, death, anything that we associate with an emotional reaction. A nonemotional word is lamp, street, hair, rug, that kind of thing. If I had electrodes hooked up to you right now and I said a string of words, and some of them were emotional and some were not, I’d get a larger spike on the emotional words. We are wired to process those words more readily than neutral, nonemotional words. We are very emotional creatures. But sociopaths listen as evenly to emotional words as they do to lamp or book—there’s no neurological difference. ~THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR

The obvious question is: How do you treat someone who has no conscience?  The prerequisite to change is a desire to do so, and without a conscience there is no desire. Without a conscience there is no good or evil, and the need for true healing is a recognition of that which plagues the heart.

One thing that never changes in these instances is the need for prayer, and I encourage you to pray for those who were touched by the tragic events of today.

 

 

Dallas: A Grief-Stricken City

dallasDallas, you are in my heart and on my mind.  I am praying for the people who reside within the boundaries of this great city, and those who live in the suburbs.   I’m also praying for those who do their best to serve and protect the citizens of this ever growing metropolitan area; my heart bleeds blue for the slain officers.

Early reports this morning say these officers were shot by a black man who was frustrated by the recent shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.  Just as the actions of this man do not represent the majority of the people who marched last night in a Black Lives Matters protest, the questionable actions of a few cops do not represent law enforcement officers as a whole.

Vengeful acts of rage that are perpetrated on the innocent as retaliation against a perceived injustice are the illogical acts of malcontents who are a boiling pot of rage.  The tragic events of last night are evidence that a mind that seethes with anger is a mind that is primed to explode.

Please join me in praying for the people of Dallas and the LEOs and first responders across this nation who enter harm’s way to serve and protect us.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. ~I Timothy 2:1-6

The Infamous and the Inconspicuous

Earlier in the week, the body of the infamous was claimed by the inconspicuous. The body of Adam Lanza was claimed for burial by some unknown person.

Long after we have forgotten the name of this deranged mass murderer, we will still remember the lives that he cut short. The tragic truth is that Lanza altered the lives of the survivors robbing some of their innocence and wounding the hearts of all associated with this day of infamy.

Who was it that wanted to give Lanza a proper burial? Was it his father, brother, or some relative or friend? Did this person claim the body out of a sense of duty, devotion, or love?

I will probably never know the name of this inconspicuous claimant; however, I do know this: His actions run parallel to an event involving another person who also desired to be inconspicuous. The man I speak of was named Nicodemus. In the third chapter of the Gospel of John we learn that Nicodemus came to Jesus during the night and under the cover of darkness.

The actions of Nicodemus were motivated by his curiosity surrounding the messianic claim of Jesus Christ. When he questioned the salvation rhetoric of Jesus, he was told that he must be born again.

The inconspicuous Nicodemus is not seen again until just after the infamous events surrounding the crucifixion. Nicodemus laid aside his cloak of secrecy and went public with his faith. Motivated by love and devotion, he claimed the body of Jesus and prepared it for burial.

The contrast between the lives of Lanza and the Lord are as deep and wide as the Mississippi River is long. Lanza died as a guilty man with the blood of the innocent on his hands. The Lord Jesus died as an innocent man shedding his blood for the guilty.

I hope this is enough to keep you thinking.

Assault on Aurora

I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on the tragedy of the Colorado shooting.  One verse that has kept coming to mind is Jeremiah 17:9:  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

I’m not going to dignify the shooter by using his name—I’ll just use the initials jh.  The premeditated acts of jh are as old as the first murder committed by Cain.  This son of Adam and Eve was angry at God and jealous of his brother Abel, so he killed him.

As I said in church yesterday, I am capable of committing the same transgressions perpetrated by jh.  Given the right circumstances and faulty reasoning, I have the same sinful potential.  Whether you will admit it or not, so do you.

It is doubtful that I or you will ever commit the act of murder; it is very likely, however, that we will be tempted to stray from the straight and narrow.  Like Odysseus, we need to take the necessary steps to resist the Siren’s call of temptation.

According to Paul, we do this by taking our thoughts into captivity (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). When the first murderous thought entered the mind of jh, he should have taken it captive.  Instead, he dwelled on it until it became an obsession that became an act.

The lesson is this:  If we do not exercise the discipline of taking our thoughts captive, we will be captivated by our thoughts.  Either we control our thoughts and emotions or they control us.

I challenge you to keep a diary for the next week.  Every time you are aware of a new thought or some mental message that is floating around inside of your head, write it down.   I think you will be surprised at the frequency of the thoughts and the way they influence your life.

By all accounts jh was a brilliant person.  The flaw in his life was that he had the power of knowledge, but he lacked the freedom of the truth.  This freedom is found in Jesus, and He said:  You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

In his letter to Timothy, Paul warned of people who were always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Without truth we are susceptible to the passions that reside within us, and gullible to the chicanery of the world.

Perhaps an old Chinese proverb will be enough to keep you thinking:  Better to light a candle, than curse the darkness.

Enough said about jh and his deeds.  The focus now needs to be JC and His healing.