The Rights of the Confused

canstockphoto13039994“It’s my right to own a gun. Nobody can tell me how many to own.”

“People are going to kill anyway so guns are not really the problem.”

“You wouldn’t want someone limiting your right to freedom of religion”.

Full Stop.

These are some actual quotes people have written to me in response to my stand that higher end weapons should be banned (or at the very least, heavily regulated). I also expressed that there should be a more streamlined background check process and those who buy up large arsenals should be tagged as suspicious.

“I’m sorry sir, it shows you’ve already bought too many.” That’s what they tell you when you try to buy more Claritin-D than they think you need. But guns? Buy as many as you want. I’ve already talked about this so let’s address one of the other quotes.

The one about religion.

The argument is that the right to freedom of religions is not infringed and neither should guns. I would like to counter that. It is true we have the freedom to practice religion how we see fit but if your religion calls for human or child sacrifice, the Feds would bust down your door and put a stop to it. Religious cults that practice child sex and child marriage are infiltrated and busted up all the time. So while we have “freedom of religion”, we also have restrictions on the most extreme cases. This is what many of us propose with the gun laws. We don’t want to take all your guns away. We just want to regulate the extreme cases that can cause severe loss of life.

I am not sure how this can be in any clearer. Sure, deadly people are going to be deadly no matter what. But the severity at which their actions are deadly can be diminished.

We have nuclear regulations worldwide for obvious reasons. Nuclear arsenals in the wrong hands would be catastrophic for the human race. Just because rogue nations such as North Korea get their hands on a couple of nukes doesn’t make the world rethink their regulation on nukes. We stick with it because as long as it is heavily regulated and restricted, the likelihood of it falling into the wrong hands is lessened.

While we’ve never actually had a suitcase nuke go off in an American city, I realize the thereat is still there. But could you imagine the threat level if we lifted sanctions and regulations on creating nuclear weapons? I feel that it would become a common problem rather than something that is rare.

So I concur. We won’t stop everyone from obtaining high powered guns and lots of ammo. But we can make it harder for them to get and transport. The harder they are to get, the less impact they have. Instead of mass shootings occurring every year, maybe we get them down to every 5 or 10 years. It might not be ideal but at least it’s something. Anything…ANYTHING is better than doing nothing.

One other quote I would like to address: “Look at Norway”. OK, in 2011, a mass shooter killed 77 youth at a camp. In 2011. It hasn’t become a trend like it has here. You can talk about Norway’s 2011 massacre all day, but I give you Columbine (1996), Newtown (2012), Pulse (2016), and now, Vegas (2017).

Guns, Lies, and Videotape

canstockphoto2073214The Second Amendment: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Each time a mass shooting occurs, I often think about what our founding fathers would say if they were here about how people hide behind this amendment in defense of those who commit such heinous acts. Would they really sit there, watching the news and think “Yep, this is exactly why we needed this amendment.” Would they stand up at a press conference defending relaxed gun laws while watching the horror play out on their T.V. screens? Can we really sit here and say with certainty that the second amendment was written to allow people to have access to such destructive tools of death?

Let me be clear in stating that I think people should have access to certain firearms. Hunting rifles for example are guns in which I think people should have, so long as those using them are actually consuming the animals they hunt. If you hunt a deer, then my hope is that you consume the deer. While some would say that a hunting rifle could still be used to kill innocent people, it’s not designed to kill a lot of people very quickly. You’d only be able to get a few shots off before someone would be able to figure out where the shots are coming from and intervene.

I am also not opposed to handguns kept in home for self defense (though if you need more than a couple, I would question the validity of that). While I would hope no such need of a weapon would ever come up, I also understand that protecting yourself and especially your family is important. Even this type of gun would not cause the devastation we saw in this most recent tragedy in Las Vegas.

I know what you’re thinking. “This isn’t the time to discuss gun control and gun politics” but what time is a good time. We will mourn, we will heal, and then, soon, another mass shooting will occur. Again people will argue that it’s not the time to discuss gun safety. And again we will mourn, heal, and wait for it to happen again.

This. Needs. To. Stop.

Can we be honest for a moment? Assault rifles, especially fully automatic assault rifles, are designed for one purpose only: Causing as much death and destruction as possible in the shortest amount of time.

A pump action shotgun can really hurt some people, but by the time someone fires a second time, most people will have realized what happened and either cleared the area or subdued the suspect. It certainly would not have had the impact the weapons in Vegas did.

“But Josh, people can turn anything into a weapon. The planes on 9/11 for example. Or a car being driven into a crowd.” True, but these things were not built to be weapons. Their purpose for existing is not to kill. When used correctly, planes, trains, and automobiles function peacefully and enhance the lives of those who use them. What purpose does a gun have? To kill. To destroy. No, guns don’t kill people by themselves, but people with guns kill people. A lot of people.

“Well that’s only when guns are used incorrectly”. What other purpose does a gun have? To hunt? Well, that kills an animal. For sport? Skeet shooting? Is that all you are doing with it? Even still, guns were designed to kill and when used correctly, that’s what they do.

When a car is used correctly, it doesn’t kill.

When a plane is flown correctly, it doesn’t crash into buildings.

It’s pretty simple really.

If the killing of children in the Sandy Hook Massacre was not enough for people to realize that we have a real serious problem, then I don’t see any hope at all. We protect the rights of gun owners more than we protect the rights of children to be able to eat lunch. Do you hear me America? We would rather have our guns than feed children lunch! How can we continue to accept this!?

I’m tired of watching people die. Sure, the second amendment says you have the right to bear arms, but before it even gets there, it says to maintain a well-regulated militia. Instead of these pictures of this cool gun you got for Christmas, it’s time to start posting you with your militia-training buddies preparing to fight those who are coming to imprison you for your freedom (if you can find such an entity).

I know you internet. You like to tear down people. You like to be vile, and selfish, and loathsome. Go ahead. The comment section is open. And when this happens again, you can just come copy and paste what you wrote there in other comment sections because, unfortunately, I’ll see you again the next time.

The Wages of Sin

Romans 623 [widescreen].pngI’m sitting here on a night I couldn’t sleep thinking about all the possible things I could have done wrong and suddenly it hit me. Romans 6:23 is a verse nearly every Christian (and even non-Christian) know to well. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” It was the first part that stood out to me.

The first half of the verse talks about death coming from sin. Let’s face it, death is all around us. We can see the effects of sin just by turning on the news. These are the obvious signs of death that come from sin. But what about the not so obvious? It’s easy to look at the TV and say “see, we’ve turned away from God, followed sin, and now look at the world.” Let’s look closer.

When sin is active in our lives, it causes death to something. Sin for example may not physically kill you, but it can kill your joy. It can kill your relationships. It can kill your hope. I can keep going, but I am sure you get the point. I am also quite sure that theologians have written about this before. There are countless books about sin, overcoming it, and speaking life to things. It shouldn’t take a book to convict you. God’s own word should do that. Sometimes late at night when you can’t sleep. I believe that those moments are sometimes God calling you out. You are less likely to be distracted by things when the rest of the world is asleep.

Let’s go back to that word convict. I think people have it confused with guilt. I am going to go so far as to say guilt does not come from God. Guilt comes from the enemy. God wants us to be convicted because we realize that the sin in our lives interferes with our relationship with Him and the great things he has for us. This is not guilt. This is the realization that there is something better than the way I was doing it before. Sure, guilt will still creep up on you. It has on me. But the life we gain when we realize what sin has been robbing us from is so much better!

What has sin been robbing you from? Maybe it’s a friendship. Maybe it’s an opportunity for career advancement. Or maybe, it’s robbing you from God using you to further His kingdom. Many of us feel inadequate because of our sin, so we tend to not do things thinking “I can’t do this, I keep doing this sin”. Thus, sin has caused the death of your ministry.

Rejoice! There is a second part of the verse. “But the FREE gift of GOD is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Sure, this is talking about life beyond this life. But life is the key word here. Through Christ, there is life. Life eternally and life earthly. He brings life where there was none before. He can bring life to a relationship or circumstance when He becomes the center of it.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking “yeah, that’s obvious”, then congratulations, I am glad  you have it all figured out. For the rest of us, if you are struggling with something or you feel guilty or dirty or less than worthy, then rejoice, because our God has overcome sin AND Death! When our focus is on Him, our desires become aligned with Him. Through this alignment, the things which sin caused death to begin to come alive.

i’Dea

canstockphoto15950125We live in a world where everyone seems to have something to say. We see it across the internet from Facebook to Twitter and on every site with a comment page. But sometimes, what needs to be said, or what we want to say, requires a little more thought, a little more patience, and a little more fine-tuning. That’s where this little site comes in. It’s a start of something different.

Let me back up a little. I have spent the last week or two reducing the amount of time I spend on social media. This has not been an easy task. It turns out, everything is connected to social media. From television shows and commercials broadcasting hashtags and tweets, to nearly every website asking us to “share this with friends”. I am not against this. I think it’s a great way to share things.

When it comes to deeper reflections and really communicating our thoughts to people, it tends to get lost in the status shuffle. For example, you can post a serious or thought provoking statement and get very little–if any–reaction. Just a few minutes later, you can repost a silly meme and within seconds have several likes, shares, and comments. This would be okay with me if we all used to to brighten someone’s day with laughter.

Lately however, it has become mostly a place for people to put down others. It has become toxic, a place where people are vile and spew verbal diarrhea hiding safely behind their smartphone or computer screens. It’s perfect. Get online, act like a jerk, have absolutely no basis for your argument, and sit angrily stewing at those who don’t seem to understand how awesome you are. Don’t worry, I’m not singling anyone out. I am talking to myself too.

I love sharing pictures with with people. I love celebrating life accomplishments, sharing experiences with friends and families far away, and exchanging ideas with people of different backgrounds. But enough is enough. I’ve challenged myself to only log into social media once per day and try to fill my time with other things. Admittedly, I haven’t been as diligent as I should have been, but I have changed some of my browsing habits.

I decided that I needed a place to write down and share my thoughts and discoveries without the distraction of a click-bait post waiting to lure me into some endless list of things like “The Best Foods to Eat While in a Headlock”.

This is a place to share things I’ve learned and experiences I have had to maybe lift you up and encourage you on your own life journey. I don’t expect a million readers to like and share my posts. But if I am able to reach out to one person and make a difference, then it was worth my time.

To start, since you have been kind enough to read this far, I challenge you to reduce your social media exposure. Set a limit to times you check your newsfeed. In the few times I have done this, I have discovered the time for things I always claimed I didn’t have time for before. If you do take on this challenge or have quit social media completely, I would love to hear your story in the comments.