Las Vegas shooting news: The #1 reason behind Stephen Paddock’s action and a Las Vegas native’s insider perspective: the heart of the issue

Multitudes of Americans are frantically (and understandably) looking for answers and a motive behind the Las Vegas shooter’s mass shooting just three days ago on October 1, 2017. Some blame guns, and some blame mental illness/psychopathy for Stephen Paddock’s shocking action, but what really was the motive of this man? From where did his motive spring?

Why does this matter? The problem with our search is that we are searching surface issues and not getting to the root of the issue. Getting to the root of the issue matters and is very much worth the time it takes to understand. Getting a firm grasp on this with deeper knowledge is crucial as it will eliminate the problem and bless our future generation, our children.

Allow me to explain.

Getting a grip on gun control and mental illness are both noble efforts and needless to say, very important endeavors; however, gun control and mental health are just the icing on the cake. According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness; source noted), millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. NAMI estimates that about 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year. That computes to about 43.8 million people who suffer from a mental illness, and clearly, all those people are not committing violent crimes such as what we saw in Las Vegas last weekend. Furthermore, there are many moral and upright people who have mental illness, and many moral and upright people who own guns. There have always been guns, and there has always been mental illness…so why the increase in violent crime?

The logical question that arises is this:

Is it the brain that causes one to commit such a violent act? Is the root of the problem the brain or the heart of man? What really is the root of the violence in our modern culture? Why are these violent acts increasing at an exponential rate in both frequency and intensity?

Allow me to give you an example of a garden. As we tackle the ever increasing violence issue of our nation, this is similar to merely cutting a plant from its root. The entire plant must be uprooted or else the plant will grow again. One must get to the actual root or else the problem will return. Taking away a gun from a psychopath surely will help for a time; however, this action won’t succeed in getting to the very root. The person will find a way to get another weapon. Certain drugs are illegal, yet people find a way to attain them, don’t they? If a plant is cut down, the root is still there. It is only a matter of time before the plant will return.

The mass media and the heart

Many Americans want to have their cake and eat it to. What we sow into our own hearts and our children’s hearts and minds is precisely what we will reap. Many scratch their heads and wonder, “how could a man like Stephen Paddock do such a thing?”, yet we don’t even realize that we are poisoning ourselves from within! What else has increased exponentially in our culture in the past few decades? Violence on media, thanks to Hollywood. How could we ask such a question while allowing our kids to play gory video games and watch violent, rated R movies?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7)

Irvin Baxter of Endtime Ministries (source noted) recently created a podcast about the Las Vegas shooting which explains that the mass media creates the culture that shapes hearts and minds. Americans need to get a grasp on what comes into our hearts, and especially the hearts of our children. He goes on to say, not in these exact words, that his research suggested that the typical American child watches 28 hours of TV per week, and by the time a child turns 18, they will have seen 200,000 acts of violence, and more than 16,000 violent murders on-screen.

Plain and simple, it’s time for Americans to wake up. Hollywood produces violent movies, and this industry has skyrocketed to a multi-billion dollar industry. Just in the past decade, we see that children are exposed to even more through smartphones.  We sit and scratch our heads and wonder, “how could a man do such a thing?”. If Americans don’t address the root of the problem, it will only get worse.

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the overwhelming belief system in America has been, “If it feels right, do it”. Where is the moral compass? This nation has a heart issue.  So many Americans have the viewpoint that true freedom equates with being able to watch whatever TV shows they desire.  True freedom is always found in the truth not compromise (it was actually Jesus who said, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32).

It’s time for Americans to wake up from their slumber. We think it’s bad now, but what will happen when this generation of children, who are daily watching blood and gore on video games and TV – more than any previous generation – what will happen when this generation reaches adulthood? Hollywood is sowing violence into our culture like never before, and Americans are eating it up. The old saying, “we are what we eat”, is true. Americans must start getting to the root of the issue…the heart. What we sow is what we will reap. We must start protecting the hearts of our children with parenting controls and solid, Biblical teaching on morals. We must start modeling the Christian life ourselves and turn our eyes away from vile images generated by Hollywood and pornography. Call this judgmental, but one cannot love violence and be Christian. As Irvin Baxter further explained, the two do not compute (if you have time, view his outstanding one hour podcast cited below). Violence is diametrically opposed to the Christian life.

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (1 Corinthians 15:33)

I will set no wicked thing before my eyes. (Psalm 101:3)

Have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)

For from within out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, covetous, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. (Mark 7:22)

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

Las Vegas is my hometown. I have spent thirty-six years here, and to see the very place where I spent my childhood be the setting for America’s most deadly mass shooting is deeply disturbing. To see my friend limping and suffering from severe PTSD is surreal. Sure, Las Vegas is “Sin City”, there is certainly a lot of darkness here (as with all cities). Now more than ever, I see that Las Vegas is very much a city of grace. I have seen firsthand the amount of love and compassion this town has shown the victims and their families. Las Vegas has stepped up and is an amazing town. “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

One thing remains: the root of the issue, according to Jesus Christ, has always been the heart of man. If we can reach people with the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and its life-changing power, the heart and spirit of man can be made new. Only true repentance and a heart turned to the Lord will solve the violence problem at its very root in this country. The Gospel is and always will be the answer, for that alone will change the heart of man to the core.

And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself’. (Luke 10:27)

Sources and Related Content:

1. NAMI; https://www.nami.org

2. Endtime Ministries by Irvin Baxter (2017); https://www.endtime.com/podcast/las-vegas-shooting/; The author (Becky Savio) does not necessarily endorse this ministry nor its content in its entirety; the author does not endorse the hyper-pentecostal nor charismatic movements.

Tags: #VegasStrong

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The ‘good person’ trip-up: Why being good is not good enough…

The “good person trip-up”…
Many people think that if they are good (a good citizen; a good parent; an all-around good person), that being good is good enough. The problem is that this mentality consists of our own standard and perspective that we have invented in our own minds. For example, we are all “good” compared to a terrorist. The standard people use is the terrorist. We are all “good” compared to the bad standard we have set up in our intellect (without even realizing it). Let’s face it: most of us look around at other people and don’t think about God.  It is with love that I say there are very large problems with this. When we compare ourselves to ourselves, it is not wise: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” 2 Cor. 10:12. When humans compare themselves to other humans, it is a false standard instead of God’s true standard.  Essentially, when we do this, we are basically (even unknowingly) stating that our standard is right/true and God’s is wrong/false.  We have a choice – we can use our own standard or God’s.  The choice is ours; He allows us free will to choose.
“There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” Proverbs 21:30.
Which standard are you using?  There comes a point in each person’s life to choose which standard to live by; they are contradictory standards.  One is true; one is false.  Both can’t be true.  It really comes down to this: Who is wiser?  God or me?  Most people won’t listen to Him, He is used to it:
“But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would have none of me.” Psalm 81:11
“Enter in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be who go in there, because narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.Matthew 7:13,14
 God’s plan for our lives (as opposed to our own plan), is that we do not use our own standard to make ourselves feel “good” because this leads to destruction, but rather, to use HIS standard alone, which leads to life.  This is a narrow path, and one that most people will not choose because it feels better (temporarily) to deceive ourselves with our own standard.  It is HIS standard that we will be judged by, not our own. It’s like a class full of students – if my friend gets an F, but I get a D, I am pretty good! I am feeling really good about myself when I am looking at my friend, but I have forgotten that the teacher holds the standard and that I am getting graded by the teacher, not the student! This is how it is with God. He is the grader, and He is the judge.  Our friend is not our savior.  He is good, 100% in His awesomeness and infinite in wisdom.  If I get a C, and compare that to God’s standard, I’m really not that good at all.  It’s about our perspective; the way we have grown up, what our parents have taught us, etc.
 This presents a problem. This means that all of us are pretty much not “good” when compared to HIS standard. Unless, of course, you are perfect.  If you are perfect, than this article is not for you.  We are all in the same boat, we are all dirty dishes in the sink; we are all flawed; we have all sinned and are imperfect when compared to HIS standard.  There is not one person on this earth who has not thought a wrong thought or done a wrong deed:
 …
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
 1 John 1:8
 …
 We don’t need to teach a child to be bad, to fight, etc., but we all need to teach our children’s hearts to be good and to do the right thing. We are all born wretched in our hearts, each of us:
“But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” Matthew 15:19
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”.  If this apostle, who we see on stain glass windows in churches, admitted his wretchedness, and his need for a savior, how do we claim to be good?
Even the best things we do, God is not impressed with; we cannot make our way into His arms and Kingdom based on our own merit and good deeds. He’s not impressed; He just isn’t. The best things we do are often still like filthy rags.  The way to God is not through being good, getting baptized or going to church.  It’s also not through self-help gurus like Joel Osteen or Wayne Dyer.  It’s not through giving money to the church, or being one with the universe.  It is not about what we do to earn our salvation, it’s about what He does in and through us. It’s HIS work (a supernatural act of His grace and mercy), not ours.
Jesus said that unless a person becomes truly born again, they “cannot” enter into HIs Kingdom:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” John 3:3
The only way to heaven is to become born-again (according to Christ).  It’s His standard, not ours.  He must remake us from the inside out, starting at our hearts. It is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to remake a person.  This is why it is called being “born again” or “born again of the Spirit”.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
Once He re-makes us, and gives us a new heart, like a tree, it grows and produces good fruit, good deeds, etc.  Goodness is simply a bi-product to salvation, not a means of earning our way. This is also what sets Christianity apart from other religions.  Many religions teach that we must do things to earn God’s approval/salvation and that He is impressed with us.  Christianity says the only way to the Father is through the Son, and good deeds (and a holy and changed life) follow as a natural result like fruit on a tree:
“Jesus said unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.'” John 14:6
 …
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, this to be a testimony at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:8,9 nlv
It is God who cleanses us (through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross) and forgives us/wipes us clean.  We all fall short of the glory of God, and can be justified freely by His grace.  What standard are you using?  I think a lot of people think that their own standard will be acceptable to God…when it will not.  God is wiser than us.  The way to God is through His Son’s atoning death on the cross and becoming born again. Jesus is the only way; not being a good person when compared to our neighbor.

Dead in trespasses but alive in Christ: A message about new life…

Dead in trespasses but made alive in Christ (true life).

The word Gospel from its Greek origin literally means “good news”. So often, people think their lives will end if they follow Christ (LOL), that the fun will be gone, yada yada. I have thought that too. But I have seen, not only with myself, but with others close to me, that this is exactly when true life begins and a soul becomes truly alive and full of light. There really is no way to understand this until one experiences it for themselves, so it is hard for me to explain, and of course, there will always be those who don’t get it and don’t want to get it, until God in His mercy changes their hearts because of His love for them, even if undeserved. It’s sort of like turning a light on and flipping a switch, when once you realize the life before was death and darkness (though we do not SEE it like that when we are in it because it’s impossible until something happens and God turns the light on) when compared to the new life and light. That’s why Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” and “The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have LIFE, and that they might have it MORE abundantly”. Light and the newness of life is what Jesus came to bring, that is why He is called the light of the world. Light to our souls, to our families and children, etc. When we desire to save our own lives, to do our own thing, even if it is wrong and contrary to God’s desires, we are not saving our lives at all, we are only deceiving ourselves. The truth God brings is that true life begins at conversion, it’s his gift. The wages of sin is death, not life, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The best part is that it is a free gift simply out of God’s love and mercy. Salvation is a deep, life changing event. Yes, there are hypocrites in churches – those will always be there, they are not God’s children, and they misrepresent Him, but don’t let them deter you – there are also truly converted souls who have been powerfully changed from the inside out by a loving and merciful God:

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col.2)

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph.2)