Afraid vs Prepared

In reading the activity on social media in the past several days after the most recent evil person decided to kill a bunch of people in Florida, I’ve heard one comment several times in several places. It’s some variant of the statement, “What are you gun lovers afraid of, that you need guns?”

I’m wondering if these people have ever been in a situation where someone with a gun wants to kill them (probably not) or have seen a movie or tv show where people encountered an evil person with a gun. Am I afraid of someone or something that causes me to own and carry guns? No.

I am not afraid of getting in a car accident. I am not planning on getting in a car accident. But if I do, I have insurance to protect me.

I am not afraid of dying and leaving my family without support. I am not planning on dying anytime soon. But if I do, I have insurance to protect them.

I am not afraid of losing my contacts while on vacation. I am not planning on losing my contacts. But if I do, I have brought an extra pair to replace them so I can see.

I am not afraid of my phone’s battery dying. I am not planning on my phone’s battery dying. But if it does, I have a battery recharger with me to recharge the battery.

You see, I don’t carry a gun because I’m afraid. I carry a gun because I want to be prepared.

Do I expect to ever get in a situation where I will need to use my gun? No. But if it should ever happen, I want to be as ready as possible to protect myself, my loved ones, and other innocent people.

I’m not afraid to protect those I love. I’m prepared.

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The Map Is Wrong

18 shootings

I have seen this map floating around on the internet stating that there have been 18 school shootings so far this year. Actually that map is misleading.

If we define a “School Shooting” as an incident where someone shoots random victims on school grounds (like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland), then there have only been three school shootings this year. That’s still three too many, but not the 18 pictured above. The “school shooting” in Maplewood, MN on that map was a police officer’s gun accidentally firing. The one in Arizona was a student committing suicide. Alone. Of the three shootings that were “school shootings”, the one in Louisiana saw nobody killed or even injured by gunfire.

That leaves us with two: Benton, Kentucky and Parkland, Florida.

Nineteen dead from these two shooters, and countless other people traumatized, some for life.

Here’s my idea:

1. Pass a law that if a person commits first degree murder on school property they automatically get the death penalty.
2. Get rid of the “gun free zones” policies entirely. Pass legislation stating that people who hold a license to carry a firearm may not be barred from carrying in any building.
3. Train teachers on a volunteer basis to handle firearms and train them to be prepared in the eventuality that they may be called on to defend their students. And have the taxpayers of their district buy them a firearm.

I firmly believe that these things would disincentivize shooters to the extent that school shootings would by and large go away. There would still be shootings, but with far fewer victims and the shooters would be held accountable via the death penalty.

So what do you all think?  I welcome honest opinions and real solutions, even ideas I disagree with, but comments with profanity or insults will not be allowed.

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Something Must Be Done

Something must be done.

We all agree on that. No more kids should die.

But how that should happen we all disagree sharply. Some of my friends believe that we need to tighten down on the mentally ill. Some believe that it is the fault of the gun manufacturers, the NRA, or lawmakers.

But I submit that the problem of murder has existed since the beginning of recorded history, with Cain and Abel. God is very clear in the Bible that murder is wrong, and yet we humans keep doing it. The problem with the idea of gun control is the premise that we need to make sure that guns don’t get into the hands of people who would use them to murder.

If it were possible to identify every person who is going to commit murder with a gun before they do it, I would be 100% on board with taking away those people’s right to own a gun. But it’s not possible.

And so we are left with the main problem. It’s the problem humans have been dealing with since the Garden: sin.

We could rephrase the question thusly: how do we keep people from sinning against each other? The answer is: we don’t. We witness about what God has done for us and what He can do for them. We show them that there’s a better way: the Way of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. That’s all of us. It’s only through the murderers like we witnessed this week in Florida do we see just how desperately wicked we humans can be. I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that the tragedy of Florida, Sandy Hook, and Columbine is massively eclipsed by the tragedy of the 60 million children that have been killed in abortion clinics all over the country since 1973. Their deaths are no less tragic. But back to the topic at hand: what to do about school shooters?

I believe God wants me to love my enemies, but He also wants me to protect my family. Doing that against armed assailants would be difficult if I didn’t have a gun myself.

The answer isn’t to get rid of the guns, but to fix the hearts of the people holding them. I pray for the hearts of the victims’ families. I pray they are comforted during this time of sorrow. But mostly I pray that they will find the peace that can only come through trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I also pray for the murderers; those who have killed and those who are even now planning the next school shooting. Lord, please turn their hearts to You.

Something must be done. And yet, something has already been done two thousand years ago on a hill just outside of Jerusalem. Never forget that God is in control, He has a plan, and He works in our situations to draw us closer to Him and to glorify Himself.

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I haven’t seen the GOP tax plan.  Without even looking I’m sure it is not that much different than what we have now, and will probably not change much. Why? Because they never go far enough.

What would I suggest, you say?  I actually have two ideas, either one of which I would be happy with.

Steve Forbes introduced the idea of a “flat tax” to me back in 1996.  If everybody paid 10% of their income to the government, that would be a fair and equitable system. If you make 40,000, you pay 4,000 in taxes and everything else is yours.  If you make 10 million dollars, you pay 1 million dollars in taxes and everything else is yours. No sales tax, no social security tax, etc.  Just one percentage amount that comes from everybody and goes into a big pool and we use that to pay our bills (just like a home budget).  Why is this a good system?  Because it doesn’t discourage working hard (like our current system does).  Have you ever heard the expression, “The more  you make the more they take”?  This system would eliminate that.  With our current system, working overtime means you are actually making less money because you will be taxed at a higher rate.  you are, in effect, punished for working hard.

Idea #2 is this:  Eliminate the income tax entirely.  Get rid of it.  Replace it with a national sales tax.  Make it 10%. Make it 15%. I don’t care.  This plan would work because then everybody gets to keep every dollar they earn.  Exempt necessities like food, $1000 worth of clothing per year (or whatever), rent and utilities.  That way if you worked an overtime shift, you get to keep the entire amount.   And an added benefit of this system? The people who are deep in debt could pay their way out.  Have too much in student loans? Work an extra shift every week and send the extra to your loans, knowing that money didn’t get taxed.

Because it’s obvious our current system doesn’t work.  The rich people are upset because they pay so much, and the poor people are upset because somehow they think the rich people should pay “their fair share” (a term that I still have never gotten quantified by any liberal I’ve asked).

Let’s look at a scenario:

Two married couples. Their spouses stay home with their three kids. One is a nurse and the other is an office worker.

At the end of the year the nurse made $92K working every weekend, overtime, holidays, and night shift. The nurse pays just over $5K in income tax. The office worker makes $36K and doesn’t pay any income tax, but actually receives $3K as a “refund” from the govt.

These are solid numbers. How do I know? Because both were me separated by 6 years. I made that much as an entry level computer programmer, and then went to nursing school and earned that much as a nurse by working every weekend, 48-60 hours a week, almost all holidays, and night shift. I earned it. Now if I had NOT done any of that extra stuff, I would have earned about $40K instead of $92K, and I would have gotten a “refund” instead of paying tax. Why should my hard work be punished by a 8K deficit?

The answer is: it shouldn’t.  If my options were: work no extra and get 36K (10% flat tax) or work all that extra and get $83K (10% flat tax which I rounded up), I would have been happy to pay the 10%.

So let’s see what the GOP and Trump have in store for us.


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Reading Genesis chapter 3 I am struck by the fact that Adam and Eve, upon eating the fruit, had their eyes opened and they realized that they were naked before God. We tend to focus on the meaning of the word naked the way we use it to mean “without clothing” when in fact I believe what the Bible is trying to convey is not just that they were without clothing but that they had something to be ashamed of and had no way of hiding it.

The nakedness of Adam and Eve was not the problem. Their lack of clothing was not an issue before they sinned. Why not? Because they had nothing to hide. When we say that you are naked we mean that you cannot hide what it is that you want to hide. When we are referring to clothing, you obviously want to hide the parts of your body that nobody else is supposed to see. But, the nakedness that Adam and Eve experienced before they sinned had nothing to do with their lack of clothing because it wasn’t a problem. The fact that they were naked was perfectly acceptable to them because they had nothing to hide nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to repent of.

Perhaps one of the problems in our society today stems from the fact that we do not realize how truly naked we are without the covering of the blood of Christ as we stand before God who sees all and knows all. We think we can hide things from Him. We think nobody knows what we do behind closed doors. But the Bible says in Hebrews 4:13
“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

No matter how much you think you have hidden from God, you can be sure that you have hidden absolutely nothing from him. The idea that God doesn’t know or doesn’t understand the sins you have committed could not be more wrong. One day your sins will be laid bare before Him and you will have to acknowledge that He has known all along that you do not deserve Paradise but rather an eternity in hell. How much better to recognize that fact and be forgiven for those sins while there is still time?

When a person trusts in Christ as Savior, the Bible makes reference of receiving a cloak. When we get to heaven we will receive new robes. Adam and Eve received robes made of skins from a dead animal. The reason why those of us in heaven are given robes is to signify the fact that the only reason we are there is that Jesus has taken away our shame. He has taken away our reason for wanting to hide something. Since we will be wearing the robes of the righteousness of Christ, we have nothing to hide from God. We have already been forgiven for every sin we have ever committed as followers of Jesus Christ.

So the question is not, “Are you naked?” because we all are naked before God. The question is, “Has your nakedness, your shame at your sin, been covered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ?”

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NFL Protests

I’m going to tell you some things about myself. Like many Americans I enjoy the game of football. Like most Americans, I hate racism. I applaud justice and freedom.  I dislike bullying and thuggery.  God commands me to love all people, whether they are nice, rude, fun, irritating, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay, straight, old, young, fat, thin, sane or mentally ill.  And I try my best, with His help, to love them all. I love Colin Kaepernick. I want the very best for him.  I love the 1,696 NFL players who are currently on the 32 teams, along with their coaches, staff, and owners.  I love Donald Trump.  I love Hillary Clinton.

But love doesn’t mean that justice should not happen. God loves all of us, but to those who reject His love He will also reject, and they will feel the wrath of His justice for eternity.  I would love it if all men (meaning “human beings alive on earth) would get saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, but the Bible says that the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

Love also doesn’t mean “being nice” all the time.  If my best friend is contemplating having an affair with a woman from work, even though the “nice” thing to do is to support what makes him feel good, I should warn him away from this, because it will destroy his relationship with his wife and his children, scarring him for the rest of his life.  If my sister becomes addicted to heroin, I should do the not-nice thing and hold an intervention, telling her what she doesn’t want to hear in order to save her life.

And so sometimes the loving thing is to point out when someone is wrong. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee last year, it bothered me.  It did not bother me that he was pointing out that racism exists.  It does.  It also wasn’t because he was pointing out that sometimes the police shoot and kill people they shouldn’t.  They do.   It bothered me because, like so many people in this country, I believe this country to be the greatest country ever (so far).  I think the founding fathers looked back through history and tried their best to ensure that it would be very difficult to destroy the freedom that they established here.  That’s why we have a justice system.  That’s why we have laws.  Our laws are supposed to protect our citizens from people doing things they aren’t supposed to do.

Sometimes we have to make changes to the law because we realize we’ve been doing something wrong.  Such was the case with our country’s treatment of people who didn’t have white skin.  We are getting better in this area. If you think we aren’t, then compare the treatment of black people and Asian people in 1800 compared to the 1890’s.  Now compare their treatment to the 1960’s. Now compare their treatment to now.  It’s obviously getting better.  Yes, there are still people out there who believe that white people are somehow better than black people, but there are also black people who believe they are somehow better than white people.  There are people who still believe the earth is flat.  All these things are flat-out wrong.

So we’ve established that racism still exists in America.  It’s wrong, but it’s there. The question is, what do we do about it?  Is racial discrimination illegal?  Yes it is.  Can you force someone to stop being a racist?  No, you cannot.

So what’s the issue here?  It’s priorities.   Who comes first in your life?  Is it your family?  Is it God?  For me, God is my number one priority, followed by my family, then my country, my job, and then everything else in varied order (including my spectator sports).  If I am trying to determine if an action is right or wrong, my first question is simply, “What does God say about it?”  If my wife asks me to do something that goes against what God has said, my first allegiance is to God, so I should refuse her.  If my country tells me that I should do something that goes against my family (like China’s mandatory abortion policy did), I should refuse, no matter the consequences.  Sometimes these lines blur a little, but there’s a clear order.

And so we come to the NFL.  I personally believe that people should have the right to peaceably demonstrate.  I am 100% in agreement with the kneelers there.  I am also in agreement with them that racism is bad and should be fought at every turn.  I agree that police brutality exists (though probably not to the extent the kneelers believe it does).   However, I also agree with those who believe that the flag of the United States is a symbol of freedom.  It’s also a symbol of those who have fought, sacrificed, and died for that freedom.  That flag is draped over the coffin of every service member who dies. That flag is then presented to the family of the service member in appreciation for their service.  And so, to me, when the Star Spangled Banner is being played or sung, I stand out of respect for my country, the armed services, and the sacrifice of those who have died protecting the flag and the freedom it stands for. I place my hand on my heart to show that I love my country.

There are those who say, “The kneelers aren’t disrespecting the flag, they’re protesting the injustice in this country.”  To this I say, “malarkey.”  If you dance on someone’s grave as a protest against whatever, you aren’t just protesting, you’re disrespecting them and their family.  This is similar to that, in my mind.

My allegiance to my country is more important to me than my allegiance to the Colts, the Chiefs, or any team in the NFL.  I did not stop watching NFL games last year because it was just a few players here and there, and the NFL was mostly ignoring it.  But when the NFL makes a statement that they support those who kneel and those who hoist the Black Power (which is a violent racist group) fist, my support ends.  When the owners and coaches say they support the protests, and even participate themselves, my support ends.  The NFL has effectively drawn a line in the sand and said (in my mind and in the minds of many who agree with me), “The NFL disrespects America.”

Since my allegiance to America is greater than my allegiance to watching a sport, I no longer watch the NFL.  I have friends and relatives on both sides of this debate.  Quite frankly I’m tired of arguing about it.  If you ask me, the protesters haven’t done a thing to advance their supposed cause. All they have done is given America something else to argue about.  Has the kneeling changed the minds of any racists out there? I doubt it. But it has changed the minds of people like me who love our country, our soldiers and sailors, and the flag that represents them.

I will close with an analogy.  Let’s say you have a friend. He’s funny, smart, and you enjoy spending time with him.  Now let’s say he starts making jokes about your wife,  your mom, and being mean to other people  you love.  At what point do you say, “We can’t hang out anymore”?

For me, it was this past weekend.


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Castile Verdict

Just read an article on CNN about the Philando Castile verdict. For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Castile was shot and killed by a police officer in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota called Falcon Heights.

It is not the purpose of this post for me to tell you whether or not I think the shooting was justified or if mr. Castile was murdered. I have not heard all the evidence and it is not my place to say one way or the other.

Today the police officer was returned a verdict by the jury of his peers and was found not guilty.

The point of this post is to address the comments made by someone in the CNN article regarding the jury. This article states:

The jury was composed of eight men and four women, including one black man and one black woman. The jury heard two weeks of testimony and spent about 27 hours deliberating.  “I don’t think this was a fair jury at all, made up of more than half middle-aged white people,” she said.

The “she” in the article is a woman named Theresa St Aroro. I could find no other information about this woman other than the obvious fact that she is a racist.

“Whoa! Wait a minute,” you say. “How do you know she’s a racist?”  Because she said, ” I don’t think this was a fair jury at all, made up of more than half middle-aged white people.”

This statement tells us two things:

1. She believes that white people won’t return a fair verdict. This is racist.

2. She thinks there should have been more minorities on the jury. This implies that if there had been more minorities on the jury then he would have received Justice whereas with mostly white people he could not. This point is closely related to the first but it’s important to be clear that her thinking is that somehow this police officer should have been tried by a jury that most closely resembles Mr Castile’s skin color.

This is ludicrous. Looking at the city of Saint Paul, MN demographically, it is 66.7% white, 13.5% black, 12.4% Asian, 8.9% Latino, and the rest is a mix of Pacific Islander, Native American, etc.  Given that the jury is comprised of 12 people, each juror should represent 8.3% of the population of the city. According to these numbers, to most closely represent the racial demographic of St.Paul, eight of the jurors should be white, 1.5 should be black 1.5 should be Asian and one should be Hispanic. Given the fact that the article does not list the racial demographics of the trial other than to say that over half of them were white and two of them were black, it sounds like they did a good job and getting an accurate representation.

Actually, the shooting happened in Falcon Heights, which is only 8% black, so it could be said that the number of black people on the jury was twice what it should have been.

It could be said, but not by me because I’m not a racist who thinks that one skin color of the juror will be fair and just while another will be unjust solely based on the color of their skin.

Probably lots of people feel the way this woman feels. That’s probably why CNN included her comments in the article. And that’s why I think we still have a problem in this country with racism.

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