July 1999 – October 1997, Pearl, Mississippi
December 1997, Paducah, Kentucky
March 1998, Jonesboro, Arkansas
May 1998, Springfield, Oregon
April 1999, Littleton, Colorado
May 1999, Conyers, Georgia
Each city is home to a school where incredible acts of violence have occurred – teens slaughtering teens in random fashion. Your peers, seniors, gunning down their own classmates and teachers. And everyone wants to point a finger. What filled these young lives with so much bitterness and hate? How do we respond? There is a long list of supposed causes – and solutions – offered by the experts.
Cause: Guns are too easily available.
Solution: If only we adopt tougher gun control laws...
Cause: Parents weren’t responsible and involved.
Solution: If only government could be more actively involved in training or licensing parents...
Cause: There’s not enough security on campus.
Solution: If only we had more cops in the halls, more metal detectors at the doors....
Cause: TV, music, video games and movies filled their minds with excesses of violence until they were desensitized to its impact.
Solution: If only we could censor entertainment...
Do any of these “causes” – or the “solutions” offered – address the real problem?
Certainly, guns can be dangerous. But they have always been available, and especially in rural areas. Gun control is not the answer.
Parents have always been authority figures against whom some teens will rebel, no matter how observant, sensitive or caring they are. Trying to teach adults to be better parents is not the answer.
Our schools have been safe havens, a place where the world would not dare attack a most precious resource, our children. But, more security officers? Metal detectors? These are not the answer.
Entertainment – for 16 years, I have edited the AFA Journal, writing about the impact that entertainment media have on individuals and on our culture. I admit, there’s a lot of stuff out there that I think we’d be better off without. But censorship? Again, not the answer!
To deal with gun control, parenting issues, campus security, or media censorship, is to treat only the symptoms and not the disease. To treat only the symptoms is to put a Band-aid on a gash that needs six stitches, to take an aspirin for a cancer that needs radiation.
What, then, is the disease? Our nation’s sickness is a moral one. Our moral foundation is in danger of collapse from the attacks of those who would rip the Christian faith from the pages of our nation’s history, and erase God from our culture.
The radicals who lecture us about separation of church and state have either (1) not read the U. S. Constitution; or (2) they are purposely distorting its intent. Nowhere in our Constitution is there stated a principle which would remove God from our public institutions. In fact, the phrase “separation of church and state” does not even appear in the Constitution.
History is filled with references by founding fathers to their faith in God. More than 200 years ago, John Adams wrote in a letter to officers in the Militia of Massachusetts: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
All over Washington, D.C., government buildings bear quotations from Scripture. In the Capitol building, just off the rotunda, is a prayer chapel. The room’s focal point is a stained glass window etched with Psalm 16:1: “Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust.”
The walls of the Library of Congress reveal many Scriptures, including Micah 6:8: “What doth the Lord require of thee, O man, but to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with thy God?” On the wall of the U. S. Supreme Court are the Ten Commandments. Do these sound like the offices of a government whose founders intended to omit God from public life? Hardly. Clearly, our founding fathers considered God and godly principles the foundation of the nation they were creating.
For almost 200 years our government operated according to godly principles. Unfortunately, in recent years, we have experienced a rapid shift in national focus. We have turned away from looking to God as our foundation, and begun looking to man as that foundation.
Across our land today, the loudest voices are those who argue that we no longer have room for God in the public forum. As their demands have gained an ally in the secular media, their cause has flourished. In large degree, they have succeeded in expelling God from school, and excluding Him from government.
Our nation’s godly foundation is in danger of collapse. But, today, I come to remind you that there is hope. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Seniors, you may have some clear-cut goals for your future – a mental blueprint for the career you’ll enter, the family you’ll rear, or the education you’ll pursue. Goals are good. Goals, and the things we do to reach them, are some of the building blocks of our lives. But I have an important question for you: what have you done about the foundation upon which you are build Having goals, and even accomplishing them, will never bring fulfillment or happiness unless you are building on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
Too often, we measure success by the shallow things of this world, not the things of eternity. But let’s face reality: physical beauty turns to wrinkles, physical strength to age and arthritis. Knowledge fades as our minds dim in the aging process. Twenty-twenty vision gives way to trifocals.
Money may be lost. A career can end in a moment when a company fails or the boss fires us. Even family and friends will disappoint us sometimes.
But for each of us, one thing – and one thing only – is eternal. That is the soul. God’s Word assures us that our souls will live forever, either in heaven or in hell. Only if we choose to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ are we assured of an eternity in heaven.
During the last 30 days, I have read a lot about 17-year-old Cassie Bernall, one of the fatalities in the school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. When her schoolmate-gunman asked if anyone believed in Jesus, Cassie Bernall replied with certainty, “Yes, I believe in Jesus.” The young gunman asked her why, but before she could reply, he fired a bullet into her body.
Reports indicated that several of the other fatalities in the shootings were also committed Christians. In the aftermath, we’ve heard all the excuses and alleged causes – guns, too little security, music, and movies. But, I propose to you that the cause behind tragedies like the one in Littleton is that the Christian foundation of our culture is crumbling away.
Crumbling Christian foundation… if only we had Jesus Christ!
There’s still more to the story in Littleton, Colorado. What the national secular media is not reporting these days is that revival has broken out in Littleton. Perhaps reporters don’t understand it, or just don’t think it’s newsworthy. But, some of the young men and women who lost their lives had built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and now their lives and their witness continue to have an impact for His glory.
A month after the shootings, a Colorado pastor wrote that many Christian students had previously been embarrassed to share their faith because they wanted to be cool. They are now eagerly sharing their faith, and hundreds more are turning to Christ. He wrote that churches had been filled every night all week long. Ministers and pastors meet weekly for prayer. Out of tragedy and loss, God is bringing hope and life, all because of the faithful lives of a few committed teenagers.
A few moments ago, I talked about your plans and goals for the future. Now I want to ask you to consider your present, this very moment. What is your foundation? “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
How do you make Jesus the foundation of your life? It’s as simple as ABC:
A. Acknowledge that you have sinned. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
B. Believe in Jesus as God’s Son. Acts 16:31 says it just that simply: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
C. Confess and renounce sin. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I have a friend, a close Christian brother whom God is using to teach me an important lesson. My friend has struggled with addictions in his life, but he repeatedly says, “I have a choice. When I get out of bed each morning, I choose whether to follow God’s will or to rebel against Him. Throughout the day, whenever I face moral decisions, I make a choice – to follow God or not.”
The rest of your lives will be filled with choices. You’re facing some pretty big ones right now – education, career, marriage. But even these life-changing choices pale when compared to the choice of whether or not you follow God. It is the most critical choice you will ever make.
This afternoon, I urge you, do not try to build your life on any foundation other than Jesus Christ.
Martyred girl sparks revival
Immediately following the massacre of 12 students and one teacher in Littleton, Colorado, the two names people heard most often were teen killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, as people sought to understand their inexplicable bloodlust. But now the name many people hear, especially teenagers, is Cassie Bernall.
The 17-year-old Christian girl, who was shot dead after affirming her faith in the face of the Littleton killers, has sparked a revival among her peers throughout the country.
According to witnesses, one of the killers pointed a shotgun at Bernall and asked if she believed in God. When she answered yes, she was murdered. Bernall had been a strong Christian for two years, having left an admittedly troubled life which included drugs and dabbling in the occult.
But Bernall’s faith even in the shadow of death has inspired teens around the country to be strong in their own faith. The words “Yes, I Believe in God” adorn T-shirts and are the theme for youth rallies across the nation. Doug Clark, field director for the San Diego-based National Network of Youth Ministries, told Time magazine that he was getting reports of hundreds of gatherings in dozens of states, all focusing on the examples of faith coming out of Littleton. At least another 22 youth rallies, inspired by Bernall, are planned for this summer.
Another 17-year-old Colorado Christian, Josh Weidmann, said, “We don’t want her message to be sensationalized or abused in any way. It’s not so much what Cassie said. It’s what are we going to say when we’re asked the question?”
USA Today, 6/1/99; Time, 5/31/99