Sunday, April 22, 2018

No greater love.

I was all ready to write about Friday's pleasant peacemaking coincidence. You know the one. Students across America walk out of schools to protest gun violence and remember the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. That very same day, North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un, apparently decides to drop his country's missile testing program. The one that practiced firing rockets to deliver nuclear warheads.

I smiled to myself, playfully pretending Jong-Un responded to the example set by kids in America. After all, many in the U.S. like to say our country was founded by faithful Christians who shaped our core principles. And indeed, Jesus said, before you reach to remove the splinter in your brother's eye, be sure to first remove the log in your own. (Matthew 7:5) In other words, you have no credibility to tell someone else to change until you change yourself. So, for example, it makes little sense for a fat guy like me to call out someone else on his or her addiction, whatever it is. Now, if I drop 40 pounds, they just might pay attention to me. I might not even have to say a thing and they'll ask me, "How did you do it? Tell me how you conquered your demons." So, it was amusing to fantasize that U.S. kids fighting for peace and disarmament inside America influenced a foreign leader's view on weapons of mass destruction.

But then, early this morning, another tortured gunman with a semi-automatic weapon, the kind the U.S. kids are protesting, shot up a Waffle House parking lot and dining area at 3 a.m. in Antioch, Tennessee, near Nashville. The alleged shooter is Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Illinois. He's on the run and dangerous, possibly carrying two more weapons.

Those who staunchly defend gun rights often say, "Guns don't kill people. People do." And if that logic is correct, then the reverse is also true. "Guns don't project people. People do." We saw proof of it at the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting and again early this morning at the Waffle House. At the Florida high school, an armed law enforcement officer failed to enter the school to defend the kids while the shooter fired away killing 17. But this morning, another 29-year-old, James Shaw, a restaurant patron, summoned the courage to battle the gunman and wrestle his AR-15 from him. Shaw, who was unarmed, made a decision that he was not going to allow Reinking to easily kill him. He stepped up to battle the shooter, mano-a-mano, burning his arm on the sizzling weapon. The result, Shaw disarmed Reinking and tossed the murder's weapon over the dining counter and out of the madman's reach. Reinking fled the scene. Four were dead, two more injured, but tonight police are calling Shaw a hero as the manhunt for Reinking continues. They say Shaw's decision to take on the gunman saved many more lives than his own.

Jesus said, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13) Shaw humbly says he wants to return to anonymity, he's not interested in the accolades of heroism.

One guy who's definitely not a hero is Reinking's father. Reportedly, he gave his son the automatic weapons after they were taken away by Illinois law enforcement. In 2017, Travis Reinking, was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service for showing up in the wrong place around the White House looking to set up a meeting with President Trump. Authorities arrested Reinking, he completed community service, and the FBI paid him a visit. County authorities in Illinois revoked his right to possess weapons, handing them over to his father, including the AR-15. For some God-forsaken reason, this father decided to return them to his boy.

Police in Tennessee found two full magazines for the AR-15 in a jacket Reinking left behind at the Waffle House in the wee hours this morning. Apparently he planned to leave no one dining or working there alive. There would be no hangovers that Sunday morning.

Before you become too enraged with Reinking's father, keep in mind that in some states, the courts can take away your driving privileges if you have a DUI, but you may still have the right to own and possess firearms.

If Kim Jung-Un is watching the United States, he will discover that nuclear weapons don't guarantee your protection. We certainly will never forget how 19 terrorists with box cutters brought the most powerful nation to its knees on September 11, 2001. Only love conquers all.

And Jung-Un might want to keep an eye on his country's youth who may decide enough is enough. That it's time to stand up and protest the madness.  Let's pray North Korea's youth finds the moral strength to demand sanity and peace.

 "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."

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