October 15, 2016

The funeral of Jacob Hall, aged 6, took place on October 6, 2017. This is an account of the event that took Jacob’s life, written by Eric M. Johnson for Reuters.

A 14-year-old boy suspected in a South Carolina schoolyard shooting last week faces a second murder charge after one of the victims from the incident died from his wounds, a prosecutor said on Monday.

The shooting was the latest in a series of rampages at U.S. schools that have fueled debate over the extent of gun regulations in America.

A charge formerly filed as attempted murder was upgraded to murder after 6-year-old Jacob Hall, who was shot during Wednesday's incident at Townville Elementary School in the northwest part of the state, died on Saturday, Solicitor Chrissy Adams said in a statement.

Hall's funeral was scheduled for Wednesday.

Last week, the teen suspect was charged in the 10th Judicial Circuit court with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

Authorities say he shot and killed his father, Jeffrey Osborne, 47, as the man watched television at their home about 2 miles (3 km) from the school.

He then drove to the school where he shot the students and a teacher, police said.

Adams, the South Carolina solicitor, also said on Monday that she filed new petitions for five individual counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

This story made me wonder what our culture has become. I decided to look into some statistics.

The following statistics were from a variety of government research organizations:  in the US, homicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 10-29 year olds, about 584 children under the age of 5 are murdered every year, heroin and methamphetamine addiction is at epidemic levels, with the youngest users being around 12 years old, and suicide rates have reached a thirty year high.

Simultaneously, research has shown that the number of adults that are affiliated with Christianity is dropping about 11 percentage points each decade and the number of people who do not consider themselves affiliated with ANY religion has grown to 22.8%.

This is what our society has become.

Young people are basically saying more and more that they believe in nothing. How can people exist, much less thrive, that way: believing in nothing? It seems that they can do it with drugs, hate and violence because that is what’s on the rise as the number of Christians declines. How have we gotten ourselves to this point?

Stephen Hawking has worked on the basic laws which govern the universe. With Roger Penrose he showed that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. These results indicated that it was necessary to unify General Relativity with Quantum Theory, the other great Scientific development of the first half of the 20th Century. Professor Hawking has twelve honorary degrees. He is the author of numerous highly regarded scientific publications. He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1982, and was made a Companion of Honor in 1989. He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, is a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences. 

All of these things he accomplished even though he was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neuron Disease, shortly after his 21st birthday. In spite of being wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerized voice system for communication, Hawking continues to combine family life (he has three children and three grandchildren), and his research into theoretical physics together with an extensive program of travel and public lectures. He still hopes to make it into space one day. “

Mr. Hawking is quoted as having made the following statements: "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."


Modern physics leaves no place for God in the creation of the Universe.

Just as Darwinism removed the need for a creator in the sphere of biology, Britain's most eminent scientist argues that a new series of theories have rendered redundant the role of a creator for the Universe.”

This intellectually brilliant man has spent his life studying with great intensity, the intricacies of our universe. He’s seen amazing things, up close and personal.  He has been praised and awarded for his discoveries and theories, has been blessed with children and grandchildren. He’s had an amazingly blessed life even with ALS and being wheelchair bound. Still he actually believes that God is not necessary. This is a perfect example of the arrogance of the modern human thinking his brain and what it can come up with is superior to God instead of remaining in a state of constant awe and gratitude for the miracles of God’s creation that make up our lives and every particle of our universe. Just because we think we can explain some of these wonders does not mean that God didn’t cause them.

In our efforts to progress intellectually, scientifically and socially, we have lost sight of our star. We have gone off course thinking we don’t need Him or that He doesn’t exist. We text or message instead of calling or visiting. We collect more and more stuff and to pay for it we often put our careers before family. Children are inside playing games that expose them to virtual violence on their devices instead of going outside to fish, climbing trees, digging in the sand with a family member or friend. Technology isn’t bad. Science and knowledge aren’t bad. But going through life thinking that those things are superior to God IS wrong. He’s responsible for it all: our discoveries, the miracles of our universe and technology. It seems that rather than learning more and more about our universe and praising God even more highly for the intricacies of it, we claim the credit for expanding knowledge and deny His absolute rule over it and our need for Him. The creation of a society that appears convinced that God is not only dead, but He never existed in the first place has brought us to this dire state. Will He come to save our society when His people have so little faith?

If we base the answer to that question on today’s reading, the answer is, “Yes, He will.”

The Sea of Galilee, also called the Lake of Galilee, is known for extreme and sudden storms caused by the channels of water that flow into it in combination with cool mountain air currents and local geographic features. It is also a shallow body of water, more prone to being whipped up to dangerous levels by winds. The sudden squalls on the Sea of Galilee could put even large fishing boats at serious risk. It was one of these storms that the disciples encountered as Jesus slept in their boat. The terror of the disciples would have been absolutely justified, had the Lord Jesus not been with them. As we see in this reading, the storm may rage and death may be moments away, but if we have even a little faith in the Lord and call on Him, He will respond with our best interests at heart.

Our society is in the midst of a tremendous storm, not caused by the elements but by the abandonment of Christian values. It is fortunate for us that Jesus can calm any storm, as we are shown in today’s reading.

At our beginning, our country relied on God for help and praised Him for our victories.

Jack Kelly of “The History Reader” writes:

George Washington called the American victory in the Revolutionary war “little short of a standing miracle.” In 1776, an overwhelming British army had defeated his poorly trained force, driven them out of New York City, and chased them across New Jersey. Washington then lost Philadelphia, and his men had barely survived the wretched winter at Valley Forge. In 1780, the British captured the major southern port at Charleston, imprisoning the American garrison there, and utterly defeated a second patriot army. Before that year was out, his long-suffering troops were on the verge of mutiny and one of his senior generals had gone over to the enemy.

A year later he had effectively won the war. How was it possible? George Washington explains:

“I am sure that never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United states; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency, which was so manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who alone is able to protect them.”

But, as Jesus asks His disciples, where is our faith? Are we calling on Jesus to save us from these new threats? When we were fighting for liberty, our country relied on God and He was with us. To save our society from being swallowed by the black, churning waves of arrogance, self-centered materialism, and lack of values we need to call out to the Lord to help us bring others to Him. We need to reach out in Christian love to all, especially the growing number of people who are choosing to believe in nothing. We need more disciples in the boat. It may not be easy but it will be worth it.

 Matthew 5:11-12 and 14-15:

"God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in Heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”

“You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

It’s gotten pretty dark and stormy out there. We are the lights of the world. God chose us to be His even before we were born. We have heard His call and now need to do His work. Joel 2:12-14 reads: “That is why the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead. Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He is eager to relent and not to punish. Who knows? Perhaps He will give you a reprieve instead of this curse. ‘” Also in Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

The newscaster that was reporting from Jacob Hall’s funeral told viewers that the family had chosen a Super hero theme for the solemn occasion. Jacob had loved super heroes and the family thought it would make it easier on his many tiny friends who were in attendance. Amid crowds of costume clad adults and children, the reporter said that perhaps because this horrific event served to bring the community together, that Jacob was now a true super hero.  Jacob is just one of the most recent additions to the growing list of innocent lives taken by evil.  We see our culture literally dying from the rejection of anything sacred. If the loss of Jacob and others like him can serve to ignite a fire under Christ’s followers to bring the Christian community together to combat these evil trends through sharing faith and bringing others to the Lord, they will be God’s superheroes, and ours.

Let us now, acting as the body of Christ, our Lord, go into the world and bring God’s light to all of the places where the darkness of unbelief descends and evil hides.

Gwen Jamison