Richard Exley Ministries


The Beast Within
Posted on June 02, 2009

It is an incredibly beautiful morning in Northwest Arkansas. The sky is nearly Colorado blue, the humidity relatively low with temperatures in the mid-seventies. Earlier this morning, I enjoyed a cup of coffee on the porch overlooking Beaver Lake, but in spite of the natural beauty of God’s creation my heart is heavy. This peaceful morning belies the reality of our world where violence begets violence and well meaning people risk becoming a monster in an attempt to destroy a monster. The thing that prompted my melancholy musings this time was the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller. He was shot and killed on Sunday morning while serving as an usher at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. 

The response from both sides has been predictable. Pro-life organizations decry it as a senseless act of violence without justification, while pro-choice groups, like the National Organization for Women are blaming the tragedy on the pro-life movement. NOW has labeled the murder an act of "politically-motivated domestic terrorism" and has called on the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to put their full resources behind the effort to "root out and prosecute...the criminal enterprise that has organized and funded criminal acts for decades." It doesn’t take a prophet to see where this is leading.

Everything about this tragedy is grievous. I’m grieved that George Tiller was murdered and that his wife, children, and grandchildren must suffer this senseless tragedy. And his murder was so pointless. Killing him does nothing to end the tragedy of abortion; in fact it probably hardens the resolve of pro-choice groups and legislatures. Without a doubt it makes it more difficult for pro-life advocates.

Category: Morality

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Unintended Consequences
Posted on May 19, 2009

Liberal politicians, jurists and even educators insist that there are no moral absolutes, creating a society where each person is a law unto himself.

Sometimes good people make poor choices that result in unintended consequences. Maybe you’ve done that, I know I have. Sometimes principled people make misguided decisions that produce unintended consequences. The more powerful the people making the decisions the more far reaching the consequences, even the unintended ones. 

I suspect this is what happened in the case of Roe verses Wade, the infamous 1973 Supreme Court decision. I cannot imagine that the seven Supreme Court justices who voted to legalize abortion intended to set in motion forces that would result in nearly fifty million babies being put to death before birth, but they did. I cannot believe cruelty was the motivating factor or that they harbored a hatred of children. Laying aside the finer points of law, which in this case seem misinterpreted to me, I truly believe they were motivated by a misguided compassion. They wanted to help women and thought they were, but they were wrong.

Laying aside the deaths of fifty million innocent children for a moment, let’s consider some of the other unintended consequences. The decision to have an abortion is gut wrenching. It is usually made when the pregnant woman is in a crisis and more often than not leaves her psychologically damaged for life. The law may tell her she has the right to choose to have her baby put to death before birth, but in her heart of hearts she knows that is wrong, and she has to live with that knowledge. That’s why pro-life organizations all over the country now provide post abortion healing groups.  

An equally tragic, but much less obvious consequence – unintended of course – is the unparalleled increase in domestic violence and child abuse in the last thirty-five years, not to mention the random killing sprees on school campuses, in shopping malls, and now in churches. 

Anyone who watches the national news knows that mass murder in the United States has increased exponentially in recent years. The graphic images are indelibly imprinted on our minds. Who could ever forget the sight of frightened students fleeing from Columbine High School where two classmates gunned down twelve students and one teacher, or emergency vehicles and grieving parents surrounding a one room Amish School house in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where five school children, all girls, were killed execution style by Charles Carl Roberts IV? Then there’s the image of thousands of Virginia Tech students at a candlelight vigil following the murder of thirty-two of their classmates by Seung-Hui Cho. 

More recently, on March 20 of this year, Robert Stewart entered a nursing home in Carthage, N.C., and opened fire on residents, killing seven of them along with one nursing home employee. And on April 3 Jiverly Wong, armed with two handguns, went on a killing rampage at an immigration center in Binghamton, N.Y. According to police reports, he fired 98 shots, killing 13 people before taking his own life.  

Of course murder is nothing new. From the time Cain killed Able until now the human race has a long history of cold blooded atrocities. Still, there seems to be something different, something more sinister about the random killings being perpetrated by these troubled young men. For the most part their killing sprees were not prompted by religious fanaticism or political ideology or even personal revenge. Their victims were strangers by and large – innocent victims – and seemed to be chosen at random.  

Mark Kopta, chairman and professor in the department of psychology at the University of Evansville in Indiana, has researched extensively the country's mass killings, which he defines as attacks leading to the deaths of at least five people, including the killer's suicide. He found three incidents in the United States fitting this profile between 1930 and 1970. Three more followed over the course of the 1970s. In the 1980s, however, there were ten such incidents of mass murder. The 1990s had seventeen; and, since the new millennium began, there have been twenty-five such mass murders. Six of them occurred last year. And 2009 has already topped that with eight such killings. 

So what’s going on? Why this sudden rise in mass killings? Are they just a statistical fluke or might they be an unintended consequence of Roe verse Wade?

There are no easy explanations, no pat answers. The conditions conspiring to produce these troubled young men are varied and complex. The entertainment industry continues to produce video games, music and movies that glorify violence. Liberal politicians, jurists and even educators insist that there are no moral absolutes, creating a society where each person is a law unto himself. Corruption in high places, within business, government and the church, has produced a jaded cynicism in young and old alike. Then there’s the economic meltdown of recent months and the resulting despair. Finally there is rampant divorce and the resulting dissolution of the traditional family creating a generation of lost souls.  

While all of these are contributing factors they are not the root cause. The root cause is spiritual rather than sociological or even psychological. America made a covenant with death and we are now reaping the unintended consequences. That covenant was sealed on Monday, January 22, 1973, when the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2, in the now infamous Roe v. Wade decision. Since that fateful day nearly 50 million babies have been put to death before birth and, not co-incidentally, we have seen an unparalleled increase in domestic violence and child abuse. The random killing sprees on school campuses, in shopping malls, and now in churches, are just the inevitable consequence of devaluing life.  When the highest court in the land rules that killing the child in your womb is an acceptable way of dealing with your unplanned pregnancy, we shouldn’t be surprised when children reared in such a culture turn to murder and suicide when life becomes overwhelming. 

What, you may be wondering, can we do? How can we reverse this tragic trend?
If the root cause is spiritual then it demands a spiritual response. Our response must be three-pronged. 

1) Intercession –Since we do not contend with physical foes, but spiritual ones, our weapons must be spiritual rather than the weapons of the world (2 Cor. 10:3-5). In prayer we must bind the spiritual forces that are operating behind the scenes and only then can we see men and women set free. Remember, Jesus said that before we can spoil the strong man’s house we must first bind him (Mt. 12:29). We must bind the spirit of death and we can only accomplish this through intercessory prayer. 

2) Evangelism – those who do not know Christ, even those whose desperation have made them killers, are not our enemies but our mission. We are called to love them into the Kingdom. 

3) Reformation (Spirit directed social action) – as evangelism redeems the individual so Spirit directed social action redeems the institutions of society restoring them to their God given purpose.

Remember, we are not holy warriors doing battle with those whose values and lifestyles are different from ours, but holy lovers who turn the other cheek, who go the second mile, who do unto others as we would have them do unto us. No matter how strident those who hate the cause of Christ become let us always live lives that reflect the love of Him who laid down His life for us.

This is already longer than I intended but I cannot close without addressing one more issue. Some of you may be living with the unintended consequences of a poor choice you made years ago. Try as you might you cannot forgive yourself or move on with your life. I bring you good news! Christ has redeemed us from the curse of our sinful mistakes by suffering the curse for us (see Galatians 3:13-14). You can’t undo the past. Not even God can do that but His forgiveness does unlock the future. 

This is Richard Exley straight from the heart.

Category: Morality

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America's Covenant with Death
Posted on December 19, 2007

Christmas is less than a week away and I want to write something warm and fuzzy but I can’t.  I’m haunted by the gruesome images of the senseless killings that have become increasingly familiar. In February, Bosnian immigrant Sulejmen Talovic, 18, walked into a shopping mall in Salt Lake City and shot and killed five people. In April a shy 23-year-old Korean student named Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded many more on the Virginia Tech University campus in Blacksburg Va., before he shot himself. Earlier this month, Robert Hawkins, 19, entered a department store in Omaha, Neb., and killed eight people before turning his SKS assault rifle on himself. Then on Sunday, December 9th, Matthew Murray, 24, armed with an assault rifle, a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, opened fire in the parking lot of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing two teen-age girls as a service was letting out. The girls' father and two other people were wounded. Twelve hours earlier and about 65 miles away Murray killed two staff members of the Youth With a Mission missionary training center in Arvada and wounded two others.

Murder is nothing new.  It’s been around since Cain killed Able and the human race has a long history of committing atrocities. In fact that first Christmas so long ago was a bloody one as King Herod’s paranoia turned into homicidal madness when he ordered the slaughter of every male child under the age of two in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. Still there seems to be something different, something more sinister about the random killings being perpetrated by these troubled young men. Their killing sprees are not prompted by religious fanaticism or political ideology or even personal revenge (excepting perhaps Murray’s assault on Christians). Their victims were strangers for the most part and seemed to be chosen at random.  

What’s going on? Why is this happening?

There are no easy explanations, no pat answers. The conditions conspiring to produce these troubled young men are varied and complex. The entertainment industry continues to produce video games, music and movies that glorify violence. Liberal politicians, jurists and even educators insist that there are no moral absolutes, creating a society where every person is a law unto themselves. Corruption in high places, within business, within government and within the church, has produced a jaded cynicism in both young and old alike. Finally there is rampant divorce and the resulting dissolution of the traditional family creating a generation of lost souls.  

While all of these are contributing factors I believe the root cause is more spiritual than sociological or even psychological. America made a covenant with death and we are now reaping the consequences. That covenant was sealed on Monday, January 22, 1973, when the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2, in the now infamous Roe v. Wade decision, giving the United States the dubious distinction of having the most permissive abortion laws of any nation in the western hemisphere. Since that fateful day nearly 50 million babies have been put to death before birth and, not co-incidentally, we have seen an unparalleled increase in domestic violence and child abuse. The random killing sprees on school campuses, in shopping malls, and now in churches, are just the inevitable consequence of devaluing life.  When the highest court in the land rules that killing is an acceptable way of dealing with your unplanned pregnancy we shouldn’t be surprised when children reared in such a culture turn to killing when life becomes overwhelming for them. 

If the root cause is spiritual, and I believe it is, then it demands a spiritual response. The church’s response must be three-pronged. 

1) Intercession – Jesus said that before we can spoil the strong man’s house we must first bind him (Mt. 12:29). Since we do not contend with physical foes but spiritual ones our weapons must not be the weapons of the world (2 Cor. 10:3-5). In prayer we must bind the spiritual forces that are operating behind the scenes and only then can we see men and women set free.  

2) Evangelism – those who do not know Christ, even those whose desperation have made them killers, are not our enemy but our mission. We are called to love them into the Kingdom.
3) Reformation (Spirit directed social action) – as evangelism redeems the individual so Spirit directed social action redeems the institutions of society restoring them to their God given purpose.

Remember, we are not holy warriors doing battle with those whose values and lifestyles are different from ours but holy lovers who turn the other cheek, who go the second mile, who do unto others as we would have them do unto us. No matter how strident those who hate the cause of Christ become let us always live lives that echo the Christmas angel’s holy refrain, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). 

This is Richard Exley straight from the heart.
 

Category: Morality

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Anger and Despair -- A Deadly Combination
Posted on December 06, 2007


Following yesterday’s killing spree at an Omaha, Neb., shopping mall, in which nineteen-year-old Robert Hawkins shot and killed at least eight people before turning his gun on himself, I found myself wrestling with two questions. The questions were not new. They were the same two questions I have struggled with following each killing spree, whether it happened at Columbine High School in Colorado or on the Virginia Tech campus or at the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The first question is a “why” question.  Why did he do it? What could make a person kill people at random? Did he have no feelings for their families, no concept of the kind of pain and suffering he was inflicting?

No one can know for sure why Robert Hawkins did what he did but the information coming from the news media gives us a portrait of a deeply disturbed young man, an outsider in many ways and estranged from his family. When I consider that information two words come to mind:  anger and despair.

Category: Morality

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The Parable of the Geese
Posted on April 25, 2007

“Experience has taught me that in the early moments of temptation the way of escape is broad and easy to find.  The longer I delay, however, the narrower the way of escape becomes.” 

We have been flying since the first hint of daylight and the sun is now far down in the western sky as we circle the body of water far below us.  Though we have ridden a fierce north wind most of the day, weariness nonetheless makes our wings heavy.  Twice we have bypassed promising lakes after being alerted to danger by our experienced leader.  He is a magnificent bird well past his prime, but he can still fly with the best of the young geese.  He has been my mate for many winters.  For the most part we have had a good life – flying north to Canada in the spring to hatch our young, and then back south with the first hint of winter – but twice we lost offspring to the deadly guns of the hunters.

 Through the driving snow I now see a cluster of geese huddled against a marshy bank at the far end of the lake.  Being surrounded by grain fields, it promises not only a sheltered resting place but sustenance as well.  We will not find a better place to spend the night, of that I am sure.

Category: Morality

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