It Crouched at Dylann Roof’s Door

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

Emanuel-ame- church
Steeple of Emanuel -ame-church

Eight Christians were slain at a bible study inside the historic Emanuel-AME-Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Another died later of injuries at a hospital. One hate-filled, young man shot them and fled the scene. He was arrested later.

Having worked many shootings I can visualize the crime scene investigation in the church.

  • Investigators meticulously comb over the scene looking for physical evidence of exactly what happened.
  •  Measurements, photographs, perhaps videos, will be taken.
  • Bullet trajectories will be calculated and recorded. Bullets and bullet fragments will be marked and gathered.
  • DNA and fingerprint evidence will be collected for laboratory analysis and matching to the victims and suspect.
  • Physical evidence will be gathered to explain what happened in that church.

A young woman (@DeannaFarley_) tweeted “Disgusted with the evil in this world. It’s sad that innocent people can’t even feel safe in church. #PrayForCharleston.” She was correct. It is sad. We cannot feel safe in church.  We should not feel “safe” anywhere in this world.

I responded with a paraphrase of Jesus’ words recorded in John 17:12. I hope my tweet brought her some ease. The Word always does for me.

None of us is safe in this world because of hate. When Christ, God in the flesh, walked among us He kept his faithful safe. He went away promising to return. Hatred followed them the rest of their days. His faithful will not be safe from earthly harm until the day He comes back.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said, “The only reason someone would walk into church and shoot people praying is hate.” I don’t know the mind of the suspect or if hatred of the victims’ ethnicity or their faith filled his heart. The mayor was correct in his statement.

I am assuming the nine victims are children of God, so at this very moment they stand in the presence of life and glory itself. If they were killed because of their faith then crowns will be given to them as well. They need fear nothing ever again.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously coined the words, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” What we really need to fear is hatred itself.

Regardless of the evils we see, hear, or feel, the one thing we must not do is let hatred gain a foothold in our hearts. We have been warned sin crouches at the door waiting for us to step into it.  That warning, given by our Creator to the first murderer, is valid to all His children to this day.

Hatred crouched at the door of Dylann Roof. He stepped out alone and it devoured him. Outside influences may have led him to this heinous choice. It was, in the end, his choice to make. He must be tried in a court of law and eventually in the court of Heaven. Never doubt that hatred prowls the streets of every ethnicity and level of society. Alone you are no match for it. In submission to Christ you are. Do not let it devour you.

 

Angle of Impact

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I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to talk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.     Ephesians 4:1-3

To perform trajectory or blood spatter analysis, the angle of impact (angles which a bullet or drop of blood impacts a surface) must be determined. This angle helps shows the investigator a point of origin (a point in three dimensional space the bullet or blood came from). Using this knowledge the investigator deducts physical actions of the crime. It also aids in proving or disproving witness testimony.

After measuring the width and length of the spatter or hole, a trigonometric calculation provides the angle of impact. The angle of impact = sin-1 (w/l), or the arc sine of the hole or spatter width divided by its’ length. The blood spatter in the photo has an approximate 13.7° angle of impact. Basically, longer spatter or bullet holes equal lower angles of impact. A 90° impact, almost perfectly round, and has minimal surface contact. The lower angle impact is longer and incurs greater surface contact. Additional data must be collected for complete trajectory or spatter analysis but establishing angles of impact remains essential.

Examining bullet holes and blood spatter can tell me what happened at a crime scene. These same bullet holes taught me the equal importance of determining angles of impact in living as a Christian. A bullet entering a body at 90° incurs greater risk of deep tissue/organ injury or fatality than a lower-angle grazing wound. Grazing wounds leave a larger, more noticeable mark but allow greater chance of survival and healing (these being key). The nation of Israel prayed a 90° bullet would come from heaven straight into the heart of their enemy, the gentiles and the oppressive Roman Empire. God, the Master Marksman, took a lower angle shot at the real enemy—the darkness in the heart of all men. His blessed bullet was Jesus Christ.

Too often I observe Christians in head-to-head heated debate with those of different beliefs. These confrontations usually end up injuring or killing relationships, and/or any hope of productive dialogue. The cowboy philosopher Will Rogers once said, “People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.” I agree with Will.

The Apostle Paul gave us guidelines for Christian living in Ephesians 4:1-3. If we want to successfully share the Gospel message

  • We must be confident yet humble in our daily life.
  • We must be strong but kind when dealing with conflict.
  • We must hold our beliefs firmly yet display patience with those who do not share them.
  • We must not desire what the world offers but remain understanding of those who do.
  • We must be eager to bring others into the body of Christ but not accept worldly standards.
  • All must be done with loving intent in word and action.

Jesus Christ, the bullet from heaven, did all these. He walked, worked, dined, laughed, cried, praised, and mourned with those beside Him. He could have come straight down from heaven with both barrels blazing and snuffed non-believers out of existence. He did not.

As in all things Christians should imitate Christ. Whenever we speak with those outside, or inside the faith, we must come from a position, not above or below, but from beside. We should in turn walk, work, dine, laugh, cry, praise, and mourn with them while following the guidelines Paul wrote down. Living this way impacts the minds of those we meet in a greater way. The message of the Gospel we share with the hearer might still sting a bit. But the chances of killing any relationship or further dialogue will be significantly diminished. The survival of the relationship and healing it allows is once again, key.

So what angle do you take when you share the Gospel with others? Have you experienced the difference?