The news of the senseless slaughter of innocent young lives in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, Wednesday afternoon, February 14, 2018 dominates the news this morning. As of this morning, the death toll remains at 17 and the names of the dead, students and teachers, has not been released.
Like you, I am aware the tragedy of the loss of life reaches far beyond the dead…siblings, parents, grandparents, friends, classmates, teachers, administrators, neighbors, and yes, our state and nation…are all affected and scarred by the violence, suffering and death.
Liberal pundits will stand in their bully-pulpits and blame firearms for the loss of life. The media and anti-liberty zealots opposed to the 2nd Amendment, will attack the NRA and conservatives, and advocate the need to limit, if not eliminate private ownership of guns and rifles.
Few will look deeper and honestly examine why this happened. Why 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student expelled last school year from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, would plan and unleash a hail of gunfire on students of his former high school?
We are learning Cruz’s life is scarred as much as the wounds he inflicted on innocent lives Wednesday. USA Today reports, “teachers and former classmates say [Cruz] had an angry disposition that led to him being expelled and flagged as a danger on school grounds.”
Former classmates describe Cruz as a troubled soul and many say they are not surprised he unleashed his fury in an act of violence. According to Fox News, an unnamed student told a news station, “kids joked around that the student [Cruz] would be the one to ‘shoot up the school.’”
Cruz is a troubled soul and tragedy seems to have been the haunt of his life. Fox News reports Cruz and a younger brother were adopted and both his father and mother, Roger and Lynda Cruz, are dead. Roger apparently died of a heart attack several years ago and Cruz’s mother, Lynda, died of pneumonia November 1, 2017. Unhappy with family members who took him in, sometime after Thanksgiving 2017, Cruz moved into a mobile home with a high school friend who is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Cruz’s anger, rage and violence are pandemic in a generation educated in classrooms and nurtured in a society with an irreligious view of human life. The doctrine that human life is sacred and every life is to be cherished is lost on a generation that mocks God, denies the Creator, and is entertained with acts of violence in video games and television programs from early childhood.
I am not surprised a 19-year-old murdered 17 classmates; I am surprised it does not happen more often. Look into the eyes of today’s youth and you will find many who appear soulless…unloved and unloving; desensitized by bitterness, rejecting authority, angry with God, and waiting to be triggered into an act of rage that will not only destroy their lives and future, but leave countless others broken and dismayed.
Remembering Cain, the first son of Adam, murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8), we understand the problem is not guns and rifles; the problem is sin. The invitation to this generation is the same as it was to Cain when God wrestled with his sinful soul and asked, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?…” (Genesis 4:6-7).
God warned Cain, “…if thou doest not well, sin lieth [crouches] at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire [sin drives our desires], and thou shalt rule over him [man will either master sin or sin will become his master]” (Genesis 4:7).
King Solomon taught his son the same truth, “[A sinner’s] own iniquities shall take [trap] the wicked himself, and he shall be holden [entrapped] with the cords [ropes] of his sins.”
Nikolas Cruz, and I am afraid many like him, is the personification of hopelessness. Sinners have but two paths to choose in life…Remorse or Repentance. Cruz followed the path of remorse and dejection and left in his wake 17 lost lives.
Let us pray for the lives touched by the loss of 17 lives, but remember there are many Nikolas Cruz’s in our midst who feel unloved, act unloving, need to know the love of God, and our lives serve as the conduit of compassion for their lost souls.
With the heart of a shepherd,
Pastor Travis D. Smith
- This article was first printed by http://www.HeartofAShepherd.com
Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith
Only today did I become aware that public school teachers in Hillsborough County are voting for the next president of their Teachers Union. While I would generally give little thought to a Union election, this one I cannot ignore because it bears heavy influence on who will be leading thousands of public school teachers in Hillsborough County and the moral and political agenda they will pursue in our county.
Because the Teachers Union bears heavy influence on curriculum choices for our public schools in Hillsborough County, every parent, teacher, and taxpayer should be concerned with who the teachers choose as their president. Why? Because the president of the Hillsborough County Teachers Association will bring his\her own political agenda and moral standard not only to education, but also to the lives of Hillsborough County public school students and employees.
As a Public School teacher, you face the evidences of a decaying culture and the consequences of moral corruption every day. With the exception of Law Enforcement, I believe you have the most difficult job of any I might imagine.
Sadly, a breakdown of discipline in the home has introduced the same in our schools. Every day you face students, many of whom have no concept of discipline in their studies, nevertheless, you seek to inspire them. You engage with parents who are disengaged from their children’s education and exhausted from holding down jobs while struggling to pay bills.
I am aware there are times the administration is less than supportive and the School Board falls short in fulfilling promises and expectations. I understand the activities of a Union can be a powerful force and you seek leadership that will strive to put forward your interests and that of your schools and students.
I urge you…please do not divorce the moral component of your decision as you cast your vote for the next president of your union. The president of the Hillsborough County Teachers Association will set the tone and political agenda for your Union.
It is not my role or purpose to endorse anyone, but to caution you to choose a leader who reflects not only your career aspirations, but also the moral character that will command the respect of students, parents and peers.
Travis D. Smith
P.S. With his permission, I am copying below my blog an email from Mr. Terry Kemple of the Community Issues Council concerning Ms. Valerie Chuchman, candidate for president of the Hillsborough County Teacher’s Association.
From: Terry Kemple <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: This Woman Is Running For Teachers’ Union President !?!?!
Date: February 13, 2018 at 8:44:25 AM EST
February 13, 2018
Community Issues Council – This teacher is mocking religion in her classroom. And she wants to be President of the Hillsborough County Teachers’ Union.
This is Valerie Chuchman, one of two candidates for President of the Hillsborough County Teachers Union! She is a high school teacher and wore this outfit to school one day. Although it’s not distinct in this picture, the necklace she has on is a “crucifix” made out of little human skulls.
The Facebook comment box is back and forth between her and other teachers commenting on how “creepy” the outfit is and how that’s the impression Chuchman wants to create.
It’s bad enough that she chooses to ridicule religion by wearing an outfit that mocks Catholic Nuns when the only ones she influences are the students at the school where she teaches. Imagine what it will be like if she wins the election and is able, through her leadership of teachers as Union President, to influence teachers at every school in the District.
The hostility toward God and His people in our schools is already oppressive enough toward students, teachers, and staff who are believers. Having this woman in this key leadership position would only heighten the persecution against expressions of faith and those who believe in God!
I looked at her campaign literature and it doesn’t mention that she’s “married” to another female teacher at Riverview High School. You may remember her spouse’s name, Lorajane Reidas.
Reidas is the RHS teacher who forced students in her class to remove their cross necklaces (I guess it would have been alright if the students had worn crosses made of skulls)! She also has coercive homosexual material all around her classroom.
If you’re a teacher, please take all of this into account when you cast your vote for CTA President. If you know other teachers, please share this information with them so their votes are fully informed.
Together we can make a difference!
God bless you!
Community Issues Council
2312 Cherry Ridge Lane
Brandon, FL 33511
A confession before an observation: I could care less whether or not there is a Daddy-Daughter school dance in New York City public schools or anywhere else for that matter!
I am, however, very concerned our public school systems and parents are squabbling over “political correctness” and “Inclusion” while education in the public school system has become a national crisis.
Parents and American taxpayers should be infuriated over the failure of our education system to carry out their principle charge…educating America’s youth! The disgraceful education received by our youth is one from which this nation may never recover. America’s public-school system needs a total re-start beginning on the local level.
Let’s be real, the duty and responsibility of training and discipline begins at home and it is not the schools’ system’s duty to teach moral values, an appreciation for learning, or acceptable behavior. The American family is in crisis. More than 20 million children are fatherless and many more (estimate 33%) have never known the guiding hand of a father. Too many mothers are bearing the burden of not only parenting, but also struggling and sacrificing to supply basic needs for their children.
Sadly, there is a breakdown of discipline in our schools and survival seems to be the measurement of success for students and teachers. Administrators order teachers to promote students through the school system, giving them passing grades for nothing more than showing up for class!
No wonder America’s youth are ignorant of phonics, cannot write cursive, are unable to read, conduct simple math, and have no knowledge of history or understanding of American government.
School administrators and teachers fret over “Inclusion” and parents seem oblivious to the reality their children’s education is being sacrificed. Politicians and liberal media beat the drum for irrational Gender-Neutral matters, while students lack textbooks of their own and have no concept of homework. Education has been usurped by liberal indoctrination and “political correctness” and America’s youth are the losers.
Tell the students the truth…they do not and never will live in a “fair world”; the best evidence of that is what today’s public schools’ call “education”!
Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith
After a 9-year assault on “white America” (I hate to use that term…I am an American!) led by the Obama Administration and gleefully embraced by liberals who hate America and Judeo-Christian values (marriage, family, and home), we now read the largest drop of life expectancy in America is among middle-age “White Americans”.
Liberal educators, politicians, and media buffoons, got their “Hope and Change” in 2008 with the election of Barack Hussein Obama and by 2016 America became a nation feeling hopeless, believing nothing would change…on the brink of spiritual, moral, and economic bankruptcy.
Only by the sovereignty and providence of God have we seen Donald Trump elected President (and no, he is not perfect) and a non-politician take the helm of state and begin to push back against a “hate ideology” that left so many Americans despondent.
Why have Americans turned to drugs, including the epidemic of opioids, alcohol, and pursued sexual depravity at the risk of their health and future? Why is the heartland of middle America morally imploding?
Yesterday’s report in USA Today suggests, “The problem is concentrated in rural, largely white counties that have often struggled for many years with stagnant wages, unemployment, poverty and the loss of major industries that fueled local economies…”
Predictably, Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, suggests a change of policy “directed at strengthening the middle class” will be the answer.
No, Mr. Woolf, a change of policy is not what America needs. America needs a spiritual revival. Our nation needs to humble herself, return to God, repent of our sins, and embrace the fundamental spiritual principles that made us the greatest nation in the world.
Although addressed to Israel, I close with a verse that should be the passion of every believer.
2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith
I purposed to allow this blog to lie dormant except for the most pertinent concerns; however, the continuing offense and collusion of NFL management, owners and players provoked me to offer my view (if only for my well-being).
I hope the majority of Americans recognize the “take the knee” protests practiced by NFL players is staged and encouraged by liberals promoting a socialist, anti-American ideology, using young millionaire athletes for their own ends.
The majority of professional athletes “taking a knee” are little more than young naive college graduates. They have been the objects of praise and adulation their whole lives for no other reason than they can run faster, jump higher, and hit harder than the average. Apart from playing football and the wealth that comes with stardom, they are like the majority of young Americans…searching for purpose and core values. Many of these bigger than life athletes have been coddled by parents, pampered by coaches and are ill-equipped for anything more than the games they play.
There are a few athletes in professional sports who have a story to tell and inspire others to rise above mediocrity and become successful, productive citizens; however, they are the exception.
The “take the knee” gang inspires nothing and no one. They inflame prejudice, provoke division, and dispirit the downhearted. They live in gated communities, enjoy the luxury of multi-million dollar estates, and on Sunday “take the knee” piously suggesting they identify with millions of fans who cannot afford the expense of parking at the stadium let alone the price of admission!
We are! We are guilty of idolizing professional athletes, showering them with applause and adulation, and nurturing in them a misguided notion their underdeveloped thoughts and opinions deserve expression on America’s biggest stage. We are guilty of paying taxes that build stadiums and then privilege these misguided young adults with an opportunity to offend sons, daughters, spouses, and parents whose loved ones died in the line of duty!
We are to blame for electing politicians, Democrats and Republicans, who are anti-American liberals, socialists, and marxists! We are to blame for being silent when politicians, main stream news reporters, teachers, professors, community leaders, and professional athletes denigrate our nation, erode our Constitutional liberties, and assault America’s core-ideals with impunity!
Reflecting a Marxist ideology, liberals veil the offense of “take the knee” protests in the principle of “free speech”, but loathe those who point out their ignorance and hypocrisy.
The 1st Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” Americans are protected from a repressive government that would silence its citizens; however, the right of “free speech” does not extend to a private work place, whether it is a Mom and Pop Pizzeria, local McDonald’s franchise or an NFL stadium.
The hypocrisy of the NFL on this point is undeniable. As a corporation, the NFL did not hesitate to silence the Dallas Cowboys when they wanted to display a miniscule helmet decal in support of law enforcement after five police officers were slain in the line of duty in 2016. However, the same NFL management supports and tacitly encourages its players to “take the knee” supporting liberal, anti-American speech that offends patriotic Americans.
Wake up America! You will not give a kid wearing a McDonald’s uniform a free pass on offensive speech. You will not allow a police officer to disparage you and justify his actions as “free speech”. Why then will you give the NFL and its players the right to defame America’s flag and National Anthem?
A liberal, socialist ideology is driving the dialog and young NFL players “taking the knee” are pawns of those whose goal is the denigration of American patriotism and the erosion of American Constitutional liberties.
Copyright – Travis D. Smith
The ability of real-time mass communications coupled with intrusive social media platforms gives radicals an opportunity to organize and foment a revolutionary ideology that is borderline hysteria. Pairing a spirit of rebellion with a general public’s ignorance of America’s history and our Constitutional form of government and the stage is set for an erosion of our laws and individual liberties.
Like sheep led to the slaughter, many young Americans are blindly following socialist anarchists bent on eroding the underpinnings of our republic and destroying America.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith
* The following article is generated out of concern for the absence of pastors and Christian laypeople in the democratic process. At a time our Constitutional liberties are under assault by the progressive, militant left, professing Christians are MIA. Last Wednesday evening, May 15, 2017, my wife and I spoke before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, a committee that is formed every 20 years and tasked with hearing the voice of Florida citizens concerning revisions to the Florida Constitution. The progressive left dominated the meeting in their attendance and agenda, while the presence of conservative voices was pathetically minuscule.
Deafening silence, detachment, distance, disengagement, disorganization and moral desensitization are but a few words that come to mind when I ponder how far the average American stands from the political arena. There is an even greater lack of participation in our democracy among those who profess to be Christians .
I have attended school board meetings, city and county commissioner meetings, and political party meetings for more than a decade, and can attest that few pastors or professing Christians in Tampa Bay engage in public forums to express opinions, concerns or outrage over laws, ordinances and public policies that not only assail biblical morality and freedoms, but left unchallenged are tools to advance the erosion of our families, communities, state and nation.
Those of us who attend and participate in the democratic process have had our eyes opened to the organized forces of liberal socialists whose ideas and politics are antithetical to America’s heritage. Many who practice liberal politics are strongly adversarial toward traditional marriage, family, morality and decency. Their efforts are often demonstrated in forms of mob violence, attacks on free speech on college campuses, and shutting down conservative ideas in the public forum. School boards, city and county commissioner meetings, along with political rallies have become the staging ground for militant liberals.
The enemies of Biblical morality and conservatism have taken control of our schools and institutions of higher learning, eroding the foundations of our homes and culture. While the moral fabric of our society hangs tattered and torn, the majority of pastors and professing Christians are dismissive of those sounding the alarm warning our families, churches, schools, and society are under attack.
Christian friend, the time for political ambivalence is passed. If we do not awaken to the imminent threat of being silenced altogether, we will be relegated to the dismal heap of irrelevance.
It is time for all who love American freedom to awaken out of sleep! We must become active citizens for the sake of our homes, churches, schools and our beloved nation. It is time for pastors to assail the ideology of liberal indoctrination. It is time for Bible believers to support pastors and churches that dare to be faithful to God’s Word and stand with them in private and public forums.
Be forewarned; history will judge us harshly for failing to be stewards of liberty and defenders of biblical morality.
- To stay informed on issues that impact your life in Tampa Bay, subscribe to Mr. Terry Kemple’s “Community Issues Council” for Christian Citizenship in Action Tampa Bay.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith
This has been a busy day for speaking in public; however, as a citizen of FL and a pastor I feel constrained to speak up and speak out for the rights and liberties of my church family. In addition to speaking before County Commissioners this morning, Sheilah and I were privileged to address the Florida Constitutional Revision Committee this evening (they are organized every 20 years to address citizens’ issues and concerns with the Florida State Constitution).
Sheilah and I requested that Article 1, Section 23, the “privacy act” originally voted into law by the citizens of Florida in 1979, be amended to state specifically the original intent of that article which was to protect informational privacy rights (your personal information). Unfortunately, in 1989 a liberal Florida Supreme Court extended the privacy act to include a minor’s right to seek an abortion without parental consent; something that was never the intent of voters or the Florida Legislature. The following was my statement before the Committee.
“I am here to request that this Florida Constitution Revision Commission right an obvious wrong and restore the original intent of the citizens of Florida by Amending Article 1, Section 23 to apply strictly to the rights of citizens to have their personal and financial information protected from the intrusion of government and businesses.
I have read the simple, original intent of Article 1, Section 23 and understand that FL voters and the legislature at that time were addressing informational privacy concerns in business and finance.
I am at a loss to understand how liberal activists judges on the Supreme Court in 1989 could take the original intent of Article 1, Section 23 and by some convoluted, twisted exercise in mental derangement mandate the right of minor children, many of whom are victims of rape and incest, to seek an abortion without parental consent.
The current interpretation of Article 1, Section 23 by the Supreme Court giving minors the right of abortion without parental consent not only preys upon the most vulnerable, but is also a frontal attack on the family and parental rights to nurture, guide and protect their children’s spiritual, mental, and physical well-being.
Realizing the FL Supreme Court has demonstrated a pattern of legislating from the bench and violating the fundamental principle that, “All political power is inherent in the people”; I am requesting that this Constitution Revision Commission state in exacting terms that the intent of Article 1, Section 23 is to protect informational privacy of FL citizens and does not confer a right to abortion.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
It appears there are some employees in Hillsborough County Parks who fail to understand the fundamental right of religion because a county employee recently informed a church group they could not hold Vacation Bible School classes in a county public park unless they were willing to not use the Bible! Fortunately, that egregious assertion that would have denied religious liberty has been addressed; however, it does not “fix” the perceived adversarial posture some employees of government have taken towards Christianity. Because this is not the first time County Employees have taken a less than friendly position regarding religious liberties, Dr. Stacy White, chairman of the Hillsborough County Commissioners, is proposing that Hillsborough County Park Employees undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty.
Today I spoke briefly before the County Commissioners in support of Chairman White’s proposal; however, I also asserted that the County Commissioners’ 2014 decision essentially mandating Christian businesses (ex. – caterers, photographers, bakers, florists, musicians, printers, to name a few) will either serve the demands of the LGTBQ community (example, Gay Marriage) and capitulate their Christian convictions or be punished with crippling lawsuits, set in motion an adversarial tone against churches and Christians in the County. The following is my brief exhortation to our County Commissioners:
May 17, 2017
I understand the issue before you this morning is to consider a vote on requiring Hillsborough County Park Employees to undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty. I am here to not only support those classes, but suggest the same be taught to all County Employees.
I find it appalling that anyone employed in Hillsborough County would undermine basic 1st Amendment Rights of Freedom of Religion; however, this is not the first time and the slights against Christianity in this county is growing…from County Park officials daring to tell a church they cannot hold a Vacation Bible School if they use the Bible, to a teacher in Riverview demanding students remove crosses in her classroom.
To assist you in finding the source of this adversarial attitude toward Christians and the free practice of their faith and convictions in this county, I suggest this board of County Commissioners look into your own misguided legislative decisions.
In October 2014, five of the sitting commissioners on this board took an adversarial posture against Christians in this County when you voted to appease the LGTBQ community and attack the free exercise of religion of Christian business owners and businesses. You demanded that every private, family owned business that embraces traditional moral values either cave to your ordinance or face the threat of crippling lawsuits for daring to not capitulate to the invasive demands of the LGTBQ community.
If you are going to take up the requirement that County Park Employees undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty, I suggest you do the same and fix your own misguided decision to demand by government fiat, that Christian businesses set aside their own religious and moral convictions.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith