What Factors Contribute To Mass Shootings?

What factors contribute to mass shootings? According to a new report from the National Science Foundation, the answer is a combination of three factors: access to guns, exposure to media violence, and mental health. reports on a new study by the Foundation, working in conjunction with the Congressional Subcommittee on Youth Violence.

The study’s authors point out that Anders Breivik, who murdered 69 youth in Norway, used the video game Modern Warfare 2 as a military simulator to help him practice shooting people.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine Colorado shooters, claimed they used the violent video game Doom to practice their rampage. Violent video games have also been implicated in other school shootings in Alaska, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

The researchers say, “It is not possible to know whether playing violent games caused Breivik, Harris and Klebold, or any other killer to shoot their victims.”

But they point out that a comprehensive review of more than 381 effects from studies around the world shows that violent video games contribute to several things:  increased aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, an increase in heart rate and aggressive behavior.

Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. An analysis of 26 studies involving over 13,000 participants found that violent media exposure is also significantly linked to violent behavior such as punching, beating, and choking others.

Although we can’t say that violent video games actually CAUSE people to commit violent acts, there definitely is a correlation.

So what should our response be as followers of Christ?  Well, I’d suggest we take our cue from scripture.  In Philippians Chapter 4, Paul says this: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM

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Music News: tobyMac, Sanctus Real & A Night of Hope & Healing

Click here to hear the latest Music News from tobyMac, Sanctus Real and a special night of hope & healing from Newtown, CT.

Do You Trust God When Times Get Tough?

Do you trust God when times get tough?  A new survey has found that Christians who are growing in their spiritual maturity are more likely to trust God—even in difficult circumstances.

According to Baptist Press, “Exercising Faith” is one of eight attributes of discipleship that consistently show up in the lives of maturing Christians. The attributes are part of the Transformational Discipleship study conducted by LifeWay Research.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay, says “It is easy to say God has a purpose for everything in life, but it requires faith to enjoy seeing His plan unfold in difficult times.”

The survey shows the longer someone has trusted Christ as their Savior, the better their responses are for exercising faith. Being involved in a Bible study group, praying for Christians and non-Christians, and witnessing to nonbelievers also make a positive impact.

The survey also revealed those stronger in their faith are less prone to doubt God’s involvement, even in unexplainable circumstances. Just 9 percent agreed with the statement: “When things happen in my life I can’t explain, I typically doubt God is involved.” Eighty percent disagreed with that statement.

Ed Stetzer from Lifeway “Exercising Christian faith is more than believing God exists; it is believing in God’s promised presence, provision, and compassion for us.”

“It is exhibited in a life that depends on Jesus Christ for salvation and is filled with the expectation of His daily activity.”

You can learn more about the transformational discipleship research at LifeWay Research.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Did You Watch A Night of Hope and Healing Last Night?

It’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and I was up watching the live-stream of “A Night of Hope and Healing” from Bridgetown, CT last night with Chris Tomlin, Mandisa, TobyMac, Steven Curtis Chapman, Laura Story, Casting Crowns, Louie Giglio and Max Lucado and so many others. Did you watch any of the event? Oh, and don’t forget to pray for the families in Newtown, CT……they could really use your prayer support as they continue to heal!

Check out the Facebook Page set up for the event to see some home videos from the night.

Twas’ 11 Days Before Christmas

“Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38,
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“This is heaven.” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then, He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King.
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools.”
“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“Come now my children, let me show you around.”
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

Immanuel: God With Us

This was written by a friend of mine’s daughter, Grace, who is a senior in high school. She was born with some physical challenges and sometimes uses the support of a wheelchair, but has a brilliant mind and beautiful spirit.

“There are many things that take December off: school, work, exercise, and diets, just to name a few. But, as I was reminded about an hour ago, sin isn’t one of them. When I first heard about the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, I thought, “But it’s Christmas.”

Evil is always present, but it seems more hideous when contrasted with “Peace on earth; goodwill toward men.” Immanuel seems like a joke in the face of a massacre like the one today. But tonight, I can’t help thinking about another senseless killing and the Child who survived. A prophecy concerning Him is “He came to bind up the broken-hearted.” Another calls Him “A Man of Sorrows.”

What Newtown needs is not a theological explanation or a call to greater faith; it needs a shoulder to cry on and a Voice to say, “I know. I have scars too.”

Immanuel: God with us. Broken with us. Mourning with us.”

A Poem From Max Lucado

It’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and all of here at the New Shine.FM are lifting up lifting up the families and friends of those involved in last Friday morning’s tragedy in Newtown, CT. Max Lucado shared this poem over the weekend, and I thought it was a fitting way to start the week.

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Your Children

-Max Lucado