Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Satan desires to isolate us to destroy us, but God desires to draw us to solitary places to restore and renew us.

Solitary Places

Luke 8:26-39

In Santee, California a boy turned fifteen just a few weeks ago. While fifteen year old freshmen in high school are supposed to be studying for their math exams and trying out for the freshmen baseball team or getting ready for their next Debate Team competition, Andy Williams was planning on taking out as many of his classmates as possible. While fifteen-year-old freshmen are supposed to be talking to their girlfriends at night before they go to bed, Andy was talking to himself -- trying to figure out how he was going to pull off his devilish scheme to get back at those who had hurt him.

How does something like this happen? We’ve only asked that question dozens of times over the past several years as school violence has captured the headlines of newspapers, television news magazines, and radio talk shows. Those at Santana High School in Santee, California and those in Andy’s hometown of Knoxville, Maryland don’t understand how he could have done such a thing. Back in Maryland Andy was known as a happy-go-lucky kid. Andy’s best friend, Scott Bryan said, "It doesn’t make any sense at all. I’ve never seen Andy get mad at anyone." Scott remembers when the Columbine shootings happened in 1999 and how Andy thought that the shootings were so sad, a terrible thing to happen.

Art Fairweather, principal of Brunswick Middle School, said Andy Williams was on the honor roll there. "His grades were always good," he said. "He seemed to have a lot of friends, and he appeared to be well-adjusted."

How can a "good" kid, on the honor roll, seemingly well adjusted go off and take out his school? Well, some say he was picked on. Let me ask you something, what 9th grader is not picked on by upperclassmen? Being picked on, having big ears, or being skinny doesn’t explain how a child can arrive at a mental state where they take a gun and intentionally end the lives of their classmates.

On Wednesday night I was reading articles on the internet about Andy Williams when I stumbled onto some additional information that hasn’t gotten the publicity of Andy’s shooting spree. Let me share with you some other incidents that have recently taken place in the lives of young people - they should cause you and me to shutter.

* Williamsport, PA. A 13-year-old girl was hit in the shoulder when a 14-year-old girl began shooting at Bishop Neumann Junior-Senior High. Police said freshman Brent Paucke, 14, was able to persuade the girl to drop the gun. Paucke said he ducked under a lunchroom table when the girl came in screaming and fired two shots, but then recognized her from his school bus. "She was saying, ’I don’t want to live. I should just commit suicide right here.’ And she pointed the gun at her head," Paucke said.

* In the desert town of Twentynine Palms, two 17-year-old boys were arrested at their homes Tuesday night on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder and civil rights violations. At one of the boys’ homes, deputies found a rifle. At the other, there was a list of 16 fellow students at Monument High that the pair planned to target, San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokesman Chip Patterson said. The teens’ motives were unknown.

* Authorities in Washington state arrested a student Wednesday for allegedly bringing a gun to Kentwood High School in suburban Seattle. The 15-year-old boy did not fire the gun but police shut down the school for more than an hour after apprehending him in a classroom in the Seattle suburb. The parent of one student at the school told a local TV station the suspect cocked the gun and pointed it at classmates, asking: "Who thinks I’m crazy?"

* Three junior high school students in San Bernardino County were arrested Tuesday for threatening to place a bomb on a teacher’s desk, authorities said. Classmates at Woodcrest Junior High alerted the principal. The two 12-year-olds and a 13-year-old talked about the plot last week after one of the boys had a disagreement with a teacher, Ontario Detective Mike Macias said. But no bomb-making materials were found at their homes. Police said the boys cried and confessed during questioning.

* At Perris High, in Perris, Calif., school guards Tuesday found a 4-inch knife in the backpack of Luis Benavides, 18, and he was arrested for investigation of possession of a weapon. Deputies found two rifles and ammunition at his home. "He made the comment that he needed help because he felt like killing somebody," said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Mark Lohman. "The teacher, in light of everything that’s going on, took this very seriously."

* At Wheatland High, an hour north of Sacramento, a boy was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly threatened to bring a gun to school and kill people. He was released after authorities determined he did not have immediate access to guns.

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