The Centurion Law Enforcement
FCPO Newsletter and Bible Study

The "thin blue line" covered by the blood of Christ.
Fellow  Sheepdogs  & Supporters:

Well it took a bit (God, family, work, ministry...) but here finally is this week's Centurion newsletter and Bible study.    

Speaking of these Bible studies, this week's is the recap of the message I taught on 
Acts 22 at last week's FCPO-Aurora/Denver chapter meeting. There is powerful application for us in both in law enforcement and life in general. Scroll down to 
Bold and O bedient.

Miss a past issue?  I always re-post them on our website, Twitter and Facebook pages, but here again is last week's powerful edition that places a spot light on the life and legacy of slain Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Zackari Parrish: "A Life Strong and Courageous." 

A quick FYI: I am in the process of transitioning away from Yahoo to a gmail address that you can start using immediately: thecenturionministry@gmail.com.  

As always, stay safe on the street while being bold in Christ.

MC 




RESOURCES

Deputy Zack Parrish's police funeral service was a terrific example of doing it right!  Moreover, it provides us with an very rare example of a police funeral service where God is honored and His Gospel is presented lovingly but boldly and without compromise (goes with today's study).  Here then is the service in it's entirety: Deputy Zackari Parrish's LOD Funeral Service (includes a good bit of the procession). Losing an officer is a nightmare scenario but the DCSO had a lot of great help in putting together a first class tribute. I would give it some time, but administrators seeking help in doing it right should contact the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.  


PRAYER REQUESTS

(1)  Aurora PD Officer Mike Hawkins and his bride Rachel are asking for prayer.  I share the following (with their permission) from Rachel:  
"I am asking you to please be praying for our family. As you all know, Mike is medically retiring from police work. This is going to be a difficult transition for Mike, as well as the rest of our family.  Please pray the pension board sees the service and sacrifice my husband has made for his country and his community over the last 24 years. Please pray they see the value and honor in his service and award him with more than the typical 50% of his salary for his pension.  Our family still has four young children to raise and starting over to find a new career on what comes out to be less than half of your salary now is a scary consideration." 
There is more, but you get the drift and God knows all the details -- let's pray.  This is the story 9 News ran on Mike and his colleagues in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting: The Untold Stories Behind the Aurora Theater Shooting.

(2) San Antonio (TX) cop's wife Sarah Rominger is in need of a kidney. Let's lift her in prayer while (finding a donor, medical procedures, etc.).  

(3) Please pray for wounded Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Pelle as he fights to recover from being shot in the line of duty on Jan. 31st (same shooting in which Zack Parrish was killed).  I had the honor of praying with Jeff and his bride last week and, praise God, he has also just been released from ICU and is making progress.  

(4) Pray for an officer who is facing discipline for using discretion on the job in keeping with his faith (with the understanding that persecution against Christian officers is continuing to grow).  

(5) Four of our brothers have been shot in York County, SC. One -- a fellow detective -- is fighting for his life.  Here is an update from the S.O.  Please pray!
- Det. Mike Doty: UPDATE -- Mike did not make it.  Pray for his family and colleagues.
- Sgt. Randy Clinton: He is out of surgery and in stable condition.
- Sgt. Buddy Brown: He will require another surgery, but his condition is currently stable.
- Sgt. Kyle Cummings: He is still in recovery.

Have a prayer request or announcement you would like included here? Need prayer?   Email me !  I also post prayer requests on my Facebook page ("friend" me).  


UPCOMING EVENTS

(1)  Guys in the Denver metro area:  If you're not planted in a solid men's study at your church (or if your schedule does not fit with our Thu night Centurion meetings), then I invite you to join us at our place in Highlands Ranch this Saturday morning (1/20) for our first "Men of Truth" men's breakfast and Bible study of 2018.  We'll start at 0800 -- email me for details!

(2) I will be speaking at the 3rd Annual Douglas County (CO) Law Enforcement Appreciation Day event on February 25th.  Join us!

(3) The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is hosting their National Law Enforcement Retreat in Texas this year (coming up in March -- before it gets too hot).  Register at the National Law Enforcement Retreat website.

(4) In addition to my own Centurion Church Security Seminars (again, contact me for details), here's the updated  Sheepdog Seminars  schedule (outstanding training for cops and sheepdog civilians alike -- especially in the area of church safety/security):  Upcoming Training Calendar . I know the speakers personnally: Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Officer Jimmy Meeks and Carl Chinn (all rock solid and you'll come away blessed).  

(5) The 2018 Badge of Hope Law Enforcement Marriage Seminar will be held July 22, 2018 in Lenexa, KS.  Stay tuned for more details soon!


The Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry

The Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry is a national, FCPO-affiliated, evangelical Christian outreach to our own in law enforcement. These newsletters and Bible studies are part of this effort and past editions can be found on our website and on social media  ( Facebook and Twitter ) pages. Feel free to adapt these messages for your own individual or group use and please share them with others. 

In addition, I regularly speak at churches (including teaching the well-received Centurion Church Security Seminar), retreats and both law enforcement and civilian conferences and seminars around the country -- please shoot me an email if I can be of service to your church, agency or organization.  
 

Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers
FCPO-USA exists to provide biblical support ("backup"), accountability and iron sharpens iron fellowship to Christian officers first in the U.S. and throughout the world as well. Our metro Denver chapter -- FCPO #217((aka FCPO-Denver/Aurora, a Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry affiliate) -- meets most 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month at Calvary Aurora (High School Room at the top of the stairs) starting at 7 PM for  Bible study, prayer and servant-warrior/iron sharpens iron fellowship. Spouses are both welcome and encouraged to attend with their LEO. 

Our next "cop church" fellowship and Bible study is set for Thursday, January 25th. Join us!


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"Bold and Obedient"

Acts 22

Our ongoing study through Acts has brought us to a place where God, through Paul's example, is calling us to radical obedience and boldness. Paul's example is one we need to be following. Pastor David Guzik's commentary on this chapter (from which this study is adapted) is also a great resource for us in verse-by-verse, inductive Bible study Let's dig in. 

At the end of the previous chapter, Paul's audience for his "testimony" had just tried to kill him for (in their view) having profaned the temple by sneaking a Gentile in past the Court of the Gentiles (what people of color in the south once knew as "the back of the bus").   However, once the crowd knew that Paul was in Roman protection, and once he began to address them in Hebrew (Aramaic), they became quiet and ready to listen ( Acts 21:40 ) -- at least for awhile.

In  Acts 22:1-5, Paul tells of his Jewish upbringing and background (a great way for all of us to begin our own testimonies -- who we were in our "BC" [before Christ] days):  
" Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now." And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished."

(a)  Paul began his great defense before the Jews the same way Stephen the Martyr did back in Acts 7:2 -- "Men and brethren and fathers, listen. Think about the irony in that (although no accident, to be sure) given that it was Paul, then as Saul, who oversaw and perhaps even ordered Stephen's death by stoning!
(b)  I am indeed a Jew: Paul is speaking as a Jew to other Jews; he is careful to lay the common ground between them.
(c)  at the feet of Gamaliel: Paul notes that he was taught by  Gamaliel, one of the most prestigious and famous rabbis of the day ( Acts 5:34). Note also that  Paul makes sure they understand that he still served the God of his fathers (that he had not rejected Judaism per se) but that the Jews had rejected God in Jesus Christ.
(d)  zealous toward God as you all are today: Paul also reminds the crowd of his credentials as a persecutor and prosecutor of "the Way" (an early manner of referring to Christianity taken from John 14:6). As cops, our " credentials" are an important part of establishing our own God-given authority and credibility. Understand also that  Paul had been a Christian for more than twenty years by this time but could still relate to those who were not believers. Likewise, we must not forget who we were before we were saved (and before we were cops).

In Acts 22:6-11, Paul adds the next part of a believer's testimony by describing how he came to faith in Christ. 
" Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' So I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.' And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus."

(a)  Suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me: Paul was a determined persecutor of Christians (followers of "the Way") and Jesus until this heavenly light shone on him. It is as if Paul is saying: "I was just like you all, until I had an encounter with Jesus. Jesus met me and my life was radically changed." Again, what an example for us to follow!
(b)  I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting: Paul also came to understand he was persecuting Jesus Himself, the shining Lord of glory, brighter than the noonday sun.
(c)   And since I could not see for the glory of that light: The brightness of that light made Paul blind. In persecuting Jesus he was spiritually blind, now he is also physically blind - and must humbly be  led by the hand into the city of Damascus.

In Acts 22:12-16Paul describes his response to the supernatural experience in Damascus.
" Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'"

(a)   Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews: Paul notes that it was  Ananias, a man with credentials as a good Jew, who received him into the Christian family.
(b)  The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will: In Paul's speech, we see that both he and Ananias are both simply acting like good Jews. They are not resisting God nor denying their heritage. In short, they were OBEDIENT (as we must be).
(c) Verse 14 is a wonderful picture of the duty  (another word we understand as peace officers) we all have before God: To  know His will , to  see the Just One  (Jesus), and to  hear the voice of His mouth  (His word, the Bible).

In Acts 22:17-21Paul describes his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion.
" Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.' So I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' Then He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'"

(a)   I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me: Paul had a powerful vision of Jesus while in the temple but he never referred to it in his letters, and seems to only mention it now out of necessity. Paul's Christian life was founded on God's truth, not spiritual experiences, and he didn't even like to talk a lot about his spiritual experiences (God's desires that we focus on His word vs. "experiences" and "feelings").
(b)   Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles : When Paul was touched by God in Damascus, he was told then of his call to preach to the Gentiles ( Acts 9:15 ), so the words from Jesus to Paul in the temple at Jerusalem were not new. However, we can see that in his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, it would have been easy for Paul to care so much for the conversion of Israel that he would want to concentrate on that - that's why Jesus gave him the reminder in the temple. Paul also  made it clear that it wasn't his idea to preach to the Gentiles; this was God's plan (obedience), not his. Folks, this is exactly how we should seek to fulfill our own ministries and callings (and EVERY Christian is called to ministry [service] in accordance with God's specific plans for each of us).  

In Acts 22:22-23, the crowd riots in response to Paul's message (I've been in more than a few riots/violent protests in my career).
And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!" Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air.

(a)  And they listened to him until this word (added emphasis mine):  The mob that had tried to kill Paul, and had then listened intently to his whole testimony, erupted into rage over the utterance of  one word -- " Gentiles." The Jewish mob was incensed that God's salvation could be given freely to believing Gentiles.  Think of it:  "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!"  over one word:  Gentiles . Again, understand the implication here: the Jews looked at the Gentiles (anyone who was not a Jew) as being less than "human" and lower than a stray dog or even (in some contexts) human waste! Yes, there was discrimination and prejudice (sin) long before it arrived on our shores here in America!  Paul had his audience all up until this point. In their minds, they didn't mind all this talk about Jesus, but they could not stand the idea that God might save Jews and Gentiles alike and in the same way (again, not unlike how people of color were once treated in this country). 
(b) The Jews of that day did not have a problem with Gentiles becoming Jews. But they were incredibly offended at the thought of Gentiles becoming Christians just as Jews became Christians, because it implied that Jews and Gentiles were equal, having to come to God on the same terms.  Likewise, many people today are offended that "good people" must be saved the same way "sinners" are; they want a gospel that will keep them separate from the "riffraff" of society (hmmm -- sounds like us in law enforcement).  On this, Pastor Guzik wrote, "D o we express our disdain of the perishing through indifference? We may not riot like the mob in this chapter did, but we may say by our inaction: 'I won't give you the gospel; I don't really care if you perish in hell!'"  Thus again must be our Code 3 (lights and siren) sense of urgency to obediently and boldly share the hope we have in Christ with others!

In  Acts 22:24, t he Roman commander (akin to a police Lieutenant or Captain today) demands an explanation for the riot:
The commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him.
(a)  The commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks: This Roman "peacekeeper" may not have understood the language Paul was using (he knowing Greek and Paul speaking in Aramaic), but he understood a riot and the consequences of letting a mob get out of hand.  
(b)   But when it was explained to him, he must have thought it absurd and offensive: All this rioting springing out of the hatred of Gentiles, people just like the commander himself.
(c)   Examined under scourging: It is suggested that Paul be beaten with a  scourge. This was quite different from being beaten with a rod or a normal whip (which Paul had experienced in  2 Corinthians 11:24-25). On the contrary, scourging -- a common but terrifying form of punishment at that time (as it was applied horrifically to our Savior) -- often left men dead or crippled for life. However, it was, by law, NEVER to be applied to a Roman citizen (on penalty of death for the person who did so). 

In Acts 22:25-29Paul reveals his Roman citizenship.
And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?" When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman." Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes." The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship." And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen." Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

(a)   As they bound him with thongs: Paul had his hands tied with leather straps so his hands joined around a wooden pole and his back was totally exposed and the skin stretched tight (meaning that it would split open as soon as he was struck with the scourge, much like as occurred in Jesus' scourging). He was ready for a brutal beating, one that would not stop until he had "confessed" to the crimes he was accused of - but at that moment he announced his Roman citizenship (as the Lord directed him).  
(b)  Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman: When this became known, the reaction was immediate. It was a potential death penalty offense to even bind a Roman citizen without due process, and they had already violated Paul's rights by binding him in  Acts 21:33. Therefore,  the commander was rightly afraid (just as we might be if we violate someone's rights today).  
(c)  With a large sum I obtained this citizenshipRoman citizenship could not be bought for a fee, only for a bribe. Normally, it was obtained only through birth or as a very high reward. Clearly, this ranking Roman "Fed" had purchased his citizenship via "illegal" albeit accepted (corrupt) means.
(d) Paul reveals that he was  born a citizen; his parents (or grandparents) must have been awarded the rights of citizenship for some good done on behalf of Rome.  Paul was also an extremely rare individual. It was uncommon to find such an educated, intelligent, devout Jew who was also a Roman citizen. God used Paul's unique background in a special way, even as he wants to use your unique backgrounds to carry out His will and plans for us.  

In Acts 22:30, the Roman commander arranges a hearing of the charges against Paul before the Jewish council (the Sanhedrin).
The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

(a)  He wanted to know for certain why he was accused: Using bribery to obtain his citizenship aside, this Roman "police" commander seems to be a fair and upstanding man. Though he is not acquainted with the dispute between Paul and the Jews, he seems to desire a just resolution. We would do well to follow that example.
(b)  And commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them: So now, Paul will get what is essentially a dramatic second chance. The opportunity to preach to the mob on the temple mount ended in another riot, but he will get to speak before the Sanhedrin ( their council) the next day. The Sanhedrin was the  Jewish governing "congress" and Paul would have the opportunity to speak before this same group that he was once a member of! Dr. Luke clearly tells us in  Acts 26:10  that Paul had a vote -- something that could only happen if he was a member of the Sanhedrin. God  had revealed His plan to Paul right at his conversion: He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake ( Acts 9:15-16 ). Paul knew the general plan; but just like us, he didn't know the details or how it would all work out. Just like us, he had to trust and obey God!  

Finally, understand here that the context here. Paul, even when faced with the strong possibility of horrific punishment, was not just obedient, but he also displayed "Holy Spirit-powered" boldness in sharing his testimony/message before a hostile audience. Does that describe you and I in our testimonies and witness as Christians?  

In a short and incredibly powerful message I've shared here before, Eric Ludy describes this boldness using the Hebrew words for "spiritual audacity" and "grit."  Does that describe us?  It should and it can! See The Ancient War Cry

In closing, let me again encourage you who are "in Christ" (born again believers) to step up and serve with Paul-like boldness and  obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit. And if that does not describe you, it is with that same boldness and obedience that I urge you to turn to Christ in faith today.  How?  See the following:

Jesus' first words in His earthly ministry were, " Repent and believe in the Good News" ( Mark 1:15).  To repent  is a "180" -- a complete, radical change of mind and heart as it relates our sin. To believe  as He intends it here is to  completely and radically surrender in faith to Christ for your salvation  in the same way you have faith that your body armor will stop the rounds it is designed to stop or that a skydiver's parachute will open when it is supposed to (we stake our lives on it)! The "Good News" of course is the Gospel of Christ. Moreover, the words repent and believe are literally two sides of the same coin in meaning and intent. Here's a great stand alone study on this issue: Repent and Believe.

The same concept of " believe" is further explained in John 3:1-21 where Jesus says, "... you must be born again." Note our Lord's emphasis on must (not "may" or "should"): this is the life-saving/life-changing personal relationship (again, NOT  "religion") with Christ that I stress so often (see What does it mean to be a born again Christian?). It is also the relationship that Zack had with Christ at the time of his death (and the sole reason he is in heaven today).  

With this foundation in place, dig into:
(a) Still think you "deserve" heaven? Take the Good Person Test  and see how you do. Then go to...
(b)  How can I be saved? (Cry out to Him today!)
(c)  Cops and Salvation (a powerful, short message from Police Major  Travis Yates of Ten-Four Ministries and Law Officer Magazine ).
(d) Got saved?  Now what?

Brethren, let's get in the fight behind Christ our Captain!


Questions? Made a genuine decision for Christ today?  Please contact me and let me know.    

MC


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