|FCPO Newsletter and Bible Study
||The "thin blue line" covered by the blood of Christ.
Sorry if you've now received this twice but "version #1" went out with a host of problems I thought I had corrected...
thanks for your patience!!
First off, Diana and I want to wish each of you a blessed and safe Thanksgiving (the subject of this week's Bible study -- below). Know that the study has powerful application for both cops and "civilians" (using that word is sure to irritate my military brethren -- LOL) alike -- pass it on!
Speaking of these newsletters and Bible studies, here's last week's if you missed it:
Committed to Obedience
Don't forget that always re-share these newsletters on our
and social media (Facebook and Twitter) feeds as well.
Once again, please take the time to review the new resources,
I've included for you below. Also be sure to reach out if you need prayer or counsel -- we're here to serve you.
Stay safe on the street (goal is to get home after your shift -- Thanksgiving dinner and then T-day leftovers are waiting), be front-sight focused in your training and stay radically bold in Christ
MC (and Diana too)
One of my major "heartburn" issues in ministry is the level of biblical illiteracy among so-called "believers." Sadly, the majority of those who claim to be Christians are very likely not, and many who are spending less and less time studying and growing in their faith (thus again is my "Code 3" sense of urgency). Not my business you say? God says different in His Word:
How can I tell if someone is saved or not?
(CARM is a great resource in general). Secondly, this sad piece drives my point home:
Survey Finds Most American Christians Are Actually Heretics
. If you are truly born again in Christ, you can't lose your salvation, but our Lord exhorts us to "
" ourselves to be sure we are in fact "
in the faith
2 Cor. 13:5
(1) Pray for Divine ops over the holidays (opportunities to share the hope we have in Christ with others).
(2) Pray for those of us who will be working over the Thanksgiving holiday.
(3) Pray for those who may be spending the holiday alone (and then invite one of them to Thanksgiving dinner) and those who have recently lost loved ones (the holidays are particular tough for them).
(4) Pray for me as I teach a Centurion Church Security Seminar in Longmont (CO) on Saturday.
Have a prayer request or announcement you would like included here? Need prayer?
! I also post prayer requests on my Facebook page ("friend" me).
In addition to my own church safety/security seminars (again, contact me for details), here's the updated
schedule (outstanding training for cops and sheepdog civilians alike -- especially in the area of church safety/security):
Upcoming Training Calendar
. I know the speakers (including Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Officer Jimmy Meeks and Carl Chinn) -- rock solid and you'll come away blessed!
The Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry
The Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry
is a 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
and on social media
) 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, 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. My metro Denver chapter -- FCPO #217((FCPO-Aurora), a Centurion affiliate -- meets every 2nd and 4th Thursday at Calvary Aurora (High School Room, 7 PM) for
Bible study, prayer and servant-warrior fellowship. Spouses are both welcome and encouraged to attend with their LEO. With November 23rd being Thanksgiving, we will NOT be meeting for Bible study this Thursday. As such, our next "cop church" fellowship is set for
Information on the other
meeting around the country can be found on the
pages on the
"A Cop's Thanksgiving"
Understanding and embracing the true meaning of Thanksgiving
Most years, my Thanksgiving Bible study has something to do with the origins of Thanksgiving in America (Pilgrims and Native Americans, the harsh voyage and deadly first winter in the New World, etc.), but this year the Lord is pressing me in a broader direction. Let's dig in with the understanding that this study has application for EVERYONE and not just cops!
For the Christian (meaning one who has been genuinely born again in Christ), the deepest roots of
Thanksgiving go back to a time long before the origin of what we traditionally celebrate here in America. In fact, it's a story as old as creation itself and goes right up through when some of us will sit down to a traditional (American) Thanksgiving feast this Thursday (or whenever we get off duty).
You could in fact call this the true story of Thanksgiving: The Christian gospel viewed through the lens of that often forgotten and undervalued virtue known as "gratitude" (giving thanks). And our exploration of this truth involves some Bible passages that we might otherwise don't think apply. Let's start with four foundational principles (LOL -- a Bible study has to include "points" -- right?) and conclude with powerful application for us in law enforcement (thus, "A Cop's Thanksgiving").
Created for Thanksgiving
God created humanity to give
-- for gratitude. God created us to honor Him by giving Him thanks. Appreciating both who God is and His actions for us -- in creating us, using us and sustaining our lives -- is fundamental to proper human life in God's created world. Paul, writing on this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (meaning it was "God breathed" -- from God Himself --
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (added emphasis mine)
A big part of what God created us for is to honor Him by being thankful (thus the
numerous biblical COMMANDS
-- not mere suggestions -- to have a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude). In short, we were created to appreciate and give thanks to God, but we've
in all-too-often doing everything but.
Fallen from Thanksgiving
Frankly, we have all failed miserably in appreciating God as we should. In her book on gratitude (
One Thousand Gifts), Ann Voskamp gives powerful expression to the failure of the first man and woman -- and the devil before and after them -- to rightly experience and express gratitude.
From all of our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story.
Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully ungrateful for what God gave.
Isn't that the catalyst of all my sin?
Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.
Satan -- the ultimate criminal -- spawned unthankfulness in Adam and Eve, who in turn passed it along to all of us. Both before and after our conversion (Is that you?), we are often wickedly UNthankful people.
In our sin, we fail again and again to get it right.
Redeemed by Thanksgiving
God himself, in the person of his Son, Jesus the Christ, entered into our thankless world, lived in flawless appreciation of his Father, and died on our behalf for our chronic, sinful lack of gratitude. It is Jesus -- "God with skin on" -- who manifests the perfect life of thankfulness and thanksgiving. If you've ever tracked the texts where Jesus gives his Father thanks, you'll know it's quite an impressive list. Here are just a few:
At that time
[note the context of unrepentant and unthankful "
cities where most of his mighty works had been done
," verse 20]
Jesus declared, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will
they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me.'"
[Jesus then raises Lazarus from the dead.]
Jesus "took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples...
" (added emphasis mine)
He took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, 'Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.' And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'"
Paul gave evidence (we cops are all about the evidence) to this in both
"took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it...") and 1 Corinthians
(Our "Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it..").
"Jesus is not only God himself but also the quintessentially thankful human." (Mathis) Our Lord and Savior -- the "Ultimate Servant-Warrior" -- not only died to forgive our sin in failing to give God the thanks He's due, but He also lived the perfect life of appreciation on our behalf towards the Father (thus the pattern for us to follow hard after).
Freed for Thanksgiving
By surrendering in faith to Christ as Lord and Savior, we are redeemed from the sin of ingratitude (and its just sentence to an eternity "without parole" in hell), and freed to enjoy the pleasure of being doubly thankful for God's unmerited favor toward us.
Writing on this, pastor and author David Mathis put it like this:
"It is fitting for a creature to be in a continuous posture of gratitude toward his Creator. And it is even more fitting for a redeemed rebel to be in an ongoing posture of gratitude toward his Redeemer. The kind of life that flows from such amazing grace is the life of continual thankfulness. This is the kind of life in which the born-again Christian is being continually renewed, progressively being made more like Jesus."
Accordingly, God (ultimately the author of the Bible), through Paul, encourages and exhorts Christians to live lives characterized by thanksgiving:
: May you be
"strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."
as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him
." (thanks x 3 -- added emphasis mine)
giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Friends, ONLY in Christ Jesus, our ultimate example of thankfullness, are we able to become the kind of persistently thankful people God created us to be (to fulfill our God-ordained CALLING to be a people overflowing with
So how does all this apply to those of us serving in our God-ordained CALLING of law enforcement (especially given all that we see that otherwise serves to make us anything but "thankful")? Here are just a few points to ponder in considering living a life of continual
* We get to serve in one of only two "God-ordained" professions in the Bible (the other being pastoral ministry) -- both genuine
* Even after three decades, I still have the honor of serving in the greatest job on earth (yes, that is an opinion), and I give thanks to God for every day I can continue doing so.
* If you've retired or have otherwise left the profession, you should be living in gratitude for the time you had to "serve and protect." (it may be that the only way we can truly do that is through the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells every true believer).
* Through our service, God
allows us the honor of making a genuine difference in the lives of others (don't waste it)!
Even in my unbelieving and "make believer" (unsaved) days, I was always grateful for being able to do this job. And now as I approach the big "6-0" (and closer to my
) sporting a host of injuries, age-related issues and two replaced hips (
for the God-given miracle of modern medicine), I am
that God has enabled me to still train in my craft (
), mentor and lead/serve younger officers and do what I can to make a difference in the lives of the public and my fellow officers.
That said, and especially if you're working the holiday, let's ask God to give us opportunities to make a difference in the lives of
others in accordance with
Romans 13:1-4 and other passages: To help make it possible for OTHERS to have a safe holiday; to make sure (even if by arrest) that a drunk family member is NOT remembered for dying or killing someone else on Thanksgiving; to give an "extra helping" of appropriate grace and mercy (Thanksgiving is often very "warning-oriented" for me); to -- especially if you're single -- take a Thanksgiving shift or a late call so that a fellow officer can be with his/her family; etc. (ask God to show you - He WILL).
Finally, the reality is also that we deal with a whole lot of garbage (the fallout of sin) that ultimately serves to make us feel anything but thankful: bad bosses/lack of servant-leadership in our ranks (a cancer); PTSD; police suicide; divorce (almost always the result of sin); injuries, death (including our own being killed in the line of duty); the "War on Cops;" wickedness and misery on a scale most people will never see or understand; and more. How can we possibly give "thanks" and have a spirit of gratitude with all that? Folks, it is in fact IMPOSSIBLE unless we are first serving under the power, grace and leading of the Holy Spirit (the unsaved do NOT have that). Do you have that Power in your life? Do you in fact know Christ as Lord and Savior? Do you KNOW where you will spend eternity if you died today (you can)?
Are you sure? If not, then cry out to God for your salvation TODAY as you dig into the following:
(1) Jesus' first words in His earthly ministry were: "
Repent and believe...
is a "180" -- a complete, radical change of mind and heart as it relates your sin. To
as He intends it here is to
completely and radically surrender to Him in
("believe" and "faith" have the same Greek root meaning) 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 (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 (see the "Are you really a Christian" link below for more).
(2) The same concept of "believe" is further explained in
where Jesus says, "...
you must be born again.
" Note our Lord's emphasis on
(not "may" or "should"): this is the
personal relationship (not "religion") with Christ that I stress so often. See "
What does it mean to be a born again Christian
?" Now dig into the following:
(a) Still think that you can "earn" or "deserve" heaven (or escape hell) by simply being a "good person" (or a "good cop")? Then take the
Good Person Test
and see how you do. Then go to...
Need prayer? Counsel? Questions? Feel free to
Diana and I wish you all a blessed and safe Thanksgiving (and I am thankful to God for this calling to serve YOU).
* Special thanks to Pastor David Mathis for his own Thanksgiving message from which I borrowed in writing this one.