Monday, May 18, 2020 at 9:45AM EST
I Can (series)
Last week I told you about one of two Adam 12-like experiences I had during my 10 years on the DPD. Just to refresh your memory, during the age-old Adam 12 TV series, 1-Adam-12 had a knack of always being in the right place at the right time. It didn’t have much to do with luck or their stellar police skills, it had everything to do with the program script, LOL. Weren’t movies and TV series funny way back then?
Well on this occasion, it was late in the afternoon when I was on day shift—and I’m not sure I mentioned this before, but at the precinct level, most uniformed officers were on what we called the MAD rotation. We worked a month each of midnight's, afternoons, and then days. (Get it? M-A-D.) Then we started the same rotation over again. I was on days that month, and toward the end of shift, probably right around 3PM, a BOLO (be on the lookout) was broadcast for a late model Ford Mustang, brown in color, driven by a lone white male in his 30's. The vehicle was wanted in a robbery armed (RA) that just took place in our patrol area. Following the description, the dispatcher repeated the well-known phrase: “Use caution, the suspect is presumed to be armed and dangerous.”
This is the absolute truth, not 30 seconds after the BOLO, we spotted the car. (Spirit of Adam 12 for the second time.) The Mustang was moving south on Cass near Seldon in what was known as the infamous Cass Corridor—a high crime area. We pulled the vehicle over, and I hurried to the driver-side door. My partner went to the passenger side. With gun drawn and aimed directly on the driver, the only occupant in the car, I told him in a rather strong voice to put his hands where I could see them and step out of the vehicle. He opened the car door and turned toward me, and that’s when I saw a revolver in his right hand. I had purposely positioned myself behind the driver which forced him to reveal the gun before he could point it in my direction—a textbook stop.
When I saw the gun, I ordered him to drop it; in that split second, I felt my finger pressing down on the trigger of my .357 Magnum, and I actually saw the hammer moving back. (In my mind’s eye, I can still watch it happening in slow motion right now.) At the last possible second, the driver of the Mustang threw the gun to the floorboard and raised both hands. I removed my finger from the trigger and placed the man under arrest without incident.
After the booking process and once my adrenaline had a chance to return to a somewhat normal level, I realized I came extremely close to shooting a man and maybe even killing him; and I was very thankful I didn’t have to pull the trigger.
Every day on my way to work, I prayed for protection, wisdom, and favor. I asked the Lord to help me do my job and keep people safe without the use of deadly force. And yes, I understood my responsibility to my police partners and the citizens I pledged to protect; I was fully prepared to discharge my weapon when warranted. However, regardless of how legitimate a shooting situation might be, I was prayerfully hoping to sidestep bloodshed. God answered that prayer.
Now whenever I tell this story, and the reason I do is because when people find out I used to be a cop, the first question they usually ask is, “Did you ever shoot anyone?”
I say, “No, but I came pretty close.” I tell them about the Mustang driver; but then I also tell them another story that happened five or six years prior to that one. A man with a 9mm semi-automatic weapon opened fire on me. When that happened, since it was my first man-with-a-gun experience, I pretty much freaked out and emptied a shotgun at him. Can you blame me? I missed the shooter but killed a refrigerator (old news).
It was that first incident (the 9mm episode) that prepared me for this one. If I had not been in a shooting situation before encountering the man in the Mustang, I’m almost certain I would have pulled the trigger—maybe even killed a radiator this time around, LOL. And please don’t get me wrong, it would have been a justifiable shooting in anyone’s book. However, on this second occasion, I was calm and didn’t overreact. As a result, we were able to secure a very dangerous arrest without harm or injury. I firmly believe I was a little more composed because… wait for it now… past experience became my teacher.
Past experience became my teacher. Wow! What a concept! Think about that for a few seconds.
Oftentimes people use the words wisdom and knowledge interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. They do not. Knowledge is information acquired or learned through education and experience. Wisdom is the application of the knowledge gained.
Proverbs 4:7 (NKJV) tells us:
Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore, get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Why did Solomon say that? Why did he say, “Wisdom is the principal thing?” Because wisdom… it’s what’s most important, it’s essential and paramount. Knowledge is good; wisdom is better. Wisdom is allowing past experience to become your teacher. You know, not making the same mistakes over and over again.
Here’s a little homework assignment for those of you who are up for it. Think about the time(s) in your life when you may have overreacted, responded irrationally or impatiently, or maybe even a little recklessly. Then answer the question: Has past experience been your teacher? Just sayin…
Monday, May 11, 2020 at 7:30AM EST
I Can (series)
I know I’m dating myself here but growing up as a kid I liked to watch Adam 12. For all my readers who are not old enough to remember, Adam 12 was a television police drama series that showcased two Los Angeles police officers, Pete Malloy and Jim Reed. What I liked most about these guys is somehow they were able to perfectly maneuver their scout car to always be in the right place at the right time. During the show, whenever there was a BOLO (be on the lookout for) 1-Adam-12 would always be the first one to spot the bad guys and eventually place them under arrest. I remember thinking to myself, “How do they do that?” (Yes, you’re right, that’s a bit sarcastic.)
Well one day when I was working the afternoon shift, my partner and I pulled a classic Adam 12 move. That’s right, immediately following a BOLO alert for a stolen vehicle taken in a carjacking, the vehicle in question turned right in front of us! That kind of thing happened to me twice during my police days, and this was the first time.
On this occasion, right after spotting the felony car, we attempted to stop the vehicle using lights and siren, but the driver refused to pull over. There were two occupants in the car, a driver and front-seat passenger; within seconds we were in a high-speed, hot-pursuit, police chase traveling north on Woodward Avenue. The car turned off Woodward, proceeded to speed along the side streets at 50 to 60 mph, then darted suddenly into an alley. With the car still rolling and before it crashed into a fence, the driver and occupant bailed out on foot and ran in different directions. My partner and I split up and gave chase. We caught one of the occupants, the other one eluded us for the time being but was arrested a short time later.
Now, what makes this story unique and worth telling is the fact that all during that chase and subsequent arrest incident, we had a “volunteer observer” in the scout car. The observer program was a community-relations strategy that law enforcement departments employed which allowed community leaders and interested citizens to witness police patrol procedures first hand. Believe it or not, on this occasion, the volunteer observer we had with us just happened to be a very close friend of mine. His name is Jeff Hillier. He and his family attend CCC. Jeff is currently serving on our board of directors, and I’ve known Jeff 40 years.
Jeff was with me in Detroit that night. When my partner and I exited the scout car to chase the bad guys on foot, I told Jeff to stay with the police vehicle. Little did I know as I rushed off, there was a third occupant hiding in the back seat of the stolen car. He must have ducked down during the chase and remained out of sight the entire time. Imagine my surprise when I returned to the scene a few moments later and Jeff, my volunteer observer, had the man in custody. I know what you’re thinking… the answer is yes, Jeff was armed with a hand gun, having acquired the proper training and permit to carry a gun. When Jeff saw the man in the back seat trying to make good his getaway, he did not hesitate. He moved into action and secured the arrest of the third subject all by himself. Without Jeff’s quick and decisive response, the man would have gotten away. We didn’t know it at the time since Jeff was supposed to just be an observer, but he became a valuable part of our unit, and his involvement was paramount in the apprehension of all those involved in the carjacking.
Let me ask you, are you familiar with the phrase, “Better together”? Truth is—we ARE better together because from the very beginning of creation, God never intended for us to do life alone. A vibrant, life-giving, and loving community of people has always been God’s first choice. With the church doors closed these last few months, being unable to meet together in a physical building has not only, in effect, brought us closer, it has reaffirmed just how much we need each other.
In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul the Apostle wrote: I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel… being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Not only does God grace and equip us with everything we need to run the race, He also provides loving brothers and sisters in Christ who are there to celebrate our wins and share in our sorrows—a family of believers, a community of caring people with servant hearts who stand by our side, pray for our needs, and help shoulder the heavy burdens. Do you know people like that? Are you thankful for them? When was the last time you communicated your sincere appreciation?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help… And three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Update: Monday, May 4, 2020 at 10:30AM EST
I Can (series)
Last week I told you a little bit about my MLEOTC experience, Michigan Law Enforcement Officer’s Training Council, a.k.a. the police academy. The Detroit Police Academy program was 16 weeks long, and all during the training, whenever the instructors would become frustrated or even a little upset with the class, every cadet was threatened with a permanent assignment to the 13th Precinct. If, as student police officers, we made even the simplest of mistakes, academy supervisors would terrorize us and say, “That’s it, we are going to make a recommendation that all of you be assigned to number 13!” The 13th Precinct had the infamous reputation of being one of the most dangerous and treacherous places to work in the entire city. I suppose that was due to it having the highest violent crime, drug sales, trafficking, and homicides in all of Detroit’s 15 precincts.
Well, on graduation ceremony night, it came time for all of us to receive our random precinct placements (you know what’s coming). My name was called, followed by my assignment: midnight shift at the 13th Precinct. I could not believe my ears, the 13th Precinct? I thought to myself, “Why me?” Four months long, we were told number 13 was the worse assignment we could possibly get; and now, I had to report for duty there…on midnights!
The very next morning, the first thing I did (and this is no joke) was go to the police uniform store and purchase a bulletproof vest. At that time, back in 1975, body armor was not standard-issue equipment; it was optional, so I felt compelled to buy a Second Chance bulletproof vest.
That evening around 11PM, I left for my first police midnight shift in full uniform (including my new vest). On my way to the 13th Precinct, I had some serious issues to deal with. I would’ve never admitted it back then (certainly not while I was wearing a police uniform), but I was afraid. Truth be told, I was scared to death. I mean, come on—I was 20 years old, relatively naïve, and raised in the suburbs where the highlight of a police officer’s day was a misdemeanor arrest for improper plates or an expired driver’s license. And now I’m on my way to the most violent, crime-ridden district in the city of Detroit and not to visit, mind you, but rather to patrol the streets in the pitch black.
On my way to work that night, a 20-minute drive that seemed to last an eternity, I thought to myself, “I am in way over my head, and I don’t know if I can do this.” Ever feel that way? Ever feel like fear, as much as you try to resist it, is getting the best of you? Well, if you’re normal, the answer to both of those questions is yes. Yes, we all feel afraid at times, especially in the situation we find ourselves in now. Currently there’s so much uncertainty and speculation it’s hard to know what the future holds. So what are we supposed to do when we sense fear knocking at our door?
Well these days whenever I feel afraid (yes, it happens), the first thing I do is begin to cry out to God. And then I try to focus in on a passage of scripture like the first five verses of Psalm 27. For me, these kinds of bible verses immediately pop into my mind because I’ve memorized them. And you should know by now, there’s power in God’s Word; especially when His Word is right there, tucked away in your heart. That’s why you always hear me talk so much about the importance of God’s written Word. When His Word is a part of you, it becomes an effective and significant tool against fear. His Word is powerful! (Hebrews 4:12)
A Psalm of David
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me (even a pandemic war),
even then will I be confident.
One thing I have asked of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,
and to seek him in His temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
UPDATE: MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020 AT 10:30AM EST
I Can (series)
The Detroit Police Department hired me in January 1975, about a month after I turned 20 years old. In April of that year, I became a student police officer and entered the Detroit Police Academy. Standing in military formation on that first day of academy training, the entire class was given a rather lengthy briefing of all academy rules and regulations, the “dos and don’ts.” We were then presented with departmental policies and disciplinary procedures. Without going into great detail, all disciplinary action was administered using a demerit system. Minor demerits such as having an unpressed uniform, wearing scuffed shoes, or getting less than an average grade on a classroom test resulted in increased homework and writing assignments. Major demerits like being late, missing class, or being disrespectful in any way were a lot more serious and put your graduation chances in jeopardy. Receiving three major demerits during the 16-week academy training was automatic dismissal from the department; in other words, you were fired.
On Friday, July 25, 1975, the final day of my 1975 E Detroit Police Academy training class, I was standing in roll call during uniform inspection, and my supervisor spent a good deal of time looking me over. He was just about to pass and move on to the next person in line, when he looked back and called out a minor demerit for not having a clean shave. Since I had shaved that morning and knew the charge was not legitimate, I refused to acknowledge the demerit with a “Yes sir!” My actions, or lack thereof, resulted in the sergeant calling out a double minor demerit. My punishment was a 1000-word essay on the importance of being in proper uniform. As you might imagine, I was not happy.
A few days later, at my graduation ceremony, I met up with my sergeant and asked him why he gave me the demerit knowing full well I had shaved that morning. Even though it’s been 45 years, I still remember his exact words like they were spoken to me yesterday. My sergeant said, “Early that morning, I was reading through your file and noticed you were the only member of the class who didn’t receive a single demerit during the academy training. I also noted your high academic score and distinguished expert qualification with a handgun.” And then my sergeant said, “I didn’t want you to hit the streets and start your police career thinking you were perfect. Thinking you’re perfect is the quickest way to get yourself killed.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but what my observant academy instructor was attempting to do was teach me a little humility. I was blinded to it back then, but my sergeant was able to easily assess my undeniably arrogant and self-centered tendencies. I’d like to say I learned my lesson that day, and maybe to a lesser degree it did help somewhat. One thing is for sure, I never forgot it. How are you doing with this one—the whole humility thing?
From God’s perspective, there are very few matters more important than humility. I can tell you after years of serving the Lord, genuine humility rates really high on His list. Humility is one of those attributes God will work an entire lifetime to get across to you, and one way or another God is going to win that battle. Either you humble yourself or something else is going to humble you. And before you think that’s just another one of my personal opinions, check out what Jesus had to say in Matthew 23:12, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Truth is, one way or another, you’re getting humbled. And I think John the Baptist had a pretty good handle on this thing called humility when he said, “He (Jesus) must become greater, and I must become less” in John 3:30.
As you reflect on the past month and a half, during the stay at home mandate and the interruption of our “normal” lives and routines, is God becoming greater, and are you becoming less? Instead of barely keeping your head above water, maintaining your sanity, and wishing everything was back to the way it was, has the Spirit of the Lord been able to penetrate your agenda, get your attention, and draw you closer to him?
God longs for intimacy and connection with you, He loves you with an everlasting love, and at this very moment, the creator God is calling your name. Yes, your name!
…”Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God…
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
He has shown you, oh man (woman), what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will (deo volente), we will live and do this or that.”
UPDATE: MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2020 AT 9:20AM EST
I Can! (series)
One hot summer day, sometime in late afternoon, I was involved in a precinct-wide man hunt for a man wanted in connection with several felonies; including homicide and drug trafficking or VCSA. (Violation of the controlled substance act.) We were in the north end of the 13th precinct searching for the man, because we received an anonymous tip that he was spotted there earlier in the day. This man was an extremely dangerous criminal and listed among Detroit’s “most wanted” by the homicide unit.
Now, I want you to try and get the picture here; there must have been over 100 police officers from several different precincts and plain clothes divisions all in the same small space,maybe a 6 block area. We were conducting a house to house search and there was nothing but scout cars and cops as far as the eye could see. About 30 minutes into the operation, a young teenage girl walked up to me and asked, “Are you all looking for Baby Face Bobbi?” (Not his real name.) I said “Yes, we are.” And to my amazement, she said, “Well, he’s hiding in that garbage dumpster right over there.” My partner and I walked over to the dumpster and sure enough, underneath a bunch of debris, there was Baby Face Bobbi. We pulled him out of the dumpster and handcuffed him. I then told dispatch to alert the commander to call off the search because we had the man in custody. Then in front of a countless number of astonished and envious police officers, we paraded the wanted man back to our scout car. It was one of the best arrests of my entire police career and we recevied a departmental commendation for the arrest.
There is not doubt in my mind that God favored me in that arrest. I mean what are the chances, out of all those police officers on the scene, a witness would come directly to me? Come on. This wasn’t astute or stellar police work, it was being in the right place at the right time - and God put me in that place. That day, (like many others) I was a recipient of God’s favor and provision.
Now pretty much everyone knows the story of Abraham and Isaac recorded in Genesis 22. To test his obedience, God told Abraham to take his son, his only son, up to the mountain and offer him to the Lord as a burnt offering. Abraham obeyed the Lord, and when he and Isaac arrived at the place of sacrifice, Isaac said to his father, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the offering?” Immediately Abraham responded and said, “God will provide a lamb.” And sure enough, the bible tells us Abraham looked up and there in the thicket he saw a ram caught by the horns. So Abraham sacrificed the ram instead of his son; and Abraham called that place Jehovah Jireh, the Lord Will Provide.
These days there are daily breaking news stories being broadcast and circulated around the globe. Different scenario’s have been presented and depending on who you choose to listen to, conflicting outcomes have been predicted. In light of the global pandemic, concerns are being expressed and many questions are being asked; Is the American economy going to recover? Will we ever go back to work? How long are we going to have to stay on lock down? When the country does open back up is there a chance I’m going to get sick? And what is the plan for coming up with a safe and effective vaccination that will prevent a second round of the virus? And many more...
And in the midst all that uncertainty, apprehension and fear; in my mind’s eye, I envision and hear the Genesis 22 exchange of a faith-filled man along with his courageous young son, saying “God will provide!” Regardless of what we go though, how hopeless the situation may seem, or how impossible the odds, we serve a God who has revealed himself to us as Jehovah Jireh, our provider. And He makes a way where there is no way!
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
And my God will meet (supply) all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Update: Monday, April 13, 2020 at 9AM EST
I Can! (series)
We’re about one month into the shelter-in-place or stay-at-home strategy to collectively defeat the spread of the coronavirus. To help get you through this challenging and unprecedented (most over-used and repeated word this month LOL) time, with a positive and faith-filled mindset, I have attempted to focus in on a “can-do” perspective.
Again Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I start my day, every day, by quoting that verse. I do that for two main reasons: (1) to establish a positive attitude—yes, I CAN!; and (2) to remind myself I CAN’T do it alone. I need help! And Jesus is the one I receive help from.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains,
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Last week we talked about a police officer’s worst nightmare, having to break radio silence with the dreaded DPD code 9000, officer in trouble or officer needs assistance. I mentioned to you, that on two different occasions during my police days, I had to dispatch that very code. And at the time when I included that information, I expected a few of my readers to inquire about the circumstances surrounding those two events. Well, you did not disappoint.
The first call for help was a domestic trouble situation gone terribly wrong. If you can believe it, a man with a gun tried to shoot me. I returned fire and ended up killing a refrigerator. I mentioned this story during a CCC sermon on humility and won’t bore you with the details by repeating the account again.
The second “officer in trouble” occurrence took place when on routine patrol, my partner and I became involved in a high-speed chase of a stolen vehicle. The vehicle, a brand-new BMW, raced through residential streets near the south end of the 13th Precinct at speeds in excess of 80mph. After a rather short vehicular chase, the BMW pulled into the Brewster Housing Projects. Once inside the projects, the driver and passenger bailed out of the stolen car, and my partner and I gave chase on foot. I was able to apprehend the driver, and during the arrest attempt, a huge unruly crowd (approximately 50 people) began to gather. They were told to back away, when suddenly a man broke through the crowd and hit me in the face. When that happened others began to interfere and demand the release of the arrested man. The situation started to escalate in a hurry, and that’s when I put out the code 9000.
It took less than a minute for me to hear police sirens; so I knew help was on the way. While I waited for the reinforcements to arrive, I had one objective, watch my partner’s back and do everything I could to keep him safe. In an attempt to diffuse the situation and prevent the crowd from overreacting, I released the driver of the stolen vehicle even though that was the last thing I wanted to do. A few moments later, the boys in blue showed up and immediately went to work dispersing the crowd. In all the commotion, I lost sight of the stolen car driver, and he got away. However, I never took my eye off the guy who assaulted me. He was arrested, and the dangerous situation he initiated on the street that day was dealt with by me back at the police station (a different story for another time). What mattered most was my partner and I were safe.
Now, I take the time to recount that particular story because during a crisis, it’s very important to watch out for the people you love and to do the best you can to keep them safe. During the storms of life, sacrifices and concessions need to be made, and the most important decisions should be based on what’s best for others. Not too many people I know are overly enthusiastic about being on lockdown. Truth be told, I’m not fond of it at all. I like having the freedom to come and go as I please. I’m a social guy, and as you well know, I’m a hugger. And I occasionally like to stretch the rules a bit (ever so slightly.) So shelter in place is not my strong suit, it goes against the grain of personal enjoyment. But check it out, it’s keeping people safe, it’s saving lives, and it’s giving us an opportunity to serve and watch out for each other; especially family members, church members, and the people we love. So yes, we CAN continue to do this!
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
Love & prayers,
Update: Monday, April 6, 2020 at 12:20PM EST
"I Can" Series
Police officers and law enforcement agents are in constant communication with their dispatcher and each other through police radio transmissions. As such, police codes are signals and numbers used that correspond to words, phrases, and messages. I’m sure you’ve all heard the police say “10-4,” which means message received or an affirmative. Side note: there is no universal or official set of police codes, they usually vary between one police jurisdiction and another.
Well, back in the ‘70s when I patrolled the streets of Detroit, the DPD had their own radio code language; it has since been updated. At the time, we used what was called the 8000 to 9000 series. 9330 was a very important code: lunch or dinner break (LOL). An 8330 was a bomb threat. An 9300 meant you were out of service with an arrest, and an 8100 was the dreaded, meet the medical examiner code because a dead body needed to be processed.
Now there was one number that took precedence over every other code in the series, and that was 9000. A code 9000 meant there was an officer down or an officer in trouble, and he or she desperately needed assistance. Whenever we heard a code 9000 come out over the air, the whole police world came to a halt. Every available unit, no matter what they were involved in, stopped what they were doing and proceeded, “lights and siren” to the officer-down location. Having to request a code 9000 myself on two different occasions, I can tell you there’s nothing that compares to the sound of a police siren when you’re in trouble. Knowing help is on the way, and your current crisis is going to get better brings a tremendous amount of confidence and assurance. Go ahead and read that last sentence again.
No doubt about it, we are experiencing an “officer in trouble” crisis situation. In the spiritual realm, a code 9000 has been dispatched; and I can promise you this, help is on the way! I know that to be true; that help is right around the corner because the Church of Jesus Christ has been crying out to God in prayer. This current storm has united the Church, and we have flooded heaven's gates with prayers, fasting, and petitions. The bible is very clear: when we pray, God responds. God listens carefully to the prayers of His people and moves into action. There’s a result! I hear the sound! I hear the beautiful sound of heavenly sirens; and in the very near future, I look for the Lord to slam the door on this virus and begin to turn this whole situation around for His glory. As much as I appreciate the scientists and experts, along with all their models and projections, that’s not where my focus is. My eyes and heart are fixed on Jesus; He’s the author and finisher of my faith. I’m convinced beyond a shadow of doubt, He will come through for us.
“Do not be afraid… Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”
Jesus replied, “…Why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
The Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore, He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!
People… you will weep no more. How gracious God will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you.
“Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Love & prayers,
UPDATE: MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020 AT 10:15AM EST
I Can! (Part 2)
Last week I sent out a note encouraging you to dig in spiritually and modify your mindset from a position of “I can’t” to “I can.” This suggestion wasn’t just my attempt to be positive in a bad situation, it’s biblical advice and instruction. In Philippians 4:13, Paul said, “I can—that’s right—I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Well, in an effort to use a personal experience to illustrate this mindset, I told a war story, or rather, a story from my police officer days. Many of you enjoyed the story. I’m not sure you followed my advice, (smile) but you got a big kick out of the story. Some of you asked for more—one person even envisioned me as a TV Blue Blood. LOL. So by popular demand, I’m going to tell another war story.
One evening I was working the midnight shift, and I was riding shotgun; which means my partner was driving the scout car, and I was the passenger. About 2 in the morning, I found myself fighting to stay awake. I had not been able to sleep my normal midnight schedule that day because, at the time, I was the volunteer student pastor at our church. So prior to my shift, instead of sleeping, I was preaching and reaching out to high school students.
Shortly after 2 a.m., because it was an extremely quiet night, I succumbed to my sleep deprivation while on patrol—and momentarily closed my eyes. I didn’t even have a chance to hit a full REM cycle before hearing what sounded like gunfire. I opened my eyes and sure enough, my partner confirmed it. We radioed for back-up and not more than a few seconds passed, when a man came running out from between the houses. He took one look at us and ran back into the alley. My partner stopped the scout car and began staring at me. I said, “I guess you want me to get out and chase him?” Keep in mind I was still trying to wipe the sleep from my eyes and regain my composure. I finally stumbled out of the car and gave chase on foot while my partner sped around the corner. Well the bad guy must have heard the police car acceleration and figured we were giving chase in the scout car, so he doubled back and ran right into me. I think he was more surprised than I was! There in the alley, I was able to arrest and handcuff the man by myself without incident. Apparently, he robbed a man at gun point and then fired the gun at him. Those were the shots we heard. When I arrested the gunman, he had a revolver in his jacket pocket along with the victim’s wallet.
How many know God protected me that night? I was tired and vulnerable, and I quickly found myself in an extremely dangerous situation. Evil was coming right at me—at full speed, and this story could have easily had a much different ending…. but God! Make no mistake, evil is on our case these days—no doubt... but God is on our side! God is for us not against us. God has revealed Himself as Jehovah Nissi, our Banner (Exodus 17:15). Not only will God cover us with His banner of safety, He will protect us from evil.
2 Timothy 4:18
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 3:3
The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
2 Samuel 22:3-4
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge, and my savior…
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise
and have been saved from my enemies.
You are my hiding-place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Jesus speaking.) "Heavenly Father, I ask by
the power of your name, protect each one
that you have given me, and watch over them
so they will be united as one, even as we are one."
Update: Monday, March 23, 2020 at 11:45AM EST
Years ago, when I was a police officer, I was involved in a lights-and-siren, hot pursuit of a stolen car. A short time into the vehicular chase, the driver of the stolen car bailed out, and it was off to the races—me chasing the bad guy on foot. He had a pretty good head start and was a full city block ahead of me. I chased him for what seemed like an eternity (about a minute LOL). We ran through backyards, raced down alleys, and jumped over several fences. After running at full speed for a long time and not really gaining any ground, I slowed down and thought to myself “I can’t run anymore. I can’t continue this pace any longer."
But no sooner did that thought enter my mind when, to my surprise, the guy I was chasing collapsed and lay motionless on the ground. That's when it hit me, "This guy is out of breath too.” I was pretty tired, but he was exhausted; that gave me renewed strength. I took a deep breath, basically crawled to the place where the bad guy had fallen, cuffed him; and then, completely bushed, laid on top of him until help arrived.
You see, oftentimes during the storms of life, it’s just natural to think, “I can’t… I can’t do this anymore…I can’t continue at this pace…As hard as I try, I just can’t find a level of peace or get to an emotionally or spiritually healthy place.”
Paul the apostle had some of these same thoughts when he faced extremely uncomfortable circumstances in his life. However, instead of succumbing to his own feelings and fears, instead of concluding “I can’t,” the Spirit of the Lord rose up inside of him, and in Philippians 4:13, Paul said, “I can—that’s right—I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
I know you’re weary, I know the around-the-clock pandemic bad news is extremely exhausting; but check it out, the enemy has already been defeated. By faith, the bad guy collapsed! Jesus chased Satan down and has already handcuffed him. Colossians 2:15 confirms it: "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, Jesus made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
I pray you find renewed spiritual strength today, and to help you along let me encourage you with a few bible verses.
but those who hope (wait upon) the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
1 Peter 5:8-9
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Please know, we are thinking about you and praying for you. We will get through the latest Michigan “stay home, stay safe," order. If you have any prayer or resource needs, please do not hesitate to contact the church office. 586.323.1730.
Update: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 5:25PM EST
It is the hope and prayer of our staff that every person in our church is experiencing a greater measure of faith leading to hope at this time!
Our Sunday livestream service was a great unifying experience for us! Thank you for participating and sharing all the positive encouraging remarks during the service and over the last couple days. We are making plans to provide an even better experience this Sunday!
Regarding the status of activities at CCC, here's a couple updates we want to bring to your attention:
1. We will be livestreaming again this Sunday. We plan to help you stream either from our website directly or from Facebook. Details will be provided in a day or two. Stay tuned! It will be another memorable time of worship and teaching on 3/22!
2. For parents with kids at home, we've added some downloadable content on our website (HERE) for you to use. Some age-specfic videos and curriculum will help add value to the time your family spends together at home! Just click on the "CCC Online" button on our homepage. We'll refresh the content every Sunday!
3. In agreement with the current social recommendations from our nation's leaders, we are canceling our midweek activities at CCC through the end of March, including life groups, prayer focus groups, the Exchange and C3SM. Leaders of these ministries will touch base with their groups with more information or alternative ways to connect.
Remember that your church staff is working this week with you in mind. We are here to receive calls, visits and emails -- and we desire to assist, bless and encourage during these challenging days. Have a need or prayer request? We're nearby to help! We will send periodic updates through email and on our website (check the red banner at the top of the homepage) as information is made available. Let's stay connected!
Our God is wonderful -- He speaks peace during the storms of our lives. He is present, powerful and personal! If you make a little time with Him, you will be empowered to maintain a positive outlook and a hopeful disposition.
Love & prayers,