Article from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – Always Good News

After Retreat Helped Save His Marriage, Officer Returns With Wife

By Lizzy Long   •   October 27, 2021

Officer Keith and his wife Angela nearly gave up on their marriage. Angela said when she was younger, “I kind of looked at God as a police officer in the sky waiting to catch me when I mess up.” Now she recognizes God’s grace and love. “The awesome part about our life is we’re a portrait of His grace. God is the one sustaining us in our weakness.”

This week, more than 150 law enforcement officers and their spouses attended a Law Enforcement Appreciation Retreat hosted by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT). The event spoke to unique emotional and spiritual needs officers and their families face. Attendees heard from God’s Word and enjoyed fellowship with other couples going through similar challenges. 

Two years ago, Keith attended his first Law Enforcement Appreciation Retreat alone after his wife Angela separated from him just weeks before the conference in Asheville, North Carolina.

“I was so caught up in self and what I was dealing with, I didn’t care about how I was treating her,” recalled Keith, who serves as a school resource officer in South Carolina. “She encouraged me to still come [to the retreat].”

There, God opened his eyes and helped him surrender his life to God.

>>Learn more about the Rapid Response Team’s National Law Enforcement Ministry

“I personally had fallen away,” Keith shared. “I wasn’t living for the Lord as He directs us to as husbands and fathers. I was angry, frustrated, resentful.”

Right after he arrived, he met two couples from Maryland. “Those two men and their wives pulled me in like I had known them forever and treated me like family.”

He immediately felt some of his anger and frustration from the pain he’d caused start to ease.“It was instant freedom…”
—Keith 

During his first session at that retreat, he said, “It was instant freedom from hearing the Word and worship. What God did inside of me was only something He can do. I can’t even remember why I was so angry. Every session, I could feel His presence stronger and stronger. I just couldn’t get enough.”

An altar call later that week left him on his knees sobbing.

“Usually I can’t go up front; I’m too embarrassed or shy. [But] my feet were moving before the rest of me was. … Years of everything bad came out of me in tears.

“It’s been a process but He’s been completely faithful in healing the damage I caused my wife and my children. I can truly say I am a new person because of God,” Keith said.

Fast forward two years to this week’s retreat. Tuesday night, Angela sat next to him on a high-back couch, smiling as she dabbed her tears with a tissue. God had saved their marriage, and they referred to the retreat as the “turning point.”

“To know that I’ve been given a second chance not just in my walk with Him, but in my marriage is priceless,” Keith paused, choking up.

Darryl Strawberry Encourages Law Enforcement to Open Hearts to God

Four-time World Series champion and eight-time Major League Baseball all-star Darryl Strawberry was just one of the speakers Keith and Angela heard at this week’s retreat.

Though not an officer himself, Strawberry connected with attendees through the idea of finding one’s identity in a career. After all, both officers and baseball players wear a uniform.

“You get to really enjoy salvation when you give God your heart,” World Series Champion Darryl Strawberry told officers. But how do you get to that place? “FAT,” Strawberry answered. “You’ve got to be faithful, accountable and teachable.”

“I was an alcoholic, drug addict, womanizer, rich, famous and privileged. I had everything, but I had nothing,” Strawberry admitted, sharing his own turning point. His mother’s ongoing prayers and encouragement from his wife helped him see there’s a God who cares for him.

“[My wife] said, ‘When are you going to take the uniform off and follow God?’”

“I had the wrong identity,” Strawberry said. “That’s what happens to so many of us as men. Our egos keep us stuck. It’s a three letter word: Easing-God-Out.”

Strawberry shared the need to saturate one’s self with the Word of God. “[Satan’s] purpose is to deceive you, make you think you’re all that and a bag of chips,” he said. “I couldn’t see. I was blinded.”

Quoting Matthew 23:12, he added, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

“God will do something mighty in your life if you can humble yourself,” Strawberry said. “The goodness of God will take you further than you ever imagined. God will use every piece of our life.”

>>See what God can do in your own life. Get to know Him today.

Edward Graham shared on behalf of the Graham family how grateful they are for law enforcement. His brother, Will Graham, executive director of The Cove, visited with several officers at the retreat. Mentioning the hardships officers have recently faced, Edward Graham said, “It’s my prayer the church will lead their communities in loving law enforcement.”

You call yourself a Christian?

This was a devotion I used a few months back with the agency I am a chaplain for. I hope it makes you think.

This devotion could have been entitled: “You call yourself a …..” (fill in your own blank (father, mother, law enforcement officer, etc.) or “Do you measure up to others’ expectations?”

The story is told of a driver who was approaching a traffic signal and the light had just turned yellow.  They could have accelerated and easily made it through before the light turned red, but they decided to stop.  The tailgating person behind this first vehicle was furious.  She was honking her horn and screaming in frustration as she had missed the opportunity to get through the light, dropping her cell phone and make-up in the process.  Still in mid-rant, she heard a tapping on her window.  She looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.  The officer arrested her and took her to jail.  She was searched, fingerprinted and photographed before being placed into a jail cell.  The jailer eventually came to get her out of the cell and brought her to the arresting officer who was waiting with her personal belongings.  The officer stated:  I’m very sorry for this mistake.  You see I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn and cursing a blue streak at the other driver.  I noticed the “What would Jesus do” bumper sticker, the “Choose Life” license plate holder, the “Follow me to Sunday School” bumper sticker and the chrome plated fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally, I had assumed you had stolen the car.

Look in the mirror and try to determine what you do as a ______ (father, mother, police officer, chaplain, etc.) that doesn’t measure up to expectations. 

God, I know we should not be so concerned with pleasing others as we should be about pleasing you.  Show us where we fall short of your expectations of us, and help us to change. 

Expect the Unexpected

When I came up with this title I thought about when my wife and I were raising our kids. The new school year would start and sure enough, there was always something unexpected. 

I know that many of you have had events in your lives, even this past year, that were totally unexpected.  A relationship falls apart.  A loved one dies. A close friend has a near fatal accident.  On and on it goes.  It never stops. 

But there are also positive events which are unexpected.  Your daughter makes the school basketball team.  A new person becomes part of your family.  Your rich uncle dies and leaves you 1.4 million (yeah, right!!).  You get the picture.

The thing is that nothing is unexpected by God.  Think about that.  He is never surprised.  Not when we fail.  Not when we succeed.  Not when we are born, and not when we die.  He knows it all. 

So, when something hits you that was unexpected, look up to heaven and know that God’s got this under control.  It did not take Him by surprise. 

God, we can smile at You when life brings us things that are unexpected, because we know You are smiling on us.  Thanks for loving us God.  You’ve got this.   

What intrigues you?

 

If you were walking down the street and found a $20.00 bill on the ground, you might look around and try to see if someone was setting you up for a trick.  Once you picked up the money and shoved it deep into your pocket, you are most likely to forget about the $20.00 until you rediscovered it again when it came time to pay for lunch.  Not very intriguing. 

However, if someone came up to you as you were in line at a bank and they told you:  How much is the payoff on your home?  and then proceeded to write out a check to you for that amount…that would be intriguing.  Your mouth would drop open, even as the teller told you that “his money is good”.  How long would you wait to tell your husband, wife or significant other what had just happened to you?  30 seconds?  Maybe. 

You see, often times we are more impacted by the totally unexpected, unbelievable size of a gift which came from a source which we had absolutely no contact or relationship with at all.  It wasn’t as if this was an inheritance which you figured you would get some day.  No.  This was totally uncalled for!!! WHY would a total stranger do that for you?  It would have your head scrambled.  For a long time.

Have you ever had the opportunity to help someone who didn’t have the money for gas?  Or no resources to buy food for their kids?  It is a good feeling to help out another human being in need.  We are all in this together because we all matter! 

Most of us have heard the saying:  It is more blessed to give, than to receive.  If you are a person who holds tightly to every dollar you make, without being aware of the human needs around you, realize that you too have been blessed. 

So, as we look at today, a day which Christians celebrate as the reason for their eternal joy, realize that God did so much more than pay your house off.  By raising out of his grave, Jesus secured eternal life for all of us.  Now that is about the most intriguing thing I can think of. 

God,

 We cannot comprehend your love for us.  Why would you love us? Why would you allow your only son to suffer and die the way he did?  Why would you raise him from the dead?  Why would you prepare a place for us in heaven – for eternity?  We are far beyond intrigued!!! Maybe we can’t understand your love for us, but please help us to know that you are always with us.  You are our biggest cheering section in life.  Guide and direct each step of our lives.  In Jesus name, Amen

Big John, big bad John

I’m sure you have, as have I, a song stuck in your brain that just stays there for days on end. Well, that’s he way it’s been for me with this song.  It was released in 1961 (I was only 9 years old), but it is one of those country tunes you can’t get rid of.  You can find a video here: https://www.songfacts.com/lyrics/jimmy-dean/big-bad-john. it would be much more enjoyable than just reading these lyrics:

 
Every mornin’ at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six-foot-six and weighed two-forty-five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn’t give no lip to big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Nobody seemed to know where John called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn’t say much, kinda quiet and shy
And if you spoke at all, you just said hi to Big John

Somebody said he came from New Orleans
Where he got in a fight over a Cajun Queen
And a crashin’ blow from a huge right hand
Sent a Louisiana fellow to the promised land, big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Then came the day at the bottom of the mine
When a timber cracked and men started cryin’
Miners were prayin’ and hearts beat fast
And everybody thought that they’d breathed their last, ‘cept John

Through the dust and the smoke of this man-made hell
Walked a giant of a man that the miners knew well
Grabbed a saggin’ timber, gave out with a groan
And like a giant oak tree he just stood there alone, big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

And with all of his strength he gave a mighty shove
Then a miner yelled out “there’s a light up above!”
And twenty men scrambled from a would-be grave
Now there’s only one left down there to save, big John

With jacks and timbers they started back down
Then came that rumble way down in the ground
And then smoke and gas belched out of that mine
Everybody knew it was the end of the line for big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Now, they never reopened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand
At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man
Big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)
(Big John) big bad John

Writer/s: Jimmy Dean
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

So, big John was the hero of that town that day.  He gave his life so that others could live. It kinda reminds me what Christ did for us.  Christ hung on a cross and died to pay the eternal price for our shortcomings.  He didn’t have to, he chose to.  Just like big John.  Jesus and big John both knew they would die.  Big John saved men’s earthly lives.  Jesus saves us for eternity.  Big John saved 20 men.  Jesus saved all of mankind. One more critical difference:  Big John’s body remains at the bottom of that mine with a sign posted there to honor his life.  Jesus stayed only three days in his tomb.  You can search the whole world over, but you will never find a grave marker honoring “Jesus Christ, savior of the world”.  But that’s another story!!!

Lord Jesus,

For those of us who believe in you, we thank you for your death on the cross.  For those who don’t believe, please draw them to a closer understanding of who you are, what you have done, and give them an awareness of the love you have for them personally.  You have called these men and women in to the field of Law Enforcement to be peacemakers.  That is a far more difficult task every passing day.  They need your help.  Watch over them this day.  In your name we pray.  Amen

An article from the Epoch Times (03/11/2021)

A vial of COVID-19 vaccine is held by Advanced Pharmacist Rachael Raleigh at Gold Coast University Hospital in Gold Coast, Australia, on Feb. 22, 2021. (Glenn Hunt/Getty Images)

A vial of COVID-19 vaccine is held by Advanced Pharmacist Rachael Raleigh at Gold Coast University Hospital in Gold Coast, Australia, on Feb. 22, 2021. (Glenn Hunt/Getty Images)VIEWPOINTS

The Biggest COVID-19 Vaccine Skeptics? Frontline Health Care Workers

Lawrence Solomon March 11, 2021 Updated: March 11, 2021biggersmallerPrint

Commentary

What do frontline health care workers and first responders know about COVID-19 vaccines that politicians and their public health advisers don’t?

According to a January analysis by Gallup, 51 percent of health care workers and first responders polled in December were unconvinced of the merits of getting vaccinated, even if the vaccine “was free, available, FDA approved and 90% effective.”

Gallup found these results especially concerning since those at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19—the professionals required to meet America’s health, safety, and critical economic needs whom the National Academies of Engineering, Science and Medicine define as “Tier 1A workers”—were the likeliest to refuse vaccination (34 percent).

The frontline workers proved to be as defiant as Gallup’s survey of their intentions anticipated. In California, over half of Tehama County’s hospital workers at St. Elizabeth Community Hospital, an estimated 50 percent of frontline workers in Riverside County, and 20 percent to 40 percent in L.A. County refused the vaccine, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

In Georgia, according to an estimate in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, only 30 percent of health care workers have been inoculated. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine reported that 60 percent of nursing-home workers refused the vaccine. In Texas, the Texas Tribune reported in February that home-health and assisted-living agencies may not be able to service their clients because so many caregivers are refusing to be vaccinated. A CDC survey of skilled-nursing facilities published in early February found that fewer than 40 percent of staff took at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Outside the United States, frontline workers are likewise skeptical. On March 2, Reuters reported that at most half of the nursing staff in Switzerland’s medical sector, only 30 percent of the staff at Germany’s BeneVit Group care-home operator, and about half of the health workers in French care homes were willing to be vaccinated.

PBS on the same day reported that since “India started administering the second vaccine dose two weeks ago, half of the frontline workers and nearly 40 percent of health care workers have not shown up.” In Canada, CTV provided an anecdotal report that many long-term-care workers in Montreal are “flat-out refusing” to be inoculated.

For health care workers around the world, their dilemma is who to believe. Their government employers and the pharmaceutical companies, who insist the vaccines’ benefits far outweigh the risks? Or their own eyes?

Many frontline workers see first-hand those who fall sick or die after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, and in the absence of independent analyses judge for themselves whether the vaccine is implicated. They noted 23 nursing-home deaths in Norway and hundreds of hospitalizations in Israel following vaccination.

Frontline workers also suffer from vaccinations themselves. As Reuters reported in February in an article entitled “AstraZeneca Vaccine Faces Resistance in Europe After Health Workers Suffer Side-Effects,” the adverse effects hitting health care workers have unexpectedly left large numbers unable to work, forcing hospitals to scramble to maintain services.

In France, the safety agency advised hospitals to stagger the inoculation of team members, to avoid disabling team functions.

In Sweden, two of the country’s 21 health care regions paused vaccinating their staff after 25 percent of the vaccinated suffered fever or flu-like symptoms.

In Austria, inoculations with a batch of vaccines were suspended after one vaccinated nurses died and another required hospitalization.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, to avoid getting vaccinated, half of the health professionals scheduled in the German state of Saarland failed to show up for their appointment.

In response to the many concerns raised by frontline workers, the vaccine manufacturers, care-home operators, and the public-health authorities in all these countries offer bland reassurances, such as AstraZeneca’s statement that “the reactions reported are as we would expect” and the German Health Minister’s claim that “I would be vaccinated with it immediately.”

They also plan a plethora of public education campaigns. Partnership for Medicaid Home-Based Care, an industry advocacy group, launched a “Be Wise, Immunize” campaign to educate its workforce.

And all urge media and social media to be more vigilant in policing negative vaccination news. In offering pointers on how to debunk critics, the Columbia Journalism Review on March 5, told media companies that “The first rule of reporting on mis/disinformation [is] don’t talk about the mis/disinformation” and suggested they “consider the practice of ‘pre-bunking’—that is, actively debunking or anticipating public questions and concerns rather than only reacting once false narratives have been popularized.”

Although studies show that such assurances and public-education campaigns—also known as propaganda—can reduce vaccine hesitancy, Gallup finds their effect is marginal: “The limited COVID-19 vaccine acceptance rates among all occupation groups show little movement since November 2020.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis agrees, and concludes that barriers to “staff member vaccination need to be overcome with continued development and implementation of focused communication and outreach strategies.”

Yet the CDC doesn’t explain why continued focused communication and outreach—i.e., more of the same—would overcome worker hesitancy, when workers don’t fully trust the data, or those who deliver the data. To overcome that trust barrier and win over the frontline workers—people who have every incentive to protect themselves—the media would need to lift the censorship, industry would need to subject its studies to independent scrutiny, and all would need to engage in reasoned debate rather than “trust-us” assurances.

Lawrence Solomon is a columnist, author, and executive director of the Toronto-based Consumer Policy Institute. @LSolomonTweets LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

You want me to do what?

What do you do when you decide to do something you have never done before?  Or maybe someone (maybe even God) suggests that you do this new thing. 

That has happened to me recently.  It is scary.  Very scary.  Especially if you have to demonstrate to the world that you now are able to perform this new task. 

Even though my father was a police officer, when I became a police officer, I had little if any experience with firearms.  Well, proficiency with a firearm is pretty important when you are a police officer.  It was a skill I had to learn and learn quickly and learn well.  My job literally depended on it. 

As a police officer, during a career of about 30 years, there are many who will never even have to ‘break leather’ with their firearm.  There are others who seem to get into lethal situations often.  There are many factors which contribute to this, not the least of which are the hours and locations you work.

In any event, you must always be prepared to immediately use deadly force if the situation warrants it.  That means you need to keep honing that skillset and not let it deteriorate. 

I can’t think of anything more traumatic for any officer of the law than to have to use deadly force.  In addition to the obvious injury or death to the person who is the recipient of the deadly force, I have seen the results of the use of deadly force destroy officers, families and even communities. 

Yet, at this time in our history, unfortunately, it is a necessary action.  When it hits, the brain starts off with “You want me to do what?”

Whatever situation in life you are in, be aware of the possible actions you might be called on to take.  Hopefully it will not be drastic like the use of deadly force, but it may very well be something that will scare the bejeebers out of you!!!

Hang in there.  God’s got even this!!!

What a Crazy World!!!

I have been on this earth almost 7 decades and I have never seen the world this crazy. 

I thought we would have been at war, but we’re not.

I thought we would have high gas prices, but we do not.

I never though the Government would be sending me checks, instead of asking for more taxes.

On and on the wonders go.

And now our Government will change.  Our allies and enemies might look at us differently. 

We may have to continue to show the world that we have strong resolve.

It will be interesting to see if peace in the middle east continues.

It will be interesting to see changes that the new regime will institute.

You may like some of the changes, you may not.  You might be holding your breath for a miracle.  You might be glad we are done with the current administration. 

You might be happy.  You might be fearful.  You might be neither.

Personally, I believe in a God who raises up empires and throws down kingdoms.  I believe in a God who gives authority, and who brings calamity and failure.  I believe He is not surprised, happy, disappointed or shocked at what is happening in our world.  The scriptures tell us that man may plan his ways, but the LORD orders his footsteps.  He is in control.  We do not need to put down or silence each other because we do not agree with each other.  The Word of God tells us that as much as possible, we are to live at peace with one another.  Micah 6: 8 states: 

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God.

That’s it.  He’s in control.  We are not each other’s enemies because we have a different opinion. 

Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before your God.  Try it.

God, help us to be united as Americans.  Amen

What Now!!!

2020 is ‘in the bag’!!! If you are reading this, you have apparently survived.  It seemed like all year long we were just waiting for the next thing to happen and one more of our personal favorite things to do in life would be challenged.  I’m almost 69 years old and events like JFK and MLK getting killed, and 9-11, the year 2020 will remain one of those memories we don’t even like to think about. We are people of habit.  We usually don’t like unplanned changes, unless we win the lottery or something.   It takes us awhile to learn to adapt to the changes.  Think of travelling by air – I still hate to take off my belt and shoes!!!  

So now we have had an election and Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.  I was listening to some ‘prophetic’ people the other day and they are saying that God told them Trump would still be president for 4 more years.  As much as many of us might like to see that happen, with my earthly eyes, I just can’t see that happening.  Was I surprised at the outcome?  Yes.  Was God surprised at the outcome?  No.  Nothing surprises God.  In fact, if you are fearful of the results of this election, then you do not realize that ALL authority comes from God.  Just as Paul states in Romans 13:1: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  That means your authority as a law enforcement officer and the authority of all rulers, including the president of the United States, all come from God.  He can put someone in a position of authority that he chooses to.  He can also remove anyone from authority that he wants.  So, the plans of man are vain, if God’s will is not in it. 

This might be hard for you to swallow, but let’s think back to the first time we read the story of Abraham, when God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  First God tells Abraham that He is going to use Isaac as his heir and that his heirs will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. First Abraham can’t understand how this is going to happen, as he and his wife Sari are both long past parenting years.  Then, after Sari miraculously gives birth to Isaac, God tells Abraham to take Isaac up a mountain to kill him as a sacrifice.  This of course makes no sense whatsoever to Abraham, but he is obedient and does what God has told him – that is until the point where God intervenes and stops Abraham from carrying out the act.   Did God know what he was asking Abraham to do?  Yes.  Was He surprised at the outcome?  I don’t think so.  This was a test for Abraham.  The test showed Abraham, that no matter what the Lord asks you to do, do not doubt Him, but follow through obediently!!

There are so many other events in the Bible which encourage us to trust God – don’t doubt.  Even when it all looks so wrong…God is still in control!!!! 

Be Blessed.  I will try not to wait so long before I blog again. 

***If you are from the Polk County area and want to fellowship with other male police officers, contact me.  I meet with a group of guys on Saturday mornings.  If you are a lady and are interested, I have a female minister who is doing a study with the girls.  Let me know and I will get you in contact with her.