Most of you heard I recently got certified as a chaplain. I was then asked if I would be interested in becoming a Certified Mental Health Coach (CMHC). I was honored at the offer and am now working through the CMHC class offered by the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). We are never too old to learn something.
During the Covid-19 lockdown I became aware of the increase of mental health issues. Pubmed did an article “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates”. It stated “Multiple lines of evidence indicate that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has profound psychological and social effects. The psychological consequence of the pandemic will probably persist for months and years to come. Studies indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with distress, anxiety, fear of contagion, depression and insomnia in the general population and among healthcare professionals.” BMJ, a global healthcare knowledge provider stated that “Widely reported studies modelling the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on suicide rates predicted increases ranging from 1% to 145%.” “Trends in suicide during the covid-19 pandemic”.
John Hopkins reported in “COVID-19 and Suicide: A Crisis Within a Crisis”, “From February to March, there was a 45% increase in calls to the Maryland Helpline, the state’s crisis hotline. Compared to March 2019, March 2020 had an 842% increase in texts to the same service.”. When churches re-opened their doors to members I warned about three different types of people that were coming back to the church. There would be those that felt the virus was a government conspiracy. Others, Covid radicals, who accused churches of being super spreaders. Then there would be those that lost a loved one or their business and were looking for answers. We are still feeling the effects of all three in our churches. In fact with all the confusion on the recent facts of Covid-19 the church has been even more divided.
What causes me concern from a church safety provider is the safety teams at the churches will probably be the first contact of persons with mental health concerns. Let me begin with this statement, this is not a safety team issue, it is a whole church issue and everyone from the top-down needs to start paying attention. One case handled the wrong way could cause a church to be sued or even worse someone getting hurt because they were not properly trained on how to deal with a person with mental illness.
In the CMHC course it states how the church is no stranger to helping others with mental health issues. Churches work with the homeless, those with addictions, human trafficking, and prison ministries. Some may say that all of these conditions do not create mental health issues. I would disagree, it has a mental effect on all persons involved in these situations. Don’t believe me sit down and talk with a anyone listed in the ministries above and you will see a mental health issue. Talk to the families of those that are homeless or involved in human trafficking. There will be some hurts, habits and hang ups in everyone you talk with. So if you plan on doing any of these ministries be prepared because it will either break you or bless you. It will truly depend on your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Yet even though, we the church, appear to be ready to help those in need we must first look at some statistics. CMHC states that “Sixty-six percent of pastors say they never talk about mental health issues from the pulpit. Twenty-five percent of pastors say they don’t want to work with the mentally ill because it takes too much time and thirty to forty percent of individuals with a mental illness encounter a negative interaction in a church. They report their illness is over-spiritualized and categorized as a spiritual issue like a personal sin. Yet most mentally ill patients go to the church first to seek help because seeking professional help cost too much”. With statistics like these we need to be better prepared.
So how do we handle the storm that is on the church’s horizon? We train. We teach our staff, safety team members and volunteers that want to learn what to look for and what would be the appropriate response to people that are just looking for help. Isn’t that something we should be doing as Christians, administering to those in need? I think Christ had a story about that. Now I am not saying that we all become Christian Consolers but we need to know what we are looking at so we can get those the proper help they need.
In season one, episode one of “The Chosen”, we meet Mary Madeline. In Dallas Jenkins, the producer’s version of the New Testament, Mary is a troubled person with questionable living habits. Even when a holy man (Nicodemus) shows up to attempt to help her, he decides she is far too gone in her mental illness or as we hear his reaction, she is possessed with demons, and there is no hope for her. Contemplating ending her life she has an encounter with Jesus Christ which you need to watch the series to find out what happened.
In Light University’s course “Introduction to Mental Health Coaching” they teach you the four Rs’ on what to look for when you feel like a person might have a mental health issue. First we must Recognize. If you have been a Safety Team Member long enough you know immediately when you have someone that just doesn’t seem all together. Once you recognize there might be an issue you need to Evaluate. Does this person have a mental health care problem or are they distracted, disorientated, or requiring medical attention? It gets hot here in Florida, someone coming out of the sun might have a medical issue instead of a mental health issue. Once we decide it is a mental health issue we look for possible signs of how serious is the condition. Is this person going to disrupt your church service, we need to start thinking what our next step should be.
During the Recognize phase we also have to assess for the possibility of danger, thoughts of suicide or injuring others. We need to assess for the level of distress which may require the church to contact local law enforcement. Assess for level of functioning. We talked this could be a medical condition or the possibility of a person with dementia that is lost and in the need of professional care beyond that of the Safety Team Member and the church.
The second R is to Refer. Once again Safety Team Member should only be involved in the initial contact. We are not trained as mental health coaches, but if we recognize a mental health issue we need to know who to refer to. Churches need to have a next step of what to do when an issue like this is presented to them. Do they have a list of professionals they can recommend to the person in need. If not a list needs to be developed and updated every so often. Letting someone with issues walk out your door without helping them as much as possible or giving them some sort of hope that we care will one day come back on us. We really need to look at what Christ says about helping other and follow those truths.
The next R is the going to be the hardest for any Safety Team Member and this is to Relate. I can honestly tell you that there are multiple people that come to our church that has some sort of mental health issue. There is a member in our church that the Lord has laid on my heart to be there for him anytime he needs someone to talk to. I have spoken to him candidly about his condition, I know where the boundaries lay and have on several occasions told him this was something that I felt he needed to talk to a professional about because it is beyond my expertise to help him. He knows when I say that to him, he needs to make that call and he always has. I feel that because of God’s guidance and me being honest with him on some of his issues we have a healthy relationship. I have broken bread with this brother, socialized with him and talked the Gospel with him on many occasions. I have always felt that my friend has a special relationship with God that I will never understand. I remind him all the time that he is a son of God and an heir to the throne. His relationship blesses me more than he will ever know. Mental disorders are not the result of personal sin. I look at him as the beautiful creation God made and we as the church need to never forget our brothers, sisters, and their families. They must have the support of the church.
The last thing we must do is Restore. But restore does not only have to do with those with mental health issues. We must be the lighthouse to all. In times of need and we must provide spiritual direction. We must love them, provide a healing environment with grace and reassurance. We need to show how Christ loves all, not just the chosen but all and that there is hope, peace, comfort, and strength in Him.
We need to encourage the church to get back to what Christ said was the greatest commandment of the law, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” Matthew 22:36-40. If we follow the greatest commandments, the four Rs’ will fall into place for everyone that walks into your church. You never know, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” Hebrews 13:2. Doing this will make your church a safer place and the rewards will outweigh the time you took to love on those in need.
When you ask a man what the biggest obstacle of giving their lives to Christ, most respond with the fear of surrendering. I have found that most men just hate the word surrender. A wise ex-military friend told me that you never say “Surrender to God” to men. Instead, you say, “Submit to a Higher Authority.” Military personnel will tell you to surrender is not in their vocabulary. They fight until all resources are exhausted, and it is the enemy’s decision to what happens next. I found his statement interesting, causing me to ponder my decision to use the phrase surrender instead of submitting. I felt they were the same.
So turning to the Bible, I did a word search for “surrender.” Using the King James Version, I didn’t find the word surrender one time. When I looked at the New King James Version, I found “surrender” eight times in the Old Testament and nowhere in the New Testament. Comparing verses in both versions of the Bible, I discovered that the word surrender or words equal to surrender like “let us fall unto the host” were used in reference to surrendering to someone that was going to either kill you or make you a slave. I am starting to see why my friends and brother don’t like the word surrender.
When I did an Internet search on submit in the Bible, I found a paper written by John W. Ritenbaugh. In his document “What the Bible says about Submit,” he states that in the King James Version, the word submit is listed twelve times, submitted, three times and submitting only once. But he goes on to say that “In Greek, the word is hupotasso, which means “to arrange in order under.” It is actually a military term, and in the military, this is a strong sense of submitting to someone of higher rank.”
I turned to the Merriam-Webster dictionary to look at the definitions of surrender and submit. I found that surrender means “to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand,” and the word submit means “to yield to governance or authority.” I am starting to see a difference here. I can understand while a military person would cringe at the statement “surrender to God.” Look, I am no Bible scholar, but I like to think I understand the Word. I have never seen a passage where God looks at man and demands that he loves Him.
If that was the case, what happened to free will? God calls us to have a relationship with Him by submitting to His will, which as my friend said, “submitting to a higher authority.”
In fact, the more I look at this, I feel that using the word surrender to Christ is almost an injustice to our relationship with Christ. Hear me out before you delete the page. We are given a choice. Where does our relationship with Christ fit into surrender? Christ wants us to submit. But He also wants us to be who He designed and bring our talents and treasures to Him so that He can use them to expand the Kingdom of God. Just as the military person changes from being a person of one to a person who belongs to a larger body. As Christians, we are part of God’s larger plan. God wants us to talk to Him with confidence and joy. These things are not in the word surrender. Surrender means to be a prisoner, and we are not prisoners; we are children of God.
Military personnel submit to a higher authority to receive commands. When we submit to a higher authority, our boss, or our customers, we usually trust what that person brings to the table. Still, this authority is not perfect in any way. Sometimes they make mistakes in their decisions. Yet when we submit to the higher authority of God, He never gives us a command that is not a part of His perfect plan. God does not make mistakes, sometimes we might not understand the design, but we know that there is always a reason for His plans through our faith. Jesus tells us about submitting to Him in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This does not sound like someone who is demanding. This sounds like one who is loving and wanting us to submit to Him for rest for our souls.
God wants a relationship with us. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. He wants us to boldly approach Him with respect, humility and not graveling and scared of Him. Remember He sent His only Son to die for us. We must not hide anything from Him. First, He knows all, and second, if you can’t trust your loving Father, who do you turn to? Human authorities are just as flawed as you and I. God wants us to feel secure around Him because when we feel safe, we will reveal our deepest thoughts with Him. He promises to help us through all things.
So what does all of this have to do with church safety? All safety team members must submit to our Lord to follow His perfect plan for us. We are Ambassadors for Christ. Being a safety team member is not a position of power. It is a position of serving. With God leading the charge, He opens our eyes to what we need to see and protects us from the schemes of the devil.
I will leave you with part of a speech from former Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered to the House of Commons on June 4th, 1940. “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…….” During the time of this speech, Nazi Germany was demanding that England surrender to them or they would destroy England. We know that Satan is alive and using all his power to destroy this country.
He would love to destroy the churches we attend. Still, we must submit and put on the whole armor of God and fight against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Thanks Marcel, for helping me see the light.
When I was assigned the detective position for the Belleair Police Department (BPD), I went to a regional burglary meeting. I met Largo Police Department Detective Brenden Arlington. You need to understand that police officers and detectives from different agencies sometimes aren’t the most open and friendly people, not till they get to know you. The first time, most don’t share a lot of their investigative information. They first want to check you out and make sure you were one of them. I have found this a common practice with agencies around the country.
This wasn’t Brendan’s way of operation. He immediately invited me into his inner circle and shared everything with me. Being that we were neighboring jurisdictions, he understood the importance of being on the same team. Every time I had something on the Largo, Belleair border, I would call Brendan. We worked so many cases together I felt like he was my partner. While sitting in his little work cubicle, I would talk with him about cases and suspects. I would look at the happy pictures he had on the walls of his family. I remember the day he got transferred out of burglary and went to Robbery/Homicide. Brendan appeared to be the guy that had it all.
But as in so many of these situations, we find out later that the ones that seem to have it most together are those that are battling the biggest demons. This appears to have been true in Brendan’s case. While reaching out to him about something we had going on in our church last month, I found out that he had committed suicide.
I was rocked to my core.
My family will tell you I don’t have a heart because I don’t cry at sappy movies. That night after finding out about Brendan’s death, I went into my closet and cried. I cried for his family and for his friends. Not that there would have been a different outcome if I had reached out to him sooner, but I cried because I had not talked to my friend one more time. Over the next couple of days, I got information from two of the detectives that were close to Brendan. Talking with them, I got the same “didn’t see it coming” conversation that I have heard from other friends and family members of suicide victims. The last time they saw him, he was upbeat and positive, only to later receive the shocking news that he had taken his life. Friends always feel like they might have done more, but unfortunately, most of those that had decided to take their own lives are on a mission until it is over, and that seems to be what happened to Brendan.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), Police Officers rate number three out of ten in occupations with the highest suicide rate. They list all sorts of reasons, depression, stress, and unable to get adequate sleep. Add to that the type of people that officers constantly deal with every day. These are not the nice people in the world. They are the ones that live in a culture that most don’t want to understand, live in, or deal with. Let law enforcement do that. When you add all the reasons, then throw in divorce, and substance abuse, it feels like the world is against you. I really don’t understand why most law enforcement officers (LEO) would do this occupation. I can add one more thing to this equation, without Christ in their life, I don’t see how they can do this job at all.
I said this once before, but we as the church need to step up our game and really start to adopt LEO. The next time you see an LEO, you need to tell them how much you appreciate them and then invite them to your church. If you are brave enough, tell them you will pray for them and is there anything specific they would like you to pray for. I asked four police officers what I could pray for them, and three of them said, “that I make it home tonight.” Let that one sink in. Do you pray that every time you are leaving or going to work? They do, their wives do, and now we need to.
It is a dark world out there that most people will never see or have to deal with, yet LEOs deal with it every day. They are the thin blue line that protects you and your family from total chaos. The world we live in is not getting any better, and officers on the street need to know that we support them. The other day, I heard a person say that we need to remember they are one of God’s children when a person gets arrested. I responded to that person with, “are you saying the police are not God’s children?”
They are also God’s children, and they desperately need our prayers and our fellowship. We need to be that beacon of light for the officers and their families. We need to make sure that we support them and have their backs when walking through this world. If we don’t support them, who will? In the world of sinners and saints, we need to make sure our doors are open for both. As they say, “if you think you found the perfect church, don’t go in because it won’t be perfect anymore.”
I remember talking to Brendan about God. He said he was a believer, yet I never got too personal about his salvation. Maybe I should have. In those last moments, I pray that God wrapped His arms around Brendan while he was in his pain where he felt all alone, and there were no answers, and he decided to take his own life. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV. I pray that God gave Brendan peace and called him home.
I pray that one day I get to talk to my friend again.
A black friend of mine contacted me and told me that his company provided diversity training and asked me my opinion. Wikipedia says, “Diversity training is any program designed to facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and generally teach individuals who are different from others how to work together effectively.” As police officers, we had in-service training every two years to keep our certifications. There was always one class on diversity. Most of the time, the class was taught by a person who worked in the lower-income areas. They would explain that we just needed to treat people who lived in these areas with respect and dignity when we came across a person different from us. Most of the time, the person that taught the class didn’t appear to like police officers or sometimes treated us as racist, which made the lessons always interesting, to say the least. So, when you say diversity training, I feel two issues that should be addressed.
The first issue is how we should treat people. Don’t come to me with what society is saying. Let’s use what Christ says we should do. In Matthew 22, starting in verse 35, an Old Testament law expert tested Christ with a question. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Okay, we can follow that, but Christ continues, “And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself” “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” You might tell me, hey, this is easy, I can love my next-door neighbor who lives in a home like mine, has basically my same political views, and talks the way I talk, but Christ takes it a step further.
In Luke 10:25-37, we see the Parable of The Good Samaritan. Jesus tells the story of a certain man being jumped, beat up, and robbed, and the only one that would stop was a Good Samaritan. Understand Samaritans were considered by some in those days as a person most good Jews would avoid. Only the Good Samaritan stopped and helped the person in need. Christ is telling us here that it does not matter your skin color, ethnicity, social background, or even sexual preference. We are supposed to help and love everyone no matter what. Is that easy? This is what we have been commanded to do by our Lord and Savior. So, I go back to what the Bible teaches, using it as my reference manual, not some teachings from someone that wants to tell me I am racist because of my skin color.
To cover the second issue, let’s get back to my friend asking me how I would handle diversity training. This is what I told him. If I decide, I want to have a Bible on my desk, and I get a notice from human resources (HR) that somebody finds my Bible offensive. We have a concern. If I decide during Christmas time, I want to have a miniature Nativity scene on my desk. I get another notice from HR that I have offended someone. We have a significant problem. You see, diversity “is any program designed to facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and generally teach individuals who are different from others how to work together effectively.” I am all for that, but we don't have diversity if you step on my religion. We have mob rules or society rules.
I can work with anyone. I have to put in this caveat. I can work with anyone as long as this person is not breaking the law, being immoral or unethical. If a male co-worker decides that he wants to be a she and comes to work in a dress, I will respect that person and work with that person as long as that person respects me. But if I find out that person has gone to HR and told them that my Bible on my desk offends them, we do not have diversity. If that person comes to me and says that he and a few other employees are going to march in a gay pride parade, and I tell him I am not going to participate. If I get a letter from HR telling me that I am offending someone by not participating, we don’t have diversity.
Whoa Jim, what happened to Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I told you there were two issues here. You see diversity is a two-edged sword; it cuts both ways. We, as Christians, must take a stand for Christ. All the other groups are taking a stand for their beliefs. So why should we be any different? I am not promoting that you throw a fit and cause a scene in your office, but I would ask to speak to HR about the complaints and then go to God and ask Him what I should do next. This is a tricky question; but how deep is your belief in Christ? Let’s go back to the Gospel. Christ following God our Father’s will went to the cross for us. Most of the disciples met with horrible deaths because of their strong beliefs. We have another problem if you took your Bible off your desk because of a complaint and didn’t stand up for your beliefs.
I was fired from a job because of my work ethic, not my religious beliefs. The company’s CEO was immoral, unethical and if I looked closely, he was probably breaking the law. I told him I couldn’t lie to clients, and he said to me that don’t lie, just don’t tell them the truth. When I wouldn’t comply with his unethical way of doing business, he fired me. Wendy and I had just had Jessica, and here I was without a job, living in a house I couldn’t afford and no income coming in. I was ticked, to say the least. I wanted to do so many bad things against that CEO, another story for another time. Still, when I look back at what happened, God had a plan for me, and because I didn’t conform to a corrupt business environment, I am where I am today in a much better place.
God has a plan for you, but you must stand in His shadows and trust in Him. If the company you work for preaches diversity yet will not let you put a Bible on your desk, God has a better place for you. We just have to trust Him. I wasn’t following Him when I got fired, but He had a plan for me, and I am so blessed because of what happened to me. In fact, if I could find or see that CEO, I would thank him for firing me. God has a plan for you. All you have to do is ask for it. He will find you a different company, a different place if you follow His plan for you. He may also have you at this company to be His messenger. You may not see it at first, but I promise He is there with a plan, and we have to persevere during these “diverse” times.
James says it best “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.” James 1:12. What a blessed promise to stand up for Christ.
A black Christian brother of mine contacted me and was concerned and upset over recent statements by members of a men’s Bible study I facilitate. He was devastated to learn that a large majority of the members were conservative. He rebuked me for allowing this to happen in the group and felt that I should put an end to it. His opinion was that the Republican candidate was racist and that a Christian could not in good faith vote for a person like that. The more I tried to reason with my brother, the angrier and angrier he got, so I explained to him if he wanted to have a conversation, my door is always open, but I wasn’t going to go back and forth with him on different political views. I love good debates but refuse to go to the level we have recently seen around our country and in the secular press, where because of race relations, we are now more divided than I have ever seen in my lifetime.
After our conversation, I sat at my desk trying to find a way to build a bridge between my liberal brother and me, and the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. What happened to the days when you could vote for whomever you wanted to and not have to worry about whether or not you were going to offend someone. As I dwelled on this subject I realized we, the church are partly responsible for this great divide. You cannot look at the television, social media, or any other way you get your news without having to pick a political side. It is no longer Democratic versus Republican, it has no come down to us against them, or that is how a lot of people want you to look at it. I feel we, the Christian church need to find a way to bridge this gap before we hit the point of no return. I am terrified that we may have already gone too far.
First, let’s set some ground rules. Unless you can show me your stance in the Bible, then the argument goes nowhere. I don’t want to be legalistic, but I feel the church has let things slide for so long that the only truth I have left to lean on is from the Bible, not some study on race or sex that is based on someone’s social opinion that calls themselves an expert. We, as Christians, must take a stand or watch the devil win because he is creating a lot of chaos in the church.
After my conversation with my liberal brother, I needed to make sure my heart was in the right place. So I decided to go to council, not with my Christian brothers but with my Heavenly Father. While sitting at my desk asking Him the question, I felt His quiet voice whisper to me. I turned to 1 Samuel 16, where God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint Israel’s new king. Samuel gets there and calls out Jesse to bring his sons to celebrate a sacrifice to the Lord. As Jesse’s sons start to appear, Samuel is for sure Jesse’s firstborn, Eliab, was the anointed one. Yet God in verse 7 spoke to Samuel “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” This is how we as Christians need to start looking at people, not looking at the outward appearance but their hearts. This is when the Church will begin to heal and not before then.
During this time of meditation, I also heard Him tell me that all I need to do is be right with Him, no one else. As long as I pleased my Father, He would help me deal with what my brother was going through. We, as the church, need to get back to listening and being right with God. Instead, a lot of churches today are doing what Paul warned us about in 2 Timothy, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3 NIV. I see all across this country that churches and religious organizations teach their congregation with itching ears exactly what their member want to hear instead of the actual teaching from the Bible.
I watched churches and religious organizations join the cancel culture and try to shut down pastors that have done incredible work in not only their community but around the world because they prayed for our last President. Even if you disagree with the President, did we forget what Paul said in Romans 13:1 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” I may disagree with the current President, but I will not talk about how some church leaders have spoken about our past President. God did not get up on November 4th and tell the angels that He didn’t see the present President’s win coming.
I also watched churches and religious organizations push the race issue, and this is not only all-black churches. The Southern Baptist Convention try to pass a resolution that would promote Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality as a tool for churches to use. If you don’t know how dangerous these two theories are, go back and read my blog, “Critical race theory & Intersectionality vs. the Grace of God.” I can’t find any Biblical teaching in either one of these theories. I am more than happy to talk to someone that can point me to the scripture where it says one race is better than another race. But in my Bible, it says God created mankind in His own image, Genesis 1:27.
Then we have the issues of the government wanting to pass the Equality Act. Once again, you need to go out and read what this is about. This will be a battle churches will have to fight in court. It requires you to do things that are against everything you teach in your church about moral and social issues. Those churches that do not see this as a problem I feel sorry for. I have been watching a church in St. Petersburg, FL, fall apart because the pastor has decided upon himself to teach the congregation with itching ears exactly what their member want to hear instead of the actual teaching from the Bible. This has torn that church apart, pit brothers and sisters against each other, and this is a time we need to be unifying and not dividing. Dark clouds are around the corner for churches across this great country.
But let me end on two positive notes. First, as God would have it, my liberal brother called me ten minutes after my time with Him. I explained that I didn’t vote for the past President because of who he was. I voted for him because he based his election on one of my most critical moral choices. You see, the past President was pro-life. If you tell me you are pro-choice, you lose me right off the start. I cannot find how many abortions the United States performed in 2020. The numbers are not out there, but a Western Journal article’s headline said it all “It Would Take COVID 23 Years to Kill as Many People as Abortion Killed in 2020 Alone”. No wonder God is not happy with us, and this new administration is very much pro-choice, so right off the bat, you lose me. Many other policies this administration is pushing are so far from Biblical teaching that we as Christians need to start praying for our country and our leaders. Read Judges; every time a judge went against God, their future was not bright. God promises us in 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.” We are all God’s people. Let us call out to him and humble ourselves so we can heal our land.
The second bright spot I want to talk about, everywhere in history; when the church was persecuted it grew. Throughout time there have been world leaders who tried to stomp out religion but in over 2000 years of prosecution the church is still here. If you do not understand, the Church is the Bride of Christ. If we truly believe, then Christ Himself will protect His Bride, He will not let it die, and we have a way of flourishing when things go sideways. Don’t believe me, look what happened during COVID19. Some states tried to shut down the church, and it grew. We learned how to use technology, and now in the comfort of your own home, you can get fed every day of the week from a different pastor.
Satan is alive and well in the country and knows what will divide us, racism. We have to stand together to combat this, or the church will go through some challenging times. If you go to a church and hear them using terms like systemic racism or reparations in their teaching, you need to run away. God sees us all as all equal. Paul states it quite clearly in Galatians 3: 26 – 28 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.
So when my liberal brother called me back and asked if we could talk. I explained to him what I based my voting on, not the man but his beliefs. If the candidate is pro-life, pro-church, pro-law enforcement, and pro-Israel, just to list a few, then he gets my vote. All the things I listed are based on Biblical teachings. My brother agreed, so you see, we can start bridging the gap if we together stand on God’s Word. It is the Rock I built my house on, and nothing can tear it down.
Paul once again in 2 Timothy warns us that “there will be terrible times in the last days,” 2 Timothy 3:1. Later in 2 Timothy 3, Paul tells us how it will be. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:12 – 17 NIV.
I really don’t know the last days before Christ comes back, I don’t know, and really I don’t worry about it. I find it comforting knowing that Christ will come back one day to take us to a better place. Turn off your television, close down your social media and start getting back into the Word and hear what God has to say. There are a lot of excellent promises in the Word that we need to hang on to. We also need to realize that we are all one in the sight of God and live by that principle. When we start to do that, we will once again be a unified nation.
Jim has many years of law enforcement experience and has run the safety team at his church for several years. TSA was formed after he realized God's calling when multiple churches reached out and asked him to present at their church.