Two years ago, one of my good friends, mentor and board member, Mark Graham told me that hat every year God lays a word on his heart and all year long he focuses on that word to bring glory to the Kingdom of God. My word for 2022 was unity. I prayed all year that God would bring unity back to this country and use me anywhere possible to make this happen. With all of the division in every walk of life, it felt this country was on a downhill spiral and would take a miracle to bring us together. It appeared around every corner someone was trying to divide us as a country, people and even religion. The hate that was being exhibited was sometimes hard to fathom or justify. A lot of my Christian friends were afraid to voice their opinion or beliefs because of fear they would be cancelled, banished on social media, or even shunned by family and friends (sounds like the Jewish followers of Christ in the New Testament). There didn’t
appear to be a safe place to go and escape the “politically correct” or “woke” mentality. I personally felt the attacks in relationship and while doing our video/podcast with Kevin Haggerty on True Christian Talk. Facebook and YouTube both threatened to kick us off their platforms. We didn’t start out wanting to add to the divide but sometimes when you speak what God has place on your heart you ruffle a few feathers.
So my word for 2023 is revival. I felt this was the only way we could recover from all the turmoil that was being shown across the world. It didn’t take long for God to show me that revival was the right word for the year. On Monday night January 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made a routine tackle on Cincinnati Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin jumped up after the play only to take a couple of steps before collapsing back on the field. Initial review looked like maybe Hamlin had gotten the wind knocked out of him, but as more and more medical team members started gathering around Hamlin you could feel the seriousness of the situation. As we watched the medical team worked on Hamlin, we saw team members from both sides kneeling and praying for their fallen teammate, my word revival came to mind. I was watching grown men from the NFL making a statement that when one goes down, the others go to their knees and pray for the fallen. Even former Detroit Lions quarterback and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky said a 45 second prayer for Hamlin while live on “NFL Live”.
But it didn’t take long for the nay-sayers to come at Damar Hamlin and how the country prayed for him and in return he wore a jacket that people couldn’t wait to talk about. How Hamlin was disrespectful and blasphemy because the back of the jacket bore the word ‘Eternal’ above the doll-like figure being crucified. First I thought the jacket was ugly but not disrespectful, one I wouldn’t wear. But after the criticism Hamlin responded with ‘After talking with my parents I understand how my coat could have offended some people,’ ‘It was never my intentions to hurt or disrespect anyone, the coat is abstract art to me. It says Eternal which I am Eternally thankful to my Savior!’. I am beginning to like this kid more and more.
Less than a month later, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs were bound for the Super Bowl LVII. The media could not stop talking about how history was going to be made on February 12, 2023. It would be the first time in NFL history that two black quarterbacks would be starting in a Super Bowl. What wasn’t talked about as much was that both quarterbacks openly confessed that they were followers of Jesus Christ. You can find articles out there about Hurts and Mahomes being devout Christians but only a few news channels felt that it was important to report. To me, the story the mainstream media only wanted you to hear was about their skin color and not what is really important, their souls.
Then on February 8 th , 2023, at Asbury University a morning chapel service went from normal to full blown worldwide, revival. It is estimated that over the next two weeks there were over 50,000 Christians, people searching for answers, and just curious onlookers made their way to Wilmore, Kentucky to see God’s hand at work. Tom McCall, a writer for Christianity Today, wrote about the Asbury Revival, 1 “As an analytic theologian, I am weary of hype and very wary of manipulation. I come from a background (in a particularly revivalist segment of the Methodist-holiness tradition) where I’ve seen efforts to manufacture “revivals” and “movements of the Spirit” that were sometimes not only hollow but also harmful. I do not want anything to do with that.
And truth be told, this is nothing like that. There is no pressure or hype. There is no manipulation. There is no high-pitched emotional fervor. To the contrary, it has so far been mostly calm and serene. The mix of hope and joy and peace is indescribably strong and indeed almost palpable—a vivid and incredibly powerful sense of shalom. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is undeniably powerful but also so gentle”. Yet with what seemed to be an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of so many, the dividers started to come out and put their spin on whether it was a true Jesus moment. For every article that was written if it is the real thing, there are just as many saying, “maybe we should wait and see”, “there was a woman pastor” or “I have been to “revivals” like this before and it was all hype.” All I can say is if one-tenth of those that visited Asbury during this “revival” turned to Christ, repented, or made a new dedication to follow Him, it is a time for celebration.
So what does this have to do with church safety. It does not matter how much Gospel you can preach, there will always be those that want to shut it down and not bask in the glory of God and the Holy Spirit’s moment. They will always be those out there, till Jesus’s comes back. So we as Safety Team Members must be on guard at all times. We must also take a stand and when we see moments like these we must be on the front lines to protect those making a difference in the lives of others or the status of the country. In Mark 9:38-41 we find the disciples come to Jesus complaining of others doing things in His name, “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” David Guzik said “There are many that may be wrong in some aspect of their presentation or teaching, yet they still set forth Jesus in some manner. Let God deal with them.”
Let us rejoice when Christ’s name is spoken in salvation. Let us help those that might not have the full picture of who Christ is and what He can do, but do not stop those that might be new in Christ but wanting to share the Word. Protect them and guild them in the proper teachings. Remember you are a watchmen and part of your job is to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. Be safe and be blessed.
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.