The Ultimate Sacrifice

     It’s hard to grasp the reality that it has happened again. Yesterday, Micah Flick, a deputy for El Paso County, was shot and killed in Colorado Springs. Three other officers were wounded – the suspect is dead. Deputy Flick was a lover of God and a lover of people. A friend is quoted, “He is just the most amazing man and God-fearing, and his faith was the number one thing in his life and he would want every one pointed to God right now.” He leaves behind a wife and seven-year-old twins – a daughter and a son.

With the murder of Micah Flick, that brings to three the number of Colorado deputies killed in the line of duty in just the last five weeks. On January 24, Adams County deputy Heath Gumm was shot and killed in Thornton. And, on December 31, Arapahoe County deputy Zackari Parrish, was ambushed and killed in Highlands Ranch. Again, this is in Colorado! We’re not in Moscow or Mogadishu or Chicago. This is the Gateway to the Rockies, Bronco Country, the Centennial State, the Texas/California melting pot. Sure, we’ve got our issues (see Texas/California melting pot reference), but three officers killed in five weeks is staggering.

            Before I go on to the rest of this blog, I’m going to ask you to stop reading and pray. It would be short-sighted and pretty callous if I were to use these fresh, real-life tragedies to simply illustrate a ministry point and move on. So, please, before you read the next paragraph, pray. Pray for Micah Flick’s wife, his son and daughter, and his family. Pray for the wife and family of Heath Gumm. Pray for Gracie Parrish, wife of Zackari Parrish, and their two young daughters, as well as the rest of their family. Pray also for the six officers who were wounded alongside Deputies Flick and Parrish. Pray for God to work in this horribleness. Pray for Him to turn tragedy to victory. Pray this is the last time for many years to come that we have to witness a long procession of lights honoring a fallen hero. Please, just stop and pray.

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            Thank you for doing that. As we talked about on Sunday, there is nothing more powerful that you can do for anyone than bringing them before the Lord.

These three deputies had several things in common. First, they felt a calling to their profession. Zackari Parrish even quit a good job in banking to enter law enforcement. They knew that this was what they were born to do, and they pursued their calling passionately. Second, these three men lived service. Way back in 1955, the Los Angeles Police Department adopted the motto “To Serve and Protect”. This is the mindset of the vast majority of first responders the nation over. There are a lot safer ways to make money, and a lot bigger salaries to be had than what you’ll find in law enforcement. Finally, when the moment came, Deputies Flick, Gumm, and Parrish all paid the ultimate price fulfilling their calling.

This past Sunday, we talked about Relational Outreach. Evangelism is something that we are all called to do, but that’s part of the problem. Evangelism has become something that we do, rather than it being who we are. Just like a police officer is always ready to serve and protect whether they are on shift or off, we should always be ready to love people. That’s what sharing the Gospel is. Forget that scary 10-letter word “evangelism” (it’s okay – “evangelism” is just a church word, it’s not a Bible word). Instead, replace it with those two wonderful words that we find throughout the Bible – Love People. When we fulfill our calling to love people (Matt. 5:43; 22:37-39; John 13:34; 15:12-13, etc.), then sharing the Gospel is no longer something that we have to do – it’s just who we are.

How do police officers live out their calling? They serve. This is also our primary way of carrying out our calling. We “do” for others. We give our time, our abilities, our resources, whatever it is that God has given us, to others, expecting nothing in return except that God will use it to show Himself. So, my challenge to you on Sunday was to pray for a “do”. Ask God to identify something that you can “do” for someone else – a sacrifice of what you have (time, talent, treasure), in order to show your friend or neighbor or family member that you genuinely love them. Then do it, trusting that God will use your offering to show Himself.

Finally, we’ve got to be willing to take the risk and actually tell people the Gospel. That was the fourth in our list of how we show love to people – Pray for them, Serve them, Enjoy them, Tell them. Sharing the Gospel with those around us is all about Show & Tell. Showing people the love of Christ is a very important first step, but we’ve got to get to the Tell. Unfortunately, for many that’s when that scary 10-letter word creeps back in. Taking the step to actually verbalizing the Gospel message seems a task that’s just far too daunting.

Yet, it’s got to be done. Remember that challenge I told you I heard a couple weeks ago? “How can you say you truly love someone if you ignore their eternity?” Think of your loved one. Then think of them apart from God for all eternity. Think of them having to face the consequences for their sins having absolutely no hope. With that picture of lostness, of helplessness, of hell in your mind, is there anything that you wouldn’t do to protect your family member, your friend, your neighbor – heck, your worst enemy – from having to face that fate? Those three deputies sacrificed all to protect the temporal lives of those they didn’t know. How can we not be willing to sacrifice all to protect the eternal lives of those we love?

  One last challenge (yeah, I know I had a “finally” two paragraphs before, and this officially moves me into the “rambling” category), take the time to learn to share your faith. Fear is the greatest block to sharing the Gospel, and lack of preparation is the greatest reason for fear. By the wonders of modern technology, Steve Musser will turn this sentence into a link to the Mark Wagner Bridge Illustration I showed on Sunday. Also, I’m including one bonus link to Sharing Your Faith 101 on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. It’s a very simple, very practical method of communicating the Gospel. Finally (this “finally” is a subset of my “one last challenge”, thus it is grandfathered in and is not to be considered as new evidence of my rambling), I’m including a visual of the bridge illustration for quick reference. Please, take the time to prepare yourself. Preparation will help deal with the fear that can be so paralyzing.

God has called us and our church to Relational Outreach – loving people into the Kingdom of God. When we embrace our calling as who we are rather than something we have to do, that’s when He will use us to make an impact on our Corridor Community.

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