Four-sixteen a.m. I am hard of hearing due to my early line of work so as I sit at my desk in my dimly lit study, I faintly hear what I think is a clock ticking from high on the wall to my left. It reminds me that my rest time, the hours now in the early morning are slipping away and I should try and redeem them. Pain, however, is a nemesis to sleep.
When I was a young police officer, I worked mostly midnights for about thirteen years. In the small town where I worked, you got to know what houses would have a reading light on in a room at a particular time of night or see the blue lit haze through a curtain of a television on in another. Night people, many probably awake because of pain. Those who drive by my place at night now can probably know the nights the study light is brighter than its normal small light. The small one assigned the task of preventing me from smashing a pinky toe when I come in to turn on the other light at my desk. They may even see the light from the computer screen brighten the drawn shade. Telltale signs of a person awake perhaps because of pain, or perhaps, just one of those I nostalgically call, the night people.
When I was out and about at night all the time, I became acquainted with the night people. The deli store clerks, the truck driver preparing to leave with a load, those who had just left the bar carrying their own load, and some folks who just preferred to be out and about at night for no real reason because their own body clock kept them dwellers of the night season. I didn’t usually meet up with those who were awake, because of pain. Those souls were normally home-bound. The last thing you want to do is go out and roam around when you hurt but they remain people of the night.
One lady, an older, somewhat rough around the edges, kind of person; one who had been pushed around by life and pushed back really sticks in my mind. I’m remembering back to the very early 1970’s, maybe even late 1960’s when I came to know her. She lived in a small village of Lodi, Ohio. For a few years, my older brother was a police officer there and worked the night shift before going to the sheriff’s office. I would ride with him every chance I got.
The department had two means of being dispatched. The overarching one was the county sheriff’s office. The vintage one was this lady I’m thinking of. Since she was awake most of the night, calls for the police were routed to a phone in her home. In a small corner of a room she had a desk with a police radio transmitter and receiver on it. Next to it was her coffee cup and almost always a cigarette burning in the ashtray. No computers. No bells or whistles. A phone, a radio with its mic and this dear lady. We’d stop by for coffee when the night permitted it, which was most nights. Her raspy deep voice, shaped by years of cigarettes would crackle across the radio usually about this time of the morning to give the call-sign of the transmitter and say, “Rod (my brother) I’m switching over to the SO now. Good night.” With that she’d literally flip a switch on the phone and it would again go directly to the sheriff’s office.
We met others, too. Some interesting ones were always found at the Royal Castle. I’d call it a restaurant along IS 71 at SR 83 but a truck-stop greasy spoon would be a more apt description. Long gone from the scene at that intersection now, taken over by large corporate truck stops on either side of the Interstate. At the Royal Castle you knew how good the coffee was by how long your spoon could stand straight up in the cup, held only by the density of the black tar like semi-solid they called coffee. You could grease one of the 18-wheelers in the lot with the grease scraped off the stove, if they would have ever scrape it off. Not sure they ever did. The burgers though, were fantastic, dripping until you had a puddle of grease on your plate. Ah, the healthy lifestyles of the night people.
The folks of the night were not usually embroiled in the national or international news of the day. What happened locally, though, they knew well and had an opinion. If it was an election year, it wasn’t party that would divide a conversation (it never divided friendships just conversations). It was who believed which candidate would really do what was best for their local world.
Their world is different. Not better or worse, just different. It was unlikely the day people would ever meet the night people. Most daytime dwellers never realize night people exist.
But they do, or they did… once upon a time, in a land far, far away, in the quiet dark of the night.
Have you been a Christian for a long time and yet, it seems the hard times of the world still weigh you down? Do you begin to think, ‘What kind of a Christian am I?’ ‘Why can’t I just sing through the tough times and trust?’ ‘Maybe my faith isn’t strong enough.’
Guess what! You’re right! Your faith isn’t strong enough. Neither is mine or, as far as I know, anyone else’s! How’s that for ‘good news’?
I just watched a live broadcast where Pastor Brannon and Ryan Ervin of the North Canton Chapel (Ohio) taught a Bible study on Galatians chapter 2 that talks about salvation by faith alone. That is a great bit of news for anyone who needs to come to know Christ as Savior.
But you, you’ve been a growing Christian for a bunch of years and you have been to Bible studies and retreats, you’re sure of your salvation but that nagging question of the strength of your faith when the storms really hit won’t let you sleep at night. When cancer comes to call on someone close to you or, God forbid, to you, how’s faith fit in? You’ve prayed for that small child in Romania for months as he has endured surgery after surgery and his parents buried him last week. Faith? Your job is gone. The virus panic and the quarantine has dropped the bottom out of the market and your retirement is down to about where you started with it. How’s faith deal with that? Your marriage seems to get harder every year rather than easier like you expected and your kids are grown but their problems are now adult size and you long to help but you stare at the sky wondering if God hears. Whose faith is strong enough for this reality we call life?
It all comes down to a two-letter word. A small preposition, in the Greek, the original language of the New Testament, it is ev. It can be translated several ways and is used in the New Testament 2801 times. Most times it is translated ‘in’ but it is also properly translated ‘of’. Why does that matter to you? To me? Let me explain.
A couple of verses are critical to understanding why we need not beat ourselves up because we have weak faith. We want to strengthen it, sure; but God knows and there’s more to the story of faith. Take a look at the passage in Galatians 2:21 Here’s the NIV translation: “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The ev I want you to look at is bolded and underlined. “In” is an appropriate translation but look how it is also correctly translated in the King James text. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Again, I bolded and underlined the ev.
What’s the difference and why is it important to you in your struggle? Remember, both can be correct. Since we only know what the Greek word used was but we don’t know exactly the inference Paul meant, ‘of’ or ‘in’ we have to look elsewhere for clarity.
First though, notice the difference. In the first translation the reader is living his life in the flesh “by faith in the Son of God” – PLEASE don’t misread me. That is not a bad thing, that is exactly where our faith should be focused. But, in the second translation, the reader is living his life in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God. That is, he is living it by Christ’s faith which is never weak. It is never not enough. It never fails. So, you don’t need to fret that your faith is too weak. Even though it is, you can take hope in the fact that you can live your life in the strength of Christ’s faith not yours!
How can I be dogmatic about that since very few translations read it that way? First, it is an acceptable translation of ev. Second, remember I wrote that we would look at other evidence. That is where Ephesians 2:8 comes in to play. “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” If you diagram that sentence like we did in seminary, you find that the ‘gift of God’ is faith. The faith we depend on is not ours it is God’s unrelenting, unfailing faith. When we run low, we can recharge. The Bible is replete with passages underscoring God’s gracious giving to those who ask according to His will. He wants you to have faith in Him. He wants your faith to grow! He gives faith, He gives grace.
May these few words encourage you and help to strengthen your daily walk.
Sometimes, Momma wants to watch a light-hearted movie and knowing her take on the usual John Wayne movies I have on hand, I keep her happy by picking a romantic comedy.
George Clooney plays a frequent flyer, in the movie Up in the Air, who begins to fall in love with a lady frequent flyer played by Vera Farminga. They began a casual romance with in-between flights. Both travel constantly for business. When he finds out she is married, she tells him that he is a parenthesis in her real life. Can you imagine such a hit?
My wife, I think, would say that I am a sentence, not a parenthesis. Either a long run-on sentence with too many conjunctions and no exclamation point or a life sentence without possibility of parole! I’m kidding, of course. My wife has been a godsend and she has more patients than anyone I know! Of course, that’s spelled with a ‘t’. She’s a doctor.
The movie, from 2009, speaks to time. How do we spend it? Spend is a great analogy for time. It is an unbelievably precious commodity of which we each are allotted at once, the same amount, and despairingly different amounts. By that I mean, we all have the same number of hours each day, the same number of minutes in those hours. What is different is how many of those days we are allotted. Some may have the three-score and ten years of which the Bible speaks. Others have but a few hours on this earth. The amount of sand in each of our hourglasses is our own and we cannot know its number.
My son and his wife just orchestrated the donation of a Cuddle Cot for a local hospital in memory of their triplets. The special bed allows a baby who has died at birth to remain cool and give the mother and father time to bond and grieve. A gift of time. Something those who have lost a child prebirth, such as my wife and I and my son and his wife, wished we could have had. You feel a strange emptiness as if you were robbed of time to spend with your babies. Thankfully, our God has destined us to be able to share infinite days with them for all the future. For now, though, such parents deal with the loss of time.
Perhaps one of the hardest things about living in America in the 21st century is time. Being ‘retired’ for a while now, I am still struggling with the concept of time, busyness, multi-tasking instead of relaxing, and I am realizing how much we miss by being too busy. We actually deprive those we love of the most important thing we can give them, especially our small children and grandchildren, when we do not have the right perspective on time. My grandchildren desire my time more than anything. I gift them time when they are talking to me and I am there, completely, listening, interacting, enjoying their faces and their desire to share what they are trying to tell me. Try looking directly into your granddaughter’s or son’s eyes as they tell you about their day. The story is only partly what you hear. You will sense the depth of the story by what you see. Give yourself a treat and commit to being wherever you’re at.
Our pastor said recently in a sermon about time, talents, and treasures, “When we see time as a gift, we will use it for (God’s) glory.” We will stop wasting it but, by that, I don’t mean we must stay busy. Exactly the opposite. We will learn to slow down, take in the world and the people around us. You can actually, smile at someone you pass on the street, play ‘go fish’ with our kids, or ride a bicycle around the block. Take time to pet a horse, scratch a dog behind his ears and watch him as he lays at your feet, his paws crossed, head on his legs drifting off to sleep. That’s God telling you to sit still for awhile and relax because you aren’t going anywhere especially if you have a really big dog! It’s a great way to worship.
Gospel centered time management, our pastor said, is worship. We realize that God is in control so we don’t have to be. The Bible reminds us to “number our days” and thus “gain wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). As a parent of crazy busy kids and school and work and sports and music and plays and meetings and… it’s hard to see it. “In parenting, the days are slow but the years are fast” our pastor declared and sitting at this end of the table now, I have to agree. I guess that sums it up, our place at the table.
Remember when you were little? At my grandparents’ house or other family gatherings the infants, of course, were off in a corner in a highchair where mom or an aunt or someone special would be caring for them. The youngest kids were usually at the fold-up card table out on the porch of my Papaw’s and Mamaw’s house in West Virginia. The back porch was screened in and the mountain behind the house came right down to the base of the porch. When you looked out the screened-in window, it was straight up. There was a steep path that led up to the chicken coop, to the little cemetery plot overgrown with weeds and then farther up was a field my Papaw worked with a plow drawn by a horse. When you got a little older you moved from the small fold-up card table to the bench at the long table, still on the porch. It took time and empty places at the table before, as a young adult, you moved inside. Now, I sit, not at the table of that old house in the small hollow between the mountain behind us and the creek, coalmine railroad and the mountain in front of the house, but in my own home. Here, I’m Papaw and at the head of the table. My grandchildren, the infants in highchairs, the smallest children at the fold-up little picnic table, the older grandchildren at the counter with stools and the adults gathered around the tables wherever they can find a place. So, it took awhile to get to this end of the table, but the years blew by. A lot of empty places have been filled with new faces, and so it goes. Someday my seat will be open. Time is a precious gift, indeed.
Are you really busy? Does it seem like you’re living the life of the guy from the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercial who was always getting up early to ‘make the donuts’ and then getting home late, until eventually, he met himself at the door? In the sermon I mentioned earlier, the pastor challenged us to ask God a question. Before you do it, you better make sure you’re ready for the answer. I’m still struggling with that one and I’ll touch on that in a minute. Ready? “Ask God what you should quit.”
Recently, I read an author, whose name I don’t recall, but I wouldn’t recommend his writing anyway. He had counseling credentials from somewhere. I think it might have been Bullwinkle’s alma mater, Wossamotta U. Much of what he said was shoveled from the stable floor but one thing did hit home. (Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once-in-a-while!) He talked about men needing a mission. We seem geared for some kind of mission and we take from that mission a bit of, or even a large part of, our identity. For those who follow Christ, our mission can certainly be God-honoring and we can go forth and do well. Others, perhaps still Christ-centered, may find their given mission in some other role. When that mission is no more, whether it be through retirement, illness, disability or another life-changing event; we struggle. I struggle. It is tough to be in this situation and then consider asking God what I should quit. I am learning how to revel in the role of Papaw. I hope that someday I catch a glimpse of the pride I saw in my wife’s eyes when I was serving in law enforcement or when I was preaching or teaching regularly, while I’m papawing. I’m sure it’s there, I just haven’t caught sight of it yet. It helps drive us. Some may say that sounds crazy but I’ve watched a lot of guys retire and struggle to regroup to find their new mission. I was told once, ‘always retire to something not from something. That’s how I see it work with men.
How women are wired? You’ll need someone with an electrical engineering degree to answer that one, I speak from only what I know and that isn’t much normally and when it comes to the wonderful world of women, forget it. They are wonderful and complex creatures, made by God for amazing things. Why so many women want to be ‘equal to a man’ confuses me. I started to write, ‘why lower yourself to that standard?’ That would sound like I’m demeaning God’s creation of man. So, rather I will write, ‘Why can we not celebrate the wonderful differences the Grand Creator designed for us?’
I don’t know how my wife will be when she isn’t running a thriving medical practice every day, when, no matter where we go someone says, “Hi Doctor Riggs!” and begin to regale their company with what a wonderful doctor she is. And she is, too. When she is no longer seeing patients every day and teaching residents every day, how will that be for her? She has always said she is wife, mother, grandmother and as a job, she’s a doctor. I believe that is how she strives to be. Life changes, dramatic ones can be tough. I doubt she’ll ever be completely done. One of the many things she is good at is appreciating time. She squeezes every moment out of every minute, even when she is relaxing and ‘doing nothing’ she is doing nothing to its utmost.
To graciously receive and appreciate the gift of time God has given us, such is our challenge. When we do, I believe we will worship our Creator, thanking Him for each moment. My desire is to relish my moments and to never be relegated to being not much more than a parenthesis in their lives. I trust that for those closest to me, when the sand in my hourglass has run out, memories will always spark a smile!
Please before you shut down and ignore everything that is to follow, this is NOT a re-hash of the garbage which has been spilling out of the mouths of talking heads on every media outlet. The information being provided here is vital for anyone who knows someone who may be more susceptible to SCAMMERS particularly when it comes to matters of health, healthcare and the worries over the virus.
Usually, when we think of persons susceptible to scams involving health-care, the seniors in our family circles are the first on our minds. This is certainly true now because of the fear-mongering being thrown upon them in daily news casts and their conversations with friends and family. It is not only, though, seniors who are at risk. New information available through intelligence sources indicates that cyber-criminals; those who hack systems for information, others who are phishing for identification information and even those who are spreading their own kinds of viruses are using COVID-19 as a means to their criminal ends.
Anyone who finds in their e-mail something looking even vaguely official claiming specific information regarding the Coronavirus Disease will likely open it. The user is then susceptible to malware, spyware, trojans and even backdoor programs which can completely destory any confidentiality of the users’ information. Malware can infect a computer program with a worm, virus or trojan. The differentiation is the virus will introduce a malware which attaches itself to a program and mass reproduces itself throughout the system and through the contacts the user has on their system. A worm is similar in destructiveness without the replication and trojans are “programs that, enter computers appearing to be harmless programs, install themselves and carry out actions that affect user confidentiality.”[i] Spyware can infiltrate a system to monitor all activity on a device and obtain information which breaches security software, exposing confidential identification information. Sources report that internationally placed hackers are using the scare tactics easily contrived due to Coronavirus to plant such software and even use backdoor programs to open cameras and microphones remotely, obtaining all types of confidential information. Backdoor programs literally allow the hacker into your system to have free reign of it and all the information contained therein.
Phishing expeditions work similarly, introducing themselves to the user by claiming some connection to a government entity involved in healthcare or emergency measures due to the ‘outbreak.’ Not relying on just software to do their work, they seek to solicit private information from the user through e-mail or by telephone contact following up an email. They claim to need to confirm the users’ information and current status for healthcare reasons. They may claim to be from a government health insurance program designed to protect the person from hospital costs due to Coronavirus, etc. In so doing, they obtain as much confidential identification information as possible from the user. They may also solicit funds for caring for others sickened by the disease or for an insurance policy for the user or their family against the costs affiliated with contracting the disease.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF and OTHERS comes back to the basics. Health officials are telling everyone it is all about limiting contact and avoid spreading germs. This is done by suppressing coughs and sneezes while being proactive. One way to be proactive is by thoroughly washing your hands. Such simple actions are key to battling the actual virus, the same is true in the cyber world.
LIMIT CONTACT Do Not Open any e-mail that comes from someone unknown to you and purports to be from a government or health entity about the Coronavirus. If you have already opened it and you become suspicious of its contents, DO NOT download any files. In fact, do not download any files that come from ANYONE other than someone you specifically know and trust.
AVOID SPREADING the virus. Run scans on your system daily, automatically scheduleds scans are good precautions any time. Also, scan your system immediately after you have opened something of which you are unsure. Make certain others in your on-line circles do the same and have them let you know if they receive anything from you that does not look right.
BE PROACTIVE Running system scans and keeping malware protection up-to-date are like washing your computer’s hands. Keep up on the latest phishing and scam attempts which are prevelant.
COMMON SENSE is what will see us past the Coronavirus COV-19 scare, although, sadly there is little of it being displayed. Common sense will also help you prevent yourself or others you care for from being taken down by some virus hacker sitting in the dark in his mother’s basement somewhere in a suburb anywhere in the world.
The preceding SECURITY BRIEFING was written by Dr. Ross Riggs, President of Security Consulting Investigations, LLC (SCI). SCI is licensed by the State of Ohio Department of Public Safety/Homeland Security. Dr. Riggs is a Certified Police Executive, retired Chief of Police and owner of SCI since 2006. He has traveled, teaching and consulting globally for fifteen years. He is the author of many published professional articles and of a book, Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Time of Heightened Threat. Published by Motivational Press, it is available through Dr. Riggs’ company site, www.DefenderLtd.com Dr. Riggs and staff can be reached for consulting, private investigations or for providing infrastructure security at 1.888.719.5636 You may also reach them through the website’s contact form on the main page or by email at: email@example.com
I originally planned this post for Memorial Day. Such a day, though, is for honoring the sacrifices of all who have paid for our freedom with their last full measure of devotion. This post, I pray, still honors those; but it will also speak up for those whom this country has failed. Allow me to explain.
“What is a Veteran? A ‘veteran’ whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to, and including his life.’ That is Honor. And there are way too many people in this country today, who no longer understand that fact.” (Author unknown)
When a family grieves the loss of their Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coast Guard they know their loved one dutifully, particularly during the draft, and many voluntarily wrote that blank check to their country. The family deserves to know the check was cashed toward protecting this country, its people, our way of life, protecting all, the great and the not-so-great. They deserve to know the check was not VOIDED and their loved one died needlessly. They know that in war and in training, accidents happen; that is not the issue. They know there are mistakes and bad judgment calls by leaders who are, themselves, human and fallible. That too, is not the issue.
The West Coast of Africa
What voids a check in such circumstances is that their loved one died because of criminal negligence and that betrayal of trust was never brought to justice. Unfortunately, over our country’s history, there are many examples. One most current, which could still be corrected by those with the power to do so, happened in two places. A small U.S. Embassy post in a place called Benghazi and in the Secretary of State’s office in Washington D.C. Four Americans died in the September 12, 2012 Benghazi attack; Ambassador Chris Stevens, former teacher Peace Corps; Information Officer Sean Smith, a U.S. Air Force veteran and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALS.
In January of 2013, Rep. Jim Jordan, (OH) questioned SOS Clinton concerning her lack of honesty to the American people in hearings regarding the non-response. Her response to him and the previous representative included her now infamous words, in sum, “What does it matter?” In context, she is referring to the original impetus for the attack whether it is one thing or another. For the families of those killed, it matters a great deal and so does the lack of response by the administration to send aid. Bad decisions, every one of them. What voids the check, however, are the lies produced to cover it up and the lack of justice for those who were criminally negligent in fulfilling the duties of their office. There is still time for such justice for this case. Sadly, many other cases are long out of reach, though not out of the hearts and memories of the families.
What we should commit ourselves to, as Americans, is that there will never be another VOIDED check, ever in our nation’s future. Our military families deserve to know the strength of our resolve in such a time, as this. For us, that is HONOR.
A good defender is always on the offense, looking for ways to stop the evil before it can erupt.
Charles Edward Greene, coming out of North Texas State College, in 1969 was to be the NFL’s First Round #4 pick. Unheard of for a small school? It didn’t take long for the school and Greene to be heard of. By his second year in the NFL, Greene was in the Pro Bowl. He received the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award twice between 1969 and 1982, his time spent as a Defensive Tackle with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Charles Edward is better known as, “Mean Joe”, “Number 75” part of the STEEL CURTAIN of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive line. Married to Agnes in 1968 until her death in 2015, he honored her in 2018, setting up the Agnes Lucille Craft Greene Memorial Scholarship. Of his defensive role, he said, “The kind of role I play is like an offensive lineman: doing a good job but not being noticed.” [i]But noticed, he was, and he was noted for his leadership, fierce competitiveness, and intimidating style of play for which he earned his nickname.[ii] It was his character, for which he credited his mother which earned him a nomination for the 1979 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Greene said, “Above all, there is Mother. She taught me how to love, how to have respect for other people.”
Okay, I’ll say what has to be said. Having spent more than a few years attached to an Air Force Reserve Unit in Eastern Ohio near the Pennsylvania border and a torrential mix of Browns and Steeler fans, I am a tried and true Brown’s fan. That makes, for me, the Steel Curtain an offensive defense. That is not the nuance you must take from the title, however!
Here we will discuss SECURITY from the viewpoint of a man like Mean Joe. He sees the defense a place to be on the offense. With thirteen seasons to his credit, Greene is widely considered one of the greatest defensive linemen in National Football League (NFL) history.
DEFENDER Security, Ltd., a subsidiary of Security Consulting Investigations, LLC has as part of its new logo, a shield with crossed swords. Defensive weapons and offensive ones. It isn’t enough to be defending if your mindset is, I’m here, let ‘em come at me… they won’t get through. That’s good; but, it’s only half the strategy. A good defender is always on the offense, looking for ways to stop the evil before it can erupt.
The PATRIOT missile system is a defensive system which is strategically deployed in the places it is most expected to be needed. It remains on high alert, continuously probing the sky, looking for the incoming trouble. And then, when deployed, it goes out to meet the trouble, head-on; literally.[iii]
CHURCH SECURITY, or any professional security really, is programmed to be on the offense for their defense. It isn’t enough for a uniformed police officer or security person to be standing gallantly in the narthex of the church, there to wipe out the evil doer as he presents himself. What he is doing, when that is his total plan of action, is being the blue canary.
My grandfather worked all his life in the West Virginia coal mines. He would come home in the early morning, the only visible white was in his eyes. Every other part of his exposed skin was as black as the coal he had been mining all night. Eventually, too, his lungs were just as black. In those days, they used canaries in the coal mines to determine if the oxygen level was too low. When the canary dies, time to leave. It was widely held that they used parakeets. Actually, the miners used canaries, rather than parakeets for several reasons. 1. Canaries metabolism makes them very susceptible to methane and carbon monoxide poisoning. 2. They give an audible warning. They sing most of the time, when they stop singing, it is an indication that they are being overcome by the gas. 3. They give a visual warning. When they start to sway and fall from their perch, it is another indication that they are losing their ability to function, due to the poison gas they are breathing.[iv]
So, there is our blue canary. A well-groomed appearance, sharp uniform, shiny badge; he is standing in the open foyer, the most susceptible to the on-slaught of evil. He’ll likely give an audible warning when he is shot first and, visually, others will see him fall from his perch. If a single officer is the only option a church or business can afford, then there must be a plan in place to keep him or her from being the blue canary!
I met a blue canary once, who truly understood he was a blue canary. That was his job. I’d just come out of the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem. Friends of mine wanted to visit a nearby bookstore. I headed for the police station. Outside the station, where the razor wire was strung was a singular, phonebooth style guard post. In it stood a young police officer wearing two sidearms, a bandoleer full of ammunition and an automatic rifle. We spoke for a bit and he learned I was a retired police officer from the U.S. He recognized, somehow, I was a Christian and, discreetly showing me a crucifix under his vest; told me that he was a Christian, too. He then admitted that, for whatever reason, his youth or his faith, he was there as a blue canary. When things hit the fan and he was overwhelmed by attackers, those inside the barricaded walls and bullet proof glass would know there was trouble. So stands our stoic ‘Church Security Officer’ ready to defend; but, having no offensive plan whatsoever. That must change. Again, if the only affordable option is a single security officer, the church or business would be better off having him monitoring a security video system. It isn’t the best option, but it is better than having an officer sacrificing themselves as a target. Plans can be put in place using volunteers and team strategies to make it possible to view the security monitors and keep your security officer moving.
Israel has a couple of steps up on the U.S. when it comes to security, such as we need for houses of worship, regardless of faith. The principle is an offensive plan to their defense. The evil must never get close enough to do harm. It must be, and can be, stopped before it ever enters the narthex or the foyer, or coffee shop, or youth center. Certainly, it’s warmer inside, especially in February in Ohio; but evil is going to come inside from the outside. Don’t you think we should be there to meet it?
Roving patrols in parking lots have merit and challenges. The merit is they can be the first to see the evil before it enters. If they are looking, truly looking and not sitting in a corner of the lot checking their cellphones. They are visible, so there can be the possibility that evil never attempts to enter. It comes by, sees proactive ARMED security and goes off to find weaker prey. Being visible, though, it can also be circumvented. That is why there must NEVER be just one ring of security, but multiple, over-lapping rings.
The second ring, which is an over-lapping one, is the video monitoring system. Cameras, OUTSIDE, pointing in varying directions watching for evil to come within reach. Lots of churches have video cameras. That’s great. Some are also recording. That’s good, too. Most are not being manned. That is a mistake. What you have, if you have a recording video system not being monitored, is something the police will try to look at AFTER the carnage, bloodshed and death left by evil as it disperses back to the place from which it came. I believe evil comes and goes. It may arrive inside a demented mind of someone battling demons of their own; but should that person succumb to wounds on the scene, the evil within slips silently out, looking for its next victim. In 1 Peter, the Bible says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”[v] The, be alert and of sober mind, that’s an offensive strategy for your best defense.
If you think, when you take your shift as a DEFENDER, you are only going to battle against the punks of the neighborhoods within which you work, remember Paul’s admonition to the Christians in Ephesus. “For our struggle is not against fleshandblood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”[vi] If you are planning a great offensive strategy, it’s a must to begin and end with prayer.