In addition to serving as Pastor of our church, I also have been given the privilege to serve as chaplain to the amazing men and women of the Bradenton Police Department. This wonderful assignment has become a highlight for me in the ministry these last five years.
Last Thursday, I attended the annual memorial service that honors those officers who have fallen in the line of duty and paid the ultimate price to serve. This was my fifth time attending this significant event, which again resulted in the moving my heart to an even deeper place of honor, respect and appreciation for those who labor in this most noble position. As this grand memorial service began to unfold, the weight of who we were remembering and the magnitude of what they and their loved ones had sacrificed began to shake my emotions as it does each year; I was undone. As I stood alongside the gallant officers of the various law enforcement agencies in my police chaplain's uniform that includes a gold shield, I thought to myself, "I do not deserve to wear this."
I was speaking with a pastor friend of mine who also serves as one of the chaplains for another law enforcement agency, and he said to me that he considers what these men and women do a true calling from God, and I agree.
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience." Romans 13:1-5
The siren and flashing lights of a police car only cause fear to those who are doing wrong, but it brings comfort to those who are in need of rescue.
Here are four things you can do to Honor the Badge: Pray for law enforcement. Obey the laws of the land. Weigh what they put on the line each day of their lives. Thank law enforcement officers for what they do as often as you can.
I will close with a prayer that I wrote and that I pray over new officers when they are inducted into the department.
"Father of Heaven and earth -- I lift up our law enforcement officers before You now, asking that You and all of heaven would take notice, and You would take heed to this prayer as these officers vow to dedicate their lives to protect Your children on the earth, that You so dearly love.
I pray that Your mighty hand and outstretched arm would go before them in the battle for justice, anointing them as your agents of wrath to foil the deeds of those who plot evil.
I ask of You precious Holy Spirit, to envelop each of them with the peace of Christ that transcends understanding; guiding them with the wisdom of Solomon as they protect the citizens of the Friendly City of Bradenton, whose ambition is to dwell in peace with their fellow man.
Grant them oh God the courage and strength of King David to slay the Goliaths of wrongdoing and give them the loving-kindness of David the Shepard, to serve with compassion and a gentle hand. Help them to be like You Jesus in every situation, discerning when to be the Lion and when to be the Lamb.
And now Dear Lord as they embark to their noble assignments, I ask that You would dispatch and assign Warring angels of great might and power to protect them and keep them from harm, and also grant an overwhelming peace to their loved ones, reminding every mother and father, wife and husband, son and daughter that You, the creator of the universe has them all in HIS hands. In the name of Christ Jesus our lord and king, Amen."
Don Sturiano, pastor of Kingdom Life Christian Church, can be reached at 941-776-0026 or kingdomlifechristianchurch.org.