OUT OF THE BLUE
FROM PEACEKEEPER TO PEACEMAKER
A Journey from Enforcing the Law to Ministering Grace
Peacekeeper: A member of a usually armed force engaging in peacekeeping activities
Peacemaker: a person who tries to create harmony or make peace, as by settling the disagreements or quarrels of others
One who maintains peace through enforcement of the law, providing community safety and security
Into the Blue – Rob the Peacekeeper
My journey into the blue began in 1970 as an MP with the Virginia National Guard. Military law enforcement. In 1973 I went further and joined the Norfolk Police Department, first on patrol then as a detective. My partner and lifelong friend Drew Grant and I worked together in both functions, ending up in the burglary squad together.
During that time, I was an active Church member, follower of Jesus, and was called Deacon by some of my Cop friends. However, I must admit, my focus was administering the law, not grace. I was in that world, and became of that world. I developed what I call a “cast iron heart.” On the street, I was aggressive, physical, and not reflecting the “Deacon” tag. After all, I was trained by guys who became Cops in the 60’s, a different era.
It is worth mentioning again, that was all true until Drew challenged me one night while I had a suspect by the throat subduing him. That night Drew challenged me to be different. We ended up as detectives, and the physical side subsided and was replaced by the mental strategy of investigation and interrogation. We were good.
Out of the Blue – Rob the Peacemaker
It was not in my thinking to leave law enforcement. I loved the job. Yep, the pay was lousy, but it was what I saw myself doing for years to come.
Then, out of the blue, it happened. 1978, Tabernacle Church in Norfolk. My wife Chris and I went to hear a speaker, Dan DeHaan. He was a pretty cool guy. Chaplain for the Atlanta Falcons, Bible teacher, and he had long(er) hair and a beard. Remember, 1978. Dan talked about graduating from Columbia Bible College.
Sitting there, something happened. Not a bright light, not a thundering voice. Rather, suddenly I knew I had to leave the job I loved and go to Columbia Bible College. I could not explain it – then. I just knew. It had never been on my horizon, but, as I said, out of the blue, there it was.
When I told my wife, she said, “I think you need to be called,” to which I replied, I think I am. After a couple of failed attempts at college, one after just 3 days and a return to the beach with my surfboard, I was not confident I’d be accepted. Well, I was.
While there, community ministry was a requisite assignment. Interestingly, I did prison ministry for a bit, and then got permission to do a first responder Bible study. Interesting in hindsight, right? The forerunner of Guns’n’Hoses.
So very many years ago. From into the blue in 1970, out of the blue in 1978, and in 2011, launching Serve & Protect. Peacekeeper to Peacemaker, a 41 year journey. It only took Moses 40 years to get to the promised land.
That brings us to today.
Throughout those 41 years, and to this very day, my blood runs blue, the color of my heart. It is quite fitting that God’s call, and the years of training and equipping, were to make me a peacemaker. Who knew? Not me. Just as His call for me to go to Columbia Bible College came out of the blue, sitting in a church in Norfolk, His call on me to start Serve & Protect came equally out of the blue, sitting in church at Fellowship Bible Church.
The training and growth is still going on, I am a work in progress. The heart of a this peacemaker sometimes struggles with the old heart of the peacekeeper. The battle between law and grace. The fact is, both law and grace are part of the Christian life. Both essential.
Recently, with all the issues surrounding Ferguson, the peacekeeper side reared up, incensed by the ruthless and unwarranted attacks on a brother, brothers, and law enforcement as a whole. From the White House and Attorney General to Athletes and Entertainers, as well as the opinionated media, our profession was called many things, none of them good – even “law enforcement is the most corrosive element in our country.” So many other issues that made it hard to subdue the anger for the injustice spewed towards an officer doing his job and our noble profession as a whole. Especially by people who never set foot on the streets to serve communities and save lives.
It broke my heart and set it ablaze.
When the Rams players made their gesture of protect, the peacemaker was in the back seat. So I wrote. Posted, emailed.
Thank God for board members who are willing to grab me by the scruff of the neck and suggest I rethink what I wrote, even delete the posts. Drew was one of them, still has my back. They cared enough about Serve & Protect and our work, and for me as their brother that they challenged my thinking.
How things are said make a huge difference. I learned all this in grad school. But in anger, I allowed my better judgment, my role as a peacemaker, to be gagged. It gave me cause for reflection. And appreciation. Yes, there were some who loved what I said trashing those with whom I disagreed. But that is simply not what God called me to do. No doubt the Bible speaks of righteous indignation, but says:
New Living Translation
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.
Words are funny things. They can heal, and they can cut like a knife. The same words spoken in wisdom sound very different when spoken in rage. And sometimes, silence is the best option.
A commercial is brought to mind. Abe Lincoln’s wife asks if her dress makes her backside look big. He responds, “perhaps a bit.” There was no easy answer there.
New Living Translation
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
My friends, we are all in this journey together. Learning. Growing. Becoming.
Sometimes, the very thing that makes one effective at their calling, like a former police officer helping other first responders through tough times – well, it can be one’s worst enemy.
Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament:
New International Version (NIV)
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
In an official sense, Paul enforced the law – he was a Jew of the Jews, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, and aggressively persecuted Christians for their beliefs, based on their view of God’s law. That was when he was called Saul, before God changed him on the road to Damascus. He was so aggressive that the Apostles were afraid to meet with him even after his conversion. Later Paul wrote the words in Romans about his own spiritual battles.
We are all like Paul, fighting the dark side of our hearts, at times choosing to do what we should not. It comes down to choices.
So, we all have to choose. We can use the best of our life’s lessons, or those things and experiences we have had and use them for our good and in service to others, or, allow some of the darker things to drive us, lying in wait to pounce at the opportunity. My prayer is simple:
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[a] spirit within me.
Our pastors have said many times, the closer we get to Jesus, the more we see of our own sinful nature. It is a vital part of becoming more like Jesus.
This is my story and I’m sticking to it.
- When angered by wrong doing or evil actions, don’t allow that “righteous anger” to become sin
- Choose to submit to God’s work ever striving, ever creating a clean, pure heart
- Let our speech be guided by grace and mercy, even when applying the law
In closing, I pray that I never lose the best parts of having been a peacekeeper as I serve my brothers and sisters as a peacemaker.
New American Standard Bible
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
New Living Translation
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
About the author – Robert Michaels is the founder and CEO/National Chaplain of Serve & Protect, FBI Chaplain for the Memphis Division / Nashville Resident Agency, and Tennessee FOP State Chaplain.
He is a veteran of law enforcement, serving both as an MP with the 229th Military Police Battalion for 6 years, and with the Norfolk Police Department for 5 years, both on patrol and as a detective. Rob earned a B.S. in Biblical Education from Columbia International University, a M.A. from Wheaton College in Communications, and is an ordained minister. He hosts the Guns’n’Hoses Bible Fellowship, and edits the Serve & Protect blog and the newsfeeds on FACEBOOK.
Serve & Protect is a confidential resource dedicated to serving Law Enforcement, FireRescueEMS, Dispatch, and Corrections BODY / MIND / SOUL through our 24/7 Coast2Coast Crisis Line, Chaplain Alliance, and Trauma Therapist Alliance.
Serve & Protect is designated as a VIPS (Volunteers In Police Service) PROGRAM of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is a Chaplain and Second VP for FOP Morris Heithcock Lodge 41 in Williamson County TN, where he is an active member. He is a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains, Federation of Fire Chaplains, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, National Center for Crisis Management, and Luis Palau Association Next Generation Alliance.
Rob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 615-224-2424. He is available to speak for interviews, at events, churches,men’s groups, criminal justice classes, chapels, and groups. To schedule a speaking event, please 615-224-2424. Serve & Protect Events include Honoring Homeland Heroes events in partnership with local churches and radio; Criminal Justice classes presenting the need for and role of Chaplains; and services based on Rob’s testimony, Recalculated Route, presenting how God navigates us through life and career paths to prepare for His call on our life. Rob is also the host of the Guns’n’Hoses Bible Fellowship in Brentwood, designed to bring biblical truths to our heroes and warriors
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The Serve & Protect crisis line is 615-373-8000 24/7 Coast2Coast. Download informational posters free at: POSTER.
Serve & Protect is a 501(c)(3). We serve by the grace of God and the support of individuals and companies who invest in helping rescue those in criminal justice and emergency services.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE –
HELP US SERVE FAMILIES AND SAVE LIVES. WE NEED YOUR HELP! PLEASE, READ BELOW, AND WATCH TWO IMPORTANT NEWS REPORTS ABOUT A REAL OFFICER SUICIDE.
As the year ends and you consider donations, please remember, prayerfully consider us. You can donate through PayPal (click here)or check, payable to Serve & Protect, 1201 Longstreet Circle, Brentwood TN, 37027
IT WAS SATURDAY MORNING, 2 A.M. WHEN THE PHONE RANG. “I’m either going to eat my gun or come to Jesus.” Actual words. Real caller.
Fortunately, he knew about Server & Protect. Thanks to our supporters, we were there to answer.
Today, that caller is doing well. A life saved. And, we walked with he and his wife through marital crisis. Today, they are reunited. A marriage restored.
• Every 17 hours a law enforcement officer commits suicide, and firefighter rates are soaring.
• 75% of police and 87% of firefighters are divorced. 40% are involved in domestic violence.
• 85% of first responders and 35% of dispatchers have PTSD symptoms.
That is what supporting Serve & Protect through your donations means. Serving families. Saving lives of law enforcement, fire/rescue/ems, dispatch, and corrections professionals and their families.
To illustrate why supporting Serve & Protect is so important, please watch this OFFICER SUICIDE NEWS STORY from Phoenix, where Officer Craig Tiger committed suicide just weeks ago. His department turned their back on him. We must reach officers like these before it is too late. HEAR THE WORDS OF HIS EX-WIFE.
OUR MISSION IS SIMPLE: To provide confidential, compassionate, comprehensive, collaborative care for professionals serving in criminal justice and emergency services through crisis line, chaplain, and trauma therapist services. We serve families and save lives.
We have done a great deal with very little money. There is such a great need to help the hurting and rescue those on the verge of suicide or in crisis from addictions.
My friends, if we can accomplish all we have with so very little, imagine the lives we can save, the marriages we can rescue, and the emotional pain we can help with more resources. What if we had $100,000 in 2015? That could more than triple our impact.
I’m sure you care about the heroes who run to the gunfire and into burning buildings. Who protect us while we sleep or celebrate Christmas. This is a tangible way to help them. Your donation now will impact our ability to serve across the nation January 1 and throughout 2015.
As we end 2014 and you plan where to give, I know you have choices. You can directly impact heroes who risk all. Please join with us through your financial support.
You can donate on our website through PayPal on line by clicking here DONATE. A one time donation, or perhaps you will consider a monthly donation. Whatever God puts on your heart. We may not be Wounded Warriors, but our warriors are wounded. Your donation will directly help us serve families and save lives.
By check to: Serve & Protect, 1201 Longstreet Circle, Brentwood TN 37027
Serve & Protect is a 501(c)(3) and Gold member of Guidestar. Moreover, I am asking a favor.
AND – –
We launched a 1×1 program, asking friends and colleagues to think of 1 friend who has the resources to help us expand our work, serve more families, and save more lives. Each one reach one. GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE! If you have questions, please call me. Rob Michaels CEO/Founder 615-224-2424