“This is My command— be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
December 31, 2017 — five years ago — is a day I’ll never forget. My phone started going off not long before dawn with the news that an officer I knew personally had been shot in the line of duty. Before long I learned that God has called Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari III home to heaven. (“home to heaven” — hang on to that). The one solace I had was that I knew firsthand that Zack was a born again believer. Three other deputies were wounded — one of them critically (praise God, all but Zack survived).
The following weeks were difficult on multiple levels as we prepared for Zack’s service and for the wounded, including all the things I do through this ministry. Praise God, Zack’s police funeral service (I can’t encourage you enough to watch — and pay special attention to the message shared by Colorado State Patrol Trooper Troy Kessler — Zack’s best friend — starting at the 1:50:30 mark, and then that shared by Zack’s former pastor, Mike Romberger, starting at the 2:40 mark) was the most evangelical of my career. This service remains part of Zack’s lasting legacy.
Two main things I want you to take from this. First, Zack absolutely knew Christ as Lord and Savior (a “Christian” as God alone gets to define it). Because of that, and ONLY because of that, Zack is NOW with the Lord. He was not saved because of his outstanding service in law enforcement or because he was what the world would call a “good person.” As I share so often, our God-ordained profession (Romans 13:1-4, for starters) is a true mission field. Going to a police funeral for a saved officer is, by far, the exception. This ministry exists in large part because of this tragic truth.
Secondly, Zack left a powerful, lasting legacy through his Christian faith. The nature of Zack’s “celebration of life” service meant that thousands of officers were a “captive audience” (it’s not like we could just leave — LOL) as the gospel and plan of salvation were shared without compromise. Officers subsequently came to a saving faith (I continue to disciple a number of them). Bible studies were started. Police marriages were healed and saved. Officers who contemplated suicide are alive today. In short, in the wake of Zack’s death, many other lives have been changed for eternity (he would rightly state, “ALL glory to God”). My focus here today is to continue his legacy.
Zack’s “life verse” is also one of mine. God tells us in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Pay close attention here: God commanded both Joshua and believers in general (see 2 Timothy 3:16) to be “strong and courageous”. Then He says that He will be with him — and all believers (Is that you?) — wherever we will go (both in this life and the next).
Friend, because Zack knew Christ as Lord and Savior, God was and is with him in both this earthly life and for eternity in heaven. God used Zack to touch the lives of others before his death, and then used his line of duty death as a correct fulfillment of John 15:13 (“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”). Yes, Zack was “courageous” in his service, but the lasting part of his legacy is that God used Zack to bring lost souls to a saving faith in Christ! And yes, it takes real courage to step out in obedience to share our faith with/disciple others.
Friend, whether you are serving in law enforcement or any other profession, your life WILL end, and it could end TODAY! What will be YOUR legacy? And will it last? Here’s the truth: short of rapture for believers, we are ALL going to die. And if you die outside of a saving faith in Christ alone, you will NOT be spending eternity in heaven but rather in a very real place called hell. The ONLY way any of can escape that just fate and have a truly lasting legacy is by coming to a genuine, life-saving/life-changing faith in Christ . And once saved, let’s live “all in” for Him in the time we have left. Friend, whether you are serving in law enforcement or any other profession, your life WILL end, and it could end TODAY! What will be YOUR legacy? Click To Tweet
Jesus laid down His life so that all who “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15) in Him alone for their salvation with in fact be saved. In fact, Jesus was adamant in saying that we “must be born again” (emphasis on “must”) in Him alone (John 3:1-21, 14:6) in order to be saved. Zack had that. Do you?
One of the sayings that came out of Zack’s death was this: “Go blue, live like Zack”. In order to “live like Zack” you will need to come to the same faith he did. Accordingly, it is with Zack and his legacy on my heart that I urge you to scroll down to the “Know God?” section below (and please reach out if you have questions).
God bless and have a safe and joy-filled New Year in Christ.