On May 5, 2012, I was given the great privilege of speaking to a group from Street Guardians LE MC. This is a group of bikers who came out to support the Armor of God project. Here is the written version of my speech. I will post the video when it is available. It differs slightly, as I took the liberty to adjust my speaking as it seemed fitting at the time.
I would like to thank everyone for being here on behalf of Travis Yates, director of 10-4 Ministries, all the supporters of 10-4 Ministries, future vest recipients and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jaime Padron joined the United States Marine Corp the summer he graduated high school in 1989. While in the Marine Corp, he received numerous recognitions, commendations and medals for serving his country honorably. He was a Veteran of Desert Storm and a very proud Marine. He graduated from San Angelo Police academy in 1995 and bravely served the City of San Angelo for over 13 years as a patrol officer and also served as a member of the gang unit and a narcotics investigator. Jaime received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a supporting degree in Criminal Justice, graduating with honors from Angelo State University in 2004 all while working a full time job and raising a family. He was a compassionate and caring man, who loved spending quality time with his family and his every devotion in life was for his daughters.
According to his obituary, he had a passion for Harley Davidson motorcycles and loved riding often and collecting memorabilia.
Jaime Padron joined the Austin Police Department around 2009. It was in his capacity as an officer for the Austin Police Department the he responded to a routine call on April 6, 2012; a call about a drunk man inside a Walmart around 2:30 a.m. When Padron arrived, the suspect tried to run for the front door and Padron tackled the man. As they fell to the ground, the suspect, Brandon Montgomery Daniel, produced a semi-automatic pistol and shot Padron at point blank range. Jaime was able to call for help using his police radio, after being wounded.
According to Police Chief Art Acevedo, “This was a routine call. What makes our job deadly is that there is no routine call.”
According to Brandon Daniel’s mother, he had been taking the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and drinking tequila. She said he had been acting unusually in recent months since a bitter breakup. He has no apparent memory of the event taking place.
Just a few weeks ago, Padron left a tactical unit to begin an overnight patrol shift, a move his former supervisor said he made so he could spend more time with his two daughters, ages 10 and 6. We will get back to the story of Jaime Padron in a minute.
The primary goal of the Armor of God project, Vest for Life and 10-4 Ministries is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The other deeds we do are secondary. The biggest question anyone can ask themselves is “where will I spend eternity.” We intend to help people find the answer to that question, and that answer comes from scripture.
According to the bible, and this can be confirmed with some simple self-examination, we are all born sinners. That means that our very nature when we are born is to sin. It doesn’t mean we never do nice things or love people, but it does mean that we have a natural inclination to rebel against God’s laws. Think about it, we are natural lawbreakers: have you ever just looked over a pond and thought how beautiful it was? But if you see a sign that says, don’t throw rocks in the pond…doesn’t it sorta seem to make you want to throw a rock into the pond? Hmm, maybe that’s only me, like I said, I’m in club sinner too.
Some examples of sins are lying, stealing, disobeying your parents, coveting other people’s possessions, murder and adultery. Many of you may think you’ve never committed adultery or murder, but according to Jesus, simply having lust for someone who is not your spouse makes you an adulterer in your heart and simply hating someone without cause makes you a murderer in your heart.
So here’s the problem. God is Good. Of course, most of us wouldn’t think that is a problem, but it is you see, because since God is Good, that means that God is Just. Since God is Just, that means he has to do something with sinners. Like a good judge in an earthly court, God is compelled by His own perfect nature to punish sin. Because our sin has been committed against an infinitely holy God, He has created a place we call hell for sinners to suffer eternally for their sins. Look, even a single sin against God is punishable, even the ones we consider “little.”
This is horribly bad news. Sinners, that is, people like you and me are on a very dark road. The end is punishment. Anything we do to try to change God’s mind, or get him to turn away from our sin is seen as an act of bribery. Think about it, you don’t forget that someone stole money from you just because they feed a bunch of homeless people and spend the rest of their life not stealing. Religious rituals and good works cannot take away sin.
But God who is Good and Just is also rich in Mercy and Kindness! He made a way. Since we could not pay for our own sins, but he so loved the world, He sent his only son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life and died a brutal death to fulfill God’s eternal plan to redeem sinners. When he resurrected from the dead, he showed that he had power over sin and death. His command is that you must repent of your sin and trust him alone for salvation. You must be born again to enter the kingdom of Heaven. This is a call for all men, women and children to have faith that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead. This is the gospel. You can have all your sins forgiven. Your sin can be transferred to the cross, and Jesus’ righteousness imputed, or transferred, to you by this act of God. God the Father punished the Son in the place of sinful men like me, and He sends His Holy Spirit to guide you and remind you of Christ’s promise to never leave you nor forsake you once you are truly His. This is good news. You cannot and do not need to work to earn God’s favor. It is offered as a free gift…like the vests you are here to provide for men and women everywhere! This is why we do what we do. We’ve been given so much, and freely we desire to give back.
Next let me read a portion of scripture from the New Testament. (I’ve combined two passages, you can read them straight through).
Luke 7:2-9 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Matthew 8:11-12 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Very quickly, I want to share the point of this scripture. This man, this centurion exhibited two vital aspects that we all must understand. He showed humility and faith. This centurion, you need to understand was outside the people of God. At this time, only the Jews were the people of God. Everyone else was outside. This centurion really seemed to understand who Jesus was, the long awaited messiah.
A few things I want to note:
- He helped build the synagogue – the man had some religious good he had done, in a sense.
- He professes faith in Christ, and even though the Jews called him worthy, he calls himself unworthy. This is important. We must come to Christ acknowledging our unworthiness to receive Him. Thinking of Jaime Padron: I don’t know whether he was ever born again in this world. There is no indication in any research I did that this man acknowledged his own sinfulness and trusted Christ completely for forgiveness of sins. The fact is, I don’t know for sure what his status before God was when he died. But I do know that all the good he did in this world amounts to nothing in God’s eyes as it would pertain to earning Heaven. Good works cannot cover sin. I don’t say this to diminish his accomplishments and help to our society. He was clearly a model for police behavior and from all I read had a good work ethic and a lot of love for people.
- The Centurion also declares Christ as Lord. You can re-read it yourself, Luke 7 and Matthew 8, the centurion is making it clear that Jesus is master and Lord when he refers to authorities and the responsibility of those under authority. This is vital. Many people acknowledge God and know God exists. Many even know his name is Jesus. Mental assent to an authority and obedience to said authority are two different things.
- Finally, at the tail end of Matthew’s version of the story, Jesus makes chilling statements amounting to nothing less than the idea that many people who believe themselves to be “of the kingdom” will actually be cast away by God on the last day. It is those who have faith in the Christ who will spend eternity with him, enjoying His glory and presence. You must not only believe Jesus is God, you must trust that only he could pay for your sins, repent of your sin and follow him as Lord.
Some of you have already understood these things. Praise God! Some of you, this may be the first time you’ve heard this message. You’re thinking, “I thought I was just going to eat some wings and try to get some OSU stuff. That’s ok. I believe God put you here for a reason so you could hear this message.
And some of you may be quite offended at this point. Maybe you think I stepped on your religion, or your beliefs, or even Jaime Padron. Trust me, this isn’t easy to do, nor is it my desire to offend. My temptation is to only say things to tickle your ears so that you would like me and want to support the vest program. But real love tells the truth. And the truth is that some of you have believed in a false Jesus. You’ve believed in a Jesus who requires you to perform religious rituals to add to the work he did on the cross for you, and some of you, on the other end of the spectrum have believed in a Jesus that universally forgave your sins because you said a prayer or asked him into your heart, and now you freely sin under the presumption of forgiveness.
Neither of these are the Jesus of the bible. That is who I am representing, and however poorly I may do it.. I share because I care. I don’t know you, but I love you, and I desire for you to taste and see the grace of God as I have. A sinner condemned, nothing to offer, saved by grace.
Now I want you to imagine Brandon Montgomery Daniel in jail or prison somewhere. Remember him, he shot and killed Jaime Padron, a faithful officer of the law and loving father of 2 young girls. Imagine this man Daniel is in an Austin jail and someone comes to him and shares this message of hope and grace. He learns what I’ve told you today, that faith in Christ washes ALL our sins away. He has a change of heart. This murderer turns from sin and professes Christ as Savior and Lord of his life.
At that moment, Brandon Montgomery Daniel would be sealed forever by God to spend eternity in Heaven based on the righteousness of Christ. His sins are paid for on the cross and the resurrection seals his justification before God. How does that make you feel? Really, imagine this murderer freely enjoying eternity without punishment.
If this angers you, then you don’t love grace. There is still a part of you that thinks men can and should be able to earn favor with God. Please examine yourselves. I didn’t come here to be a downer; I came here because where YOU will spend eternity is important to me and it is of paramount importance to me that Jesus receives all the praise for all the good that any man does.
A few notes.
Thanks. I hope you don’t think I’m trying to appeal to your emotions for support. I desire that you make an informed decision with your money. We are honored if you find our ministry worthy of support of Praise God for you. Your support means so much to so many. A vest costs in the thousands of dollars, and the men and women who need them are not wealthy people. Many are part time or volunteers. The entire ministry is made up of unpaid volunteers and I can promise you that your donations will be used to support the ministry resources and get vests to people who need them.
We have resources here as well. Maybe you are hurting and could use biblical counseling, or you know someone who could. Please stop by our table and sign the prayer sheet and email mailing list. Berean Baptist Church is happy to pray for you and minister to your needs. Thanks for listening and supporting the Armor of God project.
For more information, visit VestForLife.com