CALUMET CITY, IL 60409-4003
708-868-5936 FAX

"In July 1993 I was traveling in Wyoming with my then 11 and 8 Year old
sons. While on this vacation I had a very violent allergic reaction to
mountain grass and had to rush to the hospital emergency room unable to see or
breathe properly. My sons were whisked away into another room while the
doctor's and nurses administered IV's and other devices to stop the effects of
the reaction. After I was stabilized, my sons were brought back into the
emergency room to see me. Seeing the fear on their faces I knew I had to do or
say something funny so that they would relax and know that everything was ok.
After being released from the hospital it was necessary for us to drive some
distance to the location of our next hotel reservations. On the drive my
11-year-old son said to me, "Dad, in the emergency room you looked really bad
but yet you were still able to laugh. "How could you do that when you didn't
feel good?" As I looked at him, I heard the voice of God answer for me.
"There are only two things in this world that no one can take from you unless
you choose to release them; Your sense of humor and your faith in God!" As I
explained that line to my child it became even more apparent to me. I would
like to share that theory with you. It was this night that my life changed
and I returned to the rodeo arena.

I would like to tell you I was a model teenager and student, but I can't.
I wasn't. At thirteen and fourteen years old I was constantly in trouble.
School was a place to go to socialize and be cool, not an academic palace. My
father, a career soldier, volunteered for overseas duty and I don't remember
that he was home very often. When he was home, we weren't close and I can't
remember ever playing ball with him, or any of the things most kids do with
their dad. My most vivid memory of my father is a negative one. When I was
twelve, I won a contest to be a junior clown working with a professional clown
at an AAA baseball game. I was so excited I couldn't wait until the day when
I would get to go to the game and be a clown. That a hot new baseball
prospect, Johnny Bench would be there was also on my mind. The big day
finally arrived and my dad sat at our kitchen table talking to his friend
until time to leave. When I asked him if we could go, he just shrugged me off
and said soon. This continued until it was too late to go and he finally told
me it was a stupid idea anyway. I was devastated. As a freshman in high
school I had been in enough trouble that I was sent to the principal's office
facing a long suspension or perhaps even expulsion from school. For some
reason the assistant principal took an interest in me and rather than giving
me the easy way out made me stay in school. He stayed very interested in me
and showed me a lot of personal attention. I found myself wanting to succeed
just to please him. I did notice that there was something different about
him. He just seemed to have a peace about him that was very obvious and
interesting. I discovered through our association that he was a Christian and
it was Jesus that allowed him to care so much about those around him. Due to
his influence in my life I accepted Jesus as a sophomore in High School. I did
better in school but never saw it as important to me. I had dreamed of being a
veterinarian as a child but soon found I did not have the drive to excel in
academics that was required. I decided instead to be a cop and began to focus
in on that goal. In 1972, I became a cop in Virginia. I advanced to the rank
of Detective and then returned to my native State of Colorado. At the age of
28 I was selected as one of the youngest Police Chiefs in Colorado history.
Along the way I managed to get my Masters Degree graduating Summa Cum Laude
and head of my class from the University of Colorado. My job was my life. I
put police work and the opportunity to be a police officer above all else. My
devotion to the profession and my willingness to work lead to family problems.
I had married early and had three kids quickly in my marriage. When I
graduated from college, I discovered that I didn't know my spouse very well
and what I did know I didn't like. After the divorce, custody battles became
a major issue. They lead to court appearance after court appearance until
finally a Judge gave me the choice of quitting police work and being given
custody of my three children or remaining in the field and giving up my
children. I am embarrassed to tell you that I quickly chose police work. I
was very successful in the police profession and had been selected as Chief of
Police in a major boom town shortly before this decision. My desire to excel
far outweighed my paternal wants. I continued to be successful in the field
having been awarded most every award available to an officer. I was decorated
with the Medal of Valor, the highest honor an officer can obtain, three times.
I received plaques, trophies and letters in abundance. I was chosen as a
police instructor by developing a very unique theory of interviewing and was
selected to travel throughout the world teaching other police officers. When
I would get a call to teach I never considered how my absence would affect my
family or my schedule only whether it was a location, I would like to visit. I
had gotten married again and had two boys in this marriage. My frequent
absences and my desire to work caused problems in this marriage as well and
she ultimately had enough. She left but I became even more successful and
ultimately was selected as the first outside Chief of Police in a rather large
suburb on the south side of Chicago. It was a very busy time for me and once
again I became so wrapped up in the excitement of the job that everything else
had to take a back seat. The shock of losing another family did weigh heavily
on me and I found myself spending at least every other weekend with my boys.
Their importance in my life caused me to at least temper my activities during
our scheduled time together. Of course if there was something exciting going
on, I could always find a babysitter. I had been a believer since being a
teenager, but my faith and worship also took second billing to my work. I
could always find something that I needed to do and whenever I was asked to
participate in church activities I was always too busy. I also had a problem
being seen as a "Christian." I was a cop, a street cop, and the image I had
of a Christian didn't match what I wanted to be seen as. I guess deep down I
thought if I got too much into this I would be seen as a wimp. I was afraid
that someone might think I was weak or worse, a Jesus "fanatic." This
attitude was somewhat dispelled after I was forced to take the life of another
human being while in the line of duty in 1978. I was grateful that I had
survived the encounter but the fact that even though I didn't want to be seen
as a "Christian" I knew Jesus and was concerned that maybe I had done
something that would put me outside of my faith. A dear friend showed me
Romans Chapter 13 verse 1-5. This revelation helped me break down many of the
barriers I had created for myself and helped me to put my faith in action on
the job more readily but I still wasn't ready to let go and let GOD have total
control. I attended church regularly and on the job had an active coalition
with the ministers in my community. On June 24, 1989, I had another chance
to go with my officers on a search warrant. While it was supposed to be a
simple warrant, it turned out to be anything but. As we entered the
residence, I was the first through the door. The subject had run to the back
of the house. I followed only to find he was behind a closed bedroom door. I
hit that door forcing it to open and found a 47-year-old man holding a gun
pointed directly at my face. Upon ordering him to put down the gun he fired
and I fired. I ended up shooting him three times before he dropped his weapon
and fell over. I knew I had seen him pull the trigger but didn't remember the
gun going off. As it turned out it hadn't. My story of him pulling the
trigger was suspect and it wasn't until the lab report was completed that I
realized how blessed I had been. The technician reported that the ammunition
round had an indention in it sufficient to explode. The primer was good and
the powder capable of igniting but the round miraculously hadn't fired. I
knew that God had saved me and gave him great credit for protecting me. Deep
down I knew that he had saved me for a really specific purpose but I still
wasn't willing to let go of my control on the events of my life. Things had
always come very easy for me and I never had to just turn to GOD and say I
can't do this, help me. In December 1992 all of that changed. As a political
appointee my job position was very dependent on the Mayor. The Mayor of my
City called me to his home the first week in December and told me that he was
not going to run for reelection and since I would be the one most affected by
his decision he wanted me to know. I panicked. The announced candidates for
office had publicly either stated that they would not reappoint me or proven
historically that I would not be their choice for the position. Having come
from the outside, I had no job security other than to serve solely at the
pleasure of the Mayor. I had been rather severely injured in an arrest and
knew that it would be unlikely that I would be able to gain employment in
another Police agency. I wasn't sure what I was going to do and for the first
time in my life I was in a position where I had no control of my own destiny.
While in the midst of this turmoil I turned to God. I looked in the
concordance of the Gideon Bible in a hotel for the word faith and the first
scripture I found was: Mark 11:22 "Have faith in God, Jesus answered." (NIV)
Next, I located 2 Cor 5:7 "We live by faith, not by sight." (NIV) Finally I
read the scripture Heb 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see." (NIV) As I read these scriptures I knew
without a doubt that GOD was telling me to Trust Him. As I continued my
reading on Faith, I felt GOD was pointing out to me a great testimony to bring
his children to his throne. In my reading and study of faith I had located
the scriptures; James 2:18 "But someone will say, "You have faith; I have
deeds."Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what
I do."(NIV) James 2:22 "You see that his faith and his actions were working
together, and his faith was made complete by what he did." (NIV) The
following three weeks it seemed that whether I was in church or watching a
Christian program every where I turned the message was about having Faith. I
began really studying the topic and read everything I could find on Faith and
Trust. The next four months were filled with doubts about my future and GOD's
plan for me. I knew in my heart that I was going to be the Chief of Police
after the election and that the testimony GOD promised me was that in spite of
all indications in the physical I had been retained as Chief. The months
became almost unbearable at times. Time continued to drag and every day I was
confronted with newspapers attacking me. I became a central issue in the
election. The only peace I had was the knowledge that GOD was in control but
even that wavered more than I cared to admit. Finally the election was held
and a candidate elected. The winner called me into his office and very
bluntly informed me that he was allowing the union workers to choose their
Chief and that I would not be an option. I was beside myself as I had now
seen my career and the love of my life ending. I contacted an attorney due
to the knee injury and was informed that I would not be eligible for any other
police job in Illinois due to the pension rules and regulations and he
suggested that I immediately apply for a disability pension. I followed his
recommendations and made application. I believed the process would only take
a couple of weeks and that there was no way any troubles could arise with the
application. Wrong. Political pressure and bruised feelings of my time being
a change agent caused the pension board to wage an all out war on me. Five
years later the battle was decided, and due to a technicality in the law, I
was not given the pension I was entitled to nor the rate at which I retired.
Scriptures became very real as I struggled and I read; Matt 6:27 "Who of you
by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (NIV); Matt 6:34 "Therefore do
not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has
enough trouble of its own." (NIV); Luke 12:22 "Then Jesus said to his
disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will
eat; or about your body, what you will wear."(NIV); Luke 12:26 "Since you
cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" (NIV);
Prov 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own
understanding;" (NIV)John 14:1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in
God; trust also in me." (NIV) I must say that during this whole ordeal I
wondered every month where I would get the money to make my debt payments.
Every month, just when I would convince myself that I shouldn't tithe or I
could save money by doing something different in my finances as soon as I
would mail the checks a class would come open and I was able to make enough to
cover my expenditures. As devastated as I was by their actions and ultimate
decision, I can't help but notice that five years later God is still helping
me meet my needs. By faith I have survived emotionally and financially.

The ultimate message in my testimony is to have FAITH in GOD. He has the
answers and his results are better than anything we could have done on this
earth. Where I had excuses for so long that I was too busy to do GOD's work
now I had been given the time, even though I didn't want it, to get my
priorities in order. My faith and service to God became number one in my
life. During this struggle I learned of the death of a fellow police officer.
His life and professional conduct had paralleled mine in a frightening manner.
He was always working and volunteering to work even when he didn't have to.
So it was on the day in question. He had gotten off of his shift and was
heading home when his fellow officers asked if he wanted to go with them on a
drug raid. He immediately accepted and off they went. As they entered the
suspects home he was the first through the door. The weapon in this case was
functional and he died immediately of a shotgun blast to the face. When the
officers went to his home to notify the family the first sight confronting
them was the man's five year old son sitting on the curb with a baseball glove
on one hand and the ball in the other. As they parked he ran to their car and
proudly announced that he knew who they were, they worked with his daddy. He
then told them his daddy wasn't home but that he would be soon because he had
promised to play catch with him. He wouldn't be coming home and the child
would never play catch with his Dad again. This death shook me more than any
other I had experienced. I remembered how many times I had promised my
children that I would do something only to have something more important
develop. I thought about all the times I was too tired to listen to them or
do anything with them, but, when the phone rang or pager sounded had plenty of
energy to return to work. I realized how important my children are to me and
the time I have been able to spend with them is more precious than words can
say. I have frequently asked myself what would my kids memories of me be if
that bullet hadn't misfired. I got the order right, GOD, Family, then
everything else. Had I not been forced off the job my love for police work
would never have changed and I would have immediately gotten back into the
same lifestyle with job coming before anything else. I have been blessed in
that I have been allowed to work as a rodeo clown, I've put together an act
(my magic show) and have been able to take GOD's word to others through the
medium of magic. If we just Trust GOD and keep our eyes on him our lives will
be enhanced beyond our wildest dreams. The hard part is keeping the vision
when so many physical things get in the way!! The death of my friend has
made me realize more than anything else it is not what we think of ourselves
that really matters. It's what we do and how we influence others. My dad is
gone and my memories of him are bitter hostile ones for the most part. Had I
died in 1989 I don't know what my children's memories would have been.
Certainly the memories of my first three children will always be negative and
I will always be the one that turned my back on them. Even if I were to be
able to reconcile with them today I would have missed their entire childhood,
things that can never be replaced. What would your children's memories of you
be? Would you be a loving, supportive parent and available for your children
or would you be the one whose work was always more important. Would you be
the one who was too tired to pay attention or too busy to tell them you loved
them and were proud of them?

You may never have to face an armed opponent in this life as I have had to do.
BUT yet we face a more deadly enemy every day. Disbelief, lack of faith and an
unwillingness to accept Jesus or Trust God is more devastating than anything
man can bring against us. If you were to die tonight would you see the
kingdom of God or the fires of hell? Do we trust GOD to deliver us from all
of our circumstances and place him first in our lives or is our greed and
desire for recognition, achievement, advancement or reward the most important
thing to us? Are we examples of GOD, the Father's, love in the lives of our
families or the start of a lifetime of neglect. Do you know Jesus as your
personal Savior or is he just a character in a book. If you are not certain
of your decision then come to Christ today. GOD loves you and wants to be
with you everyday of your life. Let him into your heart.

For more information on how to allow Jesus into your heart contact Dusty
Rhoads or a church pastor near you. Don't wait another day.

[email protected]


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