In light of the recent events in Ferguson, New York City, and municipalities all over the nation many people have taken to the streets to demonstrate, protest, and otherwise express righteous indignation at the inequalities in our criminal justice system.

Locally, Rockfordians have an opportunity to do give input, feedback, and insight into the way local police do their jobs that is often overlooked and underutilized. On Monday, December 8th assessors from the accreditation agency for law enforcement agencies will be in town. Rockford residents are invited and encouraged to let their voices be heard. Here is an excerpt from the Rockford Police Department website that gives more information.

Assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), will arrive on December 07, 2014 to examine all aspects of the Rockford Police Department’s policy and procedures, management, operations and support services. Verification by the assessors that the Rockford Police Department meets the Commission’s standards is part of a voluntary process to gain accreditation.

The purpose of CALEA’s Law Enforcement Accreditation Program is to improve the delivery of public safety services. This is accomplished primarily by maintaining a body of standards developed by public safety practitioners covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives, establishing and administering an accreditation process, and recognizing professional excellence.

The Rockford Police Department earned initial accreditation in 2009 and was awarded re-accreditation in 2012. We are proud to be member of approximately 5% of law enforcement agencies who have received accreditation through CALEA.

Agency members and the public are also invited to offer comments by calling (815) 961-3225 on Monday, December 8th, between the hours of 1-3 pm. For the hearing-impaired, a T.T.Y. line at the Rockford Police Department is available at (815) 967-7052. Members of the assessment team will take comments.

As part of the on-site assessment, agency employees and members of the community are invited to offer comments at a Public Information Session on Monday, December 8th, 2014 from 3-5 pm. The session will be conducted at Henrietta School, 200 N. Johnston Avenue, Rockford, IL 61101.

Telephone comments, as well as appearances at the Public Information Session, are limited to ten minutes and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA standards.

Anyone wishing to submit written comments about the Rockford Police Department’s ability to comply with the standards for accreditation may send them to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, Inc. (CALEA), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia 20155.

If you live in Rockford please do not miss this opportunity.

Our nation is in a state of civil unrest. This is in direct response to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of 18 year old Michael Brown Jr. The NAACP, including members of the Youth and College division, along with a host of 20-plus civil-rights and advocacy organizations from across the country will be embarking on a 120 mile, 7 - day march entitled, “Journey for Justice: Ferguson to Jefferson City”. The Journey for Justice will commence at the Canfield Green Apartments and conclude at the Missouri Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City. The purpose of the march is to call for new leadership of the Ferguson police department, beginning with the police chief, and for new reforms of police practice and culture in both Ferguson and across the country.

Many citizens of Rockford and the surrounding area will not be able to attend in the march. However, there are many of us who support those who are going to participate in peaceful, non-violent demonstration. Locally the Rockford Branch of the NAACP in collaboration with New Zion Baptist Church (604 Salter Ave. Rockford, IL) is reaching out for your participation in a 2-hour town hall vigil: “From Rockford to Ferguson: Journey to Justice” The incident of Ferguson is seemingly common-place in our nation today, and it reveals the melancholy truth that we do not live in a post-racial society. By comparison Rockford fares much better relative to race and police community relations. We still have a ways to go; nevertheless we must press forward to forge a better tomorrow. So the question remains: How do we move forward?

When: 3:30 to 5:30Pm

Where: New Zion Baptist Church 604 Salter Ave.

What: Prayer Vigil/Community Dialogue

Who: NAACP/New Zion Baptist Church

Why: to provide a safe place to discuss what has happened in Ferguson as well as Rockford and to detail specific steps on how we can move forward as a community that does justice

The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.” Micah 6:8

Behold, God is my helper;
    the Lord is the upholder of my life.
(Psalm 54:4 ESV)

During this holiday season one of the things I'm grateful for is God's sustaining power.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom." Matthew 5:10

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

When you sign up for Kingdom citizenship persecution is part of the package.

Jesus said "when" not "if" you are persecuted. The reality is that some people will hate you no matter what you do because it's not really you they hate but the Christ in you.

Why do they hate Christ's presence in my life?

Darkness has always had a problem with light. The only way darkness can exist is by extinguishing the light. When someone's deeds are evil they want to stay in darkness. God's favor in your life is like the light of Christ being reflected from you to everyone around you. His hand on you makes some people uncomfortable because they don't like being exposed. When you let your light shine it not only gives Him glory but it also causes evil to be exposed. Abel worshipped correctly but by doing so he exposed how wrong Cain was.

This is the only beatitude wherein Christ pronounces us blessed and commands us to respond in a certain way. He says when persecution comes because of Him we should rejoice and be glad; that is inward delight and outward expression of that delight.


Because we are in good company. All the saints before us had to suffer and we consider them heroes. Our suffering validates our spiritual DNA. If we were of the world the world would not hate us. It is because we have come out from among them that they hate us. (John 15:19) They have no excuse for their sin so they prefer to hate rather than repent.

We can also rejoice because our destination is secure. This world is not our home. We are citizens of another place. Our reward is in heaven.

One day we will be paid for all of our pain and suffering, reimbursed for every tear we've cried and compensated for every loss we have encountered.

In the meantime we should dare to be different and rejoice if we are counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:41)

Not there yet but on my way,

K. Edward Copeland

Check out and to see where Christians are being persecuted around the world and commit yourself to pray for them on a regular basis.

See this video on youtube for a secular view on "haters" by Jill Scott

"Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

What is the recipe for peace?

Is there a formula?

Where can we find the blueprint?

If we are commissioned to make it maybe we should find out what it is.

Biblically speaking, peace is more than the absence of conflict. Peace (or shalom in the Hebrew) is safety, prosperity, wholeness; the positive blessing that comes from being right with God because of Jesus Christ. It is the sense of total well-being, the realization that all is well because of God’s favor. God’s peace brings harmony out of chaos.

Why is peace so necessary?

Because sin has disrupted all of our essential relationships. Because of sin we are naturally alienated from God, others and even ourselves. Spiritually, socially and psychologically our lives are chaotic. The Good News is that through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, his resurrection and current ministry to us through the Holy Spirit, we have been reconciled back to God. Having been justified we now have peace with Him. We have to strive to make peace, however, with others.

How do we make peace?

Children do what their parents do. If we are children of God we ought to emulate His peacemaking process.

God took the initiative.

He didn't wait for us; He came to us. When Adam sinned God came looking for him. Likewise if I am to be a peacemaker I must make the first move. It doesn't matter who started it, I have to resolve it. It might not be my fault but it is my responsibility. Even if I don't have a problem with someone but I know that he or she has a problem with me, I have to make the first move. (Matthew 5:23-24)

God took the initiative to express love.

He didn't show up to detail all my faults. He showed up to demonstrate His love. (Romans 5:8) Likewise, if I am to be a peacemaker I must demonstrate love in tangible ways. I can do good to those that hate me (meet the need), speak well of those who curse me (watch my mouth), and pray for those who use me (talk to God on their behalf).

God took the initiative to express love by giving His best.

God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. His Son gave his life. Likewise, if I am going to be a peacemaker I have to be willing to give it my all, holding nothing back. I can't just go through the motions. I have to put my full weight on the process. I have to seek, strive for and work hard at making and maintain shalom.

In Luke 15 once the son came to his senses, left the pigpen and started back home the Father came running toward him (initiative). He fell on his neck and kissed him (expression of love). He told his servants to bring out the "best" robe, ring and sandals. (Luke 15:22) Notice the Father never brought up his son's past or chastised him for his waywardness. Instead the Father celebrated because he who had been dead was now alive; he who was lost was now found.

God took the initiative to express love by giving His best to those who deserve the least.

That's you and me.

Since we have been reconciled and now have the ministry or reconciliation, let's follow the recipe as it is written without adding any salt to the frosting.

Fighting for shalom,

K. Edward Copeland

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."
—Matthew 5:8

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

The heart is the lens through which we see the rest of the world.

Our capacity to experience and enjoy God is directly related to the condition of our heart. Notice Jesus did not say "pure in head." It is possible to know the right things and yet be wrong with God.

He did not say "pure in hand" because you can do the right thing for the wrong reason.

He said "pure in heart", the center of our being where intellect, emotion, and will collaborate.

To be pure in heart means to have an undivided heart. A heart that is integral, without convolutions. A heart that isn't drifting in several different directions.

It means a heart that is guileless with no hypocrisy or deceit.

A pure heart is one that is uncontaminated, cleansed and transparent.

What does it take for a Kingdom citizen to maintain a pure heart?

First and foremost we must watch our associations. Every year second hand smoke kills thousands of people who have never lit up a cigarette. They didn't smoke but they were around people who did. Sin is equally communicable if not more so.

Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived other than Jesus, initially asked God for a "listening heart." God granted his request but later in life Solomon started listening to his 700 wives and 300 concubines and they turned his heart away from God. (I Kings 11:1-3) We must constantly pray that God would unite our hearts so that we won't be distracted by other who would fragment our affections. (Psalms 86:11)

To address the guile that builds up like plaque in our spiritual arteries we must feast on the word and exercise by practicing the truth in little matters. No white lies, no exaggeration, no sending our representative self instead of showing up with our true selves. Truth is what we must ingest and practice. It will keep our spiritual arteries from hardening through the deceitfulness of sin. God's word is truth and truth sanctifies. (John 17:17)

Finally, since our hearts are the hard drives of our being, if we contract a virus on our hard drive we need to call in a Computer Specialist. We need someone who can give us a new hard drive and then show how to keep it clean and defragmented. We need the same One whom David called on when he said, "create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalms 51:10)

He is able not only clean you up but to keep you from getting contaminated.

"Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and able to present you faultless before His presence with exceeding joy . . ."

Pure but not perfect,

K. Edward Copeland

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

Mercy is pardon for the guilty, pity for the suffering, practical help for the needy. It is compassion in action. According to Dr. D. A. Carson, "Grace answers to the undeserving; mercy answers to the miserable."

The enemy of compassion is that stifling religious hypocrisy that values ritual over relationship, ceremony over compassion and religious trifles over the weightier matters like justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Mercy cannot thrive where there is pride. That's why we must be poor in spirit.
Mercy cannot grow where there is emotional detachment. That's why we must learn to mourn.
Mercy cannot survive in an atmosphere of vindictiveness. That's why we must be meek. Mercy must be fed. That's why we must hunger and thirst for righteousness.

What does mercy look like?

The Samaritan in Luke 10 gives us some insight. *He saw someone in distress. *He was moved by compassion. *He offered practical relief. *He did all of this to someone who didn't look like him.

The greatest aid to mercy in the life of the believer is memory. When we remember how we were in distress and how God, moved by compassion, did for us what we needed most it ought to cause us to be grateful and mercy-full.

A debtor to mercy,

K. Edward Copeland

Click here to check out the story of a storeowner who showed mercy to a would-be robber.

Note: the merciful one was a Muslim and the one who received mercy claims now to be a "true Muslim" because of the mercy received. What implications does this story have for Christian evangelism?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied." Matthew 5:6

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

Living things must be fed.

Everything that is alive has an appetite for something. You can check how strong your appetite is for something by how you act when you don't get it.

Some come to church with no spiritual appetite. They can go days, weeks and even months without eating. Conviction is to spiritual appetite what hunger pangs are to physical appetite. Where there is no conviction or sin there is no appetite for righteousness.

No appetite = no life.

Some belong to the Body but have suppressed their spiritual appetite by feeding on junk food. You cannot watch, listen to, talk about, and meditate on gratuitous sex, violence and gossip all week and expect to have a healthy spiritual appetite.

Some Christians are hungry for recognition. If we don't get it we quit. Some are hungry for revenge. We want those who injure or insult us to feel the same pain we do. Some are hungry for religious experiences. We want soulish entertainment from churchy personalities but not a true supernatural encounter with Omnipotence.

We might be hurting but we are not hungry for righteousness. We just want $2 worth of Jesus; just a snack pack of spirituality. No need to supersize.

If you want to have a healthy appetite you have to discipline yourself to feed on the Word. It is milk, meat and honey; a full course meal. You have to be consistent in corporate worship and fellowship. You'll tend to eat what the people around you eat.

Once you taste what it means to be right with God, to be right with society, and to be conformed to His standards in your character and conduct you'll keep coming back for more. The Bread of Life is still the only one who truly satisfies. Those who come to Him will never hunger or thirst yet they want more and more of Him.

Full yet starving,

K. Edward Copeland

Questions to Ponder:

  • When was the last time you were convicted by the Holy Spirit? Was it about an action, a thought or an attitude?

  • What has been suppressing your appetite spiritually speaking?

  • When your mind is in neutral to where does it drift? What does that say about your appetite?


Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

Meekness does not mean weakness. It means strength under control. Like a mild breeze, soothing medicine, or a colt that has been broken, meekness is power put to a productive end, gently.

Meekness addresses one of my essential problems; my worship of self. I might humiliate myself before God but I will violently resist being humiliated in front of or by you. That's why I can talk negatively about my own weight, intellect or character but you better not. When the truth I know about me is far worse than the lies you tell about me yet I react to your lie, there is something out of balance with me.

Meekness brings back balance. I no longer have to prove myself in your eyes. I can say with Popeye the Sailor; "I am what I am and that's all that I am."

Abraham, Moses, and David all exemplified this balance; this willingness to suffer personal affront or vicious attack without taking personal umbrage. Yet each was willing to die to vindicate the glory of God.

Of course, Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of meekness. See 1 Peter 2:21-24 and Philippians 2:5-8. He was meek and lowly yet he had no problem whipping everyone in the building if His father's reputation was being sullied. See John 2:14-17.

The only way we can truly acquire this fruit of the Spirit and maintain this spiritual balance called meekness is by continually coming back to Him and entrusting ourselves to the One who judges righteously.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." Matthew 5:5 (The Message)

Praying for a gentle balance,

K. Edward Copeland


Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:5

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

The petals that keep falling from the orchid on my desk remind me of how fragile life is.
We live in a sin-infested world. Death and decay are ubiquitous. Mourning is inevitable. When Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn", however, he did not mean that Kingdom citizens are perpetually morose, sullen or tearful. He meant that the Good News is only good news if you embrace the bad news. There can be no conversion without conviction; no resurrection without crucifixion; no comfort without a crushing awareness of certain realities.

Whenever I sin something dies.

Like gravity, sin does not just affect me but everyone around me. Sin alienates.

I need to recognize the full weight of my personal sin. There is something wrong with me that I cannot fix by myself. It affects my interaction with God, with others and even myself. I live with sinful people in a sinful world. I must be emotionally honest enough to embrace the fact that this world is falling apart like the petals from my orchid.

How do I receive comfort?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation for all genuine comfort.

His resurrection was the death sentence for Death.

His resurrection removes the burden of sin. His resurrection is the guarantee that one day I will see Him face-to-face.

He has promised to prepare a place for me and then to come take me there. In the meantime, for my comfort He has left me some love letters (66 of them to be exact), the visitation of his Holy Spirit as a preview of future intimacy, and a promise to ultimately wipe every tear from my eyes.

Comforted by His promise,

K. Edward Copeland

Meditate on: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, John 14:16, and Revelation 21:4


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "Kingdom Rules")

Nobody wants beggars around. Every government on the planet wants to get rid of them. The Kingdom of God is the only kingdom that welcomes beggars. As a matter of fact, you can't get in unless you come empty. To be poor in spirit does not mean to be economically deprived or shy or lacking spiritual maturity. To be poor in spirit means to be desperately aware of your own spiritual bankruptcy and your need for God's grace.

It includes daily dependence on God like the Israelites depended on manna from heaven. It recognizes that we have nothing to offer God; nothing to bargain with, and that we are helpless to deal with the consequences of our past without Him (like the penitent thief on the cross).

To be poor in spirit means that we realize, like Paul, that we can glory in our weaknesses because when we are helpless and hurting that's when His grace is most abundant.

Jesus is our model because He humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5-8), became poor so that we might be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9) and now strengthens us to find contentment even in the hard places of life (Philippians 4:13). Because of Him I am now part of the Kingdom though I'm broke.

Glad to be a beggar,

K. Edward Copeland