November - December 2014

The Battle Against 'Itchy Ear Feel Good' Doctrine

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. ( 2 Timothy 1:13-14 ESV)  
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Paul writes in his 2nd epistle to Timothy the importance of sound doctrine and warns of false teachings that will come in the church.

The church today, as Paul warned Timothy, is enduring false teaching. In large part because many do not teach doctrine but cast it aside saying 'doctrine divides. Well, in truth, it does divide. Many are not teaching sound doctrine in fear of seeing membership fall.

One of the biggest challenges in prison ministry is unsound doctrine. As we're told in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 sound doctrine  can cause itchy ears and people wanting to suit their passions will turn to false teachings that make them feel good. 'Itchy ear, feel good doctrine' as I call it. To counter this SOCPM has made 2 Timothy it's scriptural bedrock. But Titus 1:2 states it best in one verse "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine."

Sadly, the 'itchy ear feel good doctrine' is one of the most revered in prisons. To counter this SOCPM's ministry partner Ligonier Ministries gives SOCPM teaching curriculum at a greatly reduced cost and at no cost gives SOCPM 50 copies a month of Tabletalk magazine. Ligonier has also assisted SOCPM in choosing various teaching series that cover foundational and sound teachings. Because of this, the students ask insightful questions to help them better discern what they may have heard in the Ligonier teaching versus to a teaching they heard elsewhere. 

Tabletalk was unheard of prior to SOCPM bringing it into the prison it serves and has become one of the most popular of the several monthly devotions that SOCPM distributes. It was after reading three issues of Tabletalk that led Discipleship student Joseph to state 'I've been reading these',  (waving Tabletalk in the air) and then commented 'that prosperity gospel, it's the wrong stuff, this is the right stuff.' How much Joseph was a follower of prosperity gospel I do not know, but Joesph has taken to reformed theology so much, he asked me one Friday if I knew of a church near Normal Illinois that is reformed. I hadn't a clue but the very following Sunday, my pastor introduced a friend of his, a visiting pastor from a community church in Normal, IL. Guess who made a beeline to introduce myself after the service? Though Joseph isn't scheduled for parole until October 2016 he and the pastor from the community church have begun communicating. God willing, Joesph will have a solid connection to a sound Bible teaching church upon his release.

The teaching of sound doctrine has brought on several challenges but the Holy Spirit reminds me of another verse from 2 Timothy:

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3 ESV)

Slang It

Road Dogs: Inmates who do not declare any gang-affiliations but who buddy-up inside prison for protection.

Slang is from Inside Prison

World Religions, Other Religions & Cults

I first met Kent when he attended a New Life Correction's 'Transforming Incarcerated Dads' class at Vienna Correctional Center in February 2012. Upon his transfer to to Sheridan in October 2012 he became a SOCPM student and currently is in his seventh SOCPM class. He is going home November 7 and has a family member who is involved with Wicca and asked me if I had anything that could help him in what Wiccans believe. It was affirming to see Kent was pursuing a key point I stressed in apologetics and that is know what the person your going to debate believes.

I contacted Christian Apologetics Resource Ministry (CARM - who has an extensive depository of apologetics on world religions, religious groups and cults. CARM gave me permission to assemble all the articles on Wicca and any other material I deemed beneficial into a PDF. I gave Kent the PDF on WICCA. He was eager to begin his preparation to discuss Christianity versus Wicca with his family member. 

The following week Tom a student at Dixon, a new believer with a great hunger for God's Word was excited about 3 Angel Broadcasting Network and asked me to check it out. Turns out they are Seventh Day Adventist. It is common and easy for someone new in faith to get sidetracked in teachings that on the surface seem biblically sound and unless someone takes the initiative to steer them away the evil one uses it as a slippery slope to accepting unbiblical teachings. I returned to CARM and assembled a PDF on Seventh Day Adventism for Tom. Modesto, another SOCPM Disciple student after seeing it, asked for a copy too.

SOCPM is developing an extensive library of articles on doctrine and theology in a multitude of areas including  prayer, sin, end times, free will and much more, authored by esteemed theologians; Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Owens, A. W. Pink. C. H. Spurgeon to name a few. 

2 Timothy 2:2 calls on us to take what we learn in God's Word and entrust it to faithful men so that they may teach others also. It is the hope of SOCPM that the Kent, Tom, Modesto and others will take what they learn in SOCPM Discipleship classes to the places God calls them to in the spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The Number is ...

547 - The number of various articles and publications in the SOCPM library of theology

World Religions, Other Religions & Cults

Scripture memorization is a spiritual discipline. However, for me it is a daunting challenge. I recently acquired a PDF on Extended Scripture Memorization by Andrew Davis. It teaches a method on how to memorize not just two or three verses but whole books of the Bible. The Holy Spirit challenged me to memorize a book of the Bible and after prayer I chose 2nd Timothy since it is the bedrock scripture for SOCPM. 

I shared with my students my undertaking and challenged them to memorize a book of the Bible. I was disappointed when only Tom a student at Dixon and Robert a student at Sheridan took on the challenge to memorize 1 John & 2 Timothy respectively. However, when I shared what I had memorized thus far, 2 Timothy 1:1-18 and knowing I'm a very forgetful person, it must have been motivating as several more students have since requested the PDF.

I can't say with certainty that all are in pursuit but I hope the students will come to hear that if I can memorize a book of the Bible it ought to be a walk in the park for them and that more students like Tom and Robert will put there trust in the Holy Spirit and seek to memorize a book of the Bible.

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Soldiers of Christ Prison Ministries
P. O. Box 671
Cortland, IL 60112