July / August 2015

Taking Heed of Matthew 7:23

One of my biggest fears is a student God has entrusted to me here the words“…I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Despite my often referring to 2 Corinthians 13:5 and 2 Peter 1:11, I tremble when I think how many will hear Matthew 7:23.

Recently during a teaching from 1 John by my Pastor Joe Thorn, I felt convicted that I was not being bold enough in my teaching of assurance to those God has entrusted to me. The following Wednesday and Friday I told my students of my conviction and asked for forgiveness and said I planned to be bolder. One student replied, ‘…isn’t that kind of rude questioning are salvation?’ I responded what would be rude if I chose to ignore my conviction and then one of you hear Jesus declare ‘I never knew you depart from me.’
In his three book series “Recovering the Gospel”, Paul Washer addresses how the essential elements of the Gospel are neglected in contemporary churches today. I enjoyed the series because I could relate to a lot of what he describes is the ‘gospel’ many of my students have based their faith, their salvation in. He writes in Gospel Assurance and Warnings, “Preaching is now carried out by life coaches who teach people principals that they may have their best life now.” [1]

The fallout of today’s preaching as Washer describes is many if not most who profess as being ‘born-again’ are in fact not born again. Quite often one falsely believes by simply saying the sinner’s payer will saved them. I’m not saying all who said the sinner’s prayer aren’t saved but I see a fair number of students profess to being born-again but do not exhibit the fruit of a saving faith. Washer The Gospel Call & True Conversion ‘the sinner’s prayer’ “…it has become the primary and, often, the only basis of assurance. That is, many individuals who bear little or no evidence of God’s work in their lives are convinced or assured of their salvation only because once they prayed the sinner’s prayer sincerely.” [2]

As I prayed and mediated on my conviction of not being bolder in teaching of assurance the Holy Spirit brought to my heart 2 Timothy 1:14 “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” And cannot help to realize the charge before me with those God has entrusted to me in my stewardship of Soldier’s of Christ Prison Ministries. Steve Lawson writes in Foundations of Grace “The church desperately needs men who are proclaimers of the full counsel of Scripture. Any true exposition of the Bible inevitably will point to the transcendent truth of God’s right to rule over all the works of His hands. If such men would be found faithful before God, they must concern themselves with declaring these ancient doctrines of God’s eternal grace. Where are such men today?” [3]

SOCPM seeks to be ‘such men’ and make disciples to be ‘such men’ and ask for your prayers in living 2 Timothy 4:5 ‘As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.’

[1] Washer, Paul. Gospel Assurance and Warnings. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2014. 209. Print.
[2] Washer, Paul. The Gospel Call and True Conversion. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2014. 37. Print
[3] Lawrence, Steven J. Foundations of Grace. Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2006. 102. Print

Slang It

Jointman: An inmate who acts like a correctional officer.   http://www.insideprison.com/glossary.asp

In the Classroom - A Passion of Love

If you’ve ever had the fortune or misfortune, depending on your point of view, of hearing me share about prison ministry, I am fairly certain you see my passion and love for what God has called me to do. I typically only share what types of curriculums I am currently teaching or plan to teach in future classes.  I also share how I want to get men connected to additional resources, primarily churches, once they are paroled.

However, I’m very hesitant in sharing what I have to do administratively to prepare for a course, teach the course and the other tasks outside the classroom.  At times, I wonder if people just think I spend a couple of days in a prison teaching a couple of classes and that’s pretty much it. I’m hesitant to share because I don’t want to come off as boasting or seeking affirmation for my own pride. But, as I’ve been preparing for the upcoming discipleship class ‘A Soldier’s Call to Study the Bible’ I feel God is leading me to share the ‘the labors of a passion.’

God has put in my heart to teach a class on how to not just read a Bible but to study the Bible with a desire to be transformed by the renewing of your one’s mind through a sound knowledge and understanding of all the richness of God’s Word. I tried one class a few years back. Although the students said they liked it, I felt it fell far short of the goal because of, in part, a less than ideal curriculum. After a search for new curriculum I decided to use a teaching series by David Platt ‘How to study the Bible. It is a series of four one-hour videos.

One shortcoming is the downloadable videos are not closed captioned, but I know of three students at Dixon who have hearing impairments who would seriously consider taking the class if their hearing impartments could be overridden. I’m not a computer geek by any imagination but through Google, I found a way to imbed close caption to the videos. Nothing comes easy though. It is was a tedious task.

1.     Download the video in mp4 format from the Radical website (the ministry of David Platt’s “Secret Church”).

2.     Download the transcript of the same video from its YouTube location

3.     Upload the video and the transcript to my YouTube account.

4.     Merges the video and text creating my own time stamped text file that allows me to make edits to the close captioning text.

a.     Editing consists of downloading a PDF of the transcripts for each session from Radical, copying and pasting it into a Word document.

b.     In YouTube I do the clicks to get me to where I have alongside the video a column of text boxes each time stamped in seconds. I then start watching and listening to the video monitoring the text boxes for errors. Seeing the number of errors makes the numbers of errors using my voice recognition software look miniscule.

c.      When I see an error I stop the video, look at the actual transcript, make the edits and cut out of the Word document all the text that has been verified. I thought at first it would be somewhat easy, but as it turns out it takes anywhere from 1 to 12 hours to do a one-hour video.

5.     When the editing of close captioning is completed, I download the edited close caption text and save it as a sbv file.

6.     Upload the sbv file to another website that converts the sbv file to a srt file.

7.     Using Wondershare’s “Video Converter Ultimate” software load the original mp4 file from Radical, the srt file of close caption text and convert it all into a vob format.

8.     Once I have a vob format, I load the vob file into the same software and burn it to a DVD.

From Radical’s website to a DVD is about 10-12 hours of work. As I write this newsletter I’m about 10 minutes into part three of the curriculum. So, I still have about 22 hours of work to do.

It was a great feeling when I popped in the first DVD in and saw the closed captioning. Michelle asked me if I thought it was worth the time it takes. I shared with her that I crossed paths with Ralph, an inmate at Dixon, who has a severe hearing impairment and told me he quit coming because though he can read lips my habit of moving around and turning my head made it impractical for him to learn. I shared with him, my yet untested plans of having closed captioning and he said he would return. There are two other former students who quit attending classes because of hearing impairments.  Even if only Ralph was to attend the class with closed captioning and he learns how to study the Bible it could take a hundred hours for one video and it be worth it to me.

The Number is...

16,350 - Sheets of paper it will take to print 100 copies of Crossway’s introduction to all 66 books of the Bible.

Thud, Pain, Trust

I apologize for the lateness of this issue of The Barbed Wire. But, I can blame it on my wife Michelle, who is my proofreader and she was simply late in getting her task done. I say ‘I blame Michelle’ in jest though as she an excusable reason for not doing the proof reading earlier.

I truly cherish simply sitting at my lovely bride Michelle’s side and watching Netflix. We had just completed doing so on July 2nd and turned off the TV. The room became dark. Michelle got up to turn the light on in the kitchen. Then, I heard a thud and loud cry of pain. Michelle had fallen and felt a great amount of pain. I quickly called 911.

Michelle broke two bones in her right leg, the tibia and the fibula. The latter required surgery where a rod was placed in her leg just below the kneecap. Michelle was a trooper though enduring the various stages of great pain especially when they temporarily reset it in the ER.

It will be a long recovery. The orthopedist told us it will be a minimum of three months for her fracture to heal completely. She is in to her third week of recovery and still cannot put any weight on her leg. She uses a walker to get around our condo, but for all intents and purposes she is incapacitated, limiting her activities to 98% bed rest and couch sitting.

Caretaking is not one of my gifts. God is teaching me how to I need to love Michelle more as I care for her by not having heavy sighs when she asks me to help her. I also am humbled to see just how blessed I am by Michelle’s trust in God. Michelle was having a conversation with her mother, who was expressing concern for Michelle. Michelle replied, ‘I’m not worried mom, God planned this, so my trust is in Him in getting me through this.’ I’m blessed with a godly woman indeed.



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












I believe the Lord has many plans for SOCPM in 2015, but your financial and prayer support is a must. The expenses to accomplish the above will exceed SOCPM's current monthly giving. Additionally I've not paid myself any salary since SOCPM became my vocation in November 2009. I hope to begin to pay myself a minimal monthly salary in 2015.

If you are a current monthly financial partner or have given in the past, thank you! If you aren't currently a monthly partner or have given a one time gift before, would you please pray about becoming a monthly financial partner?

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