The Power of the Gospel, Even in Prison
The Sunday before my beginning the current winter quarter of classes at Dixon and Sheridan I was looking forward to the start of the new term and the teaching of the Gospel in the three Discipleship classes and two Fatherhood classes. The sermon for that Sunday was on John 1:1-17 and it increased my being pumped to the new term as it spoke to me on the importance of the Gospel, not just for myself, and my loved ones, but the prisoners I’m called to disciple.
The first week of classes is a joyful occasion with most of the last term’s students returning and us greeting ach other with warm embraces, shaking hands or pumping of the fists. It is also a blessing to see the men have a seeking a deeper understanding of the Gospel who also hunger for discipleship in God’s Word would put many professing Christians in today’s local churches to shame. However, despite the warm greetings and the desire to learn there are the challenges when some of those returning come not to learn but to socialize and sadly some souls still blind and deaf to the Gospel.
Yes, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to open the eyes and ears, but it doesn’t mean I’m just to show up spew some words and upon my leaving say, "they're all yours Holy Spirit, do your thing.” I take my call to prison ministry and teaching the Gospel to for these men’s as serious I do my own son’s salvation. God has shown me, before my salvation, I like many of my students just had the desire for a better life, and if it meant my becoming a ‘Christian’ I'd give it a try with the I’m still in control of my destiny, what did I have to loose. But, I also see the underlying hopelessness, fears, and remorse that they don’t think any takes seriously. They see most people as seeing them as just doing the ‘Got Jesus in prison thing.’ It probably is why prison ministry is one of the most shunned ministries in the church. Many professing Christians see the prisoner as someone who is due his time in prison because the prisoner has committed worse sins than I’ve ever done.
Yes, there are sins that more heinous than other sins but no sin is so egregious that the power of the Gospel cannot change the heart of the sinner. But it does require the sharing of the Gospel. God has blessed me by using my sins and broken past in making disciples, and it is my pray that God will in return use these followers of Christ Jesus to share the power of The Gospel with the countless lost souls whose paths they'll cross .
Paths that are in most cases not in middle-class suburbia but the devils den in the lives broken by poverty, drugs, and crime.
SOCPM's seeks to fulfill the great mission (Matthew 28:18-20) by 'Bringing the Gospel to prisoners and provide holistic discipleship through the teaching of sound theology and doctrine both during and after incarceration.' And a vision 'To see prisoners and former prisoners with renewed hearts and minds glorifying God and sharing Christ with others.' If you like to be a part of SOCPM's mission and vision, please pray about becoming a partner by becoming a monthly supporter. To be a partner see the next page. - To Him be the glory in ALL things!
Equipping the Soldier for Godliness after Parole
One of the ways SOCPM seeks to equip SOCPM students for every good work beyond the classroom is providing them additional resources to utilize outside the classroom.
As I mentioned in previous Barbed Wire Newsletters (Sept/Oct 2015 & July 2016), SOCPM brings in various articles related to the week’s teaching or if a student has a question associated with the Bible or theology in general SOCPM gives the student some articles providing answers. SOCPM continues to provide the student with monthly devotions and applications to enroll in correspondent Bible studies.
But SOCPM's mission statement is to provide holistic discipleship both during and after incarceration. SOCPM helps SOCPM students find a church before being paroled. But to keep the flame of passions to grow in Christ burning SOCPM is developing a packet for students upon parole.
The parole packet, still in development, will contain a list of online resources for sermons, essays, online Bible studies, and Christian websites with material related to Christian living. It will also include materials on how to memorize God's word and various plans for reading the Bible in a year. SOCPM’s intention and hope is to fan into flame the gift of God that is in them (2 Timothy 1:6).
To grow in godliness SOCPM believes for the student needs to know God's character. He needs to know sound doctrine and use God's Word correctly. The SOCPM student, as are all Christians is called to teach and entrust what he knows of God and His Word to others (Romans 12:1-2, 2 Timothy 1:15, 2:3, 4:3; Titus 1:9, 2:1; 2 Peter 3:18).
The more equipped the SOCPM student is, the less likely he will fall back into his old ways and return to prison and more likely to fulfill the SOCPM vision of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.
Sorry, for Delay in Publishing of The Barbed Wire
Tine management is a big challenge for me. Toss in a couple of hospitalizations and any time management that I may have been fooling myself as to doing well collapses and then I worry as to people realizing just how disorganized I am all around.
In December I was hospitalized for a few days, leading to several doctor appointments. It was nothing serious, so I'll skip the details, and you can avoid having heavy sighs.
However, my wife Michell suffered a stroke on Jan. 3rd. Thankfully it was not severe. She did have to spend a few days in the hospital, but she's back home now getting physical and occupational therapy. I've had to cancel prison ministry classes and church members are bringing meals lessening the number of tasks between Michelle's and my doctor visits. Despite that, the days are going by quite fast. In one call I thought it was Tuesday, maybe Wednesday? Nope, it was Thursday. Geez, then what happen on Wednesday go?
At times like these, it is easy to lift up prayers of petitions, but we need to be mindful of the many blessings that we have received. The stroke was not severe, and caught early; medical attention was nearby, the medical care was excellent, surgery wasn't needed, the doctors expect a full recovery. We also have many loved ones and friends lifting both Michelle and me in prayer and most of all we have a sovereign and loving Christ Jesus full of mercy and grace with an eternal love for both of us.
Nonetheless, so to avoid the appearance of being unorganized and not relying on the grace that comes n Christ I felt a need to explain myself.
To Him be the glory in ALL things!