“The Value of Life”

During World War II, German Nazis imprisoned about 7 to 8 million people, mostly European Jews, in 22 concentration camps. By 1945 they had murdered about 6 million of the inmates. Some were killed by firing squads, others died of starvation or as a result of experiments performed on them by German doctors and scientists, and most died in poison gas chambers.

When Allied forces liberated the camps in 1945, they found them littered with thousands of unburied dead, and the majority of the survivors were suffering from disease or starvation.

Major camps included Dachau, Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Natzweiler, Gross-Rosen, Stutthof, Lublin, Hinzert, Bergen-Belsen and, for women, Ravensbrück,

German law at the time legally considered Jews as “not fully human.” They were classified as a “sub-human” species. Legally speaking, they were “non-persons.”

If I went hunting and I saw a bald eagle and shot it, would I be guilty of killing a protected species? Yes. Would the law punish me if I were caught? Yes.

Who decides that I killed a protected species? The government. What makes a bald eagle a protected species? The law. Who makes the laws? Other men. How do we determine that a life has value? Who makes that decision?

The German opinion in 1933 said that Jews were not human. The German government was stronger than the Jews and their opinion prevailed for many years. But it was not right.

Article I of the Constitution of the United States of America stated that African-American’s counted as only three-fifths of a person. This was not repealed until the 14th Amendment in 1865. So, before 1865, could I say that African-American’s were not fully human? Would it be right? No.

Here is the truth: There is only one opinion that matters in relation to you having value…God’s. People who do not believe in God can’t offer any objective reason for saying that they have value as a human being. Everything is subjective – one person’s opinion against another person’s opinion – and the strongest person’s opinion wins. Subjective means I believe something because I “feel” that it is right. It is my own opinion.

However objective means that we are not dealing in opinions or feelings. We are dealing in facts, pure and simple. No-one objects when an animal kills another animal. When a wolf kills a deer, it’s no problem. Without God, we are no different than animals.

The Bible says…

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

God created man and breathed the breath of life into him. Man is God’s creation.

Isaiah 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

God saw fit to create man in his own image and likeness. God made us. We did not make God. God is not a human idea! He is a universal truth.

A man once said that God made man in His image, and man has been trying to return the favor ever since! I believe that our biggest mistake is to try to make God like us, instead of us trying to be more like God. There are groups of people who build whole doctrines on the belief that God is like them. God is black or God is white or God is yellow. All for the purpose of making God so like them, and so unlike someone else.

May I tell you that I do not care what color God is? If the Lord God Almighty is black, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! If the Lord God Almighty is yellow, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! If the Lord God Almighty is purple, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! And if the Lord God Almighty is white, it doesn’t matter to me. I am no more like Him than if He was black, or yellow, or purple. PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!!

I do not serve a white God. I do not serve a purple God. I serve a LIVING GOD!!! I will serve the Lord with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my mind. My eyes cannot even conceive of His beauty. I cannot imagine. I will not dare to compare myself to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I am content to be called His servant, and blessed to be called one of His sons. That is enough for me.

I believe that man has value to God, because he saw fit to create us. He did not have to, but it pleased Him.

Genesis 1:27-31 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

God said that everything He had made was “very good.”

Revelation 4:10-11 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

We were created for His pleasure and to bring glory to Him. There was no second class of people in this creation. He made man and he made woman and he instructed them to multiply. Every man, woman, and child on the earth came from these two people. Every black man, every white man, every red man, every yellow man. The same bloodline. God gave life to us all.

Acts says He “made of one blood all nations.”

Act 17:22-26 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Make no mistake; you are special to God. God did not make any mistakes. Because you have sinned, does not make you any less important to God. He sent His Son to redeem you. His Son died for each of you. If there is anything in your heart that judges another man’s worth, put it out! Do not think any less of your fellow man than God does.

Jesus gave two commandments…

Mark 12:30-31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

I can’t truly say, “I love you” if I look down on you or think you are less than a man. Followers of Christ, love each other, care for each other, think well of each other. Do not separate yourselves for any reason. Each of you is precious to God. He has loved you since before you were born. And since we are precious to God, we should treat each other that way.

We are one people. One bloodline. One family. One body of Christ. Show the world the love of God through the love you have for each other.

Mistaken Identity

thoughtspicture640In the world around us many live with a mistaken identity. When I write of mistaken identity I am referring to the way we view ourselves. I have found that it seems easy for us to persuade ourselves that we are deserving and better then we really are. Meaning that we fail to acknowledge our weaknesses and tend to undermine any evidence of our guilt as sinners. My days that I spend ministering inside of prison I often am approached by men who claim innocence of their convictions. On one occasion recently I asked one of these men why he thought God would allow him to be placed inside of prison if he was so innocent? His answer to me was that God allowed him to be locked up because he must’ve not had known his true intentions of why he did what had done. Sadly this man was serving a life sentence on a murder but somehow even though someone had been killed he was innocent. The person whom I was talking to was asserting that God our Creator must have incorrectly assumed something of him that wasn’t true.

Friends, I believe knowing who we are, truly is important. But don’t be mistaken, our Father and Creator in heaven knows more about your identity then you do! Your personal identity no matter how you would like to distort it, it will never undermine the fact that you are sinful. When we embrace our sinful nature, it means we’ve looked at ourselves long enough to know we can’t make it without looking to another. Embracing doesn’t mean that we obsess over the evil that we have done but rather look at who we really are and how badly that we need God.

Tim Keller once said, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” What a paradox this is — and one, it seems, that very few people can comfortably embrace. I have witnessed many respond to the simultaneous realities of their sinful corruption and God’s great love in one of two erroneous ways. They either minimize the extent of their sinfulness or refuse to believe God could possibly love them. The former deny the depth of their wretchedness and embrace desires they should mortify; the latter compulsively obsess over the evil within them and retreat into self-hatred.

Friends we need to humbly embrace that we really are as corrupt, distorted, and sin-ravaged as God says we are. It is only through this humble reality that we can understand God’s love towards us. A love that is not thwarted by our evil condition but so high and fierce that he, at great cost to himself, provided a means for us as wretched, guilty sinners to be reconciled to him. The bloody Cross of Jesus demonstrates both the extensiveness of our corruption and the enormity of God’s affection for us — and the only proper way for us to respond is in humble belief.

Pray for me as I challenge men daily inside of prison to not make excuses for where they are at but embrace that they are there because of their sin and that the only way their lives and identities can change is if they humbly submit to the one and only Savior Jesus Christ!

Featured Book “Real Life Discipleship”

51XvzMM4mwLI don’t believe there is any book besides the Bible that has influenced me more on the topic of discipleship than “Real Life Discipleship” written by Jim Putman. The question on the back cover of this book grabbed my attention even before I had opened it up. The question, “Is your church making disciples…who make disciples…who make disciples?” spoke to what my own vision, mission and goal in ministry is. Once I opened the book up I wasn’t able to put it down as the author led me into his world of disciple making.

The book is divided up into three parts, 1) Setting the Stage for Discipleship, 2) Mastering the Discipleship Process, 3) Letting Disciples Emerge as Leaders and has a total of 15 chapters. The author writes of the beginning of his church Real Life Ministries which began when two couples met in one of their homes and began to pray that God would work in and through them to bring a disciple-making church to a sparsely populated area in Northern Idaho. This little group loved the Lord and longed for something more than the church experiences of the past. Today this church has grown to 8,500 strong and many in this church are not just sitting on church pews but are engaged in making disciples.

The author continues to challenge readers to embrace the discipleship process Jesus modeled in His plan to reach the world and that it is the job of every believer to make disciples. In John 17:3-4, Jesus made the claim that His work was finished even though He had not yet gone to the cross. As believers we know that Jesus’s primary purpose for coming to this earth was to pay for the sins of all who would accept His grace through faith. The cross is clearly central to Jesus’s mission, so why did Jesus say that he completed something before going to the cross. The author writes that he believes Jesus was referring to the training of His twelve disciples.

Too often Christians focus rightly on the gospel message of the cross but forget about the discipleship process Jesus revealed and modeled. If Jesus had not trained disciples who could in turn train others, the gospel message would have been lost. No one would have heard about it after the disciples were dead. The author writes about the 5 different stages of spiritual growth beginning with spiritually dead, spiritual infant, spiritual child, spiritual young adult and spiritual parent. He writes of the different characteristics of each stage, their typical beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and also what the spiritual needs are of each one of the stages. You can find a chart with this information on it in the appendix portion of his book.

This book has helped shape my view of discipleship and how I approach it daily. I have barely scraped the surface of this great book as the author writes about being intentional, relational, and strategic in making disciples. He challenges believers to share their faith with those around them and then disciple those who decide to follow Jesus. The reality for much of the church is that we lead people to the cross but then leave them to sort through the Christian life on their own.

Near the end of the book there is a chapter titled “Finding Leaders for Your Church.” The author encourages the church to look within for their leadership. Any where there is a body of believers gathered around God’s word and discipleship is happening, leaders are birthed. He urges the church to keep in mind that while some people may be born as natural leaders, they may not be spiritually mature. While people aren’t mature disciples, they cannot value making mature disciples because they don’t understand what one looks like. The author then closes out the chapter with a list of qualities that are found in strong and spiritually mature leaders.

You will find this book a very insightful and definitely worth your time spent reading it. Like I mentioned before this book has been very impactful in my life and I would highly recommend for you to read this book. You can purchase it by clicking on the books image.

Heartbreaking Disappointments In Ministry

acceptable-man-cryThere are always disappointments in life regardless how hard we try to avoid them. In the last several years of ministry I can think of several disappointments that I have faced. One of those was with a man who came to the chapel one day with the goal of accusing me of being unfair with him.  After yelling insanities at me for some time, he left the chapel visibly upset. I wish I could tell you that I talked to him the next day but I never got that chance as he was pushed down the steps in his dorm that night and died. I was gravely disappointed! I asked God why? He was not a Christian but I had been involved in his life a lot through him being enrolled in my classes and his frequent chapel visits. I was disappointed because here was a man that I had grown to love as a person but yet after all our talks about forgiveness and redemption he still hadn’t chosen to follow Christ.

A few months ago I was faced again with another disappointment that impacted me even more. A man that had lived in the Faith Based Honor Dorm at the prison, who had been released a year ago had his picture back in the news. According to the authorities this man had robbed a Gas Station at gunpoint and ending up killing the attendant. This was a man I had spent a lot of time with, someone that I had seen making an effort to do right but always seemed to stop short of surrendering to God. I can still vividly remember the day that he was released and how he asked me to pray for him. I still remember the fear on his face but the determination he voiced.  I remember most of all the last words he said to me before we parted, “Chap I will be ok.”

When I saw the news I couldn’t help but shed tears.  Why God? Why didn’t he surrender to you? Why didn’t he make it? Why? What could I have done differently? Today there is a family that lost a loved one, someone’s daughter and the man responsible is someone I had a chance to impact. I understand that God is the One that draws men to Him, but I still feel a responsibility to make a more effective impact on the men I serve at prison. Pray for me as I continue to serve my God by proclaiming Christ and discipling inmates daily inside of prison. Pray that men would surrender to Jesus and that I would never have to see another chose hell over heaven.

“Where is Barnabas?” A Plea From An Incarcerated Brother

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The Apostle Paul had a very “sketchy” past.  He was of an elite sect of Jews, who persecuted Christians.  He had consented and participated in the arrest and death of Christians, including Stephen.  While he was traveling on the Damascus Road with a decree to arrest Christians, he encountered the Lord Jesus.

A blind Saul was led to Damascus where he encountered a man named Ananias who ministered to him, baptized him, and fed him.  Saul then started testifying to the goodness of the Lord and preaching “the way”.

Saul’s work was so mighty that the Jews plotted on killing him and he had to be smuggled out of Damascus and into Jerusalem.  When he arrived there, he tried to join himself to other believers, but they were afraid of him.  Their fear caused them to reject Saul until a man named Barnabas came to Saul’s defense.

Barnabas acknowledged that Saul indeed had done everything that he was accused of, but, nevertheless, he had experienced a legitimate encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and had been preaching and testifying mightily in that name.  The other disciples extended the right hand of fellowship to Saul, who would later become the Apostle Paul.  He would later go on several missionary journeys and would establish Churches all over the known world.  He also wrote epistles that were used to make up a large part of what we call the New Testament.

How can this story be applied in our daily lives?  There are numerous men in Correctional Facilities across this State whose pasts are just as “sketchy” as the Apostle Paul.  They have committed crimes against the State and the people who live in it.  They are guilty and deserve their punishment; there is no question or argument about it; however, like Saul, many have had a real encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.  The “scales” have fallen from their eyes and they see the truth.  Their life is different than it once was and they are testifying mightily in the name of the Lord.  They are going around doing the work of the Lord and are making a difference where they are at, even though they know they have been sentenced to die in prison.  Yet, they serve the Lord and are no longer part of the problem, but part of the solution.

But no one seems to know about them.  Where is Barnabas?  If a converted Saul can be given the chance to make a difference, what about the men today?  Murder is murder, and theft is theft, right?  Are the crimes of today really so different from those in Saul’s day?  The truth is that there are some “Paul’s” in the Department of Corrections; they have met Jesus and have been visited by Ananias, but where is their Barnabas?

Is this not what the Gospel is all about: sinners coming to repentance?  The message of the Gospel is that we are out of line, out of sync with God, but through the blood of Jesus, we can be back in right standing with God and receive our reward, even though we had “sketchy” pasts.  The blood of Jesus is stronger than any sin that has ever been committed or will be committed.  That is the truth of the Gospel.

Yet, even though God accepts sinners, rebels, and criminals into His grace through the blood of His Son, society still refuses to.  If a holy God, who has no sin or flaws in Him will receive a person, shouldn’t a society that has sin and flaws in it accept them also?

It is time for the men and women who are diligently carrying out the Great Commission to acknowledge that there are Paul’s in the prison.  It is time to help these “Paul’s” achieve their destiny.  There is no telling what potential these men have.

Venom is used to treat snake bites; fire is used to fight fires; ex-addicts are used to combat addictions.  What about using those who once broke the Law to help fix the ever-growing crime and recidivism rates?   We need to learn to forgive and restore those who were once broken.  If “Corrections” truly exists, then there has to be “Restoration”.  After all, it is the “Department of Corrections”, not the “Department of Everlasting Punishment”.

The Power of Prison Ministry

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This following well written article by Attorney Jason W. Swindle Sr. and was originally posted on the blog at the Swindle Law Group. It highlights the power of prison ministry and how that the Word of God has a positive impact on many inmates. I recently did a podcast with Jason Swindle which will be shared next week on this website as well as on Itunes, Stitcher Radio, and Soundcloud at “Detention to Redemption.

Over the years, I have noticed a number of organizations going into jails and prisons for various reasons. One of the most important and powerful groups is the variety of prison ministries who take the message of Christ to inmates.

These groups of selfless believers represent many types of denominations and faiths. I am most familiar with the Christian groups who bring the Word to local jails and prisons in the west Georgia area. Most of the men and women who do this service work do not want to be mentioned or given any recognition. They provide ministry to inmates because Jesus advocated this type action.

Over 2000 years ago, before Jesus commissioned all of His disciples to make disciples of all nations, he commissioned a number of John the Baptist’s followers to carry on a prison ministry to their teacher. They were to answer the question whether Jesus was the Promised One or whether they should expect someone else.

With the commission went the message: “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me (Luke 7:18-23).” In that message there was, and is, also “freedom for the prisoners (Luke 4:18).” Jesus is the Son of God.

While most prison ministries are conducted by Christians who are not incarcerated, the Bible speaks of the importance of ministry within the walls of confinement.

Perhaps the most well-known prison ministry conducted by a prisoner was that of the Paul. Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, was imprisoned and under a sentence of death. Notwithstanding his situation, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, ministered to other inmates and guards, and wrote some of the most important letters in the Bible.
Acts 16:25 records a prison ministry carried on by prisoners: “About midnight Paul and
Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”

That event in Philippi also marked the first occasion, but not the last, when a prison official was also converted by the gospel preached in prison: “He and all his family were baptized…. He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family (Acts 16:33).”

Based on my experience, I have also seen many inmates “find God” while they are incarcerated. Some of these people used religion or perceived spirituality as a vehicle to try to get out of jail or receive a lighter sentence. These folks are easily identified by most judges and prosecutors. The fake “finding religion” does not work very well when planning a way to responsibly handle a criminal case.

However, the Word of God does have a positive impact on many prisoners and inmates who receive the Word in a genuine way. Oftentimes, a trip to the county jail is the first time a person has ever heard or read the Bible.
While it would be impossible to determine a prison ministry’s impact on the rate of recidivism, I can personally testify that I have seen many of my clients change their lives for the better by receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior. Prison ministry does help individuals and society as a whole.

Lastly, I just want to thank those folks who spoke to me about their work with prison ministries. Your work may go unnoticed in society. However, you are fulfilling one of the great commissions of Jesus Christ.

God Bless.

Christian Leadership Part 2

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Last December we had our first ever all day Leadership Seminar inside the prison that I serve at. The day was focused in raising up Christian men as leaders, who will not be afraid of sharing the gospel around themselves inside of prison. Last week I shared my first blog post about this special time which you can read by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post. This is the second blog post in the series of three blog posts that I am sharing with you about this event.

After spending some time in worship singing songs such as, I’m a Solider in the Army of the Lord, and Power in the Blood, our third speaker of the day began sharing his message titled, “Godly Character.” He started in by making the difference between subjective and objective views on character, saying, “Subjective character is only based on what people believe character should be , but objective character is what God tells us that character is.” He spoke out of Psalms 15 where it says, “O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He challenged the men by saying,” He continued by saying , “As believers we should be compassionate, humble, joyful and content. Even though we are locked up behind these fences we no excuse to not be joyful and content. Believers should also be holy, merciful, and pure in heart. These are some of the things that define the character of a Godly man.” He also touched on sonship and that we as Christians are all sons of God so as a son of God our lives should portray Him to those who are around us. In closing he called the men’s attention to several scriptures on abiding in Christ as well as Micah 6:8 which says, “O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” After the message the men spent several minutes discussing how as Christians they might maintain a Godly character while being locked up inside of prison. This time was well spent as these conversations led many to be challenged even in the simple things such as respecting those around them and those in authority over them.

As the day went on we were challenged once again by another message titled “Prayer.”  The speaker who has been a pillar in our church inside of prison began his message by using examples of prayer throughout the Bible. He continued on in his message by asking the question, “What is prayer?” Answering his own question he said, “That prayer is a privilege conversation between me and my Daddy. It is about intimacy; it is about me telling my Daddy about my hurts and struggles. God is God to some but to you brothers who believe, God is our Daddy. If you are not talking to Him, praying to Him, then you are not seeking Him.” He also challenged the men that we are to abide in in the Word saying, “If you are not abiding in God’s Word but still want to dump your prayers on Him then you are like a hot air balloon crying out to God.  God hears the prayers of the righteous, not our righteousness, the things we do or have done but the righteousness of God in us through what His Son Jesus has done.”  He then spoke about what prayer should look like from Matthew 6 encouraging the men that through prayer we receive the courage and boldness to be a witness in this earth. As the message came to a close he challenged everybody to pray for the other men inside of prison and that through our prayers change will happen. After the message the men began singing softly, “He knows my name, He knows my every thought, He sees each tear that falls and hears me when I call.” After the course was sung the room became silent as the men quietly cried out to their Daddy in Heaven.

I will be posting next week part three of this first ever Leadership Seminar inside of the prison that I serve at. Thank you for reading these posts and I pray that you may be challenged by these words which were mostly spoken by men who were once known as murders, robbers, rapists, but now are known as faithful ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christian Leadership Part 1

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Last December we had our first ever all day Leadership Seminar inside the prison that I serve at. We had the day planned with multiple speakers from our church inside of prison as well as some pastors from the outside. I spent that day taking notes and over the next three weeks I want to share these with you. This is the first of three blogs that I will be share with you about our time that day.

Our day began with the 28 chaplain selected men arriving to the chapel at 8:30 am with their Bibles in hand prepared to stay for the whole day. Our chapel was set up with tables with name tags at each spot and a tablet and pen for note taking. They were welcomed by one of our Elders who introduced them to the day as well as the expectations of this seminar. After the brief introduction they began in worship with hands raised toward heaven crying out, “Hallelujah we adore you, Lord we worship you.” The spirit of the Lord most definitely showed up during this time.

After worship our first speaker began his message entitled “What is Ministry?” He began his time with three questions, “What is ministry? What is a minister? Where do I fit in?” He challenged the group by saying “Church it is time to get the ministry out of this Chapel and into the prison! We are God’s instruments of ministry. Ministry is about sacrifice, it is about doing things you sometimes don’t want to do. Ministry my friends, is not about how much theology you know or your education level but about meeting the need. Ministry is an honor and a privilege, we can only testify of the Lord if he has shown himself to you. Are you spending time with Jesus? Jesus’s purpose on this earth was to glorify His Father in heaven and give his life for the lost and His ministry was to meet people’s needs. We cannot be doing detached ministry, we cannot be fake we must be serious about ministry; we cannot do this only halfway! We must be faithful ministers here in this prison, are there any under oarsmen in this chapel that are willing to move this gospel ship forward?” This message was met with much shouting and amens as the men dug into multiple scripture passages! At the end of this message there was a time of silence where men spent time praying that God would show them how they may get more involved in ministry.

Our next speaker was a local pastor who has spent the last 50 years in ministry and the title of his message was “Staying in The Game.” He became his message with several football analogies, using Alabama’s running back Derrick Henry constant ability to move the ball and his longevity in the game as an example to the men about moving the gospel forward not giving up when it gets hard. He challenged the men by saying, “We are all in ministry and we need to abide in the call that God has called you in. We must think of ministry long-term, we must make that commitment! We will not bare any fruit unless we stay put in ministry! Don’t put off the ministry that God has called you too, begin immediately in that call! Get in the Word and study! We are the workmen that Paul talks about; we are to study to show ourselves approved unto God! As ministers of the Gospel we must always make ourselves available to those around us. And if we want to experience longevity in ministry we must develop a team spirit and raise up fellow Christians in this prison for ministry. Men, ministry is not about satisfying your needs ministry is about satisfying other’s needs.” He also shared four keys that will create longevity in ministry: “1. Remember who you serve. 2. Remember what you are called to do. 3. Remember that you are not alone. 4. Remember the ultimate goal” The men received this message well and were challenged at the end with Paul’s words in Colossians 1:28-29, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me.” After the message the men walked around the chapel praying for each other, the time was heartwarming and impactful as people asked for forgiveness, friendships were strengthen and many tears were shed.

I will be posting next week part two of this first ever Leadership Seminar inside of the prison that I serve at. Thank you for reading these posts and I pray that you may be challenged by these words which were mostly spoken by men who were once known as murders, robbers, rapists, but now are known as faithful ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Leper, An Outcast of Society

 

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In a recent podcast I did with John Leemasters titled “The Leper And The Incarcerated, The Outcast Of Society” we talked about the similarities between the life of a Leper in biblical times to the life of an incarcerated individual today. After doing this particular interview I was moved to go and do a more in-depth study on leprosy, the treatment of lepers and the hope that a leper had and draw out the similarities with the incarcerated.

Early on in my study of leprosy I was led to a passage of scripture, Leviticus 13, where it says that anyone suspected of having this disease had to go to a priest for examination. If found to be infected, the leprous person who has the disease was to wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He was to remain unclean as long as he has the disease.

Leprosy in ancient times was incurable by man, many believed God inflicted the curse of leprosy upon people for the sins they committed. In fact, those with leprosy were so despised and loathed that they were not allowed to live in any community with their own people. Among the sixty-one defilements of ancient Jewish laws, leprosy was second only to a dead body in seriousness. A leper wasn’t allowed to come within six feet of any other human, including his own family. The disease was considered so revolting that the leper wasn’t permitted to come within 150 feet of anyone when the wind was blowing. Lepers lived in a community with other lepers until they either got better or died.

So you may ask where are the similarities to the incarcerated in our time? First many believed God inflicted the curse upon people for the sins they committed. Today men still commit sin some sins we view often more hideous then others, those who commit these sins are taken before the courts to be found guilty and then sentenced, much like those men and women in Leviticus 13 that go before the priest for examination and sentenced as unclean. The physical distress and the emotional response to a future of disease and death is only part of the burden of the leper. They become society’s despised outcasts. They were driven from their homes and had to live outside the city. Today when men and women are found guilty of their crimes many also become society’s despised outcasts, they are driven from their homes and everything they love and is dear to them and live in society’s trash heaps called prisons.

Now let me stop here and say I believe in incarceration. I believe there needs to be a punishment for the wrongs that we make. But I don’t believe that we as Christians should forget about them or chose not to engage them. There are no outcasts to God, He loves them all! Shouldn’t we? Regardless of what they have done! Who are we that we put limits on who we can love and who we can’t?  We can read that it did not take long before a leper’s spirit would be broken, and his self-image would deteriorate so that he considered himself unworthy of love or companionship.  Today many who are incarcerated, their spirits have been broken, their self-image has deteriorated and they feel unworthy of love and companionship. Society doesn’t care! Do we as Christians care? Or do we believe we should just lock them up and throw away the key?

We can read in the Bible that there was hope for a leper, that hope was found in Jesus. In Matthew 8 the Bible records the story of a leper who was the first to be healed by Jesus. This man had heard about Jesus, the healer and the Savior who can help him out of this condition. And so he came to Jesus, begging him on his knees. His lack of confidence in himself was evident as he cried out in a state of helplessness and self-pity, “If you are willing, you can make me clean!” Jesus being moved by pity and filled with compassion stretched out his hands and touched him! People around him were shocked to see that! “How can Jesus touch an unclean? He would also become ‘unclean’.” Some whispered! But there was a reverse phenomenon at work. Jesus’s touch healed him and not only healed his body but his soul as well.

You see friends there is also hope for the outcast of our society (those in our prisons). That hope is in Jesus. Just like the Leper in Matthew 8 they need to hear about Jesus, the healer, the One the saves! Are you willing to reach out to the incarcerated, are you willing to share with them Jesus? Prisons are full of broken people that need the touch of Jesus the healer. What are you going to do about it?

Episode 003: Jack Murphy, A Former Jewel Thief And Murders Story of Redemption

jack-murphyIn this third episode of the Detention to Redemption podcast, I interview Jack Roland Murphy or “Murf the Surf.” Jack is a surfing champion, musician, author, artist, and convicted murder, who was involved in the biggest jewel heist in American history at the American Museum of Natural History. During the course of this interview he shares his testimony of how fame and success in his life led him to wanting more and eventually led to crime. He shares how he called out to God in one of the most desperate times of his life and that through the transforming power of Jesus his life was changed and how upon his release from prison in 1986 he became actively involved in prison ministry. Jack Murphy’s story will encourage and inspire you to engage in reaching out to the least of these locked up inside of prison.

SHOW NOTES

 

Bill Glass Ministries;  behindthewalls.com

Jack Murphy’s Ministry;  sonshineadventures.org

World Wide Prison Ministry Info;  prisonministry.net

Inmate Encounter;  inmateencounter.com

Jack Murphy has also been featured in a couple films

Murphy has been featured in the following films:

Murphy has also authored a book: