Archive for the ‘prison’ Category

“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman (Christian clergyman, author, and activist)

Analyze where the Christian church stands today.  Take an honest look at the standing of one of the most treasured institutions of society.  Make an earnest appraisal of the modern church.  See where the church stands today.

For far too long, in the eyes of many, the church has remained in isolation.  In the opinion of some, the church has appeared inactive, almost docile, dormant and dulled, if not deadened.  Others have said that the church has simply dwindled into a state of sheer ineffectiveness.

George Barna has studied and evaluated the church for years.  Henry Blackaby has shared some insights and findings as well.  John Maxwell has offered multiple volumes on Christian leadership.  Rick Warren weighed in with The Purpose Driven Church.  There is no shortage of Christian perspectives of what the church is not and where the church has fallen short.

Don’t disregard the Reformation or the Great Awakening.  Don’t toss aside the Progressives or the Abolitionists.  Do not forsake the social activism of Prohibition and the Salvation Army, YMCA, and YWCA.  Don’t forget how Christians fought Darwinism and the teaching of evolutionism in the U.S. school system.  Forget not Azusa Street and the likes of Oral Roberts or Billy Graham.  Do not frown upon the church’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war protests, and the pro-life debates.  Consider all of the church’s storied past.

Recall that the church has been called to be more than a building.  The church has a calling as the body of Christ.  Look at Luis Palau, Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship, and the countless missionaries and ministries that exist today.  See how many are fed, clothed, sheltered and ministered to through street ministries and storefronts alike.  See the church playing an active role in society.

Do not grapple with public opinion.  Do not spend hour upon hour debating with the church’s critics.  Stand proudly and boldly to be counted among the many who diligently serve the Lord by doing all that they can with what little they have for “the least of these.”

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3 Be sure to pray that God will make a way for us to spread his message and explain the mystery about Christ, even though I am in jail for doing this. 4 Please pray that I will make the message as clear as possible. – Colossinas 4:3-4 (CEV)

I have to admit that I have fallen madly in love with some biblical passages.  They just send spiritual tingles all through me at the mere mention of them.

Psalm 1:1-6; Isaiah 53; John 5:1-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:11-18

Yet, Paul’s plea for prayer in Colossians has a different type of ring to it.  To Thessalonians, Paul urged them to pray without ceasing.  To the Ephesians, Paul  encouraged them to never stop praying for others and the ministryIn fact, Paul even shared with the Philippians that they should pray about everything.  Yet, when he speaks to the believers at Colossae, Paul encourages, entreats and edifies them as faithful believers of this common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He seeks more than a simple: “Pray for us.” Paul wants some prayer warriors to dig in and pray for them as presenters of the gospel message.

I love it.  It gets me all excited inside.  Paul wants folks to get worked up in prayer, so that a door may be found open for the presentation of the Good News.

Paul makes his request in this manner:

  • With His Brothers and Sisters as His Support
    • Be sure to pray… verse 3
    • Please pray… verse 4
    • Support strengthens us to stand it a little longer and stick it out
  • With God as His Source
    • …that God will make a way… verse 3
    • You need some earthly support, but you have to depend on an eternal source- God Almighty
    • Paul understood that and shared as much in his request for prayer
  • With the Right Spiritual Attitude
    • to spread his message and explain the mystery about Christ, even though I am in jail for doing this. verse 3
    • …that I will make the message as clear as possible. verse 4

Paul doesn’t request the trustees to put some money on his books with the jailer.  He doesn’t say send pen and paper.  No, he doesn’t request the Colossian bar association members to work on his appeal pro bono.  He doesn’t demand that the deacons take up a collection and send it by way of Timothy post-haste.  No, that’s not Paul’s modus operandi.  That’s not why he makes his prayer request.

He’s in jail and still has a heart to reach others for Christ.  His request is about Christ’s message that freed him from sin, so he is not thrown off by being in physical bondage.  He has been freedom from the clutches of sin and can freely share about it.

Paul understood that Christ suffered for his soul’s sake.  Thus, he embraced the opportunity to suffer for the sake of the souls of the new converts.  He suffered freely for the church, the body of Christ, because he understood that his sacrifice would lead to others hearing the message and coming to know the Lord.

We need more sacrificial messengers.  We are in dire need of more suffering saints who will pray for open opportunities to share and spread the Good News about Jesus Christ.

I just love it.

“All that God requires of us is an opportunity to show what He can do.”- D.L. Moody

We will continue with From Eden to Egypt on 12/3/10

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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.- Galatians 3:28 (NLT)
There are some who consider their congregations “open,” but their reality is something entirely different.  However, some of the churches that come out of a background of putting the protest in Protestant find it difficult to include all others when those others support gay marriage, abortion or legalized marijuana.  These churches are open in the name of Jesus, but they must remain mindful to stick to the way of Jesus.

I used to live near a Methodist church that prominently posted this slogan on its marquee and advertisements.   Open Hearts… Open Minds… Open Doors… Open what? I keep wondering just how “open” they are.  Are there doors more open than their hearts and minds? I should hope not, seeing as how I know some well-meaning Methodists and Wesleyans.

Our churches need to intensify their inclusion.  America has its first African-American president in Barak Obama.  Now, as we go forward in faith, let us open up and crank up our inclusion of others. 

Let us become:

  • More Intense with Inclusion
  • More Intentional with Inclusion
  • More Inclusive with Inclusion

Does your church invest in supporting underserved community members with necessary programs? Is your church campus a safe haven for at-risk youth and abused women and their families? Can those in recovery walk into your church without the shadow of shame? Can those returning from prison and jail enter your congregation without being judged and condemned all over again?

I love the story of Rick Warren and Saddleback Church’s origin as told in the Purpose Driven Church.  Warren shares that the ministries at Saddleback were developed based upon the needs of the people who came to the church.  He developed ministries that helped meeting the needs of people who came to them and who lived around them. 

As you help others get better and to live differently, they become the spokespeople for what is possible within your church.  Ex-addicts go back and share the Word with other addicts who struggle with addiction.  Former gang members and drug dealers spread the word on the streets of what your church has done for them since they met Jesus at your church’s altar.  Your job? Keep intensifying your inclusion.  Touch lives like never before.  Make a difference in the lives of people who attend your worship services and who live around and near your church.  Remain open to innovative and inventive ways to invite and include people to be part of the family since we are all one in Christ Jesus.

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“…Wisdom brings success.”- Ecc.10:10 (NKJV)

Business requires wisdom and patience. You can’t be foolish when it comes to taking care of business. Wisdom can come from experience, not even your own experience. You can learn from the experiences of others. Learn from their mistakes and make sound decisions based upon what others have shared with and shown you.

About a year ago, I wrote out an article that was close to my heart, “Meetings Versus Ministry.” I have recently updated the article and uploaded it at Life Path Ministries. It is definitely worth a look for anyone involved in ministry or faith-based “work.”

Yo, California!! We’ve got more to shout about than the Lakers and the Dodgers. There’s some real work being done throughout the state on HIV/ AIDS and prison re-entry as we speak. The government isn’t going to do anything new on behalf of the people unless the people start making some noise about the issues. Let’s check the issues out and get involved.

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