Friday, April 21st, 2017
THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY
Apart from Me you can do nothing. – John 15:5
This verse has haunted me for years. I came to an understanding of it in 2006 and wrote the following in my journal.
“If Jesus is not right there with me, and if the Holy Spirit is not speaking to me, and if the Father is not empowering me, and if I don’t have God’s perspective of a circumstance of situation, then what I do or say or think will be nothing but religiosity, legalism, and self-sufficiency – an exercise in futility.
“It’s either His kingdom and His will or it’s my world (the world of Adam) and my will. The one is heaven; the other is hell. We choose to live
- in a spiritual world that leads to eternal joy with the Father;
- as a nominal Christian who is saved but is of little use to God;
- or as those who have accepted the world and themselves as their only god and exercise their will of self-sufficiency to spend eternity in hell, alone with themselves and all they truly gained in this world – nothing.”
Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
THE WRONG PRAYER
Many years ago, while driving from Willmar to Minneapolis, I prayed:
“Lord, come into my world and show me how to live in it;
And I’ll be a shining light for You.”
Immediately, the Holy Spirit let me know that was the wrong prayer and
gave me the right one:
“No, you come into My world and I’ll show you how to live in it:
And I’ll be a shining light for you.”
Friday, April 14th, 2017
IT IS FINISHED – John 19:30
If it was finished, it have to have started. And it did – with Adam and Eve. The Father started the history of mankind with those two and finished the reign of sin with the death of Christ Jesus. The debt is paid. All that needed to be done is now done.
It is finished with each of us as well, if we commit to die to self. Let us say today, “My old life is finished. Today is the day of my white funeral, where my old life is buried for good, and I live fully in the life of the One who died for me.” What do you have to lose?
Friday, April 7th, 2017
Last Friday, as I left a medical clinic in Buffalo, I came across a grizzled, old black man sitting on a bench with what I assumed was all his worldly possessions in a large duffle bag.
What was his story, I wondered? Where had he been? Where was he going? I didn’t ask him any of those questions but asked him two others.
“How are you doing?” I asked him.
“OK, I guess,” he answered.
The next question I believe came from the Holy Spirit. “How are your finances?”
“Not very good,” he said, with his eyes checking out the sidewalk beneath him.
I reached into the God’s pocket in my wallet and pulled out a $20 bill and handed it to him. He gave me a curious look, and I answered his questioning eyes. “I have this God’s pocket in my billfold, and I give money to whom the Lord prompts me to give it to. Right now that’s you.”
He took the money and said, “I’ll pay it back when I get back on my feet.”
Don’t think for even one moment that I’m a wonderful guy. God was responsible for this exchange. He provided me with adequate resources. He put the old man in front of me. And He nudged me to part with the money He had put in my billfold in the first place. I simply said yes. What an amazing God!
Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
GOD LOVES BEGGARS
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. Luke 16: 19-21
I am both the rich man and the beggar. Two parts of my personality jostling for control of my soul. Sometimes I’m rich in myself and look to do things my way. I know God does not like that me.
He wants me instead to be a beggar for His grace, dependent not on myself nor on anything else but Him. Praise God! He wants beggars.
Friday, March 31st, 2017
I gave a talk last night at Metro Hope Ministries, a Christian transition house in South Minneapolis. Tim approached me after the conclusion, eager to tell me something that was on his mind.
“The cost of recidivism [committing the same crimes and returning to jail] is more than $30,000 per prisoner per year. The state would save millions of dollars a year if they funded Christian facilities like this instead.” Tim had been in prisons 25 years of his life and was paying his own way to stay at the New Hope Center.
The rate of recidivism is reduced dramatically by men and women who go to such places as Metro Hope or Teen Challenge or other Christian treatment facilities. I’ve noticed in my prison ministry at the Wright County Jail that men who show up for Gideon Bible studies on Sundays and become new Christians or rededicate their lives to God have the best chance of not returning to jail. In my 12 years of prison ministry, I can’t remember even one inmate who has reappeared at our Sunday sessions. Praise God.
Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
If you’ll remember, this past February 10 I gave a presentation on Staying Out of Jail at the Wright County Jail, using the book Arm in Arm with the Holy Spirit as a reference. I gave free copies of the book to all 31 inmates who showed up that night.
On March 5, I had a young man named Joe come up after our Sunday afternoon Gideon Bible study to ask if I’d be a member of his Christian friends network when he got out. I agreed to his request and visited him last Friday to hear his story and determine if and how I could help him.
Now for the rest of the story. It ends up he was one of the 31 who were there in February and received one of the free copies of my book. He wanted to hear more about how he could walk arm in arm with the Holy Spirit and how Jesus could help him stay out of jail. I have agreed to be a mentor for him (not just a Christian friend) if that’s what he wanted. He did, and I have another life-long connection into the life of a troubled young man who needs someone to help him be accountable as a follower of Christ. Isn’t God amazing?
Friday, March 24th, 2017
SHORTENED VERSION OF THE LORD’S PRAYER
May Your name be honored in all the world.
May Your kingdom come.
May Your will be done.
Give us what we need each day.
Forgive us our sins.
Keep us from temptation.
Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
Michael is the inmate I’m mentoring who is serving an eight-year sentence in a state prison. I previously referred to him as Rafael.
He called me last Sunday to inform me he’d been baptized for the third time – at birth, before his marriage, and now. I thought I knew why but asked anyway just to make sure.
“I wanted to rededicate myself to God,” Michael said. “I had lived such a life of sin before salvation, and being baptized is telling God that I’m fully His.”
Michael’s spirit was filled with the Holy Spirit when he was reborn in a jail classroom two years ago, so he didn’t need to be baptized again for that. But the soul of a person – that is, his or her mind, will, and emotions – does not always draw on that Holy Spirit power. His being baptized was his marker to say, “I want You in my life, Lord, more than You have ever been before. I want to allow Your Spirit to govern my mind, to control my emotions, and to inform my will – all the time.”
Michael’s conversion when he exchanged his life for that of Jesus Christ still stands as the most remarkable transformation I have ever witnessed. I feel richly blessed that God allowed me to see it and follow Michael for the past two years, and, as to my intention, for the rest of my life.