Tuesday, August 8th, 2017
JOE IN THE DOCK
I sat in the Wright County courtroom from 1-3 p.m. yesterday, awaiting the hearing for Joe, one of the inmates I’m mentoring.
He was brought in with shackles on his wrists and ankles, clothed with prison garb, and led to the dock of the courtroom, a secured place to the right of the defense table where criminals stand to learn their fate. It was a sad sight for his family and me to see.
An assistant county attorney addressed the presiding judge and told her of all the chances that Joe had been given and that he had not taken advantage of any of them. It was all true. In the eyes of the law, he was a wretch deserving of jail for a long time. Joe was in tears as the attorney declared he should not be given a downward departure to a treatment facility and should immediately be sent to prison for 24 months. My heart sank.
Then his defense attorney gave an impassioned plea that Joe had changed and wanted to put his sordid past behind him and get the treatment he needed – chemical dependency intervention and mental health healing. It was called a dual diagnosis program. She said Joe would not receive such treatment in jail and would be a hardened criminal in two years. He deserved one last chance, a final shot at redemption.
The judge looked at the county attorney and at Joe. The courtroom stood still. I was perched at the very front of my bench seat. The she looked at Joe and said, “I’m going to give you one last chance.” Joe had been holding his breath, let it all out at once, and broke down in tears. Finally, there was hope for him, and he was ready for it.
Joe will be going to a treatment facility in St. Paul and then to another in St. Cloud. He will be placed on five years’ probation and any violation will send him to prison for the full 24 months. Pray for him that he receives the help he needs and will never set foot in a jail again. Joe has already been redeemed in the spiritual world by the blood of Christ. Now he has been redeemed in the natural world by the grace and (I believe) the intervention of God.
I saw a miracle today. Where man failed, God prevailed.
Friday, August 4th, 2017
Joe, who a month ago was a worldly self-sufficient Christian incarcerated in a county jail, called me ridiculous Pat because I told him he was filled with the world and himself. He didn’t want to hear the truth.
I prayed for Joe and I think some of you did as well, and now he has turned 180 degrees from his path to God’s path for his life. You see, God’s hand was on Joe, and he couldn’t resist Him.
Joe will be in court this coming Monday to plead his case to be sent to a rehab center instead of jail. He wants to turn his life around in the natural world as he has in the spiritual one. Please pray for a good outcome for Joe. I’m planning to sit in on court Monday and will let you know the results.
Tuesday, August 1st, 2017
FOR THOSE WHO BOW DOWN BEFORE HIM
Do you remember Joe, who stormed out of a meeting at the jail after I told him I couldn’t help him because he hadn’t turned his life over to God in all aspects. He’s the one who called me “Ridiculous Pat.” Well, I visited him yesterday, and he has now turned the steering wheel of his life over to Jesus, and he is a happy camper who’s studying the Bible for hours on end every day and being an encouragement to fellow inmates. It’s incredible to see how God can change people who bow down before Him.
But that’s not the story I want to tell. As I finished up with Joe, the program director asked if I could meet with a person in lockup who wanted to see a chaplain. I was the closest thing around, it seems. Anyway, I met with a mentally disturbed black man named Derrick, who talked to me non-stop about his relationship with a woman he loved but could not help battering about when she crossed him. That’s why he was in jail.
He cried out that no one loved him, and he wanted desperately to be loved. What an opening! I told him Jesus loved him unconditionally and explained the gospel of salvation. It’s too long of a story to relate here; it would be several pages. The summary is what’s important anyway.
When I stopped by to see him, the program director told me to sit back from the food slot of his cell door so he couldn’t reach out and strangle me. She had told me before he seemed to be mentally ill. I thought that sitting back was a good idea, given the agitated state he exhibited. He believed God existed and not much else. By the time I left, he had accepted Jesus Christ into his life. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I prayed for him before leaving. He looked like an angel of heaven, blessed and sanctified all at once. He didn’t say anything, but nodded his head when I asked if he had accepted Jesus into his heart. You’d never believe it was the same person.
Lest you say, “What a wonderful thing you did, Pat,” let me assure you that I did nothing but share with him the gospel of salvation and the need to leave his old natural self behind and be born again into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God took over from there and did the heavy lifting of transforming him into a new creation. It was His power, not my wisdom or words. I’m so blessed to be able to see what God can do for those who bow down to him.
Friday, July 28th, 2017
There is a natural world and a spiritual world. There are natural men and women and spiritual men and women. The message of the cross is a spiritual one that has to do with eternity. Jesus’ message to His followers is that there will be suffering and death in this world, but He will be with us through it all. The presence of God is for the spiritual life, a spiritual kingdom and not a worldly one.
Everyone dies in the natural world, except Enoch and Elijah. Some more harshly than others. It is the way of this fallen natural world that the rain falls on the just and the unjust; and death, disease, and destruction fall on sinners and saints alike. There seems not to be a selective process for what happens to us here on earth. But, oh, there is heaven waiting us when we pass over to eternity…or hell. It’s our choice to accept Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives or go our own way. For those heading to heaven, God says, “My will be done.” For those going in the opposite direction He says, “Thy will be done.”
Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
FEAR OF THE LORD
Mr. Beaver about Aslan: “Of course he’s not safe. But he’s good.”
Various people in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis were afraid when they encountered Aslan face to face. After all, he was a powerful lion and mighty in deed. So too it is with God.
If (and certainly when) we encounter God, there will be a sense of fear in His vastness, His power and might, His brilliance and majesty. He is so much greater than us that His greatness perceived by our smallness will evoke a sense of fear. But He is good and He loves us.
His love for us is perfect, ours for Him flawed by the flesh, until we meet Him in heaven.
Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
Lately I have been in the habit of not only reading Scripture but also praying it. Let me give you an example.
Because I live you also will live. John 14:19
Lord Jesus, what a profound truth this is! Where else would I put my trust but in You? I may be stricken by cancer or some other devastating disease. I may be overwhelmed by problems or devastating circumstances. But I am safe in You now and will live forever with You.
Thank you, Jesus, for being my Lord, my all in all, my hope of salvation in a troubled world, and my ticket to heaven.
Yes, because You live, I also will live.
Friday, July 14th, 2017
THE SHERBURNE COUNTY JAIL
I gave my How to Stay Out of Jail presentation six times at the Sherburne County Jail this past Monday and Tuesday. This facility houses some of the toughest of the tough, including men awaiting deportation. The setting was so menacing that I had to wear a device that would send off an alarm if I were knocked at least forty-five degrees off vertical or laying on the floor.
Seventy-seven men and women signed up to hear me preach salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform their lives. They were all meek as lambs and attentive to what the Lord had to say through me. I could see desperation in their faces as they arrived. They couldn’t help themselves from returning to jail three or four or even six times. They came to receive any kind of hope, and they left with the hope that being handcuffed to Jesus would stop the cycle. I showed them that walking on their own path would never work. Only as they did an about face (converte in French) and walked on God’s path was there any hope. When I finished the talk and prayed for them, they came up one by one and shook my hand, blessing me in English, Spanish, and I’m not sure what other languages.
The response was so good those two days that I ran out of books (Arm in Arm with the Holy Spirit) to hand out. The program director liked the program so much that he wants me to return quarterly to do the same thing. Praise the Lord. Bless you who support this ministry through donations to purchase the books. I’m investing $1,000 of my own money to finance the free distribution of books. I welcome any of you to partner with me by sending a tax deductible donation to:
Buffalo Community Assembly of God Church (with a notation on the check of Jail Ministry Fund)
206 2nd Avenue NE
Buffalo, MN 55313
Wednesday, July 5th, 2017
I believe in God my Father;
I believe in Christ His Son.
I believe in the Holy Spirit;
I believe that the three are One.
I believe in the love of Jesus;
I believe that He died for me.
I believe in His resurrection;
I believe in eternity.
I believe in the truth of Scripture;
I believe Jesus speaks to me.
I believe in grace abounding;
I believe what I cannot see.
Friday, June 30th, 2017
PRAISE THE LORD
I just received a call from the Park View Care Center in Buffalo. Marvin Schaar, the man with muscular dystrophy I’ve been visiting for the past seven years, passed away at 6:30 this morning.
It was beyond time for him to go. He was a vibrant man who was 6’4” and 210 pounds when I first met him and was 120 pounds when last weighed. His lungs were starting to collapse and his throat was so constricted that he could not keep up with swallowing his own saliva.
I have been praying for the Lord to take Marv for the past year, as have several others. He has answered that prayer in His own timing. Praise the Lord.