Prisoned from Prison

It has been almost five months since I’ve been been behind the walls.

More importantly, it has been at least that long since any of the offenders have had a visit.

Because I’m an official volunteer chaplain, I am not allowed to write or receive any communication from the inmates. The rule stinks, but it is the rule.

So I spend a bit of time almost daily watching Zach Williams videos…because he recorded inside a prison and the cameraman caught crowd shots as well as focusing on the band.

It both helps and makes me sadder that I can’t go in…and there is no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

I would not have to raise more support (I serve as a home missionary) if I had ten bucks for every time someone said, “Jack, why do you keep going into prisons. I mean, I am sure some of those crooks are real, but aren’t there a lot of phonies who come to chapel in prison?”

Though my flesh may want to proceed in another direction, my standard reply is, “Of course there are phonies in prison chapel…why should prison church be any different that your church?”

You’ve probably never been to church behind the walls.

Here’s a sort-of visit.

I urge you to watch the whole thing…it gives a taste…

 

Christs’ Comprehensive Compassion

“I have compassion on the crowd…” said Jesus (Mark 8.2)

That crowd had been with Him three days…and context reveals the Lord was concerned that they would not make it home safely without food.

His compassion led Him to action.crowd

Jesus still loves the crowd…

To include the crowd that disagrees with you regarding facemasks.

To include the crowd that thinks Christians are idiots.

To include the crowd that despises you because of your skin color.

To include…

Well, you get it.

“God so loved the world…”

Red and yellow, black and white. Straight, gay, some mishmash of alphabet soup.

Democrat, Republican, Independent.

The crowd caused Jesus to be moved with compassion.

Moved to action.

It Is Okay to Disagree with MacArthur

I have much respect for John MacArthur.

His books have helped me immensely over the years.

I hosted a call-in show on the Family Life Network of radio stations for a few years. Two or three times I interviewed John (via telephone) and thoroughly enjoyed the interaction

I am disappointed in his insistence of keeping Grace Community Church open…in defiance of the governor’s edict. If you’d like to read MacArthur’s declaration, CLICK HERE.

Though I’m not a fan of that governor; he and the state are not making worship illegal. They are saying salons, bars, gyms etc can not be occupied…to include church buildings. (you may read more on the edict here. )

I can’t locate a quote, but it is my guess that Johnny Mac has frequently uttered this statement of truth – “The church is not a building; the church is people.”

Contrast MacArthur’s stance with the choice of J. D. Grear (in both cases the men are helped by church leadership obviously). Grear serves as President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors a megachurch.

Here you can read the reasoning behind them announcing they would not gather on their campuses for the remainder of 2020.

Between the two choices; I go with Grear.

That said, I do not believe there is a one-size-fits-all answer here. There are thousands of local churches that easily could do home church…many in just one home. Others may not have leadership to oversee or run a bunch of house churches.

In my mind this issue is similar to the mask controversy. Do what you think is best; but don’t look down on someone who goes in another direction. And don’t think your choice is the mandatory “choice” for all.

As we say in prison, “Do your own time.”

Peterson’s Lament…Mine?

lamentAndrew Peterson writes and sings deep tunes.

Here he bravely goes into the arena of the slanted, the nitpickers, the overt racists, the confused.

I am still thinking through the lyrics…and thinking is hard work which, according to Thomas Edison, is why so few engage in it.

I’ve listened a few times…

And since I’m not to judge the intentions of anyone’s heart; I won’t dissect, carve, or otherwise savage the  song.

Give it a listen…

Tell me (us) what you think in the comments.

A Packed Life

packerI just learned that J. I. Packer is now “absent from the body; present with the Lord.”

I never met him; never heard him in person; but he remains a significant mentor.

His Knowing God and  Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God are two of the very few books I read more than once…and both of those are typically read once a year.

If you, friend, have not read those two; I urge you to add them to your life-is-limited-by-covid reading list.

A brief bio available here.

He was, unlike many pastors and theologians, unafraid to address the controversial subjects; but his heart was warm as evidenced by this, “I should like to be remembered as one who pointed to the pasturelands.”

And in one of his final interviews he was asked what his last words to the Body of Christ would be…the interviewer writes “After a 10-second pause he said, “Glorify Christ.” Then adding “every way.”

“Glorify Christ in every way.” Not a bad “job description” for all.

 

 

 

 

What the Heck is a “good” Christian?

I’ve known Tommy (not real name) for over a decade, since he was perhaps a freshman in high school. He was heavily involved in his church and our ministry, was a competitive Bible quizzer; and during his college years he often volunteered to serve in various ministry capacities. Tommy at one point was seriously considering trying to join Midland staff full-time.

We had long, interesting discussions; prayed together, served together.

I do not know if Tommy considers me a friend now (though we remain Facebook “friends”)

My blood pressure escalated a couple hours ago when I noticed a writing he posted on Facebook.

This is what he published:

“You can’t say all lives matter and then vote for someone who dismisses black lives. You can’t be pro-life and then vote for someone who is anti-black. You can’t be a good Christian and a Trumpian.”

I started to write a response on his page; but God’s Spirit caused me to pause. I knew and know I could not change his mind; I knew it could just escalate into a long back and forth. I am currently 10 hours from home speaking at a camp; and I travel for another two weeks. Once home I am going to try to have a face-to-face with him

But…his cited writing is, well, idiotic, prideful, and hypocritical (besides, what is a “good Christian?)

“Oh, Jack, you’re being judgmental.”

Well, no. In this case, anyway, I am “judging righteous judgment,” which is what Jesus commands.

Because Tommy, who is married, recently rejoicingly “came out” publicly (on Facebook). with these words:

“When you’re proud of something you let people know about it. On the anniversary of stonewall I want to come out as bisexual and proud of it!”

For a long time he has promoted and applauded the LBGetc agenda and people. And now he has “come out of the closet.”

And he is proclaiming and defining who is a “good” Christian? (Whatever that is)

Nah.

It is probable this will get back to “Tommy” since I have other facebook friends who are in his camp.

But that’s okay. I still am hopeful to have a face-to-face with him.

And…by the way…I am not a huge Trump fan. Yes, I voted for him; it is probable I will again…though not absolute. I may go third-party. I would not want Trump for a friend. (that should infuriate some of you!)

But no one has the right nor authority to define who is or isn’t a “good” Christian…much less to base such a diagnosis on one’s politics.

End of rant.

 

 

“All Season Response to Life”

110711_againrejoice1

In Philippians Paul counsels, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

He repeats himself immediately – “I will say it again – Rejoice!” (Phil 4.4)

Happiness depends on circumstances; joy depends on Jesus.

So…no matter what…we can…we should…rejoice!

Richard Mayhue writes, “Thankfully, joy is an all-season response to life. Even in the dark times, sorrow enlarges the capacity of the heart for joy. Like a diamond against black velvet, true spiritual joy shines brightest against the darkness of trials, tragedies and testing.”

Read that again…slowly. Maybe one more time? 

I’m stuck on “sorrow enlarges the capacity of the heart for joy.

I want to live in joy…not so eager to have the sorrow that increases the intensity of that joy.

How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man, I Miss Prison!

No, Iet don’t miss doing time.

Although there are moments I recall how much time I had to read during my time in Oregon State.

But I miss going behind the walls…whether to counsel, preach, lead Bible quizzing…or any of the other doors of ministry opened by our God.

I’ve not been “in” since early March…

And there is no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel…yet.

So I really enjoy this video of Zach Williams singing…and the pics of the offenders.

Perhaps you will also?