Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Every Knee will bow - Jesus Christ is Lord!

Christmas in Prison

Merry Christmas!


Tomorrow is the Christmas service at the prison.  I'm excited about it!  We're looking to spread the joy of Jesus' birth to the men at Newton Prison.  The theme is - Light has come!  My message will be based on John 1:1-18.  Verse 4 - In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  Verse 9 - The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.


It should be a wonderful service.  Faith CRC of Pella is bringing in a praise team.  Some of the men are giving testimonies about how God has brought them from darkness into His Light.  Shine on, people of God!









Friday, December 2, 2011

Giving

With the end of 2011 fast approaching, I've been thinking about giving.  The Apostle Paul had a thing or two to say about giving.  Here are some of his words from 2nd Corinthians 9:6-15:



Generosity Encouraged

  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: 
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!


   “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever."

Proclaiming Christ Behind Bars

Today Rose & I had lunch with Nate Vander Stelt of Christian Reformed Home Missions.  He showed me this article in Home Missions Fall Newsletter:


Proclaiming Christ Behind Bars




CENTRAL US REGION: NEWTON, IOWA

Proclaiming Christ Behind Bars



God is powerfully changing lives through New Life Prison Church, a new Home Missions-supported prison ministry at the Newton Correctional Facility.
Inmates are meeting Christ through this new church's weekly prayer meetings and Bible studies, led by pastor Rick Admiraal. "Guys have begun to open up their lives in this setting, sharing new insights with one another. It has been a joy to be able to pray for one another. We are building community day by day through the power of the Holy Spirit," he says.
Admiraal specifically points to an inmate named Carlos for an example of how God is at work at New Life. "One of our great joys is seeing Carlos' face as he rolls into Bible study in his wheelchair," says Admiraal. "Carlos always has a big smile on his face. He sets the bar high for us by praying for those in solitary confinement and remembering to pray for his enemies. He also blesses our group with diversity by praying in Spanish. He enjoys the Spanish-English parallel Bible given to him by New Life."
For Admiraal, prison ministry is a passion, fostered through his experiences volunteering in a Michigan prison and partaking in a ten-week internship with Home Missions-supported Cornerstone Prison Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota during the summer of 2009. "I'm grateful for what God has done so far," he says. "I am hoping He will grow the church both in numbers and spiritual maturity by the power of His Spirit."

—Background information sourced from the December 2010 "Ministry Messenger" written by Donna Biddle.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Today - November 20th

The Today devotional booklet featured prison congregations on Nov. 20th.  Here are some key paragraphs.


  • We know of several new churches that have begun in prisons.  As they quietly gather for worship and bring people into the presence of Jesus, positive influences spread out through the prison system, transforming behaviors, systems, and the culture of the entire place.



That's right!  May God transform the entire prison.  The Kingdom of God is at hand.


Read the entire article here: Today - The Kingdom is like Yeast



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pray for New Life!

I hope you will pray for New Life Prison Community.


We have a big week.


Thursday - Praise & Thanksgiving service in the prison gym.


Saturday - Re-entry Workshop at Calvary CRC in Pella


Sunday - Worship service at the minimum security prison in Newton.


Pray that the Holy Spirit will make His presence known, moving men to follow Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hope of Heaven

We had prayer group yesterday at the prison.  Our Tuesday group is called New Life in Prayer.  Desmond says it was the best group meeting he's ever attended.  Those are lofty words and we give all the credit to God.  We prayed together, sang worship songs and studied the Word.


The day's topic was our Hope for Heaven & how that inspires us to live each day for Christ.  Here are the key verses ~ "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20-21)


These verses are a great encouragement for the prisoner and also for us.  (They're also favorites of Pastor Art)  
Hope energizes us to walk 
each step for Jesus!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Love

Today at the prison the topic of the day was Love: God's love for us, self-love, our love for others.  It is difficult for many of the guys to consider themselves worthy of God's love because they carry a lot of shame.  We talked about having our true identity wrapped up in the fact that we are loved by God as a father loves his children.  Many Bible verses came to mind in our group discussion including the two greatest commandments given to us by Jesus.  Other Bible passages mentioned were: Romans 5:8, Psalm 136 and the entire book of I John.


Grace & Peace,


Pastor Rick

Song for the Day - Your Love by Brandon Heath.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Turning over a New Leaf

The other day I was looking at the New Life logo and thinking about what it means.  I was reflecting on the Leaf.  It's green and it symbolizes New Life - New Life in Christ.  


Then I thought about the expression: Turning over a new leaf.  That's what we hope for in serving the prisoners.  We hope that each one will turn over a new leaf.  The Bible word for this reality is repentance.  Jesus said, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near."  (Matthew 4:17)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Evidence of God’s Grace

The following is an article by Rev. Mark Stephenson.  Mark visited New Life on September 15; he preached an amazing sermon in the prison gym entitled: "Our weakness, God's strength."  Below are Mark's reflections after spending a long weekend in Central Iowa.


Evidence of God’s Grace

By Mark Stephenson

When I served in parish ministry, I returned regularly to a section of Eugene Peterson's book, The Contemplative Pastor. I needed to be refreshed by his wisdom when I lost perspective.

In that section, Peterson described a common frustration among pastors—people who don’t do what they should do or say they will do. That frustration can lead the pastor to cajoling, brow beating, and guilt-tripping her flock in feeble attempts to get people to comply. Not helpful!

Peterson argues that pastors should not be surprised that people fall short. That’s what people do; we’re sinners in need of a Savior. Instead, Peterson argues, pastors should be surprised when people DO keep commitments, show care to others, reach out with the gospel, and behave as true Christians. These are evidences of God’s grace and power.

I thought of Peterson’s wisdom after a recent trip to Pella, Iowa. While there, I met a number of people who showed me that God’s grace and power continues to have their way. 
  • When Rick Admiraal began church planting work at the Newton Correctional Facility this past February, Classis Central Plains was very supportive and many volunteers came forward to spend time, some of them weekly, at the prison. 
  • Ivan and Ruth Mulder along with several others have recently started a support group in Pella for people with physical disabilities. They already have a consistent attendance of about 12 to 15 each month. 
  • I had Sunday dinner with the Van Kooten family, and learned that Mrs. Van Kooten, Andi, has recently been elected to the board of Calvin College. Although Andi uses a wheelchair, her disability did not lead the people involved in board member selection to write her off. 
  • Classis Central Plains devotes money, time, and effort to for an education time for classis delegates at every classis meeting. I was privileged to be the speaker at their most recent meeting. 
  • Jodi Tucker, a supervisor at the Christian Opportunity Center (COC) in Pella, gave me a tour of the sheltered workshop and two of the group homes that are part of the COC. Donations came in to allow extensive renovations to one of the homes I visited, which provides very pleasant accommodations to the four women with intellectual disabilities who lived there. 
God’s grace and power moves among people in Pella, as well as Portland, Port Alberni, Tegucigalpa, and Jos. People don’t always do what they should or what they promise, including me. I thank God that he works through us anyway! 

(Mark Stephenson is director of Disability Concerns of the Christian Reformed Church)

Born Again

Today I was thinking about what it means to be Born Again when I stumbled into this song.





Friday, September 23, 2011

By Faith

Here is what my desk calendar said today: So often we try to figure out life by what we can see, hear, or experience with other senses.  But it is our faith which compels us to believe, even when we cannot explain to others why or how or to what specific earthly end.


This reminded me of an incredible Bible verse: 
We walk by faith, not by sight.  (II Corinthians 5:7)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Home Missions Article

Christian Reformed 
Home Missions


New Life receives support from Christian Reformed Home Missions in the Central US Region.  Here is an article written about New Life with the title - Glimpses of God at Work in the Central US.


   Home Missions Article

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pray without ceasing...

In God's Word, it says to pray always.  Pray without ceasing.  New Life has some prayer concerns.  Will you pray for us?



  • Pray for men who will be released soon - it is a huge transition to leave prison and re-enter society.
  • Pray for Cliff - he will have gall bladder surgery this week.
  • Pray for Carlos - his father passed away earlier this week.
  • Pray for new believers - may these young Christians grow in the faith and mature in the faith.
  • Pray for Jordan - in solitary confinement
  • Pray for the chaplain's assistant as he ministers in Spanish and English.
  • Pray for Unity in the church
  • Pray that New Life's worship service in the prison gym next Thursday goes well.
  • Pray for safety as volunteers drive back & forth to Newton.


We never do run out of things to pray for, do we?  Rejoice that our awesome God hears our prayer.


Pastor Rick
New Life
9.9.2011

An Incredible Song!

Crossroads Connection - Restorative Justice

Crossroads Connection

Monday, September 5, 2011

Visit from Friends

On Friday, I received visitors from Michigan here in Pella, Iowa.  Rev. Rich Rienstra and his wife Carol were visiting family in West Des Moines over the Labor Day weekend and stopped by to say hello.  Rev. Rienstra is the founding pastor of Celebration Fellowship, a prison congregation in Ionia, Michigan.  Before I moved to Iowa, I was a regular volunteer at Celebration Fellowship and worked closely with Rich.  


We had a nice visit in Pella.  We met at the the Smokey Row coffee house and enjoyed good conversation with our beverages.  I told Rich and Carol that Smokey Row was an important location for New Life because that is where the ministry idea was planted in a conversation/prayer with Pastor Art Van Wolde.




Afterwards we took a scenic drive around Pella, driving by the Vermeer Mile, Pella Corp, the windmills, the local Pella Christian Schools, and Central College.


Please pray for Celebration Fellowship as it is under a leadership transition.  Rich is retiring to tackle new challenges.  Meanwhile, Celebration Fellowship is interviewing candidates to replace him.
Prayer is the most important work of a Christian.  Please pray.


Pastor Rick

Friday, September 2, 2011

Prison Pastor

What does it mean to be a Prison Pastor?





  • The Prison Pastor understands that the crime may be a symptom of unmet emotional needs and a troubled past.  Knowing this, the pastor can confidently approach the distorted individual in order to embark on a ministry of restoration and hope.

  • Prison Pastors call followers of Christ into spiritual maturity: "Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ." (Ephesians 4:15)  Prison Pastors should encourage perpetrators to speak the truth not only about their crime but also about their history of victimization as a necessary prerequisite to healing.  Speaking the truth contrasts sharply with demonic denial and harmful minimization. 

  • A crucial role of a prison pastor is to be a good listener: I have discovered that I often help the most by being available to listen to men tell their own story, to express their grief/loss in a safe place.

  • Prison pastors not only speak of God's steadfast love but also intentionally live into that reality through active listening and a steadfast ministry of presence.    

  • Prison pastors call for life transformation.  Although the offender needs to experience God's love, he cannot remain the same.  Renewed individuals harvest the Fruit of the Spirit, including self-control.  (Gal. 5:22-23)   Self-control means possessing the ability to control one's behavior by not acting out inappropriate impulses when they occur. Responsible citizens preparing for reintegration into society must be able to self-regulate their behavior since supervision will not encompass every hour of every day. 

  • Through their redemptive work to damaged inmates, prison pastors offer the hope of God to renew lives so that transformed individuals may return to society in peace.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sorrow and Suffering

He was a Man of Sorrows
and familiar with suffering.  
(Isaiah 53:3)



The Son of Sorrow
Staring Down Forever
With an Aching View