Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sunday Visits

On Sunday, I visited two churches and told them about all the great things God is doing at New Life Prison Church.  The churches were 1st Reformed of Sully and Federated Fellowship of Pella.  Overall I was very encouraged after visiting these two outreach-minded churches.  How awesome is the Body of Christ?

One lady I met at Federated Fellowship shared a verse or two from Isaiah 41 that mean a lot to her.  I want to tell you that these verses are solid gold and relate directly to prison ministry.  

  I have called you back from the ends of the earth, 
saying, ‘You are my servant.’ 
For I have chosen you 
and will not throw you away. 
        Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. 
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you. 
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 
                                  Isaiah 41:9-10

I especially appreciate the last line of verse 9: "I have chosen you and WILL NOT THROW YOU AWAY."  That is God's posture towards exiled Israel and that should also be our posture to the prisoner.  The despair of the prisoner is replaced by the hope and restoration of God.  Amen.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What I'm reading

Rose recommended this book to me.  I really like it - a lot!  It's the story of "a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together."  If you pick up this book, get prepared to be blown away!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pictures from Home Missions Orientation

Pastor Rick with fellow Iowan Jung Ho Suh of Iowa City

New Calvin Seminary President Julius Medenblik with Pastor Rick

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Three of our best prayer group sessions are in our rear view mirror.  Every Tuesday afternoon we meet at the prison for a group session called New Life in Prayer.  We pray together, sing praise & worship songs, and study the Lord's Prayer.  For three weeks we looked at the petition: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  If you take the Lord's Prayer seriously, God's forgiveness of us compels us to forgive one another.  Here's what John Calvin said about this: "God will not be ready to hear us, unless we also show ourselves ready to grant forgiveness to those who have offended us. If we are not harder than iron, this exhortation ought to soften us, and render us disposed to forgive offenses."  The inmates in our prison prayer group take this very seriously.  They've committed serious offenses against other people but also have had atrocities committed against them.  When they talk about their past, they admit that forgiveness takes time.  It's a holy thing requiring the intervention of God.  It requires patience, a fruit of the Spirit.  But forgiveness is worth it.  As my devotional entry stated the other day: To forgive is to set the prisoner free and discover the prisoner was YOU."  Through His Spirit, God is daily setting us free from the prison of unforgiveness.  May God equip us to be a people of forgiveness.

Friday, June 24, 2011

One Month to RAGBRAI...

As of today, it's only one month until RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa)!!!  Needless to say, I'm pumped!  This afternoon I was itching to ride after spending 4 days in Grand Rapids for the Home Missions Orientation.  So I hopped on my bike and went for 25 miles in some incredible weather.  There's still one more month to pile up the training miles.  We have to be ready for the 454 mile trek across Iowa.  Here's hoping for strength as we encounter the 3 H's: Hills, Heat, and Humidity.  There's seven of us who will not only be riding RAGBRAI but raising funds for New Life Prison Church.  It's a great cause - the prison church is already having a high impact.  Can't wait to see what God will do next!