Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lighthouse of Hope for the Prisoner

John B. made this drawing of a lighthouse on the back of his prayer request.  Here is what he wrote on the back - "A prayer of thanks and blessings to all the volunteers who choose to follow the Lord's direction in their lives by sharing the Light of Jesus with us in this dark place.

"The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." 
(John 1:5)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

10,000 Reasons!

This is an incredible worship song.  Can you think of 10,000 reasons for your heart to sing?  I can think of at least one - Jesus Christ's impact on my life!

Friday, November 9, 2012

November is Huge!

November is HUGE for New Life Prison Community.  I could point out a dozen things but today I'll merely focus on one thing: Baptism!  On November 15, Lord willing, four men will be baptized during our New Life worship service in the prison gym.  Please pray for these men.  Pray that they will experience renewal, peace, and hope.  Pray that God by his Holy Spirit will strengthen them so that they will be able to withstand the attacks from the evil one.  Amen.

A Great Read!

I just finished reading Timothy Keller's book about idolatry in modern society.  It's called Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and the Only Hope that Matters.  I've read books by Keller before - The Reason for God & The Prodigal God come to mind. I enjoy Keller's writing style and his insights.  Needless to say, I was not disappointed with this book.  It's certainly a great read!

The book points out how modern people deceive themselves by thinking that idolatry is only a problem of ancient cultures who crafted gods out of wood and stone.  Instead, Keller points out that modernity is literally littered with idols of every kind imaginable.  In Keller's own words: "Though we think we live in a secular world, idols, the glittering gods of our age, hold title to the functional trust of our hearts."(p.xxvi)  In the pages between the front and back cover, Keller examines in detail various idols having to do with sex, wealth, success and power.  Even religious people are plagued by hidden idolatry such as valuing doctrine over relationship, moral and theological superiority, and the elevation of spiritual gifts.  Overall, we need to be aware of our propensity toward idolatry.  The deceiver tends to use the good things of God and twist them to his advantage.  I think it boils down to priorities and perspective.  Keller finds his conclusion in focusing on Jesus Christ.  Worship.  It's a matter of "setting your heart on Christ as your peace and your life."  This formulates "the road to freedom from the counterfeit gods that control us."  (p.177)
See also Fixing our Eyes on Jesus

Answering the Call

Karen Swanson is a skilled instructor.
On Tuesday, October 30th, New Life hosted an evangelism training seminar at the Newton Prison.  Needless to say it was a big hit!  26 men showed up to attend the training seminar at 1pm that afternoon.  We met for two hours in the prison chapel then took a break for the evening meal.  At 6pm we resumed for another two hours.  The men appreciated the opportunity to learn about evangelism and sharing their faith in a positive manner.  It's a bit tricky in the prison environment since prison rules establish boundaries for religious practice.  It's not appropriate to be heavy-handed or to belittle other faith traditions.  In fact, proselytizing is not permitted.  Instead, evangelism is most effective within correctional institution when men share their personal story, highlighting how God has transformed their life in Christ Jesus.

Will you answer the call & share your faith with others?
Karen Swanson did a great job leading the seminar.  She traveled all the way from Wheaton, Illinois to be with us that day.  Karen is the director of the Institute of Prison Ministries at the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College.  Click this link if you want to find out more: The Institute for Prison Ministries.  We appreciate Karen's time, energy and expertise.  It was certainly a great day.  We're confident that God will empower the men in attendance to promote positive change among the men at Newton Prison.  Thank you to Karen and all the volunteers who helped make this event happen.