Saturday, August 31, 2013

Serenity Prayer

One of the guys at the prison gave me a copy of the Serenity Prayer the other day.  The Serenity Prayer has been very helpful for men in prison, especially those who struggle with addictions.  To be honest, this prayer can be helpful for each one of us as we learn to accept reality by differentiating what we can and cannot control.  May God give us His gift of wisdom - to know the difference.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Notes on a Napkin

I was eating a sub sandwich for lunch at PJ's Deli in Newton, Iowa yesterday.  They had a copy of the Des Moines Register on the table where I was sitting.  I happened to notice two sentences that caught my eye.  I think they resonated with me because of my experiences at the prison on Tuesday morning.  So I wrote the notes down on a napkin.

The first note is printed above - it was from a Dear Abby article.  "Please remember that regret is the cancer of life.  You can't change the past and you mustn't allow it to cloud your future."  This seemed so relevant to prison ministry.  The past of the prisoner often brings a bulky burden of guilt and shame.  It weighs a man down.  I believe that moving forward requires forgiveness for our past mistakes and a hope-filled perspective regarding the future.

The second note is on the back of the napkin.  Sometimes out of curiosity I look at my horoscope even though I don't really believe in that stuff.  By the way, I'm a Scorpio and if you want to send a birthday card remember me on November the 10th.  Anyway, here's what the Scorpio horoscope read in the DSM Register yesterday: "Triggers from the past may still be influencing your reaction to the present."  It reminded me of Tommy whose hometown is not far from Pella.  We were talking in the prison chapel about how he deals with his anger issues when we stumbled onto the topic of hopes & dreams.  The word dream was a HUGE trigger from his past and he told me that his dad crushed any dream he ever had.  He squashed Tommy's hopes of becoming a soldier or truck driver or junkyard owner/operator.  Instead Tommy embraced illegal drugs and the criminal lifestyle.  How sad.  I believe Jesus Christ can redeem his past and provide hope for the future.  Please keep Tommy and other prisoners in your prayers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Visit from Sully CRC Intern

At our July worship service in prison, we had a visitor: Evan Steensma, a student at Calvin Theological Seminary who is serving a summer internship at Sully Christian Reformed Church.  Here is a letter he wrote me giving his impressions of the New Life Prison Community worship service.

>Hi Pastor Rick,

Yeah, I wanted to thank you for letting me be part of that service. I am not sure exactly what to write, but I will give a few of my impressions.

First, I thought it was neat to hear many of the prisoners participate in the worship, sharing their experiences, and showing the way in which their faith is changing their lives. Also, I enjoyed sharing with them in communion, and knowing that as I was participating with them in the Lord's Supper, these were the type of people Jesus himself often associated with. I think the prison is a place with needs God's grace, God's love, and people who are willing to help be the means by which God brings them.

I have just under a month now left in my internship, and so far it has been a very good experience.