Friday, December 26, 2014

Alphabet Soup

One of the guys at our prison Bible study loves to do acronyms.  He is coming up with this form of "Alphabet Soup" all the time.  Sometimes he shares them with me and other times he will share them with the entire group.  Good stuff!  I hope you enjoy these.

"Every sinner has a future, because every sinner has a past."



(See how he flipped those two around?)

Here's one more.


Friday, December 19, 2014

The One in the Spotlight

Spotlight on Jesus

I'm not sure what experience you've had with spotlights.  Maybe you've seen spotlights at a car dealership shining a bright beam of light across the night sky.  The idea is to get your attention so that you'll be drawn in to the large inventory of brand new trucks, cars, and SUV's fully equipped with four wheel drive so that you don't slip and slide through the holiday streets.  Hoping to sell you a shiny new automobile or two, the car dealership uses the spotlight to make you as mesmerized as a moth moving in on a light bulb in your garage. 

The marketplace may focus our attention on products to purchase but God calls us to place the spotlight on Jesus.  This call didn't start in the last year or in the last decade or even in the last century.  In fact, two thousand years ago John the Baptist received God's call to put the spotlight squarely on Jesus, the Savior of the World.  Here are a few words in John 1:8 about John the Baptist: "He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light."  It's an important point of clarification.  It wasn't about John.  It was all about Jesus Christ, the Good News from God.  And John fulfilled his mission to call the people to repentance so they could fix their eyes on Jesus.  That's where the spotlight belongs! 

Certainly we can learn a thing or two from the example of John the Baptist.  It's not about us.  It's all about Jesus.  We also need to aim the spotlight directly on the Savior.  On a regular basis volunteers enter prison to shine the Spotlight of Jesus in a very dark place.  Just this past weekend a group of volunteers went into the Fort Dodge prison for a Brothers-in-Blue weekend.  On this four day spiritual retreat, 49 men were able to set aside their normal routines in order to focus their attention squarely on Jesus.  That's the focus of New Life Prison Community volunteers too: the spotlight is on the One at center stage.  His name is Jesus. 

Even in these last few days before Christmas, God continues to call each one of us to place the spotlight on Jesus.  The Christmas holiday season has a million and one distractions: Frosty the snowman and Santa Claus, cookies and candy canes, gift wrap and ornaments, colorful lights and giant inflatables on our front lawns.  These things are not bad in and of themselves but can sometimes distract us from focusing on the Babe born in Bethlehem. How you will shine the spotlight on Jesus this Christmas?  Maybe you'll take a few moments to reflect on the Gift from Heaven before opening your Christmas gifts piled under the tree.  Maybe you'll sing Silent Night or Joy to the World before devouring your Christmas dinner.  Maybe you'll read the Christmas story in Luke 2 for your family devotions.  These are just a few ideas.  Don't limit yourself.  Instead think creatively as to how you and the ones you love can focus your spotlight on Jesus. 

Rick Admiraal is the pastor of New Life Prison Community, a prison congregation in Newton, Iowa.  New Life is wrapping up its fourth year of ministry to men in prison.  New Life certainly appreciates its powerful prayer team, dedicated volunteer force, and loyal support base.  Rick & his wife Rose live in Pella with their daughter.  Their son attends Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Yesterday I attended the High School Graduation at the prison.  One of the teachers in the education department at the Newton Prison invited me to attend.  Formerly this was called the GED program but now it's called the HiSET - high school equivalency test.  Anyway I'm glad I attended.  I'm proud of all the graduates for what they've accomplished.  It's a big deal for guys who are locked up to finally finish what they've started.  It gives them a feeling of satisfaction that they can overcome obstacles in order to realize their goals.  One of the men graduating had recently been baptized at our November worship service.  He was one of the keynote speakers and emphasized "perseverance" in his talk.  Perseverance is so important in the Christian life too!  Two other graduates had made profession of faith at the November worship service in the prison gym.  One of them was actually the valedictorian of the class having scored quite well.  This man is very quiet in our New Life small groups but if you look at him it appears from his face that he is processing things internally all the time.  His brain is engaged even though he doesn't contribute much to the discussion.  His teachers are encouraging him to go to college because his mind is sharp.  When I spoke with him afterwards I asked him what his best subject was in school.  He said mathematics - that was always a strong point for me too.  Overall it was a feel good moment to attend the graduation ceremony - the men were in cap & gown and also had family members there to witness the proud moment.  I really enjoyed it and hope to attend in future years!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Baptism & Profession of Faith

On November 20, New Life had a Thanksgiving Service in the Newton Prison Gym.  Featured prominently were baptism and profession of faith.  A high-water mark was reached in both: 11 men were baptized and 5 men professed their faith in Jesus Christ.  Glory be to God!

Here are some words from two men who participated.  Denny was the last in line to be baptized.  As it says in the Word, "The first will be last."  Denny had to wait a LONG TIME to be baptized.  He said he first believed when he was 10 years old out in Oregon but his family was not religious.  So he waited until now…  Here are Denny's words: "I wish to thank everyone from New Life.  I was truly blessed by my baptism.  I had wished to be baptized for FORTY YEARS.  Thank you to my extended New Life family.  They truly are a light in a dark place.  For the giver of new life truly is Jesus Christ.  Jesus answered, 'Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.' (John 3:5)  Thank you to everyone that attended my baptism.  The transformation is amazing.  Sincerely a Spirit-filled believer at the Newton Prison."

Matt was one of the 5 guys to make a stand for Christ and profess faith in Christ.  He reads from Psalm 27:1-5 every day as it is a great encouragement to him.  Here is the first verse of that Psalm ~ "The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"  Matt understands that the reason for these worship services is "to plant seeds in people's hearts to bring them to Christ."  He took encouragement in seeing two men who were recently baptized reading the Word of God together back at their housing unit.  Here are a few more words from Matt: "When I professed my faith, it helped me in so many ways.  For a long time, I never wanted help with anything and at times felt unworthy.  Though I sometimes struggle still, God makes me feel worthy.  God has shaped me in ways I myself can't understand.  I don't think I'm supposed to understand it but just live as he's making me into a better man so that I can be fulfilled in His name.  Thank you all!  Thank you Lord for everything including my memories of loved ones.  You are a blessing to me.  Love you all.  Thank you for all your help and prayers." 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ministry Report

What's been happening at the prison?  Let me tell you….

On Tuesdays, we've just finished up a study on Ephesians called power prayer.  We had stops in Ephesians 1, 3, and 6 learning that you can pray the prayers of Scripture.  Our final lesson was about the armor of God!  As you can imagine, the armor of God is extremely useful in the prison setting where spiritual warfare is extremely intense!

Soon we'll begin our next baptism and profession of faith class.  For four weeks we'll be preparing men to make a strong public stand for Jesus Christ.  The class has four sessions: Knowing God, God's Story, the Meaning of Baptism and the Christian Life.  November 20 will be our Thanksgiving worship service featuring baptism and profession of faith.  Can't wait!

On Thursdays, we've been viewing the DVD "Satisfied" by Jeff Manion.  So far it's been really interesting.  
Manion, the lead pastor of Ada Bible Church in Michigan, takes a hard look at all our stuff.  Manion reminds us that our identity is in Christ not in all our material possessions.  In the last session (we're at the midway point), Manion brought in a quote from Fred Rogers (the children's show host was also a Presbyterian Minister) - 
"The older I get, the more I've come to believe that nothing I buy can take away my loneliness, fill my emptiness, or heal my brokenness."  Overall this has been a tremendous study.

Both groups have been well attended.  We've been averaging 15-20 men on Tuesday afternoons and 25-30+ men on Thursday nights!  May the Spirit of the Living God continue to move behind prison walls!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mountain Climber!

On Thursday, August 21 New Life will be hosting visitors from Lynnville Friends Church.  The prison gym will hold an inspired worship service.  Pastor Mark Porter will share his testimony and a message from God's Word about being "Called."  Julie Jones will lead the praise team but also share with the men in prison something important she's planning to do in September.  Embracing the challenge, Julie is ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise support for One Child Matters.  Watch the video to find out more…

Where Will You Be? from One Child Matters on Vimeo.

The Lord's Prayer

On Tuesday afternoons we've been studying the Lord's Prayer at our prison prayer group.  So far so good.  It's been a highly beneficial study and the group of men attending has been inspired.  One man was moved to write this Acrostic Poem summing up the Lord's Prayer.  He is a deliberative person so he took his time and did a good job.  See what you think.

T ruthfully
H allowed
E dification

L oving
O rdinances
R ecited
D eclare
S overeignty

P rayerful
R epentence
A ssures
Y ahweh's
E verlasting
R efuge


Friday, June 13, 2014

Our 4th Pedal for Prisoners

Pedal for Prisoners IV

            This year, three bicycle riders support New Life in their fourth Pedal for Prisoners.  Unfortunately we'll be going our separate ways.  Due to a family wedding, Pastor Rick will be opting out of RAGBRAI.  Instead, he'll ride TOMRV XXXVII.  TOMRV is shorthand for Tour of the Mississippi River Valley.  It's a two day ride in early June featuring gigantic hills and epic views.  Corrine will ride in late July, tackling her 18th RAGBRAI - Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.  The route for RAGBRAI XLII is a fairly flat journey across northern Iowa but still covers 418 miles in one week.  Corrine's ride will traverse Iowa from West to East, starting in Rock Valley and ending in Guttenberg. The riders will enjoy Lake Okoboji and Mason City, hometown of the Music Man!  Finally Bill Schinkel rides in August - Bike Van Buren XXVIII.  This two day ride covers the scenic country in and around Keosauqua, Iowa.  Bill has done this ride before; he loves it so much he's doing it again!            Even though we're doing different bike rides, we're united in our devotion to New Life Prison Community.  We're all riding for one purpose - helping New Life make a huge impact on the men at the Newton Prison.  Will you support New Life financially by sponsoring one of us?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Spirit Power

Note: This article will appear in the Pella Chronicle.  I'm giving you a sneak peek.

June 8 is Pentecost Sunday in the life of the church. On that day we celebrate the great day two thousand years ago when the Holy Spirit came with power. Imagine what it would have been like to be present in that incredible moment and hear Peter preach the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. The results of that sermon were spectacular. The Scripture informs us that "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day." (Acts 2:41) Three thousand! What a big splash that must've made! Imagine the Tsunami wave of the Spirit that must have roared across the world to make an earth-shattering impact for the Gospel! 

Sometimes we misunderstand the work of the Holy Spirit. We get caught up dramatic spiritual gifts such as prophecy, faith healing, and speaking in tongues. When we focus on the charismatic gifts it's possible to miss the primary work of the Holy Spirit: pointing us to Jesus Christ. Frederick Dale Bruner wrote an influential book entitled The Holy Spirit - Shy Member of the Trinity. It's a short book (only 112 pages) but it makes an important point: In His "shyness" the Holy Spirit would prefer to direct our attention to Jesus Christ. Bruner informs: "The work of the Holy Spirit is simply to thrill us with Christ, to infect us with enthusiasm for all that Christ can do for men and women and for the world to change things, to renew institutions, and to salvage lives." If the Holy Spirit were part of a theatrical production, he would find himself backstage operating the lights in order to shine the spotlight on the leading actor at center stage: Jesus Christ. 

The Holy Spirit is at work at the Newton Prison, moving men behind bars to follow Jesus Christ. One man that comes to mind immediately is Mark (not his real name). Only 19 years old Mark first came to prison early this spring. He was eager to show me the rap music lyrics that he had written down on notebook paper. Initially his lyrics emphasized the darkness in his soul, containing four letter words and references to death and hell. I told Mark that God wanted to give him just the opposite of those things. In place of darkness, light. Instead of death, life. Replacing hell, heaven. Gradually the Holy Spirit began to turn Mark's life around. He attended Brothers-in-Blue, a four day spiritual retreat, and committed his life to Jesus Christ during the weekend. Lord willing, Mark will be baptized at the June 19th worship service in the Newton Prison gym. I won't pretend that it's easy for Mark. In fact, every day finds him in a struggle between the forces of good and evil. However, you can clearly see the joy on Mark's face that wasn't there before he met Jesus Christ. That's exactly what the power of the Holy Spirit accomplishes! 

Directing you to Jesus Christ is exactly what the Holy Spirit's power can do for you too. If you don't know Jesus Christ already, the Spirit can lead you gently by the hand to the Bible where you can find the key to salvation in John 3:16, Acts 4:12 and Romans 5:10. If you're already a believer, the Holy Spirit can encourage you to discover a deeper walk with God by dedicating your life entirely to Jesus Christ. May Pentecost Sunday provide you an opportunity to investigate further the work of the Holy Spirit whose deepest desire is for you to follow Jesus Christ

 Rick Admiraal ministers for New Life Prison Community, a prison congregation in Newton, Iowa. New Life is already in its fourth year of ministry to the imprisoned. New Life could not exist without its powerful prayer team, dedicated volunteer force, and loyal support base. Rick & his wife Rose live in Pella with their daughter. Their son John is heading off to Calvin College this fall.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mighty to Save

Hillsong tells us what many of us already know (maybe we needed to be reminded) - Our God is Mighty to Save.  Before the song there is an amazing speech by the lead singer.

Voting for Returning Citizens

Every state differs when it comes to voting rights of felons.  Some states (Maine & Vermont) actually allow prisoners to vote by absentee ballot while they are locked up!  Iowa, however, has played a political game with the democratic governor going in one direction and the republican governor going back the other way.  Who will rise above it all and actually do the right thing?

Iowa - On Jan. 14, 2011, the Republican Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, issued executive order 70, rescinding a law allowing people convicted of a felony to automatically have their ability to vote restored after completing their sentences. The automatic voting restoration law had been instituted by former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack's signing of executive order 42 in 2005. Felons in Iowa must now pay all outstanding monetary obligations to the court in addition to completing their sentence and period of parole or probation. People convicted of a felony may then apply for restoration of the ability to vote.

Executive Order 70 - Signed Jan. 14, 2011, Terry Branstad, Governor (R) 

Executive Order 42 - Signed July 4, 2005, Thomas J. Vilsack, JD, Governor (D) 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Today is Gift

This is a sign I spotted in the hospital restroom today.  Just felt I needed to share this with you.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Incredible Concert!

Piercing the Darkness rocked the prison on May 3.  In my opinion it was their best concert yet.  It was both electrifying and inspiring.  The sound quality was outstanding.  The vocals were dynamic and the instruments were awesome too.  I grew up in the 80's so I have a big appreciation of rock music.  And PTD puts on an incredible show.  The band had the music going but a stage presence too.  They charged up and down the middle aisle and entertained.  But this music was more than just mere entertainment - it was God glorifying.  The music gave glory to the Father, glory to the Son, and glory to the Spirit.  The music gave witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.  In addition, the lead guitar player's wife gave personal testimony in between two lengthy sets.  Her testimony captured the attention of the 150 men in attendance at the prison gym.  She gave a persuasive talk encouraging men to come to repentance and faith, living a life marked by forgiveness.  I hope Piercing the Darkness returns - their service to God and man is greatly appreciated.  A big thanks to Steve and the rest of the band!!!

Here's a sample of their music - PTD's hit song - "More than Human."  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

National Day of Prayer

Thursday I went to the National Day of Prayer breakfast in Newton.  I was asked to pray for the prison.  Would you pray too?  Here is a prayer card to help you pray for the prison, the prison officials, and the prisoner.  Don't forget that Hebrews 13:3 calls us to "remember those in prison as if we ourselves were prisoners."  May our gracious God mold each of us into people of prayer!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hope for the Abuser

The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings about Hope.  And I strive to present the Hope of Christ to the prisoner.  God's Spirit moves me to inspire the incarcerated ones with Hope.  It's a fact that there is Hope for men in prison.  This Hope applies even for men locked up on account of domestic abuse.  One of the men in my prison congregation is locked up due to a domestic abuse assault - his 3rd such offense.  It is a persistent problem not only for him but also for the women in his life.  Something needs to be done.  That's where God's grace enters in and changes him from within by the Holy Spirit.  All things are being made new in Jesus Christ.  The other day he was sharing with me some of the things he's been learning in his domestic abuse class at the Newton prison.  It may not be brand new information for him but perhaps it reinforces what he already knows.  Besides this cognitive head knowledge desperately needs to sink deep within so that it influences his actions.

Here's what he told me about the cycle of abuse in a dysfunctional relationship.  It's all about actions and reactions.  Disrespect / Angry words and Hatred / violence mark a pattern within the abusive relationship.  Often substance abuse is part of the package as well. The abuser might act out when he's not in his right mind if he's drunk or high on drugs.  Another sad fact is that more often than not the abuser was abused himself at an earlier stage of life.

But when the Spirit enters into a man, things begin to change.  Circles of love and respect replace hatred/abuse/violence/disrespect.  It's more of a response than a reaction because it is a dramatic alteration of the will.  He acts with love, she responds with respect.  She sees evidence that his heart has been softened by the presence of God.  Of course all this takes time and accountability but I believe the renewal of the Spirit of Jesus Christ can bring hope even to broken relationships marked by patterns of abuse.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  The brand new year is only 3 days old and I want to let you know what's in store for 2014.  Here are some big events for New Life Prison Community early in 2014.

January - On the 3rd Thursday of the month, New Life will host a worship service in the prison gym.  This worship service will focus on the Word of God.  The text is from Romans 10.  Part of our emphasis that evening will be to give testimony to the Word of God.  Inmate-members and volunteers will share their testimonies of what God is doing in their lives.

February - Lynnville Friends church will return to the Newton Prison to lead praise & worship music.  Also Lynnville's Pastor Mark Porter will give the message.  Mark was once a prisoner but now he's free to shepherd God's flock.

March - Piercing the Darkness returns to the Newton Prison.  This Christian rock band will visit the prison for the third time.  If it's anything like the first two Saturday night events, it will be spectacular!

April - In the early spring, Newton will host Brothers-in-Blue.  This four day spiritual retreat was incredible in 2013.  We can't wait to see what God will do at the 2014 B.I.B.  The men at the prison are already asking about this awesome event focused on spiritual transformation.

Not a Fan

We just finished up the 6th session of the 6 part DVD series - Not a Fan.  Not a Fan is a book by Kyle Idleman emphasizing that every believer needs to move from being a fan of Jesus to becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus.  Kyle informs us: "It's the cross that separates fans from followers."  Becoming a follower is not a human work; instead, God transforms us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Not a Fan was a great Thursday night study and the guys at the prison really appreciated this series.  It was inspirational to say the least.  A typical Thursday started by singing a few songs together that emphasized surrender to Christ or the Lordship of Christ.  After the singing was finished, we would move into a time of prayer.  Then we would watch the DVD and discuss what we learned together.  One of the men at the prison has read Kyle's book THREE times.  Needless to say, he loved the book and found it beneficial to his life.  He also loved the Thursday night DVD study.  In fact, I don't think he missed a single session!  Here are some of his comments.  "I love the chapter in Kyle's book called The Unedited Version.  The unedited version is that you have to die daily.  This is not the watered down version of the gospel that some churches present.  I'm the 'anyone' that's mentioned in Luke 9:23 - Then Jesus said to them all, 'If anyone wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'  I qualify because I'm anyone - and that makes me special.  I can follow too!"  Overall, Not a Fan was a great study - next week Thursday we'll continue by watching the feature film - A Follower's Story.  Then we'll move on to whatever "next-step" God has in store for us...

- written by Pastor Rick on the 3rd day of 2014.