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.