“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (New International Version 1984, 2 Corinthians 9:11-12).
Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford, proclaimed that November 29, 1623, (their third year on the new continent) serve as a day for “render[ing] thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
And so, from the earliest days of what eventually became the United States of America, our founders recognized the importance of a spirit of gratitude and the giving of thanks to the One to whom it was due.
Governor Bradford would not recognize modern-day America and would be heartbroken that though the letter of his thanksgiving proclamation has survived for almost four hundred years, the spirit of thanksgiving is difficult to find.
It can be discouraging to see and hear today’s news. COVID-19 Pandemic, jobs/schools/jails/churches shut down, economic recession, racial unrest and ice storm/loss of electricity. It seems that our days are darker and more difficult than ever before. However, from the perspective of past financial collapses, pandemics and times of war, today is not nearly as dark as our nation has faced before.
On October 3, 1863, in the midst of a horrible civil war that not only divided our nation, but turned brother against brother and split families apart, President Abraham Lincoln renewed the call for national thanksgiving with a prayer for “the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
President Lincoln’s thanksgiving prayer resonates with our OJPM ministry and me. It reflects the challenge faced by our chaplains and volunteers that long to reach into the divided and broken environment of county jails to bring reconciliation and healing.
It does little good to point fingers at others and decry the lack of gratitude in general and thanksgiving to God in particular in our society. But I do know one heart that I can change this Thanksgiving season. Mine! And maybe you can change yours.
Here are five things that I am going to do this Thanksgiving:
- Make a list of all the blessings that God has given to me
- Go the second mile to tell others how thankful I am for them (notes, emails, phone calls, personal visits)
- Give financially over and above what I usually give to my church and OJPM
- Engage others in a conversation about Thanksgiving and how I am grateful for God’s blessings
- Encourage my family to have a special time of giving thanks at our holiday gathering
Diana Cummins, OJPM office administrator, and I pray regularly for our volunteers, the inmates and the detention staff. We regularly thank the Lord for the sacrifice and service of our volunteers. We also thank the Lord for the open doors of service that He has created and the financial support that we receive to keep this ministry operating.
Let me reiterate to our OJPM volunteers and friends the Apostle Paul’s words; the “service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”
There is much to be thankful for! Do not be a turkey; make the thanking of God for His many blessings the centerpiece of your holiday this month.
Unleashing the captives,
8 Myths of Estate Planning
No believer knows when Christ will call them home. Don’t let one of these common misconceptions stop you from protecting your family and supporting ministries like OJPM.
Myth 1: I don’t need an estate plan because… wait, what exactly is an estate plan?!
While this technically isn’t a myth, the nature of estate planning seems shrouded in mystery. This may be because it’s difficult to talk about what happens when we die. So, what is an estate plan? An estate plan is a set of essential legal documents that settle critical end-of-life decisions like asset distribution, children’s guardianship, healthcare decisions and charitable giving.
Myth 2: Only the wealthy or retired need an estate plan.
This is the single biggest misconception about estate planning. While it may sound like something for the “rich and famous,” everyone needs an estate plan, regardless of income, age or marital status. Even those with modest means (or significant debt) still have assets like their home, personal effects and other possessions that must be distributed. For young families, an estate plan answers questions about who will care for your children if both parents die.
Myth 3: My spouse or family will take care of this after I’m gone.
This is a tremendous burden to place on family members who are already grieving your loss. Without an estate plan, you are forcing them to guess your wishes and to rely on state law regarding the distribution of your assets. Families can be torn apart by disagreements over how a loved one’s assets should be divided. An estate plan resolves this by detailing your desires in advance.
Myth 4: I’m married but I don’t have children so I don’t need an estate plan.
Don’t assume your assets will easily transfer to your spouse. There are often complex legal hurdles that an estate plan can help avoid. Plus, without an estate plan more of your spouse’s assets may be lost to taxes, court costs or legal fees.
Myth 5: I don’t need an estate plan because I’m single.
Death doesn’t discriminate by marital status. Without an estate plan, state law will determine what happens to your assets when you pass — not you. An estate plan also includes vital information about your care should you become disabled or incapacitated. If you are incapacitated, what choices do you want made about your life? Don’t assume parents, siblings, or other relatives can make choices according to your wishes. Save them from the burden of guessing what you “would have wanted.”
Myth 6: It’s complicated and time consuming.
Not with help from the estate planning experts at The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma. OJPM’s partnership with the Foundation provides access to a host of complimentary estate planning resources if you leave a qualifying gift to ministry.
Myth 7: I’ll get around to it eventually.
Sadly, we’ve heard this from far too many families whose loved one has unexpectedly passed away or become incapacitated without an estate plan in place. The Bible tells us life is short and that no believer knows when Christ will call them home. Please don’t put off your estate plan. The Foundation’s online Estate Planning Guidebook streamlines the process, allowing you to complete the majority of the work at your pace, from the comfort of your home — even in your PJs! You can access the guidebook for free at www.bfok.org/plan.
Myth 8: I already have an estate plan, so I’m set for life.
Life doesn’t stand still. Babies are born, teenagers become adults and sometimes a spouse or child leaves this earth before you do. Updating your estate plan every five to seven years is critical to wise stewardship of your estate.
CALL TO ACTION: Protect your family with an estate plan.
Oklahoma Jail and Prison Ministries’ partnership with The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma provides access to a host of complimentary estate planning resources you can use to protect your family and support the work of OJPM. Learn more by contacting the Foundation’s estate planning experts at 800-949-9988 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting www.bfok.org/plan.
OJPM’s mission and purpose is to bring the Good News to those who are incarcerated. Along with that comes encouragement, hope, peace, and love.
We should all be concerned and informed regarding major issues in our country and looking for ways to address those issues. However, we should not, will not, allow anything to get us off track in this incredible ministry. As board members, we will endeavor to the keeping “The Main Thing, The Main Thing”….reaching inmates for Christ.
With all the drama going on around us, Covid 19, racial strife, fires out west, hurricanes in the Gulf, the Supreme Court vacancy, and now our President and his wife testing positive, it is no wonder that we can become anxious and distracted.
We will always have turmoil in the world. God said so. But He also said to have hope, for He has overcome the world. (Matthew 16:33 New King James version)
Our main objective and purpose in living out our life as Christians should be to bring glory to God, to please Him, to bring a smile to His face, and yes, even to have the honor of blessing Him. This should be our goal, our mission above all else. As Christians and members of OJPM, this goal should be reflected in everything we do, what we say, how we respond, how we act, and even how we think.
Though we have the Holy Spirit’s power living in us, we occasionally sin. The good news is that through Godly sorrow and with the help of others, we can move on and continue to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Because nothing happens without God allowing it or willing it, and because God has a perfect plan and loves us unconditionally, we are to be anxious for nothing. (Phil 4:6, Eph. 3:20). In fact, we are to give thanks in ALL things! (1st Thess. 5:18).
Thank you for being an invaluable part of this ministry that ministers to men, women, and children who are hidden away from society, most without hope, without Jesus. What a joy it is to co-minister with you!!
George Rennix, President