The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (New International Version 1984, Romans 8:6).
If you are like me, you have struggled during the COVID-19 Pandemic with the loss of control. Finances, health, friendships, corporate worship, routines, travel, social life, traditions and holidays are a few that come to my mind.
Consciously or subconsciously, I work to control other areas when I sense the loss of control in one area. I have been working double-time during this pandemic to control what I can.
How do I reconcile this with the foundation of the Christian life which is about daily surrender to Jesus Christ? I can’t!
There can be disagreement on many things in life. There can be disagreement on some things in the Christian life. There is one thing that is clear throughout the Bible; God requires control!
Some things you need to pray about. Control is the thing you just need to act on. It is a simple, but not easy decision. There are times when God gets my attention in one masterful stroke of His grace. Usually, because of my hardening of heart, He has to soften me up to remold me in His image.
This is where the Word, willingness and worship come in. These three Ws cover so much ground as the basics of the Christian walk. Time given to these three Christian disciplines (yes, I think developing a willing heart can be a discipline) is rewarded with the moving of the Holy Spirit in a heart.
This brings us to the realization that we have retaken control of something in our life that we had previously given to the Lord. It is at this point when we need to act in fresh surrender and give up control.
This is the point of victory. This is the experience of the “peace that transcends all understanding” (Phil 4:5). This is where John said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). This is where Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). This is where Jesus said, “yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Join me in a fresh surrender to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Giving up control,
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” (New International Version 1984, 1 Peter 3:18).
Spring is here, we just celebrated Easter and April 15th (though Tax Day looks like it has been postponed until May 17th) is fast approaching.
Whether you do your own taxes or pay someone to do it for you we all are a bit anxious to hear if we get a refund or have taxes due.
Spiritually, we all have a debt that we cannot pay. As we hopefully heard during an Easter message, “Jesus paid it all!”
That is the reason we go into county jails to share with inmates the good news that Jesus Christ has paid the debt that none of us could pay.
Every inmate wants prayer for an upcoming court date. We gladly pray with them about that concern. Then we are equally concerned about the date that each of us has with God, the Holy and just Judge of every person’s heart.
You really cannot tell someone else about our Advocate, Jesus Christ, unless you personally know the peace and joy of experiencing the lifting of the heavy debt from your own heart and shoulders.
Paul express it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17–19).
We will be celebrating cancelled debts and our ministry of reconciliation at our Spring Luncheon is Tuesday, May 11th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at The Petroleum Club, 100 N. Broadway, Oklahoma City. Individual tickets are $25.00. Tables of four can be purchased for $100.00. For more information and tickets visit our website at ojpm.org, email email@example.com or call 405-917-2242.
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”
– Elvina M. Hall
Unleashing the captives,
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’” (New International Version 1984, John 21:15).
Why do the OJPM site chaplains and volunteer chaplains take the gospel to inmates in our county jails?
There are many answers to this question but let me share four with you here.
First, it is Jesus’ command. There are many instances in the Bible but Acts 1:8 is one of the most direct.
Second, it transforms lives. Men, women and youth are reconciled with God, with their families, with victims and with society.
Third, there are seeking hearts in jail. Men, women and youth are waiting and wanting to hear about the claims of Christ and His offer of forgiveness.
Fourth, it is a stewardship of our gifts. Many of our volunteer chaplains are retired men and women who could be taking it easy. They have learned that God has not designed us to do nothing.
Let me introduce you to two people who know the great question of life and have answered, yes!
Keitha Hall and Tom Pace will be honored as the 2021 OJPM Sower Award and Spirit Award recipients at the Spring Luncheon on Tuesday, May 11th at The Petroleum Club, downtown Oklahoma City.
Corporal Hall has served in the OJPM Female Chaplain’s Office on the sixth floor of the Oklahoma County Jail since June of 2002. Hall is a detention officer with the Oklahoma County Jail Trust who sees her responsibilities going beyond the normal job description to minister to the incarcerated ladies.
Pace is a mentor, author and founder and CEO of Oklahoma City based PaceButler. Pace is a sought-after motivational speaker that is as comfortable sharing with students, inmates and civic leaders as well as fellow CEOs. Pace’s book, Mentor: The Kid & The CEO, is especially popular with inmates. Pace has donated thousands of copies of Mentor as well as The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren to OJPM that have been distributed throughout the 18 jails in which we minister.
Previous recipients for the Sower Award have been Jay Tompkins, Joe Williams, Argyl & Janel Dick and George Rennix. Previous recipients for the Spirit Award have been Steve Trice, Anthony Jordan, Tom & Kay Hill and Jason Trice.
OJPM uses these awards to acknowledge servants who put their faith into action and have had a significant impact on God’s kingdom through its ministry. The Sower Award is for a ministry volunteer who has served directly to touch the inmates and the Spirit Award is for a financial supporter that has undergirded its outreach and discipleship with the inmates.
The Spring Luncheon is Tuesday, May 11th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at The Petroleum Club, 100 N. Broadway, Oklahoma City. Individual tickets are $25.00. Tables of four can be purchased for $100.00. For more information and tickets visit our website at ojpm.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 405-917-2242.
Keitha and Tom challenge me to sow the gospel each day in the power of the Spirit. Join with me at our Spring Luncheon to thank the Lord for these two precious servants!
We have such hopeful answers!
Unleashing the captives,
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us” (New International Version 1984, Romans 8:38-31)?
Is God sovereign?
It is a temptation to find our identity in the ministry that we do. The challenge is to minister with God and not for God.
Much of my lifetime of ministry revolved around preaching every Sunday. That declined during the last ten years of my ministry until it stopped completely in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. Talking to pastors over the years I know that is a struggle for pastors when they retire. Some seem to handle it gracefully; others seem to struggle.
The loss of preaching regularly has been a challenge to me. Now, the loss of visiting our chaplains and their jail sites has been added to the challenge. I find myself wrestling with this question of God’s sovereignty. It is usually not wrapped in that package, but in the package of my self worth and identity. Yet these lead back to the foundational truth of God’s sovereignty.
Who are we as Christians if we cannot do what we feel that God has called us to do? Are we still considered obedient to the Lord? Are we still loved by God? I know the answers that you and I give. Yes! Of course, we are still obedient and loved! But is that what we live out each day as we wrestle with what life throws at us.
As I hear from our OJPM family of chaplains, volunteers, supporters and friends each is wrestling with this to some degree each week. Your pastor and church are wrestling with this each week. How do we not do what we feel the Lord has called us to do?
During a bubonic Great Plague of 1665-66, Sir Isaac Newton had to leave his schooling at Cambridge and shelter in place at home. We do not know all of his thoughts and struggles but he used the time wisely. During this time of “social distancing” he developed many of his early theories and his work on motion and gravity.
If God wanted and expected you to be obedient to Him when you could go into the jail, He also wants you to be obedient to Him now. Yet, we are severely limited in going into the jails now. So, what is it that God wants you to do right now?
Three thoughts. One, trust Him. Two, be still and wait on Him. Three, look for a new way to minister/share the gospel. That is what I am doing because God is still in control!
Unleashing the captives,