Hi, This is Tex. My calling is discipleship: knowing, being, making and teaching others to make disciples for Jesus. A big part of being a disciple is in being involved with “extra-church” activities, where you develop relationships with people who are NOT your garden variety church-goers. Prison ministry is one of those activities. I’ve been involved in prison ministry for about 16 years now, and the Holy Spirit moves in prisons in a way He hardly ever moves in traditional church. Below is a letter from Jim, a brother of mine in the Jubilee Prison Ministry. This story is about a prison ministry weekend that happened a few weeks ago near Houston.
I have been serving in prison on Jubilee or Kairos weekends for 17 years. Many of you have supported my efforts over the years (thank you!) and have often asked me what happens on these weekends. So I thought you might enjoy the following story – I’m a CFO, cynic and pessimist but this story is miraculous (or very close to it).
I was the leader of Jubilee #1 at the Scott unit in Angleton 3 weeks ago. One of my jobs was to assign the 25 or so talks to our volunteers. Most of the Scott #1 volunteers were new, so I didn’t know them – so had little insight to help assign the right talk to the “right” person. So I asked God to somehow intervene as I made “random” talk assignments. I assigned the “Forgiving Others” talk to Joseph, one of 3 volunteers who came from San Antonio to serve. Joseph is a relatively new Christian, and is also an ex offender, so when he heard about Jubilee he believed God had called him and agreed to participate. Our weekend started early Friday morning. Joseph’s talk occurred Saturday afternoon. Here is a summary of his talk:
“My little brother was murdered on April 1st. I was very close to him, and was unbelievably upset, angry and full of hatred at the man who killed him. I started planning my revenge – when, where and how I was going to kill the man who murdered my little brother. But then I agreed to serve on this Jubilee weekend. Continue reading →
Awhile ago we started talking about what it means to be a “Practicing Christian”. We suggested that a “Practicing Christian” is one who practices the fundamentals of Christianity, which include focusing on God every day; making Jesus the Lord of your life; having a quiet time which includes reading the Bible and some devotional, praying, meditating and listening to God (every day); and sharing yourself, your life and your knowledge of God with others, through prayer and share, Bible studies, Church and Christian activities (every day). You notice I’m stuck on the part about ‘every day’. That’s what Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would follow Me [be My disciple, My student, My follower], let him deny himself, take up his cross DAILY, and follow Me.”
So today we’re talking about sharing yourself. After you’ve spent a little time focusing on God and doing the things that are listed above, you’ll see that your relationship with God is beginning to develop, and without even trying you start feeling the urge to say something to other people about what’s happening to you in your heart. (It’s that change that the Greeks call metamorphosis, sometimes translated into English as “transformation”.) It’s the same thing that happens when a caterpillar changes from a worm into a butterfly. That’s us, when we start to spend time focusing on God. Paul talks about it Romans 12:2. Continue reading →
I started reading the Bible pretty regularly fairly early in my life (maybe age 35-40) It was quite a bit later when I started reading a devotional every day. In fact it was in 2000, after I went on a “Walk to Emmaus”, in my weekly ‘Reunion Group’ they would start their meetings by reading that day’s devotional from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. Someone gave me a copy, and I started reading it (every day). I’d write down what it meant to me. Then I’d compare my daily Bible verse from my list with Oswald’s point(s), and I’d try to figure out what God was trying to say to me from those two sources, taken together. I got some amazing revelations from Him in those little sessions. I’m still doing that, 15 years later. But now I’ve started including two or three additional daily devotionals from various writers, like Brennan Manning, or Charles Stanley, or Max Lucado, or Alistair Begg, all of whom I respect as committed men of God. In my journal I write down the most important point from each one’s post for that day, and then compare them to see how they fit together. Again, major revelations appear from those short readings and comparisons. Continue reading →
Two brothers and I had a discussion in our office building this morning. We do this once a week usually; to talk about what God is doing in our lives. This time we were talking about the standard we use to decide what is right and wrong in making decisions in our lives. We were talking about whether it’s right (OK) to use torture to get our enemies to tell us what they know about their plans and operations. One brother said it is definitely OK to sacrifice one guy’s comfort (or even his life) to save the lives of a bunch of others, especially if those people are ‘our’ people. He said it was reasonable, even admirable to act in that fashion. Continue reading →
After I came to Houston, I spent 10 years living in the dark. The dark of running away, trying to hide from God. The dark of being a criminal defense lawyer. The dark of trying desperately to figure out what to do about my estranged wife. The dark of finally getting a divorce. I still wasn’t really looking for God, but I was getting real beat up, and desperately seeking help. And crazy as it seems, Jesus was still there.
I started going to church; and praying; and reading and studying the Bible. I got involved in a Sunday School class and met some guys that were involved in Kairos, and after that I just sorta took off. I got closer and closer to God. I began to realize what it meant to experience the mercy of Jesus. I started to realize what God really wanted me to do with my life. You want to hear what it is? He wants me to seek His Face every day; to talk to Jesus; to commune with the Holy Spirit; to listen to what He says and try to do it, on a moment by moment basis. Continue reading →
The introductory talk in the Kairos program for the brothers in white in the prison is called ‘Choices’. The person chosen to make this talk (in fact all talks in Kairos) is given certain points to make during the talk, but there are two basic guidelines for every talk. 1] Write it and give it in your own words, and 2] give a personal testimony that relates to the subject matter. While in Kairos we are primarily concerned with talking to the participants about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in the ‘Choices’ talk, we are specifically directed NOT to say anything about God or religion or the Bible in this talk. We just want to get them to think, to think about themselves and their past, to think about how their past choices have affected their lives. It’s like parents raising their children. In order for the child to grow up to be a responsible, productive citizen, on a natural level, they need to understand the principle of cause and effect. “If you do this, this will happen; if you do that, that will happen.” If we do good things, good things will result. If we do bad things, bad things will result. Continue reading →
In the Kairos program we focus a lot of attention on forgiveness. We do it for two reasons: 1] because in the Bible Jesus devotes a lot of attention to it; and 2] because in the prisons, there are a lot of people who really need it.
To bring this subject into focus: in Matthew 6:9-15, the Lord’s Prayer, forgiveness is a major point of the whole prayer. In verse 12, it says, “Forgive us our trespasses (sins, debts) as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And we usually think the prayer ends with verse 13, “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom . .”
But that’s not really the end, because immediately, without taking a breath, Jesus adds, “If you forgive others their trespasses, then God will forgive you; but if you don’t forgive others, then He won’t forgive you.’ (Isn’t it interesting that He doesn’t make any comments about any other verses in the prayer, only about forgiveness.) Continue reading →