Category Archives: HOLY SPIRIT

When I was in prison, you visited Me.

prison guard with keys outside dark prison cell

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

The Magi.06061

Reyes Magos, Melchor, Gaspar, Baltasar, NavidadThe magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat WHO MOST UNWISELY SACRIFICED FOR EACH OTHER THE GREATEST TREASURES OF THEIR HOME. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi. From “Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, as excerpt from Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy

SMALL GROUPS FOR JESUS 2.111015

aerial view of family eating pizza at homeThere are a lot of “small” groups in the world, where people get together on a regular basis.  I’ve been a member of a number of them, such as a foursome for playing golf every week.  You get  to know the guys.  You enjoy their company.  You tell jokes.  You catch up on what’s happening in their world, how they’re getting along with their wives and their kids, their bosses and their employees.  In a lot of cases you are closer to them than some members of their own families. And you have the benefit of a little fresh air and a little exercise. (very little) Maybe you have a beer in the 19th hole.

My mother had a long-standing relationship with a bunch of girls she formerly taught school with.  They’d get together and play bridge every week.  None of them were championship bridge players, but that wasn’t the point.  The reason they got together was to share their lives with each other. When they were down they could call each other on the phone and get a little encouragement.  When they were up they could have a special meeting to celebrate.  You know it’s a great thing to have a husband and some kids to share your life with, but the girls in the bridge club are an indispensible part of a full life too.  There’s just some things you can’t, or don’t want to, share with your husband.  LOL Continue reading

TEACHING THEM WHAT? 110515

Teacher talking with students in the clasroomOK, In Matt. 28:18-20, Jesus says, “I have all authority, so go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them .  .  .  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. .  .  . and [know this] I am with you always, even unto the end of the world [age].”  What does in mean, “all things”?  Some folks would say those things are particular things, like ‘love God with all your heart’, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’, ‘seek first the kingdom of God . . .’, ‘don’t resist evil’; ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart’; ‘rejoice evermore’.

If we really want to ‘make disciples’ maybe we should teach an attitude of surrender; of surrendering ourselves to Jesus; like it says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wants to be My disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross [meaning “die to yourself”](see Galatians 2:20), daily, and follow Me.”  To have the attitude in your heart that comes from Jesus, that says, “I’m not touched by things in this world, because Jesus has put His Spirit in my heart.”  So you get to the point where you really don’t care what happens to you and your stuff, because you’re thinking about Jesus and helping others come to a personal relationship with Him.   That’s something really worth teaching and worth learning.

Like Paul said in Romans 5:3-5, “And not only that, but we also [rejoice] in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces [endurance]; 4 and [endurance], character; and character, hope. 5 Now [this] hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  When you get that attitude in your heart, then observing all the things Jesus commanded becomes possible.

PRACTICING CHRISTIAN 5: Making Jesus Lord.102515

Jesus is Lord LetterpressI’m pretty sure most people in America are not ready to let anyone, even Jesus, be the Lord of their lives.  At least no one besides themselves.  We’re all too focused on me.  But God is constantly moving a person in that direction; to give up himself, to “deny himself; to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus.”  (Luke 9:23)  To “take up your cross” means this: “I am crucified (I died) with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)  Jesus said that verse in Luke to anyone who wanted to be His disciple (his student, his follower).  If you give up yourself, surrender yourself, deny yourself, die to yourself, then you DO make Jesus the Lord of your life, because He comes in to your own heart and body and fills you with His Own Spirit, and He BECOMES the Lord of your Life.  That’s how you make Jesus the Lord of your life.  Actually Jesus is the One who chooses you and then you let Him come in. (John 15:16)   Continue reading

WHAT IF GOD IS LOOKING AT YOUR HEART? 081015

Trust in the Lord With All Thine Heart road sign1 Samuel 16:7(b) “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” NIV.

What does this mean, “The LORD looks at the heart”?  Sounds like it means that the important things in life are going on inside us rather than on the outside.  It’s similar to 2 Corinthians 4:18, where it says, “So we don’t pay attention to the things that are seen, but those that are unseen.  Because the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  The things that are going on in our hearts are the God things; the spiritual things.  They are the things that really matter, because they are going to be around FOREVER.

Have you noticed that even on a natural level, the “things of the heart” are much more important to all of us than the material, worldly, earthly possessions.  The things that are important are those that touch our hearts.

So in this story, God sends Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king.   Continue reading

NEED HELP? 072015

Group of passengers on airplaneWhen I was about 50, I figured out God wants me to ‘make disciples’ for Jesus.  What does it mean, ‘make disciples’?  It means two things: [1] tell people what they need to do to have a personal relationship with God, and [2] teach them what they need to do to grow and develop as followers (disciples) of Jesus.  I’m 66 now, and I’m starting to get number ‘2’ down.  I’m really learning to teach people to “observe all things [Jesus] has commanded us.” Matthew 28:19-20. Sometimes we have a real ‘victory in Jesus’ in that area. PTL!

But I still struggle with number ‘1’.  I never quite know what to say to start a conversation about God.  Most of the time I ask questions like ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘What do you like to do?’  Pretty soon you stumble on something you have in common.  Continue reading

THE WORD GOD HAS PLANTED.071615

Mother and daughter planting flowers together.“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” NLT

Most of my life, in fact until this very morning, I have read this passage from James 1, verses 21-27, and I’ve focused on 22-25, where it talks about being doers of the Word and not hearers only, about how if you don’t do what the Word says, you’re like a man who looks at himself in the mirror and as soon as he turns away, he forgets what he looked like.  Almost exactly the same guy that Jesus talked about when he said, “A man who hears My Words and does what I say is a wise man, who built his house on a rock, but a man who hears My Words and doesn’t do them is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  He’s a fool!  Matt. 7:24-27.

But today, I really saw and paid attention to verse 21 for the very first time, and God said, “The word God has planted in your hearts” is the real meat of this passage.  Continue reading

THE UNDERLYING TRUTH.053115

change your life phrase handwritten on school blackboard

My friend Red Smith, serving a 25 year sentence, sent me a letter one day, and it began with this line, “I thank God every day that he delivered me from myself.”  That’s all I remember, but it’s enough. That leads me down several paths, but the one for today is what is really going on in God’s plan to deliver us from ourselves and all the other evil that is lurking out there.

The truth is this: that God sent his Son to save us: and the way He chose to save us is by changing us from the inside out.  He saves by delivering us from the evil that is in our heart.  The war between the flesh and the Spirit, between Satan and God, between God’s will and my will, is one that is going on in my heart.  When God sends His Spirit to move in our lives, He doesn’t change our circumstances to affect our world, He changes our hearts so we see things differently.  When we are changed inside, that changes what happens to us on the outside.  Oh, God uses all kinds of things in the world to get my our attention, but his main purpose is to have us surrender our hearts to Him so that we can begin to see His eternal design for our lives.  A good example is the Prodigal Son, it says, “When he came to himself, he said, ‘I will return to my father.’ ”  It was because his heart was changed.change the world phrase handwritten on blackboard with heart symbol instead of O

 

OUT OF THE DARK, INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT.051615

[Excerpts from the Kairos Talk, ‘A Christian’]

DIverse People Holding Text Church

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