Positioned for Growth in the Corrections Environment

Our service in corrections is carried out in a harsh environment.  As an officer, so much of our time is spent in this place of isolation, where we are often short-staffed, and without the encouragement of someone one coming to minister to us.  Consider with me that we can grow even here in this place, totally dependent on God, just as a lily.  Matthew 6:28b “…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.”

Lilies grow in some harsh environments, with no one attending to them.  No one is there weeding around them, picking the bugs off, or cultivating them.  Luke 12:27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

The word arrayed here and in Revelation 7:9-14 indicates “beauty.” “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes…. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” We don’t have to have people around us to help us grow; many martyrs died alone, continuing to grow, even in the pain of death.  A person doesn’t carry on to death in strength unless they are growing.  Even in death, they got closer to the Lord; we can also as corrections officers.

Lilies can be found growing in a rocky area, without much dirt.  It’s amazing how hard it is to uproot them, growing and holding tight where you wouldn’t think.  It wasn’t ideal conditions, but they are still growing and strong because nutrients were there. If we are going to grow while fulfilling our duties in the corrections environment, we will need to get our roots down deep in the Word of God to have the supply of necessary nutrients.

“How in the world?” is an old saying that I’ve heard for a long time.  How in the world do they grow? We have considered the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, they spin not.  Now let’s consider ourselves:  Even though it is a rough, unnatural, and seemingly forsaken place, we know God has ordained our position in this service of corrections (Romans 13).  God provides everything we need to grow in this world of corrections.  We are not of the world, but we are in it right now.  I Peter 2:2: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” There are times when growth is slow, but we can grow where God has planted us, right here in midst of serving in corrections, even though there are extreme difficulties, pressures, and circumstances.

Why do we grow anything?  Certainly, it is to produce mature plants for our pleasure and benefit.  God wants us to grow for His pleasure and our benefit.

It pleases God when we grow and we get the benefits!  What are some of the benefits of growth?

  •   Peace of mind
  •   Comfort
  •   Wisdom
  •   Discernment
  •   Freedom from the world
  •   Freedom from things that addict us

As we grow, God may use us to help a fellow officer be encouraged and strengthened in the hard and rocky soil, or perhaps we could help one get the bugs picked off his leaves, so he can thrive. Proverbs 27:17Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” We can benefit from each other.  Even as we are desiring to grow and doing the things needed for growth to take place, we may find ourselves getting angry at work, losing it, and blowing up.  You may sometimes tell yourself as I have, “I don’t need to blow up, I need to grow up.” II Peter 3:18: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

As the walls of our work surround us, may we be reminded of the lilies, growing even in the most unusual places, and find our source of nutrients and support in the Word of God.

 

Headed for the Brow of the City of Corrections

Photo from dc.florida.us

Headed for the Brow of the City of Corrections

As we walk and work in the city of corrections, I see some parallels for application from Luke 4:16-30 in which Jesus was led to the brow of the city.  It is a curiosity to me, but He allowed them to lead Him a high point of the city. The Bible doesn’t say how they led Him, maybe by the arm, but He willingly walked on His own.  The full intent of those leading Him was to cast Him head long; then the Bible says, “but he passing through the midst of them went his way.”

What leads you to the brow of the city?

  • Some are led by pain, grief, and sorrow.   Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and    carried our sorrows”
  • Some are led by anger.  Proverbs 25:28 “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city  that is broken down, and without walls.”
  • Some are led by others. Galatians 5:7 “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye      should not obey the truth?
  • Some are led by failure.  Proverbs 24:16a  “A just man falleth seven times and riseth up again
  • Some are led by fear.  Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:  I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee: yea; I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

There are all kinds of ways to be led to the brow, especially in the corrections environment. By God’s grace and mercy, we can pass through the midst and go His way.  It is a serious matter, we cannot afford to be cast headlong.

Everything that He did was for us and to teach us.  It has taught me that no matter how far someone or something has taken us or led us off our path, we can turn and go His way, if we have trusted Christ. Even if we allow ourselves to be taken, as He allowed himself to be taken, we can still turn, pass through the midst, and go His way, the way of the cross.

 

 

Wonders in the Sea of Corrections

Wonders in the Sea of Corrections

Psalm 107:23-31They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.  For he commandeth, and riseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.  He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

 

Ezekiel 27:5-9 describes the ships and the men that sailed them, “thy mariners: thy wise men.”

These men had skill in their profession; not just anyone could do this job.  They were strong, equipped, proficient, well-abled men. God doesn’t send everyone into the sea to do His business.  He has sent us into a different type of sea than these mariners. As corrections officers, we go down into a sea of concrete and steel to do his business in the great waves of waters that often threaten to capsize our very soul.  Yet here is where we see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep as we could in no other place.

 

With so much to distract us, noticing and recognizing the wonders in our surroundings will require the eye of the Spirit. Sometimes a fellow officer may help us stop and consider something from a spiritual view.  At first glance or in the midst of doing what it takes to make it through to the end of the shift, it’s easy to think there is nothing of value to see here amidst the monotony of doing our time: just bars, steel, concrete, paperwork, and hassles.  These shipmen could not relate to us the wonders in the deep they saw anymore than we can adequately paint the story of the works of the LORD we see in our service in corrections on a daily basis.

 

Have you ever been “at your wits end” at work?  In this verse, “wit” is referring to “good wisdom.” These mariners had exhausted all the knowledge and understanding they had gained from the experiences of the sea, having done everything they knew to do right and that their maritime skills and ingenuity could fashion.  An old mariner log book says of this condition, “Wit and wisdom, they were clean washed out of us; we felt ourselves to be at a nonplus altogether.” Webster’s 1818 Dictionary defines a “nonplus” as “puzzle; insuperable difficulty; a state in which one is unable to proceed or decide.”  This dire situation uncloaked the exact response needed to keep them from sinking.

 

“Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.”  Here “cry” means “to shriek from anguish or danger.” Sometimes we find humor in someone who lets out such a cry when they face a present danger, but no one was laughing in the ship as the waves went up and down. Can we in corrections work learn from the response of this “nonplus” that the mariners faced?  God’s attributes are acknowledged as our pride is abased, crying out to the Lord. It is His desire that we cry out to Him in all situations, but sometimes it takes confounding predicaments to spur the total abandonment of our self-sufficiency.

 

The storms we find ourselves in may not cease immediately. The sea of corrections is often troubled, dark, and threatening, but God and His wonders are still there.  There is a comfort to us in His omniscience and omnipresence. As we cry out, we are truly glad to be brought out of our distresses, experiencing internal quietness that only He can supply.  

December 2016 Newsletter

November passed with a total of 352 Bibles being placed into the hands of correctional officers in twelve different states! Thank you for your investment in the lives of men and women who put their lives on the line, every time they go on duty. In a realm where little or no encouragement of any kind is received, it makes a difference. Read More »

April 2016 Newsletter

April 2, 2016

Dear Supporting Friends,

609 Bibles went out over the last month, with the call from Maine coming in loud and clear! 577 Bibles, tracts, and Scripture cards have been sent to be distributed to officers in 5different facilities in Maine by the hands of some faithful servants of the Lord. We are thrilled by how the Lord clearly guides and provides with His Read More »

March 2016 Newsletter

March 5, 2016

Dear Supporting Friends,

Would it thrill you to know you had a part in getting a copy of God’s Word in the hands of 724 Correctional Officers during the month of February? Thank you for your faithful support! This could not happen without you. The new shipment of 2,000 Bibles arrived last week. They are beautiful! We are pleased with the lamination of the covers. This is sure to solve some issues we have had in the past. It only adds 0.20 to the cost of each Bible—an investment well worth it! None of the boxes were damaged during shipping. Thank you for praying for this matter. We are already on the list for the next scheduled printing of whole Bibles. Read More »

February Newsletter

Dear Supporting Friends,

Thank you for your interest in ministering to corrections officers! We appreciate your faithful support. Every corrections officer is important, and it is our desire to see each of them honored by receiving the Bible for corrections officers. January 2016 ended with a total of 239 Bibles being sent out for corrections officers in 20 different states! (We would love to tell you now how many Bibles have been sent out during the first 9 days of February, but it’ll have to wait until our next report.) Read More »

January Newsletter

Dear Supporting Friends,

384 Bibles were sent out to corrections officers in December 2015, for a total of 3,252 for the year! The Bibles have now been sent to officers in institutions in ALL 50 states and 6 foreign countries. Shortly, more of the Gospel tracts, “Word from a Corrections Officer” (that contains Marvin’s testimony as an officer) will be ordered. When we order, that means 20,000 of the tracts will have been distributed to corrections officers—only God knows the impact! Read More »