Category Archives: Encouragement

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Blessings – Keith Rappuhn

“Blessings”
By Keith Rappuhn
Macomb Correctional Facility, New Haven, Michigan

I would like to give a shout out to my Christian brothers and sisters. I hope these troubling, uncertain times have brought you closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, just as it has for me. I have more time to not only read the Word but study the word. That, along with prayers and support from special friends such as Kyle, Ralph, and Pam, has been my strength and encouragement.

Even though these are scary, unprecedented times, I know God’s got this! And, as we all know, if He is with us who can be against us? There is no better company to be in, no greater joy than God! And, if I have any fears, dying isn’t one of them. For that is when I will truly begin to live, in the kingdom of heaven!

I continue to pray for all of you, especially Sally, as we go through this journey together in the spirit of Jesus Christ, our comfort and guidance.

Be safe, and God bless all of you…

Do Something Today – Raymond Carr

“Do Something Today”
By Raymond Carr
Lakeland Correctional Facility, Lakeland, MI

Encouraging Word For The New Year:

Going to church doesn’t make you any more a Christian than going to the garage makes you a car.

Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.

Your words mean nothing, if your actions are the complete opposite.

Having true faith in whatever it is you believe, must be shown through actions, believing is only half the battle.

Let your dreams be bigger than your fears, your actions louder than your words, and your faith stronger than your feelings.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

The Wilderness – Matthew Nawrocki

“The Wilderness”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

What is the major scene of the Old Testament? We all know about the children of Israel, God’s chosen people, and their captivity in Egypt, and the Promised Land given to them in Canaan. Yet the Bible doesn’t record much about their time in Egypt (bondage) or in Canaan (freedom). The overwhelming theme of the Old Testament is the wilderness.

Why? Well, because Egypt causes us to focus on our circumstances and the Promised Land causes us to focus on the blessings of God, but only the wilderness causes us to focus on Him for who He is.
When we’ve got nothing else around us, who do we look to? That’s the point. Dependency on God and God alone. God wants to be known by us, to have intimacy and fellowship with us. He desires to reveal His secrets, His counsel, and His purposes to us if only we’d pay attention to Him and not our circumstances (Egypt) or His provision (Canaan).

Is He not enough? How many more prophets does He need to send for it to click with us that following rules and being good and playing church is not what He created us for? We love God’s blessings (His hand) and we love telling people about how He delivered us from that old life (Egypt), yet both of those are only intended to cause us to see His face, and to purify us of our selfishness and cause us to see Him more clearly. Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

God has “predestined us to be conformed into the image of His Son,” (Rom. 8:29) and the wilderness is His tool of transformation. The Teacher (God) tests His students (us) “to know what is in their hearts” (Deut. 8:2). He closes the book, stops talking, and sees how well they really know the material they’ve been instructed in. The Teacher’s goal is to prepare His students to advance, to grow, and to mature. Yet the student always has the option to murmur, complain, argue, or give up. Israel did just that, and an entire generation died in the wilderness instead of entering the land that was given to them.
“It is eleven days journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea. Now it came to pass in the fortieth year…” (Deut. 1:2-3)

Wait, what? 40 years? 11 day journey? Why? Because they did not learn the lessons God was using the wilderness for. So, too, we can get “held back” because in order to be successful at the next grade we need to pass the previous grade. If I don’t get good enough grades, I’ll be held back to re-learn the lessons and tools needed for what’s next. At some point, we will be fed up with being “held back” a grade, year after year, and be faced with the choices to give up, keep complaining and blaming circumstances, or press forward.

My prayer is that we would press forward to what God is calling us to. Phillipians 3:12-15, “…but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me . . . one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”

Listen to The Message translation, ” I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.”

The call of God is for us to allow God to purify us to the point of transparency, as in the refining of gold to purity, that the world would only see Him, and not us.
We must stop playing church and start being the Church. “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey…” (Deut. 1:6-7). Turn to God, seek His face, fellowship with Him, build your intimacy with Him, for He is your Promised Land.

Faith – Raymond Carr

“Faith”
By Raymond Carr
Lakeland Correctional Facility, Coldwater, MI

When we reach forks in the road of life and don’t know which way to turn, we have to upload our GPS with faith that God may lead us to our destiny. Faith is believing you can do it, no matter what it is, because that is the kind of God we serve.

Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” But who of us really believe they can do all things? Or are we putting limitations on God?

First we have to know that God values us and we are deserving of what we seek. Matthew 10:31 tells us, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” If God takes care of the birds, which have less value than us, you have to know that God got us. How many of us know that we have value?

If you would ask most people, on a scale of 1 to 10, what are they? Many will take the humble route and say they are less than a 10, because they feel they have room to grow or feel they may have flaws. With flaws and all you have to know that you are a 10, even if nobody else thinks so, for no other reason than, we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14) and we belong to the Best, so we have to be the best.

Fear and disbelief kills ideas, dreams, and our plans before they get a chance to even get started.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” How many us believe they are more than conquerors through God, and can be bold and step out on faith? (Romans 8:37) Ask yourself what have you conquered lately?

How many of us know that faith will not do our work for us?

James 2:17 says, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ If we build it God will bless it, but if we don’t build it, how can God bless what we don’t build?

When Noah built the ark, people said he was nuts and laughed at him. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight:”

Real faith, has to be willing to look like a fool for a while, then the rain (the breakthrough) comes.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Playing it safe doesn’t change your life. I’d rather get out of the boat, to walk on the water and have Jesus come save me, than to never have gotten out of the boat at all.

Because I know, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

It’s easier than we think. Matthew 11:29-30 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” However, we make it hard when we don’t have “real faith” in God, and put limits on God.

Even though, we have dealt with a world system, filled with false hope and pipe-dreams, but we serve a God who is able to do all things. (But God!)

We make time for what we want to, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21

We cannot allow what we see, cause fear and disbelief, nor let it rock our faith. When it looks bad, trust God and know that He is able, and know that He has given us the power to do all things! (But God!)

Believe God and receive it, doubt Him and be without it! It is just that simple.

A Simple Lesson – Amy Black

“A Simple Lesson”
By Amy Black
Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Ypsilanti, MI

This morning I went outside to feed the sparrows, as I often do. It’s very relaxing to me, and it helps to focus my mind on the Lord and my Heavenly Father and how awesome He is.

The things He created to show us His presence (Gen 1:21) and realness in every single natural creation. I’ve watched the birds many days and I’ve come to appreciate their feeding habits and the little personalities of each one I see.

This morning, however, I saw one I never saw before. As I tore the pieces of the bagel I had and threw them strategically for them to reach it easily, I noticed there was one particular birdie who didn’t seem to actually see the pieces I was throwing right to him. So I watched to see if he was going to eat. After watching for a few minutes, I saw another sparrow actually bring a piece of food to the one I was watching. I was amazed by this simple act of selflessness and kindness. I saw how God has instilled a spirit of giving and compassion ( Gen 1:22) in these tiny birds. I consider sometimes how God’s special creation (humans) so often lack these exact emotions, feelings, habits by allowing greed, selfishness, covetousness, and worldly ideas, rules and personal opinions stifle the same nature he put in us (Gen: 1:26-27).

However, seeing this simple act of nature gave me renewed inspiration to believe that it is possible to move forward in this life, in the spirit in which we were created in His image to reflect. God made a day especially for us to see all the wonderful things that show us that God is real (Gen 1:31). So it’s my prayer we all can take the time to see and remind ourselves that you can see a purpose, a reason, a lesson in the simplest things like a bird feeding another bird. God is good always.

The Son of Hope – Kevin Bastian

“The Son of Hope”
By Kevin Bastian
Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, Adrian, MI

When things go wrong in life we as humans often lose hope of things getting better. As Christians we forget to remember we will always have hope, no matter how bad things get or how terrible our choices are, as long as we believe, trust and obey Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection and teachings. This is our eternal hope.

Sadly, we as humans know living such a life is easier said than done, due to the emotions we feel and react to. When we are hurting we feel sad, when we’re lost we feel alone, when we fail we become discouraged.

Colossians 1 :27 reads “to them God has chosen to make known among all the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ in you the hope of
Glory.” This means whether our human feelings or Christian morals are tested we can stand firm on one truth that Jesus Christ is our hope. Jesus’ death on the cross is what many refer to as blessed hope, because when he died our souls were cleansed by his blessed blood. Not just for our past sins and choices, but for our future sins as well. This hope is solidified in his death and resurrection as in John 3:16 “for God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

I personally can’t think of a scripture that shows God’s true and powerful love than this. This scripture proves nothing in this world matters except believing, trusting and lovingly living for God and his son Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean we have a free card to do what we want. All of our worldly actions and choices have consequences. It does, however, mean that if we repent he will be quick to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. A real dedicated Christian who only lives for God repents daily. We not only can believe in this we can forever hope in his love mercy and forgiveness because of his son Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Hope is a belief that things will get better, that things will change, something good will happen. My friend, that something has happened when God allowed his Son to die for us. Jesus willfully died for us because he believed we could change. He believed we were meant for more than destruction. On the cross he asked his Father to forgive us, the very ones
who crucified him. Biblical hope is God’s grace, his undeserved favor, mercy, kindness, help and love.

Grace — God’s Righteousness at Christ’s expense. Psalm 33:18-22 reads “the eyes are on those who fear him who put their hope in him to keep them alive, who helps them when they need it, who give us unfailing love as long as we trust in his holy name.” This love and mercy is given to us by our heavenly Father and his son. Just as an earthly father loves his child and a brother and sister loves their sibling, with an unfailing love. Our siblings don’t always like what we do but they love us anyways because they see us for who we are and can be, not for what we’ve done. It’s the same with God. So if you’re struggling or suffering, put more hope in the Lord and less in humans. God will allow some things to happen because he knows we can endure and he knows the end results.

1 Corinthians 10:13 reads “no temptation has seized man except what is common to man and God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but when you are tempted he will provide a way out so you can stand under it.” This is done by boldly coming to the throne of God.

Hebrews 4:16. This means nothing will happen to you that you
can’t handle, this is only true for those who remain in Christ. When you remain hopeful about the future, you stop letting present struggles control your daily future walk with Christ. As children of God we have hope of our sufferings ending and entering eternal life. All hope for all has been freely
given to us by a merciful, loving God proven to us through the sacrifice of his son.

Peter explains this most perfectly in 1 Peter 1:3-5 “praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. From the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade, kept in heaven for you who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the end times.” Thankfully, we as believers can’t do anything to lose this grace as long as we continue to stand firm on loving and trusting God and his Son’s death.

If we had control of keeping this salvation and grace we would quickly lose it. Let’s face it, we can barely handle the blessings we already have because we as humans are trapped in this fleshly body, and we react to our feelings, emotions, thoughts and desires. Though some of our desires are okay as long as they agree with God’s laws and will. They many times cause us to overreact and lose things that we need most. The devil sadly is the king of this earthly world, and his goal is to get you to lose hope, because he knows hope for all mankind is Jesus Christ. As long as we lose hope he knows he’s one step closer to winning. So whether we are rich or poor, broken and abandoned, lost, lonely or scared, we need only remember to keep our hearts open to hope, joy, love and laughter — all things the devil despises. Sadly this does mean we will suffer and go through many trials, the devil’s attempts to break us.

1 Peter 1:6-9 reads “in this you greatly rejoice though for a little while you may have had to suffer in all kinds of trials. Those have come so that your faith of greater worth than Gold which perishes even though refined by fire may be proven genuine and may result in praise glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Hope is believing in things not yet seen but known in your heart and felt in your soul that will happen not because you make them happen. It just does because it’s God’s will. This is when you know your faith and love in and of Jesus is genuine. Because you are positive, loving, forgiving and strengthened through the trials you will face. It’s knowing and believing nothing in this world will keep us from our eternal home, or your end to suffering. Jesus suffered to give us hope. Why not suffer to give someone else hope? They need to know and see the true love and hope in and of Christ, by your trials and triumphs. Use your life experiences to give someone the hope you now have as a child of God a brother and sister of Jesus Christ, the son of hope.

Dear Momma – Archie Porter

“Dear Momma”
By Archie Porter
Carson City Correctional Facility, Carson City, MI
Dear Momma
For years I’ve overlooked the perfection of the union of these two words. They’re mirror images of each other, almost redundant. “Dear” means empathic, caring, sensitive, loved, cherished. “Momma” means the exact same things. You hear them so often they sometimes lose their effectiveness. Everything we refer to as “Dear” certainly is not.
But “Momma” is. Momma stands up to every aspect, every facet of the word “Dear”.
When someone is always there you can almost lose sight of them. Thanks be to GOD that momma never lost sight of us. Momma was at the cross when JESUS died. The Bible says she stood nearby. As I take up my cross daily, I know my momma is nearby. When nearly all his disciples had forsaken him, his momma was there. When almost all have abandoned me, momma is there. As Mary looked at her son JESUS on the cross, do you think she had full understanding of GOD’s plan and why it had to happen that way? Probably not.
As my mother looks at me behind these prison walls, do you think she fully understands why it had to happen this way? Probably not. There is a common thread between “Mary, the mother of JESUS” and “Mary, the mother of monty”…
GOD’s grace is sufficient for them both and their suffering is not in vain. Could JESUS have accomplished his purpose without this momma’s help? HE probably could’ve. As for me, I would’ve been nothing without the love and support of my momma. The same stands true to this day. I don’t have enough words or paper to describe your worth or my love for you, so I’ll sum it up with just these two, “Dear Momma”… I love you.

Great Gift – David Kurbaba

“Great Gift”
By David Kurbaba
Macomb Correctional Facility, New Haven, MI

Brothers and Sisters,
Peace from our Lord Jesus Christ. Today marks a Great Gift from our Lord.
His love for us was proving by His death on the cross. His Great Love was given by His defeat of death in order to give us life. May you and yours accept this Gift with a child’s heart. God bless.

Six Miles Ahead – Osceola Foster

“Six Miles Ahead”
By Osceola Foster
Chippewa Correctional Facility, Kincheloe, MI

Congratulations on ushering in this new year with renewed energy, confidence and, of course, the grace of God. Thank God for your works! We acknowledge the fact that we are blessed to have you guys in our corner supporting us.

I want to share with you something from a great source. The book is called, Besides Still Waters. It’s a great inspirational daily Bible reading. This pamphlet is the March-April volume 22, issue 2. The story is apparently forwarded to them by Mr. Denver Yoder – Somerset, Ohio. It references us to read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and the story is titled, Six Miles Ahead. Here we go, I am going to go word-for-word.

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. – Matthew 24:44
We were traveling through central Georgia on Interstate 75 when we passed a road construction sign that stated, Left Lane Closed Six Miles Ahead.” We noticed that numerous vehicles soon merged into the right lane. Many other vehicles traveled on at high speed in the left lane, until it was too late to merge properly. This caused a traffic jam that could have been avoided if every driver had done his part. The highway department goes to great lengths to properly warn motorists of dangers ahead. However, many seem to think, “as long as I am ahead of you, nothing else matters.”

This reminded me of Jesus’ words, “straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14). Many seem to ignore the warning signs that Jesus gave, and they run full speed ahead in the “left lane” until it’s too late to enter Christ’s Kingdom. Their chosen lane looks open, the progress is fast, and obstacles seem few. But suddenly the lane comes to an end, and they find themselves in trouble.

On our spiritual journey, Jesus has provided an entrance into the, “right lane.” When we heed the instructions in the Scripture, we are promised that “an entrance shall be ministered unto [us] abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). This is a choice that each has to make. Unlike the case of the traffic jam, we cannot yield and make room for others to enter the kingdom, yet our recklessness and disregard may greatly hinder them. How well are we following the signs that God has placed for us?

We cannot travel in the left lane and expect to be “right.”

It’s been placed on my heart to share this with you. I pray that it’s able to be utilized for as many people as possible. God Bless You!

Every Day God Gives Us is a New Beginning – George K. Walker

“Every Day God Gives Us is a New Beginning”
By George K. Walker
Macomb Correctional Facility, New Haven, MI

Jeremiah tells us in Lamentations 3:22-23 “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning great is thy faithfulness.” Some translations replace the word mercies in verse 22 with love. It is because of the LORD’s love that we – His children – are not consumed. We should celebrate the first day of 2017 but please let us be thankful for every day God gives us because that day is a New Beginning. Every day that God wakes us, up know that He woke you because He loves you and His love gives up responsibility and purpose. It is because of His love for us that we have eternal life with Him. With this newness we are reborn, and regenerated. We have become new because now the Holy Spirit rules and reigns in us. This gives us responsibility to the Love God gives us and we are to let that light shine in us by showing that love in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Question: Have you been an example today to the hope that is in you?

In verse 22, Jeremiah says: “It is of the LORD’s mercies (love) that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” The definition of compassion is to feel passion with someone or to enter sympathetically into one’s sorrow and pain. This made me think about Jesus becoming flesh and dying for our sins. Because of His love we are not consumed and His compassions for us fail not. When we are struggling with something, suffering in sorrow or pain, the LORD is sympathetic to us and He will deliver us from it. He is the king of compassion. Even when we were in our sins He looked at us with compassion and sympathy. He will not fail us. Question: Who have you shown compassion to today?

In verse 23, it says (paraphrasing) that the Lord’s mercy and compassion are new every morning. It is good to know that every morning we have a new mercy and compassion from the LORD. Every morning we should be thanking the LORD before we get out of bed. He gave us a new day to live for Him and honor Him with our service. Question: Have you thanked Him for giving you another day?

“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” John 13:34.

Be thankful for everyday that God gives you!