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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Who We Are – Matthew Nawrocki

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“Who We Are”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

Who We Are

We’re the salt of the earth (Mt. 5:13)
We’re a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1)
We’re the light of the world (Mt. 5:14)
We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)

We’re the children of God (Rom. 8:16)
We’re new creations (2 Cor. 5:17)
We’re living stones (1 Pet. 2:5)
Christ is our foundation (1 Cor. 3:11)

We’re called by God (Rom. 8:30)
We’re heirs to His throne (Gal. 3:29,4:7)
We’re temples for His Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16)
‘Til He calls us all home (2 Cor. 5:1)

We’re ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)
We’re righteous in Him (2 Cor. 5:21)
It’s no longer us (Gal. 2:20)
But it’s Christ who lives (Gal. 2:20)

We’re masterpieces (Eph. 2:10)
We’re works of art (Eph. 2:10)
We’re sanctified (1 Cor. 1:2)
Christ has set us apart (1 Cor. 1:2)

We’re a sweet aroma (2 Cor. 2:14)
We’re the fragrance of Christ (2 Cor. 2:15)
We’re God’s fellow workers (1 Cor. 3:9)
Christ bought us at a price (1 Cor. 6:20)

So let us live out every moment
In the way He’s defined
Knowing what He says about us
Keeping whose we are in mind!

Tried and Purified (A song) – Todd Graham

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“Tried and Purified” (A song)
By Todd Graham
Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, Ionia, MI

Chorus:
Tried and Purified
Pain and problems
Can’t do it alone
Need help to solve them
Tried and Purified
Pain and problems
Must surrender all
And give it to Him

Verse one:
My past is a dark specter
And it’s haunting my future
Consumed by mistakes that were
Feeling I’m condemned for sure

Verse two:
The present it surrounds me
Walls keep me from being free
Through a small window I see
Images of what could be

Bridge:
In You my future is bright
As You warm me with Your Light
I feel Your hand taking mine
A friendship to outlast time

Singing order would be chorus, verse one, chorus, verse two, chorus, bridge twice ending with chorus twice.

Prison was my Jordan – Todd Graham

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“Prison was my Jordan”
By Todd Graham
Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, Ionia, MI

Prison was my Jordan
But I crossed to the Promised Land
Baptized in the water
And then became a new man

No longer weighted down
By the shadows of fear and doubt
Cleansed from all my history
Washed thoroughly inside and out

Prison was my Jordan
But He stood on the other shore
Stretched out His loving arms
Parted the waters to show me more

Love that I never knew
Plus forgiveness and acceptance
Made a path of dry ground
Revealed my way to repentance

Prison was my Jordan
Until the Blood of Christ filled it
A flow that restored my dead life
Now I am a life of give and not get

The Tribes for the 144,000 – Michael Wellman

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“The Tribes for the 144,000”
By Michael Wellman
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

Lesson:

The tribes for the 144,000. Here are the names of the tribes listed for the 144,000 in order in which they are found in the book of Revelation chapter 7 list them, and their corresponding Hebrew meaning as found in scripture:

1. Judah (I will praise the Lord). 2. Reuben (He has looked on me). 3. Gad (Given good fortune). 4. Aher (Happy am I). 5. Naphtali (My wrestling). 6. Manasseh (Making me forget). 7. Simeon (God hears me). 8. Levi (Joined to me). 9. Issachar (Purchased me). 10. Zebulun (Dwelling). 11. Joseph (Will add to me). 12. Benjamin (Son of His right hand) .

Now here is the amazing part about the above information, please read carefully so you can see the amazing part. Notice what happens when we line up these meanings of the names according to the way they appear in Revelation. It will give you a very remarkable statement declaring how God saves the church as His bride.

It all lines up like this… “I will praise the Lord” for “He has looked on me” and granted “Good fortune.” ” I am happy” because of my “wrestlings” “God is making me to forget.” “God hears me” and “Joined to me.” He has “purchased me a dwelling” and “will add to me,” “the son of His right hand.” These names presented in this order describe a brief story summarizing the church’s struggle, redemption, victory, and ultimate marriage to the Lamb. This is a special message of encouragement for those who are in the church, believers in Christ and not just for the Jews. Every quote is the Hebrew meaning and a special message to the church, past and present.

I pray you enjoyed this food for thought and may God bless you all. Please pray for me as I will be seeing the board this March 14th-16th. Amen.

Story Time – Michael Wellman

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“Story Time”
By Michael Wellman
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

STORY TIME:

Have you ever noticed how wonderful God is? He blesses us in so many ways. When I was just a young boy my family and I lived in South Carolina. We were very poor at the time and were staying in this trailer park on the outside of town. Our trailer had caught fire from an old heater that was heating the place, you know one of those old electric floor heaters.

Well anyways, after the fire started my mom and I were walking down the dirt road to go find some help from a local church pastor when all the sudden I heard a buzzing noise flying around us, I thought it was a bee buzzing around but we also heard a pop, pop sound so we turned around to see what was going on. Well there was a man shooting at us. I looked at my mother and saw the fear in her eyes and I remember telling her, “Mom do not worry God will protect us.”

We turned around and kept on walking as I held her hand along the way, not one bullet from that man’s gun hit us. God’s blessings come every day in our lives. All we have to do is have “Faith.”

It’s the fire that purifies – Archie Porter

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“It’s the Fire that Purifies”
By Archie Porter
Carson City Correctional Facility, Carson City, MI

Recently God allowed for me to be removed from my nice comfortable facility where I had been for the last 8 years to a facility in the Upper Peninsula. It was 2 weeks before Christmas and 3 weeks before my B-day.

I had plans! Then one day everything changed. I was told I was leaving, riding out. No more facilitating classes, no more visits, no more church, no more preaching opportunities, no more job. I felt as if all I loved was being stripped away from me. I felt like “Job.”

I felt like God’s hedge of protection had been lifted and all I could do was ask, “why?” Why Lord? There were plenty of other people more deserving to be sent up north than me, so why would you send me? Was I not doing your will, was I not a good leader in the church?

That was my initial response. I was angry, disappointed, I was grieved, I was mad at God. Stuff like this ain’t supposed to happen to the leader of the church.
Look at the book of Job. Chapter 1: 9-11. Satan calls Job a mercenary. He says the only reason he’s serving you is because there’s something in it for him. A mercenary will serve anyone as long as there’s some form of payoff in it for him. We are called to be missionaries. The difference between the two is we serve out of love. There is nothing wrong with receiving the benefits of being a follower of Christ but that can’t be our main objective. In ch. 13 verse 15 Job says, “though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” You only trust that which you believe. In order to follow God you must first trust God. A lot of the things that are in God’s plan don’t make sense to us. There’s a level of Spiritual sensitivity one must have to understand the works of God.

We want God to remove our struggles, but God may want you to endure. It’s the fire that purifies the gold!

Acts 20: 22-24, Paul says my life is worthless if I’m not doing the will of God. The people try to tell Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Paul says he must go because he’s “bound by the Spirit.” We can’t be bound by the way we feel or bound by a certain location, we can’t be bound by financial status, or promise of promotion, we must be “bound by the Spirit.” The Bible says “For God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Let’s be missionaries and not mercenaries. Let our love be unconditional like our Father’s. Amen.

Truly Listen – Todd Graham

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“Truly Listen”
By Todd Graham
Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, Ionia, MI

This is a song, titled “Truly Listen”

Chorus:
You were the first to truly listen
The weight on my shoulders You were liftin’
You said, “You can share your burdens with me”
“Future’s not as dim as you think you see”
You were there and You truly listened
Joined me in my mental prison of sin
Breaking through my bars to let in Your Light
Eliminating the black doubt of night

Verse 1:
Punishment was what I thought I was due
Until I met the Friend I have in You
Softly You revealed all things that are True
Entering my heart understanding grew

Repeat the chorus then

Verse 2:
I felt that everything had reached its end
Life was pulled down into the pit of sin
Seeing no escape no way I could win
Until the day that You became my Friend

Repeat the chorus then

Bridge: (sung twice)
All I had to do was drop to my knees
And then simply say, “Will you help me please?”
All I had to do was cry out in prayer
Then suddenly Jesus, You were right there

Repeat chorus one last time.

The Power of Belief – Nicholas Butler

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“The Power of Belief”
By Nicholas Butler
Ojibway Correctional Facility, Marenisco, MI

I have been a Christian believer for over twenty years now and have heard the following argument a zillion times. The argument among believers whether or not the capacity to heal, cure sickness and disease, and to cast out demons is relevant today, or was it only for the apostles.

Specifically, in most Biblical instances, the apostles were the subjects imbued with this ability. Originally, my studies concluded that these capabilities were only for the apostles, but individuals today could be healed through the power of faith and prayer.

Recently, I had a conversation with a Christian sister that made a great point to me on this subject. She asked, “What about the power of the Spirit that believers have” ? I could not answer so I decided to do a topical word study on the “power.” The following is my research findings.

God gives all of us believers strength and power(Ps. 68:35). This begs the question, how do the Scriptures define power? He has declared to His people the power of His works (Ps. 111:6). Therefore, power is closely associated with works, which means, “the capacity to perform a deed beyond the natural.” A skeptic may ask, “How can you define power as such”? By taking at look at the works of Jesus and His apostles. Jesus had power to forgive sins(Mt. 9:6), to cast out demons, to heal sickness and disease and give this same capacity to His apostles(Mt. 10:1 & Mk. 3:13-15).

This word power is the Greek word “exousia,” and means, “the capacity to perform a deed,” similar to how I defined its Old Testament usage above. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, He instructs His apostles to do these works, and states these signs will follow them that believe (Mk. 16:15-19), “them” meaning you and me today.

Jesus told His apostles to wait in Jerusalem until the Promise of the Father was sent (Lk. 24:44), then they would be clothed with this power from on High. This power from on High derives from the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:35). The usage for power here comes from the Greek word, “dunamis” and means, “miraculous healing.” Jesus’ dunamis power was according to the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4). Micah 3:8 informs us that dunamis power comes from the Spirit of the Lord and so does Paul(Eph.1:19-20).

The apostles received this dunamis power at Pentecost when the Spirit appears as divided tongues of fire(Acts 2). This instance did two things, imbued the apostles with this power from on high, and also authenticated their office.
Outside of the apostles, Stephen had this power and did great wonders and signs(Acts6:8). Another example would be Simon the Sorcerer, whom Peter chastened. Simon also had this power of the Spirit(Acts8:9-25). As believers, and not the designated apostles of Jesus, they had accessibility to miraculous power. This strengthens the argument about today’s believers having this power.
The Kingdom of God, which is today’s believers, has power(Mk.9:1), another indication of today’s believers having this power. The Kingdom has power because of the Gospel (The Bible), Good News, which results in salvation. Because the Bible is inspired by God (2Tim.3:16), God- breathed (theopnuestos), the Spirit stimulated the action of the apostles in power in writing the Scriptures.
Paul took this power very seriously and did not want to abuse it(1Cor.9:18). He stated this power (and by extension the Gospel) was for believers’ operating through the Spirit to propagate the Word (1Thess. 1:5 & 2 Thess. 1:11) for the salvation of unbelievers. Even Timothy told us, “God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of (dunamis) power in 2 Tim. 1:7.

The evidence is clear, today’s believers do have the power to heal diseases, sickness, and to cast out demons, but most do so in faith.

Let perseverance finish its work – Jose Alonzo

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“Let perseverance finish its work”
By Jose Alonzo
Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon, MI

A Testimony For Trials:

God has a way of teaching us things, if we are willing to learn them. Every day, through prayer and Bible study, we come to learn what God wants us to know and how He wants us to live. Our aim should be to please Him with our lifestyles and our character. I have always been the “straight forward” type, and some might even say argumentative, but I beg to differ. I’m just firm in my beliefs and opinions. But what I’ve come to realize is that Satan can use this against me to pull me into anger. He knows that I don’t like to be talked to any kind of way and when done so I can get defensive and harsh. I have to be careful because the old me tries to resurface. And there’s been times where I was willing and ready to become violent because of it! But where’s the God in that? Does that please Him in any way? I think not.

The Bible talks about testing, trials, tribulations, and temptations (external/internal). Although there’s many different situations and scenarios that could be addressed I want to focus on one in particular: Dealing with people who try to pull you off your square with their words. Now we know that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities of the air (Eph. 6.12). Satan uses the hearts of people to try us and tempt us. In the face of trials, where someone may be trying us, we may be tempted to react carnally in a negative way. Here is where our faith is being tested.

What is going to be our reaction? Will we utilize our godly character or not? When we persevere through that testing and trial with godly character and not succumb to the temptation of the flesh to react carnally, we will surely profit from it. In the spiritual sense we become more mature, enabling us to handle even more the next time, should a similar situation arise. Romans 5:3-5 says to glory in tribulations, knowing that they produce perseverance, character and hope. This hope does not disappoint. Why? Because if we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it is the Spirit which will get us through it because we will have the love of God in our hearts, and it is that very love that will compel us to react in a godly manner during those critical moments. James 1:2-4 says to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of our faith develops perseverance.

We must allow for perseverance to finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Again, we will be better equipped to handle future occurrences of that same type. James 1:12 says blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, withstanding the test. He will receive the crown of life God has promised to those who love Him. And finally, James 1:19-20 says we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for our anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Fiercest Storms – Kevin Bastian

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“Fiercest Storms”
By Kevin Bastian
Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, Adrian, MI

Raped, pillaged, beaten and destroyed.
All hope begins to fade as I sink deeper in this void.
Used, abused, forgotten, thrown away.
Left questioning how I will make it through these days.

Hurt, scared, broken and abandoned.
By those who were suppose to love me open handed.
Lost, confused, left searching for answers.
Beginning to wonder am I someone who matters?

As the darkness grabs hold a voice calls out “just believe.”
For Jesus loves you, one day you will see.
Let go of this pain you feel inside.
Give it to Him and let Him be your guide.

Though the clouds are getting darker and the storm is raging.
I promise you, my precious child, I will lead you to safety.
Just come into my arms and let me carry you.
For even the fiercest of storms, we will get through.

Story behind the poem: Growing up in an abusive home left me with much pain and many unanswered questions. Even though my siblings and I were removed from that home, sadly we were split up. We were hurt together but we didn’t get to heal together. So for the longest time I wondered how I was going to heal when pieces of me were missing. In my search for answers, I became depressed and suicidal. All those thoughts running through my head left me feeling empty. I eventually began cutting myself and trying to overdose. My amazing adoptive parents noticed and got me treatment. At that point, I felt loved, but sadly it wasn’t until I started confirmation in 8th grade that the darkness took me over again. But for my confirmation speech I opened up about what happened to me with tears streaming down my cheeks, from what I heard everyone in the pews. I had to let my pastor finish reading it. As I stepped back and looked at the wooden carving of Him, I heard a tiny voice saying He loves you and together we will get through this. Many years later I find myself in prison because the darkness caught me. I sit in here, neglecting my son, and that’s when the voice reappeared. This is the poem I wrote for myself to completely heal.