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Monthly Archives: July 2018

God’s Love Grows a New Love – Roy Anklam

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“God’s Love Grows a New Love”
By Roy Anklam
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

I have been married to my wife now for over 15 years (Aug. 28 will be 16 years). But she said something to me I didn’t understand. I had a visit with my beautiful wife back in October of 2017.

She said, “I love you more now than I have ever loved you.” I didn’t understand what she meant by this. In fact I said “Are you saying you didn’t love me?” I thought that she loved me with her whole heart. At least that is what she told me in the past.

But then I realized that she was falling more in love with me because Christ had been accepted into my heart a few years before. She could finally see the transformation work that was happening to me. It is so rewarding for the love of your life to see that. But nothing changed for me. My love for her was the same. I didn’t understand if hers was changing, why mine didn’t change.

She lives in another state so I get to see her twice a year. She came back in May 2018 for my 40th birthday. I felt the butterflies in my stomach when she came into the room. She was glowing and the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. In the past six months she had been talking about God more. She took Him out of the box she keeps Him in. I am not ashamed to admit this, but for the first time in our marriage I asked her to pray with me.

She said, “I have always wanted you to pray with me.”

Boy, I felt like I let her dope not having a prayer life with her. When she left it was like part of me left. Then it hit me, I loved her more than ever before a new type of love. I loved the Christ in her.

What I have learned through this teaching moment is that you might think that you love someone with your whole heart but not until you allow God to love them in your heart. There is a whole new love my wife and I have for each other because we see and feel the love of Christ in each other. If we would all learn to love the Christ in each other more than we could make our lives and others lives around us much happier. And live in the love God intended us to live in. Real 100% genuine love. And you will also learn that God’s love grows a new love you never even knew existed.

The Lord’s Love – George Walker

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“The Lord’s Love”
By George Walker
Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon, MI

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12.

Hosea’ name means Salvation. About 750 B.C., God showed a prophet the depth of His love for His people by leading the prophet through the struggles of a marriage with an unfaithful wife.

So I ask you today are you being faithful to love someone who does not love you back, or someone who mistreats you? Are you showing them the love that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shows us?

This scripture tells us what to do:

Sow to yourselves in righteousness – put the word in you and allow God to use you.

Reap in mercy – walk in the mercy that you have and show mercy to everyone, Jesus does.

Break up your fallow ground – stop being hard hearted, submit to God by being obedient to His Word.

For it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. It is time to go after God and do Kingdom business, do what you know will please Him, it is time.

So I urge you brethren to stay faithful to God like He is to us and go after Him and His Word.

Prov. 11:18 says: “The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”

God cannot lie, if you sow righteousness you will surely be rewarded. May God continue to keep you and your love ones in the palm of His hands.

The Deception of Growth – Matthew Nawrocki

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“The Deception of Growth”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

Do you ever feel like you are stagnant? Like you are in a rut, and you aren’t growing as a person (spiritually, mentally, emotionally)? Does it seem difficult for you to recognize any differences in yourself month after month, year after year? Maybe you are still struggling with certain things like anger, or lust, or depression; maybe it’s pride, or manipulation, or gossip.

Well, welcome to the human condition. I have noticed as I have continued this walk with God that it becomes harder and harder to see the growth that has occurred. However, this principle is really not all that uncommon to us. Physically, the growth from infants, to childhood, to teenagers and young adults is a very quick and noticeable growth process. Hair and teeth, legs and arms all begin to grow at a rapid rate. Our brain is like a sponge, absorbing every sense we experience in life. It is all new for the first time and exciting. Maybe you marked the wall every month to see how much you grew, or stood on a scale to see how much weight you gained. But then at some point, and it is different for all of us, that change began to slow down; we reached our highest height or our heaviest weight, our brains had became fully developed and we leveled off and took a pause from our rapid rate of growth early in life. I’ll always remember the doctor measuring me at 5 feet 11 and 3/4 inches. I wanted to call it six feet as a matter of pride, but no; I was instead informed that I may be done growing, and sure enough I stand the same height today.

My point is that the same thing happened in my spiritual life. I noticed such tremendous growth and transformation early on as everything was so new and exciting. I was seeing my habits and actions, my speech and thoughts changing all the time as I came to learn who God called me to be and how He called me to live. Then, it seemed more and more difficult to see that as obviously as before. Time went on, and although I was still doing those things I was still struggling with some insecurities and sins that I used to struggle with. Why couldn’t I seem to change those? I remember the analogy that came to my mind as I became frustrated over this. I thought of how I looked at myself in the mirror every morning as I brushed my teeth and washed my face. Every day I see what appears to be the same person, the same exact face I saw the day before. But was it? After time it becomes harder to see the change but that doesn’t mean it is not happening. I believe it is another sly tactic of our enemy to discourage us from continuing to trust God and move forward when God has promised that “He who began the good work within you will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).

God is not done with us yet! As long as we keep believing in Him and seeking to grow we can trust that we are, even when it seems as if we are not. So if you relate to these feelings or frustrations, don’t give up. The Scripture tells us to “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). Let that be the encouragement that God intended for it to be when times get dry and monotonous and we seem like we’re going nowhere. God loves us too much to leave us where we are, so there are better days ahead! Keep pressing into all that God has for your life; look back and be reminded at just how far He has brought you thus far, and then let that thought cause you to continue pressing onward toward the goal! Remember, we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7), however we all know that you don’t reap when you sow; the harvest is coming in His perfect timing. Trust it.

Step by Step – Matthew Nawrocki

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“Step by Step”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

See, we can hear the word all that we like and act as if it is all we need. We can convince ourselves that all we need to do is stay around the right people and go to church or go to Bible studies and think we are going to be changed. But I think the Scriptures are pretty clear that hearing without doing is a fruitless activity. If I continue to put myself in a position to hear the Word spoken, while never getting to the place of acting upon the word spoken, I am actually worsening my condition. My heart is becoming hardened without even realizing it and the Scripture becomes common and uneventful for me.

Jesus said, “I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.” There is a step by step process. Yes, I need to come to Him, and yes, I need to listen to His teaching; but if I fail to follow it and do as it says I cannot expect the same results as someone who does follow it. Jesus said the one who obeys “is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” This is why “faith without works is dead.”

See, faith is hearing a word from God that seems to make no sense to our natural mind and yet when we obey it He shows us the fruit of that decision; one that leads to true joy and peace and grows us more and more into the likeness of Jesus. That’s the goal, is it not? To look more like Him and less like us. If people see me, Lord help them! But if they see Him, it could change their life! I want to be a believer who actually believes this stuff enough to do it when it makes no sense, because He told me to do it and because I know He would never lead me down the wrong path. I can joyfully obey knowing it is for the best, not only for myself but all those around me.

Help us Lord to be doers of Your word, for we want to be unaffected by the storms and floods of life so that we can become a light in this world; a picture of hope to all who have been wiped out by the floods as they see us still standing through it all because we believed to the point of obedience. Thank You for paving the way and making it simple for us, now guide us and strengthen us to make the choices to obey when we hear, regardless of whether it makes sense, we trust it will make success!

Actions and Reactions – Matthew Nawrocki

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“Actions and Reactions”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The famous words of . . . someone lol. I forget. Einstein maybe?
Anyways, our actions don’t necessarily tell the whole story. There is a reason Jesus focused so much on our heart attitude and less on the action itself. Anyone can play roles. We may not do it well at first, but with enough practice and observation we can learn quickly. Some people have the ability to be like the guy from Catch Me If You Can; transforming into whatever we need to, to get what we want. But the truth of the matter is we’ll find out who we really are by our reactions.

Reactions are the instantaneous actions we have when something suddenly happens that we didn’t expect or prepare for. When you’re driving on the road and someone cuts us off or does something reckless, how do you react? When somebody says something insulting about your best friend, what do you say? When a tragedy happens like 9/11 and people need help, do you run away from danger or into it? Those are instant reactions; on the spot, spur of the moment reactions.

There are also what I would call prolonged reactions; reactions that take time to respond to. When you find yourself wrongly accused and in prison, do you press forward or give up? When someone close to you dies unexpectedly, how do you, over a period of time react and move forward? When you pray for someone and nothing changes, do you give up on God or keep praying?

I believe this may be one reason why we are addicted to the comfortable. We are not convinced that our hearts have truly been changed and that we’ve really let God work in us, so we attempt to avoid situations that call us into reactionary scenarios. Those places and situations where we have no idea what is going to happen. We try to safeguard our lives from any danger by holding on so tightly to what we have in an effort not to lose it; but no matter how diligently we try to avoid them, we cannot. Life happens and God has a way of bringing us back to our true heart condition. If we don’t like how we react, He is there, willing and able to help us change it. To turn our reaction of giving up when times get tough into a reaction that pushes us to go deeper within and fight for the result we want. To prepare us to run into trouble to help hurting people instead of running to save our own lives.

Have we actually put on the character and new man of Christ, or have we attempted to just put off the old behaviors and call it good enough. I want to be continually challenged in my life and walk with God to have better reactions. The only way for my heart and faith to be proven is in the testing, the fire of uncertainty and spontaneity. I need to get out of my comfort zone and around what is uncomfortable and unknown so God can reveal my heart through my reactions and feelings towards them.

Jesus’ reaction to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-8 is incredible the more you look at it. How is it that the one without sin was the only one who didn’t want to condemn her, while the ones who had sinned wanted her killed? I’ve found in my own reactions that I feel most justified to call others wrong when they’re doing something that I haven’t done or thought of. It’s easier to condemn people when they are addicted to drugs if I could never have imagined doing it myself. But when I’ve done it, you would think it’d be easier for me to be more graceful and understanding towards that person because I’ve been there. But what we see from Jesus is totally the opposite. He could not even relate with her sin because He had never done it, and yet He had compassion nonetheless and said, “I do not condemn you, go and sin no more.” The accusers, forgetting themselves to be sinners too, desired to see her punished in an effort to avoid their own sin condition being revealed. Ever been there? Ever point at someone else in an effort to take the focus off of you? Yeah, that realization stops me dead in my tracks, too.

Thank you Jesus that you have looked past our actions and have offered us forgiveness through faith in your sacrificial work on the cross. You are less concerned with our actions as you are about our reactions. Lord, we want to live a life that pleases You and we want our reactions to difficult situations to be seen in such a way that people see You in our responses. Help us in our desire to have our hearts changed in every way to look more like yours.

But God – Matthew Nawrocki

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“But God”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

“But God…”

I didn’t even know the state of my own soul
But I was lookin’ for answers, unsure where to go
My condition was hopeless, at least that’s what I thought
But God stepped right in and said, “I’ll pay the cost”
See I’ve found in my life that for every mistake
There’s a “But God” that follows and takes it away:

We were without any strength, “but God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)

We were stuck in our sin, “But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Eph. 2:4)

And then I came to know the state of my own soul
It was fragile, it was new, but at least I saw the road
My condition had improved, since I came upon the cross
But God was not done, He said, “Now I’ll show you what it cost”
See I’ve found in my life that with every single step
There’s a “But God” that follows to show what’s coming next:

Our world says we don’t fit the mold, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

We could not understand any of the ways or mysteries of God, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10)

Now I began to grow upon the state of my own soul
It was being renewed, but I began to feel this load
My condition was a struggle, since I had clung upon the cross
But God was just preparing me, He said, “I’ll help you feel the cost”
See I’ve found in my life that with every single trial
There’s a “But God” that follows to strip away my idols:

We’re tempted each day, “But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13)

Our enemy meant evil against us, “But God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20)

Here I stand assured of the state of my own soul
It’s still being renewed, but now I feel the call to go
My condition is hopeful, as I keep my eyes upon the cross
But God is still stirring me, He says, “Don’t forget all that it cost”
See I’ve found in my life that with every single choice
There’s a “But God” that follows to remind me of His voice:

We’re called to the impossible, “But with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26)

Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried, “But God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13:30)

Never forget, that for every single part of our lives there’s a “But God…”

Humbly, Bold Honoring God (Part 2) – George Walker

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“Humbly, Bold Honoring God” (Part 2)
By George Walker
Muskegon Correctional Facility Muskegon, MI

In verses 9 and 10. Abraham bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar and stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his only son. Wow that is humbly bold. I can’t imagine what Isaac is thinking and feeling but he has to be trusting his father Abraham more than what he is seeing. Isaac could be thinking my father loves me no matter what and I believe in him. Isn’t this what we think of our heavenly Father? No weapon formed against us shall prosper, I shall live and not die.

In verses 11-13. The Angel of the Lord called Abraham’s name twice because Abraham was a little shaken. He had faith in God but he still had to work it out and I believe God knows this and that is why He called his name twice to shake him out of it. Abraham got joy and relief when God told him to lay not thine hand on the lad. Abraham probably dropped to his knees thanking, praising and worshipping God for being true to His Word. I believe Abraham was on his knees and that is why he had to lift up his eyes to see the ram caught in the thicket by the horns. This was the lamb for the burnt offering that Isaac asked his father Abraham about. God will provide for us just like He did for Abraham but we too must be obediently humble in honoring Him.

Psalm 51:17 says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” God wants us to be humble and to be humble is to depend on Him and not ourselves. Scripture tells us to lean not on our own understanding but to acknowledge God in all our ways. God will not despise a broken and humble heart because you are depending on Him for everything. The more I meditate, study and believe His Word, the more I understand everything. God brought this to mind, when my daughter was 2 years old I can remember she would not let me out of her sight. Everywhere I went she was at my side, holding onto my pants leg or my hand. I had to be right next to her in order for her to know she was all right. She depended on me for everything. This is how God wants us to depend on Him. He wants us to cry out to Him, call on the name of Jesus for everything. We must stay connected to the true vine. Our Lord and Savior is the best example of humility and honoring God.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29: “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.” Jesus said He is meek and lowly in heart. The definition for meek is gentleness, humility and controlled power-the opposite of pride.

In closing my beloved brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ has given us the comforter so that we can do and say what honors God. We are Christ-like and that means to be the opposite of pride. Always putting others before ourselves, the Holy Spirit gives us the power.

Thank you, brethren. Stay humble.

Transparency – Matthew Nawrocki

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“Transparency”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

I no longer just want You,
Lord I desperately need You;
to cling to You
I’m no longer just prayin’
Lord, I’m pleadin’ with You
Hurt and confused, I’m not seein’ You
Make this make sense, help me believe in You
I’m not tryin’ to complain, just be real with You
I just wanna look more like what I see in You
Gentle and humble, loving and kind
Trusting our Father to speak in due time
Even You didn’t know, while You were on earth
How it was all gonna happen, how it was all gonna work
So You sympathize with my weakness, for You were tempted as I;
To lose faith and lack trust that He would provide
But as you came to know, although You suffered such loss
Was that the harvest was worth every bit of the cross
So I’ll pick mine up too, if suffer must I
For my life is Yours, cuz You gave Yours for mine

Through My Window – Jose Alonzo

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“Through My Window”
By Jose Alonzo
Carson City Correctional Facility, Carson City, MI

Stirred awake by the morning sunlight,
Bathed in the rays of His glory,
Outside I hear the birds rejoicing,
But deep inside I feel rain pouring.
The other side looks oh so beautiful,
As I’m lookin’ through my window . . .
I see a beauty that I can’t reach,
From a window through which I see,
I’m reminded of all my mistakes,
Of what I gave up to live life my way.
Freedom is just on the other side,
I can see it looking through my window . . .
Looking through my window,
Imagining a new life indeed.
Lookin’ out I daydream how it will all be,
To live so free,
To spread my wings,
To let the wind just carry me . . .
Though I feel a storm inside me,
I’m reminded of God’s light of hope around me,
That one day soon I will be free,
Just like that day when He rescued me,
On His wings of love I will soar,
Never to be caged no more . . .
As I’m lookin’ through my window,
I can see a future and a hope,
A promise of good and not of evil,
A purpose now in scope,
Within me clouds begin to fade,
And through my window I’m seeing better days.