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Monthly Archives: August 2018

What Does Faith Look Like? – George Walker

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“What Does Faith Look Like?”
By George Walker
Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon, MI

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

Faith is the substance of things hoped for – what are you hoping for? Abraham’s hope was in the Father and not in what he was seeing (Gen. 22). Daniel’s hope was in his God, whom he prayed to faithfully three times a day and not in King Darius’ decree, (Dan. 6). And Jesus – the hope of glory – came to earth as a human to fulfill His Father’s will to die on the cross for the sins of the world (1 Cor. 15:3-4), so that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17), His hope was in His Father and His will, ( John 4:31-34).

We, too, are to walk by faith and not by sight. Our heavenly Father gave us the Holy Spirit so we can do this. Our faith (hope) is in the life-saving work of Jesus Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection on the cross. So hope in Jesus and be encouraged.

Investments – Terri Reese-Green

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“Investments”
By Terri Reese-Green
Huron Valley Correction Facility, Ypsilanti, MI

Today’s sermon is on Psalms 10-14. Tell us that the poor and the rich have a lot of the same investments. We invest in property, things, people, but at death we stand before God naked and with nothing in our hands.

God wants us to have faith in Him and make investments in heaven. That way the thing that we invest in, Heaven, will last forever. So people will die and be sorry for the things they invested in here on earth and will learn that they cannot take with them.

Invest in what God has given you for the good of his Kingdom. Nothing else will last.

God bless you.

I Am Reborn – Trina Peake

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“I Am Reborn”
By Trina Peake
Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Ypsilanti, MI

Father God,
Let not my emotions toss me to and fro
drowning my faith and dimming my glow
sapping my strength
I need You to revive me again
I ask You to leave me where you begin
on the cross where the veil was torn.

I believe, Yes I’m reborn
unto us a son is given
I walk by faith knowen’
You are with me
so I pick up my cross and follow thee
o death where is thou sting?
Satan you are a defeated enemy
for I am an overcoming daughter who serves her heavenly Father.

His resurrection power now resides inside
thank you Jesus I am yours and you are mine.

Our Faith Moves God – George Walker

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“Our Faith Moves God”
By George Walker
Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon, MI

“The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed” Matthew 8:8.

To my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope that this encourages you. I can remember coming home after hustling and my daughter running into my arms hugging me and smiling. She was so happy to see me and had faith in me that being in my arms she was going to be all right. This made me feel good and moved me to make sure she was all right.

The centurion knew that Jesus could heal his servant. He knew that if Jesus just spoke the word that his servant would be healed. The centurion told Jesus that he was a man under authority. Then Jesus told the followers of the centurion “I have not found so great faith.” Jesus was moved by that faith. Jesus knew that the centurion and his followers understood authority and obeyed it. So I ask you do you understand that all authority was put in place by God and do you obey authority even if you don’t like it? Obeying authority shows your faith in God and this moves God-Amen. Be encouraged!

God’s Grace – George Walker

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“God’s Grace”
By George Walker
Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon, MI

“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” Psalm 103:10.

Grace – undeserved acceptance and love received from another, especially the characteristic attitude of God in providing salvation for sinners. God’s grace is all over our lives because if He would have dealt with us according to our sins, we would not be here.

Ezra 9:13, in part, says, “seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this.” God loves us so much that even when we deserve death He still loves us and gives us the opportunity to come to Him. That is grace. Jesus Christ died on the cross so that the world could live. All we – believers – have to do is walk in the grace that He has given us when we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives.

So please be encouraged and thankful for the grace that our Father has given to us through His Son Jesus Christ.

New Birthday – Tadario Sims

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“New Birthday”
By Tadario Sims
Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon, MI

The day that you have given over your life to the Lord, that’s the day your new birthday starts with him. Amen. Once you do that, the Lord will start guiding you the way he will like for you to go. Amen. He will be with you the rest of your time here on Earth. His presence, will keep you in all his ways. Amen. Then you will start your days off looking to hear His voice and look for His guidance to help you thou the day as you do His work to save His lost people who are living in darkness. Amen. His power will take over your life and now for you to do whatever He needs to be done through you. All you have to do is put your trust in Him that He will do what you ask Him in his son Jesus Christ name. Amen.

So if you feel like giving up on life, just remember God has the last say-so in your life. So, sisters and brothers, keep your focus on the Lord who can give you His living water to drink, to have a long life with Him in his Holy Spirit that He put in all of us. Amen. So next time my brothers and sisters, remember to put the Lord as head of your life and keep putting in work for Him and see how much help He will give you in time of your need. Amen.

My Testimony – Tayler Schwechel

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“My Testimony”
By Tayler Schwechel
Carson City Correctional Facility, Carson City, MI

Since birth, I grew up without a father. I am now 20 years old, incarcerated in the MDOC. My testimony goes as follows.

Beginning at age 4, I had entered a physical and mentally abusive home. At that age, my mother was unable to be a proper parent. I went to my grandfathers where I endured a lot of negative actions from his girlfriend. This happened from 4-11.

On one occasion, when I was 4, I had been sexually assaulted by an older neighbor girl. I know she didn’t mean any harm. She was going through puberty. We all know how and what puberty does. My life became engulfed in that one act. My whole life, I thought that stuff was okay. It hurts to even say that. I can’t remember when, but I was sexually assaulted again by another male during that age gap. It wasn’t serious, he didn’t rape me.

Around 7 or 8, I had found my grandfather’s porn collection. I watched them over and over – the thrill that it had brought upon me. Now, I look back on it and it is sickening.

Around 9 or 10, I had been charged with First Degree Sexual Assault on a younger boy, 4-6. I had been taken from my grandfather’s and put into foster care because of that and the abuse I was going through.

From 12-13, I lived in an excellent foster home, but the sexual abuse wasn’t over. One foster brother, age 17, had done things multiple times. On another occasion with another foster brother, he had shown me his (private parts). I had been able to do therapy for the crime I had committed. Once that was complete, I was to be reunited with my mother after about five years. I was happy about that. I was actually one of my goals.

When I was 10, my mother found a boyfriend who treated her with dignity, respect, love and kindness. When I was 12, in foster care, I had gone to their house for a home visit. He was in the hospital the whole week due to being on dialysis in the ICU. He was a double amputee from diabetes. I never got to see him while he was in the hospital then. He died the day I went back to the foster home. The news devastated me. I looked up to him tremendously.

At the age of 13, I went to live with my mother. While we were there, I she had found a new boyfriend. He abuses me, as well as my mother. I had my biological grandmother come get us. My mom and I then moved in with my grandma.

At age 14-18, my life became chaotic. I was in the juvenile system from 14-16. I was constantly fighting, verbally, with my mother and grandmother. At 15, I started smoking marijuana, which led me to drinking and snorting my prescription Adderall. I had also formed a bond with my 47-year-old pot dealer. I looked up to him so much. He motivated me to get my GED when I was 17. He passed away just before that happened. That killed me inside. But that was even more of a reason to stop taking my time getting my education. I got my GED exactly one month after he passed. I had also started using pain killers shortly after beginning to abuse my Adderall.

At 17, I entered the adult judicial system for domestic violence on my brother, two more assaults. At 18, I had begun to engage in a sexual relationship with a 12 year old. Due to me having always been the younger victim, I had thought that age gap was okay. It got me a 3-1/2-10 year prison sentence.

Throughout my life, I believed there was a God out there. Most of the time I had doubted it though. Coming to prison saved me. I truly gave my life to God, my one and only Father. With Christ, and the help of the church and two good friends at Carson City, I am now able to conquer, overcome and deal with my past in a positive manner. They have also taught me so much about the love of God and loving others. They have been able to help me dig up my past and help me bring it to paper. I am extremely glad to say that I have fully engulfed my life with God.

The things I am now are: God centered and a recovering drug, alcohol, sex and control addict. Without God, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.

The things I am proud not to be anymore are: selfish, hateful, prideful, an angry man and hurt by my past.

Praise be to God and His wonderful servants for this extreme change in my life. I’m proud to be a new creation through Christ. I’m glad to be rid of my past. I am free. You can be too. Believe in Christ alone.

Thank you. God bless. I love you fellow Christians. Hang in there, everything will work out with our one and only God.

Pastors and Preachers – Archie Porter

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“Pastors and Preachers”
By Archie Porter
Parnall Correctional Facility, Jackson, MI

Nine years and nine months ago, I got sentenced to 10 years in prison. I got saved right about the same time and for the last 9-1/2 years, I wanted to be a preacher. But now I’m on my way home in December, and I think I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to be a preacher, I’d much rather be a pastor.

Eph. 4:11 says “And He, Himself gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers…” God called pastors, He never called preachers. Well what’s the difference you may be asking me. A preacher is basically a “herald” designed to announce the gospel. One should not take this responsibility lightly. He should proclaim the “good news” proudly, accurately and in order. All pastors can preach but not all preachers can pastor.

The pastor has a greater responsibility. That word pastor in the Bible is the same as “shepherd,” which Jesus used to describe himself as the “Good Shepherd.”
Not only does the shepherd feed the sheep (which is preach), he must also tend to the sheep. That means he must guide, protect and keep his fold together. He must also be an example to his sheep, one worthy of being followed. In other words, he must resemble Christ Jesus. Both Moses and David, two of the greatest leaders in the Bible, both got their leadership training by tending sheep. In the Old Testament the pasture (where you fed the sheep) was the Law. Today the pastor must feed the sheep from the fruit of the Spirit.

If you proclaim to be a pastor and you’re not equipped with the fruit of the Spirit, then my question to you is “what do you feed your sheep?” John 21:16-17. Jesus ask Peter three times “do you love me” and if so then “feed my sheep.” Why did Jesus ask him so many times if he loved him? Because Jesus won’t put his sheep into the care of anyone who doesn’t love Him first. Out of all the Apostles why did He ask Peter to tend to his sheep? Me personally, I believe it was because Peter had been the most humbled by Jesus’ acceptance of him after he had failed so miserably.

I believe a good pastor has the ability to identify with the failures and struggles that his sheep are going through at that moment. He understands that it wasn’t that long ago that he was lost and without Jesus. Acts 20:28 says “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd (pastor) the church of God which He purchased with HIs own blood.” A pastor understands the value of the sheep that God has placed in his care.

So what’s the difference between a pastor and a preacher? A preacher is measured by the amount of scripture he knows, while a pastor is measured by the amount of love he shows. Amen.

My Testimony – Bryan Nowitzke

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“My Testimony”
By Bryan Nowitzke
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

I gave my life to God on Oct. 8, 2017. That is the day I began to really start to wholeheartedly make a change. Not for me (for once in my life) but for God. I began to want to change for Him because on that day He spoke to me and said, “I will never leave you,” which I found later on to be very profound, seeing that His promise to never leave those who seek after His righteousness is said throughout the Word of God.

The first time I noticed this was when I read it in Deut. 31:8. That moment gave me peace – a peace that has grown through prayer and fasting and fellowship ever since. At 33 years old, even after all the ways my family tried to help me and show me love over my years of slavery to sin, though I was blinded by my own selfish ambitions, God snatched the veil from my eyes and showed me what love really is.

I hold His still, small voice close to my heart. I know that I don’t have to do good works to try and earn my way into Heaven and to get God to love me, but I want to do good because I reflect on my life and I see with brand new eyes how our Master of Mystery strategically molds our characters by allowing us to go through things that He always knew we could overcome.

For years my heart was in a tainted haze, planning all the wrong things, but God has gracefully directed my steps along the way, always placing me in the right place at the right time to see, or hear, or do all that I’ve experienced. Gold nuggets of truth, apples of gold in settings of silver (Prov. 25:11, Prov. 16). His love, so faithful, should be matched with love and faithfulness.

I’ve a lot to learn. I’ve yet to read the Bible all the way through. I’m working on that now. I have bounced all over the place through scripture since last October and I’ve memorized a lot and placed it in my heart. I’ve slipped in sin a few times since surrendering, but I’ve quickly repented and moved along, growing stronger in faith with each of the slip-ups. I find that memorization helps me largely to fight the good fight. About a month into this journey, eyes open, I thought of what I call C-5: 1. Christ-like; 2. Consciousness; 3. Creates; 4. Careful; 5, Character.

The more I read of the character of Jesus the more inspired I am. He did nothing for Himself. All the fruit of the Spirit in the flesh (Gal. 5:22-23). No suffering in the Word can overpower the love of His light. I thank God for that understanding that’s renewed with each new suffering. I want to spend the rest of my earthly life serving that love.

One thing God does is use what we know and have been through to help us get His Gospel to others. What I mean by Gospel is not necessarily doctrine or scripture, but compassion, love and servitude. I have a passion for the homeless, women who suffer violence, addicts in recovery, forgotten children and elders and animal cruelty. I can relate to all but the last. (I just love animals.) I want to be involved in organizations which deal with these issues, and I definitely want to do missionary work to help in foreign countries.

I want to be a person who is a blessing to others because my blessings from God are more than I can count. Seriously, I lose count every time I try. I’m not a very good speaker but my heart is on my sleeve and Heaven is in my hands so it’s in yours.

God gave us such power through Christ. He gave it to His Son Jesus, who then sacrificed Himself to instill within us saving power and His Light to shine bright. (John 16:7, Matt. 5:14-16).

Every day and every night, I pray for the strength to be that guy, that lamp on the lamp stand.

Sometimes in prison, I struggle with feeling like there’s just not enough for me to be doing for Jesus while being strapped within these gates. I go to church, I give my blessings, I pray for others always, but I long to be actively involved in some hands or assignments. I’m currently involved in a fellowship gathering where seven other guys and myself are reading through a book by Rick Warren called “The Purpose Driven Life.” Very good reading that I recommend to any follower of Christ.

A friend in that group recently said to me when I confessed my feeling of not having every opportunity here, “stay willing.” And that put light on the situation in an instant for me because when confronted with the opportunity to help in any way, I am willing. And that’s how God works. He brings apples of gold in settings of silver.

I’ll stay willing, I’ll stay seeking, eyes open, ears open, heart open when I gave up my effort to try and make it through this life on my own. I embrace the love. He’s waiting to give us all when we call on Him. I was justified, throughout this awesome adventure called life. We are forever being sanctified and one day, as is my hope for us all, and god’s promise to all of us if we choose to follow, we will be glorified with Him in the real city of light.

My humble advice to all is, be strong. Be bold. Shine bright. And for anyone who reads this I am trusting in the Maker of Mystery that He has rightly directed all our steps.

A Recent Revelation – Bryan Nowitzke

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“A Recent Revelation”
By Bryan Nowitzke
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

Recently I had a revelation from God in regards to a path for my future. I’ll start off by saying that when I’m released from prison, which will be no later than July 23, 2021, I will be homeless. Up until a month ago, I had a plan of what I was going to do with myself for God. I was going to get out and become a drifting disciple – traveling the country by means of hitchhiking and doing works of love for the homeless in cities and towns across America, volunteering my time at homeless shelters and taking the Gospel of Christ to the streets. Not just going out and doing what I can and then going back to a cozy home but placing myself in the trenches with them, to live with them.

That was my plan, and by doing that I’d be putting total trust in God to see me through. I knew He would because even as I lived a sinful life on the streets before, He always sustained me even as I denied Him. How much more would He sustain me if I was doing His work of Love? Am I not more than the birds (Matt. 6:26)?

This idea is a huge interest of mine because I have been there, on the streets of decay and despair. The Gospel is greatly needed amongst many of the homeless who feel unwanted and thrown away, unloved.

Mother Teresa said the greatest disease humanity has ever known is that of the unwanted. And also “How does peace come? Through works of love . . .”

But I began to feel like maybe that plan I had been dwelling on for months was becoming more of my own will than of God, so I began praying for God to reveal His will for my life to me. I had a dream one night about me being back at my old job at the pallet factory in Sandusky, where I am from. Now, that is the one place in the world that I’ve been telling myself I do not want to return to ever since day one of my sentence. I experienced nothing but trouble and pain there and I just wanted a new beginning elsewhere. So this dream troubled me greatly, having come to me shortly after praying for the Lord to reveal His will to me, so I decided to go on a fast. I borrowed a friend’s World Almanac and was looking at the map of the United States and thinking of where I could go where there’s a lot of forestry and lumber work like I did at the pallet factory. Well, in that almanac it had a list of all the states and each state’s top economic industries. So I evaluated each state and I saw that Montana has a large number of forestry, timber and lumber companies. There was an address for the Department of Commerce in Helena. So I wrote them and asked them if maybe they could send me a list of homeless shelters and lumber companies and names of some Protestant churches in the Great Falls area. With that all being done, I began to pray earnestly every day and every night that God please allow my shot in the dark to produce something fruitful and that He send me any kind of a sign to direct my steps.

I said, “Lord, I know you gave me the dream after I asked for guidance before, but Lord that place is bad for me and I really want away from there, but if that’s your will I will go back there if you don’t show me a different path before the end of my fast.”

I was intending to fast for at least 10 days. I made it six without water, without receiving any new sign. At the end of the sixth day I said, “Lord, I’m going to eat tomorrow because I’m hungry and You give me food to enjoy and for that I thank you and I love you.” That night I got a call out for a religious service called Rock of Ages. It was a group of old guys that came in to play music and preach the Gospel. I had signed up for it a few weeks before but had forgotten about it.

So the next day, I went to this call out and I walked into the gym where it was being held and there were these five old gentlemen. Two were playing guitars, one played the flute, one was falling asleep in his chair (Tom) and the last guy was greeting guys coming in. There were only about 25 of us that attended. We sang along to the songs and then the guy that was doing the greeting preached some. Then the guy who played the flute got up and read out of the book of Joshua. Then the greeter preached more.

By that point, my mind was beginning to wonder. But then the guy that slept in his chair, Tom Smith, got up and he started to preach with great enthusiasm. His testimony was powerful. He grew up unable to read and people used to bully him and call him “dummy.” When he was 12 he was hit by a car that tossed him into the air and he landed on his head, giving him serious head trauma. He said he used to get into a lot of trouble and at a young age he left home and was on his own a lot out on the open road.

Then he delivered the sign I had been praying for. He told a story about how once he had been stranded in Montana with his kids and he had no money for food. He began to pray to the Lord and the Lord provided for him through some generous passers-by. But as soon as Tom spoke that word “Montana,” it was like the Lord was speaking directly to me through that man, saying “go to Montana, I’ll make a way for you there.” And I believe that with all my heart that Mr. Tom Smith was an angel from God to me that day – an apple of gold in a setting of silver.

I haven’t heard back from Helena’s Department of Commerce but I believe I have received all the confirmation I need to head that way upon release. God is so faithful. He does provide when we wholeheartedly seek Him through His Word and in prayer.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6). The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Duet. 31:8)