3.23.2022

Quiet Time Tips



How to have your Quiet Time


“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he (Jesus) went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”


Get alone, find somewhere quiet, put away distractions and set your mind on God. Discipline yourself in this regard, to not only have your devotions, but to have them as you ought. Finding a quiet place to have a quiet time with God goes against the flesh and our busy lives. We either don’t want to get going or we don’t want to stop. But you need to get going and you need to stop. Do what you must to get alone with God. Ask God to show you in His Word, by His Holy Spirit, what it is that you need to see, and that He would help you to understand, retain and apply it (Ps. 119:73). There is a monumental difference between opening the Bible and just reading it and opening your Bible, reading to learn, and pleading with God to teach you. Come to God’s classroom every morning, sit at the feet of Jesus, ask Him to teach you, and if you are willing to learn, He will guide you into all truth (John 16:13).

Read the Word without rushing, for there is no quota of chapters you need to reach per week. The goal is to learn of God, draw closer to Him and spiritually grow. If you choose to thoroughly chew on every verse before swallowing you might only get through a couple of verses in a twenty-minute session of reading and meditating, but that is alright. The Word of God runs like water off a duck’s back to those who rush through it. If you dwell on the Word of God, however, the Word of God will dwell in you.


Reading plan for the new Christian (or for anyone who wants to spiritually flourish):


Just munch on the New Testament for as long as you can every day, supplementing it with Psalms and Proverbs. You could thoughtfully study one chapter, or thoroughly devour twenty chapters. What’s important is that you get God’s Word in you and be always seeking to understand, retain and apply what you are reading.

Optional reading plan for everyone else: Read 2-3 chapters of the New Testament (starting with Matthew), supplemented with a Proverb or Psalm. If you can make time for more, include 1-2 chapters of the Old Testament (starting with Genesis). Try to carefully and systematically read through your Bible.

Have an optional pen and paper to jot down notes. These notes could be new insights or things over which the Holy Spirit is convicting you. Your mind will engage more with what you are reading if you continually seek to write down what you see. Pray, or in other words, “have a meaningful conversation with your heavenly Father.” It’s easier to live a week of busyness for Jesus, than it is to pray from the heart to Him for an hour. But the more you pray to Him, not the more you do for Him, will result in a closer relationship with Him. Every vibrant relationship has consistently good and respectful communication, not just lots of busyness.

Do you see that you need to draw closer to God? Then talk to Him more. A married couple might not always feel like talking to one another, yet for the sake of the relationship they must. You will find that the more you pray the easier it will become to pray. Likewise, the more time you spend alone with God, the less you will be tempted to do the things that displease Him, and the more you will know and want to do what actually does please Him.  You might ask, “But how should I pray and for how long?” There is no time limit, but, far more importantly, try not to rush your devotional prayer time especially when you feel dry, irritated, tired or just plain apathetic. Rather, ask God for help and keep praying. There is a Biblical prayer scaffold you can follow, and that scaffold is the Lord’s Prayer. 

Meditate (dwell) on your devotions. Take what you have just read and prayed about into the rest of your day by thinking on and seeking to act out what you have just learned. When you choose to meditate on God’s Word, it will do two things. Firstly, it will guard your mind against falsity and temptation. Picture God’s Word as a wall protecting your mind from intruding unbiblical thought; the more of the Word you have in your mind (and believe, for words on a page or in your mind have no effect unless believed), the thicker and higher the wall of truth will be. Secondly it will be like having a spiritual packed lunch to feed on throughout the day; remember the more you eat and apply the Word of God, the quicker you will spiritually grow.


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Article by Cameron McPherson
Friend of Off The Kirb Ministries



3.19.2022

Why should I become a pen pal to an inmate?

Ever consider bringing hope & encouragement into the life of an inmate by becoming a pen pal?  






You can help build connection and redefine what community really means for a prisoner.  By treating the incarcerated (and their families) with dignity, one letter at a time, you can help make a difference!


Interacting Positively:


Any open communication that a prison pen receives can remove barriers. Writing a letter to them can help people to positively interact and even encourage each other. Prisoners can become inspired by you to lead productive lives during their incarceration, which can create a positive environment all around.



Boosting Well-being:



Communicating positively with a prison pen pal may help their mental health when they are given a platform to communicate with others on the outside. They may develop trust in you if they feel like they are given a free pass to express their innermost feelings. Exchanging letters and befriending a person on the inside can help to boost morale while also helping them to preserve their sanity.


Overall, being pen pals with an inmate can be beneficial and uplifting. It helps in spreading awareness, perspective, and social information. The main goal of pen pals is to develop a friendly and honest relationship with a person living a different life than you in a different environment.


Prison pen pals may be able to receive care packages, funds, magazine subscriptions, and/or new books. There may be stringent protocols that need to be followed for overall correctional facility safety while sending these items. However, it is still a positive step to develop and build a friendly and honest relationship. Inmates may have committed crimes, but they should be allowed contact with the outside world. Taking the time to communicate and interact with a prison pen pal may help them to get started on a greater and noble path. 


Under the "Resource Index" tab on the main page of this website, you will find a link entitled "Become a Pen Pal to an Inmate". There, you will be able to locate available inmates’ contact information who are requesting a pen pal. 


For just the cost of a letter, ink, paper, and your time, this is a very small investment for a Christian to get involved who feels called to serve.


So if you are unable to support our ministry, TimeServedMinistry.org, with our Bible

Donation Drive (see "HELP US CHANGE THE WORLD" link at end of main page), please consider serving in His vineyard in this capacity.  You will be making a substantial difference in someone’s life!



“ …  I was in prison and you came to me.” 

- Matthew 25:36(b)



Please also find an example introductory letter and how to correctly address your envelope below:



...... (start letter) ......




Mark Seay 

23 Summercrest Circle

Simpsonville, SC  29681                                                                                                 


March 19, 2022



Dear (fill-in name)


I’m very pleased that we’re going to become friends (penpals) 

through our correspondence.  It’s a joy to have someone with 

whom one can share his/her opinions, thoughts, and experiences.  

In this introductory letter, I’ll tell you a few things about myself; 

it would be awesome if you would do the same when you write 

back to me.


I’m 54-years of age, married, a father of two daughters, and 

have one grandson (1-yr of age).  I work for an industrial firm 

as an account manager. I have a black cocker spaniel named 

Jasper who is one-year of age also.  He’s a very active puppy, 

to say the least.  It would be an understatement to say that 

he requires your undivided attention.  (Ha-ha)


In my leisure time, I enjoy reading, sports, physical fitness, and 

engaging in prayer time with my Lord Jesus Christ.  Likewise, 

I also spend some of my time as a religious volunteer at a 

nearby, local detention center to which I visit on a weekly-basis.  

During these visits, we participate in discussions, hold bible 

studies, share testimonies, etc..


I located your contact information through an online source that 

identified yourself as someone wanting to have a penpal, as well.  

Because we are all transitioning through various stages in life, 

we all need encouragement and support that comes from 

meaningful & caring relationships.


(fill-in first name), thank you so much for taking the time to read 

my letter.  I hope you have a blessed day.



Your friend in Christ,



Mark Seay




...... (end letter) ......

Address Envelope in this Format:

Article by Mark Seay
TimeServedMinistry.org


Mark Seay is a religious volunteer for a local jail, and a graduate of Clemson University.  He and his wife, Lynn, have two daughters and a grandson.

3.11.2022

Jesus teaches explicitly ...

 

... that regeneration precedes faith:







"The Spirit quickens [regenerates], the flesh counts for nothing...that is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me grants it." John 6:63, 65

In the same context Jesus declares, "All the Father gives me will come to me..." - John 6:37

"All", not some. All the Father gives the Son will come to Him. And the "giving" of the Father to the Son precedes their coming to faith in Him.

The words "grant" (v 65) and "give" (v 37) are the same Greek word.

Taken together Jesus is declaring a syllogism:

No One can come to faith in me unless God grants it, and ALL whom he grants will come ... and that by the quickening work of the Holy Spirit. This very plain talk spoken in the context of a discussion on faith, leaves no room whatsoever for a synergistic, prevenient grace.


-----

Related Resources



Sorrow: The Preeminent Teacher

 





“I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
 
I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.”


― Robert Browning Hamilton

I know the Psalm …




Years ago, the renowned actor, Richard Burton was given a grand reception in his childhood parish.

While replying to the complimentary speeches in the parish auditorium he asked if there was anything that they especially wanted to hear from him. After a minute’s pause his old pastor asked him if he could recite the Good Shepherd Psalm (Psalm 23), which he had taught Burton in his Sunday school.

A strange look came over the actor’s face. He paused for a moment, and then said, "I will, on one condition—that after I have recited it, you, my pastor and teacher will do the same."

"I," said the old retired pastor, "am not an actor, but, if you wish it, I shall do so."

Impressively the actor began the Psalm. His voice and intonation were perfect. He held his audience spellbound, and, as he finished, a great burst of applause broke from the audience.

As it died away, the old pastor rose from his wheelchair and began to recite the same Psalm. His voice was feeble and shivering and his tone was not faultless. But, when he finished, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The actor rose and his voice quivered as he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I reached your eyes and ears, but my old pastor has reached your hearts. The difference is just this: I know the Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd."


-----

Friends, Jesus wants us to grow in our relationship with Him by experiencing His love and to become good shepherds to those entrusted to our care.

3.10.2022

Jail Visiting Hours

Jail & Prison Inmate Visitations



Although most jails and prisons have different rules and regulations that govern their visitation, they are similar in structure and general policy guidelines. 

The following outline of information will serve as a generic template for any of your future inquiries.  Visitors and inmates must abide by the rules & procedures in order to participate in visitation.  The mission of the facility is not to hinder the visitation of your loved ones.  

First, inmates must complete a visitation form or list which can have three visitors listed per calendar month.  This form/list may be obtained by the presiding corrections officer.  As a general rule, only those listed on this form will be permitted to visit.   

Upon a visitor’s initial visitation, he/she must complete a visitation form.  This information will be checked for any outstanding warrants.  All visitors are required to present a current, valid photo identification or driver's license.  Visitors will be subject to search prior to entering or leaving the jail.

Any clothing worn by a visitor that is deemed inappropriate by staff will not be allowed to visit.  Cellular phones, cameras, purses, bags, tobacco products, lighters, mace, chemical sprays, or any firearms (weapons) are not allowed in the prison or jail.

Visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Visitation is typically one or two visits (weekly) for 30-60 minute durations.  Only at the discretion of the shift supervisor, special requests may be granted for extensions.  

Business activities shall not be conducted by an ex-offender.  Assignment of power of attorney for this purpose must be enacted.  

Visits shall be non-contact.  Visual & auditory monitoring will be actively administered by the supervision of staff. 

An attorney visiting area is available in each housing pod to ensure privileged communications between inmates and their attorneys. Visiting hours are determined by cell &/or pod assignments.  

It is the responsibility of the inmate to instruct the visiting parties with the allotted times available for visiting. All other official visits may be scheduled at the officer's discretion.



Article by Mark Seay
TimeServedMinistry.org


Mark Seay is a religious volunteer for a local jail, and a graduate of Clemson University.  He and his wife, Lynn, have two daughters and a grandson.

3.09.2022

I’m Likely Going to Prison - Now What?







We get many urgent and serious life-situation emails in the inbox. That includes this one today, from a woman who wishes to remain anonymous.



“Dear Pastor John, hello.

I am a born-again Christian. A while back, I engaged in corrupt activities at work, and this is now causing me a great deal of suffering. I will be charged in court soon and then likely be headed to prison. I have since repented of my sins and prayed to God for deliverance. However, my prayers have been met with dead silence from God. My family has also experienced so much pain and suffering with my siblings losing their jobs as a result of my sin.

Here are my questions: What encouragement can you offer me in what I face ahead? And what should a child of God like me do, when I now face legal suffering for my crimes? My faith in God is intact, but I am at my lowest spiritually. Please help me. I have wished that God would just call me home instead of watching my family suffer through the nightmare of watching what is to come.”


I want to begin by pointing our about-to-be-imprisoned sister to a passage of Scripture that I pray she will find hope-giving. Psalm 107 has proved to be, in my life and ministry, one of the most amazingly helpful psalms for people in all manner of distress, because it deals with such different kinds of trouble.


The Most High Hears


Here’s the section of the psalm that is so relevant for our about-to-be imprisoned friend. And what makes it so relevant is that the affliction, which these people here in this psalm are dealing with, this affliction came about precisely because they sinned, just like she did in her illegal activities. They sinned, and now they’re in her condition. Here’s what it says. This is Psalm 107:10–16:


Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    prisoners in affliction and in irons,

for they had rebelled against the words of God,
    and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
    they fell down, with none to help.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness
and the shadow of death,
    and burst their bonds apart.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he shatters the doors of bronze
    and cuts in two the bars of iron.

 
Now, be sure that you hear this, friend: These are people who are imprisoned because they ought to be in prison. They rebelled against God. They spurned his counsel. They broke his law. They were found guilty, and they were put in prison where they belong. That’s why they, and you right now, feel “in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Psalm 107:10). Guilt is a horrible thing. Praise God for the gospel of Jesus. I know exactly what you mean when you say you would rather die right now rather than see other people suffer for your wrongs. Of course you would. I would too. I have felt like that more than once in my life.


“Guilt is a horrible thing. Praise God for the gospel of Jesus.”


And this psalm is even more amazing. Psalm 107:12 says it’s precisely God himself who “bowed their hearts down with hard labor.” In other words, God ordained this imprisonment of his people. He wasn’t wringing his hands in heaven, as though his people were being treated unjustly. God himself was in the judgment, and he’s in yours.

And amazingly, amazingly, these prisoners did not give way to bitterness or hopelessness or self-pity. Instead, they humbled themselves, and they cried to the Lord in their trouble. We don’t know how long he left them in prison, but he did hear their cry, and he delivered them. And we see at least two purposes that God achieves through this. First, their hearts were filled with overwhelming thankfulness to the Lord for his steadfast love, that he would show them mercy even though they are guilty sinners in prison. And second, they magnify his power to break the bars of iron.


Path to Mercy


Now, here’s one way to describe the crisis you are facing: you can fixate on the providence of God as a problem, or you can take hold of the providence of God as your hope.

The problem, of course, would be that God, in control of all things, could have kept you back from your illegal activities and spared your family all these miseries. He could have, and he didn’t. You can fixate on that as a problem and become an embittered, self-pitying, angry, mean-spirited, depressed, hopeless person. That would be a great tragedy. And it would be a double triumph for Satan. He’s already had one triumph. He should not get another in your life.

Or instead of fixating on providence as a problem, you can take hold of providence as your hope. That’s what the people in the psalm did. They know that God is the one who has bowed their hearts down with hard labor. God did it. How natural, how easy it would have been for them to turn all their affliction into anger at the providence of God. But instead, they took the other path. It’s a sweet path; I encourage you to take it. They believed that God’s power would not discipline them forever, but that his mercy would return again and deliver. This will require enormous humility and faith on your part, but God will give it to you if you ask him and patiently wait for his timing.


Hope for Tomorrow


Consider one more passage of Scripture to shed light on your situation. Paul the apostle was granted the gift of having stupendous revelations from God. God saw that such privileges could make Paul arrogant and self-exalting. Therefore, God appointed Satan to afflict Paul with a thorn in the flesh. We don’t know what it was, but 2 Corinthians 12:7 says, “A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” In other words, God made Satan serve Paul’s sanctification.


“There will be a future and a hope that may seem
impossible now, but nothing is too hard for the Lord.”


This was a kind of imprisonment for Paul — imprisonment inside the suffering of a thorn. But it wasn’t an imprisonment because of sins he had committed; it was because of sins he might commit. How easy it would be for Paul to get angry at God and say, “You could protect me from sinning other ways. You don’t need to use a thorn in my flesh to keep me from being proud.” And of course, that’s true, but God is God, and we are not. God has purposes for this — wise purposes.

Paul experienced the same things you did — namely, three times he cried out, “Deliver me, deliver me, deliver me.” And every time God said no. And then come the words from Jesus to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). To which Paul responds miraculously, and I pray the same for you, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).

So, my prayer for you, dear sister, is that you will embrace the providence of God as your hope. Yes, it involves discipline for past sins. And yes, it involves thorns to protect you from future sins. And yes, he will break the bars of iron and bring you out. And there will be a future and a hope that may seem impossible now, but nothing is too hard for the Lord.






Article by John Piper
DesiringGod.org

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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