Post-Release Community

I’ve been meeting with various brothers who also minister in the informal Christian networks I’m part of, along with others, to discuss starting a weekly fellowship (possibly in my home) for ex-inmates. My burden is for men whose lives are dramatically captured by God in jail, but then stumble when they get out because they can’t find authentic Christian community in our churches.

Stuck in a RutI’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but health issues and distractions over problems in my local church prevented me. The church problems persist, but my health has improved and my heart is stirring once again over this. That’s causing me to ask whether it’s time to stop putting the Kingdom of God on hold while waiting for some who hold local church offices to climb out of their seemingly perpetual leadership ruts, to begin moving forward, and to trust that God’s provisions will follow.

Maybe, my heart is saying, the best outcome is to provide an opportunity and a motive for churches in general — including mine — to get their acts together and start being the church, rather than doing “church”, by showing what’s possible when people of vision become engaged with each other and engaged in what God is doing in the earth today. After all, the Kingdom of God is much, much more than “church”, although hopefully each of our local churches are part of that progressively advancing Kingdom!

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God Shows Up

As “Mr. Analytical,” I’m the least probable person I know to be doing pastoral counseling, but God seems to have given me a special grace to walk with people to those places where He wants to meet them in very powerful, transforming and healing ways. I guess it’s one of those spiritual ironies that God uses to confound us. He works through the least likely to insure that the glory is His.

Whether in the jail or in my home study, I deal weekly with issues that – believe me – exceed anything you might imagine. But the Lord meets us in amazing ways, and men and women find freedom in just one or two sessions from decades of emotional and spiritual bondage.

God shows up!

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Pentecost in the Local Jail

Pentecost in the Local Jail

In 2007 over 75 men in the local jail ā€“ comprising more than a forth of those incarcerated in the “modular” building ā€“ had a dramatic encounter with God.

For some time, Iā€™d been feeling that we were falling short with the men who were coming to the Lord or re-dedicating their lives through various outreaches in the jail. God was bringing men to salvation on a weekly basis, and over the previous months I’d been involved in scores of men becoming Christians. Others involved in ministry at the jail were having similar reports.

We were being successful in leading the men to Christ and were doing a good job teaching them God’s principles. The men had a heart to follow the Lord, and a basic understanding of how God wanted them to act and live.

The problem, however, was that they lacked the power to do so effectively, and when they got out, they were falling prey to old habits and circumstances. Although they had hearts that want more of God, and had understanding, they lacked the power to be overcomers.

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