Tonight I celebrated with 14 men whose lives have been forever changed by the power of the gospel of Jesus.
My friend John Grigson called me and invited me to attend the graduation tonight at Richwood Correctional Center here in Monroe, LA. I am so very glad he invited me and that I accepted the invitation and went.
God is doing some amazing things using John and Celebrate Recovery Inside (CRI). 14 inmates gave testimony to what Christ had done in their lives in the past year. They have completed the step-studies and are now discipled and matured so that now they will themselves be leaders beginning next Monday night. Also present tonight were 63 other inmates who will begin their step studies next Monday. Those who weather the storm and endure the soul searching hard work will in all probability begin a relationship with Jesus Christ if they haven’t already done so.
In the coming months, in some form, CRI will be in 7 other prisons in N E Louisiana. God is strategically using CRI to tell the captives of sin the charges have been dropped! (Col 2:13,14) When I think about the possibilities of all the changed lives of inmates and their families it seems to me that revival could be about to burst out from inside the prison walls!
The gospel is the very good news about Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished for wicked sinners. The story of His work still transforms lives and raised the spiritually dead to new life of love and obedience to the Lordship of Christ.
A hearty AMEN and Praise the Lord for what He is up to in prison ministry in our town.
The charges have been dropped!
As we were enjoying the last day of the Tulsa Workshop a layer of global warming up to several inches blanket the greater Tulsa area making highway travel treacherous and eventually canceling flights. Since one of our group from Monroe/West Monroe is in a motor home and I and my traveling pal are in a pickup truck pulling a U-Haul with the display material for World Radio and Celebrate Recovery we thought it might be wise to wait until today to begin our trip home.
I awoke this morning feeling rested and refreshed and ready to get going. I made coffee and decided to check my email once more before leaving and then realized it was 1:15 a.m. The coffee couldn’t just sit in the pot for five hours, so I am drinking the coffee and watching Fox News. Perhaps I’ll get a few more hours sleep before day breaks.
The Workshop, “Evangelistic Revolution”, was a grand success in my view. This was my first time for this annual event but Lord willing will not be my last. Here are some highlights for me.
- I met several bloggers whose names I will not list because I don’t want to forget one which I’m positive I will do if I try to name them all. It was a joy to put faces with names and meet these fine young men, (every one many years my junior). These bloggers are very bright, gifted, serious followers of Jesus. I feel honored to know them and have them read my blog.
- I was blessed and humbled by perhaps two dozen people who told me they read Grace Digest and enjoy it and have been helped in some way and blessed by reading. It is refreshing to know that in my tiny place in the kingdom the Lord can use me to encourage someone else, help someone understand God’s revelation better, and in some way build up a fellow follower of Jesus.
- Patrick Mead. This funny man with a funny accent was both entertaining and challenging. His ministry at Rochester Hills church in Michigan is a marvel. Patrick is one to be imitated, at a minimum in principal and theory of ministry. Love them as they are, where they are, expecting nothing in return, and love them until they ask “Why?” Patrick is comfortable in his own skin, stepping outside the boundaries of church of Christ traditions for the sake of Christ. Much of what Patrick says and does must make some in our denomination nuts. But, he and his people are doing what most of the rest of us are not doing, fleshing out the life of Jesus right in the middle of Satan’s stronghold. It is my joy to have met Patrick and now cherish him as a friend and brother.
- Edward Fudge. For several years I have learned from and admired this good man from afar. I have communicated with him a few times, asking his opinion about something I had discovered in my study of the Word, or complimenting him on something he had written. There is no person in churches of Christ that I respect more than this humble servant. Not only was I blessed to hear him speak three times but also had the opportunity to visit with him at the Workshop and over dinner. The experience was one I will always cherish and hold dear. Edward, like Leroy Garrett and others, who dared to put truth over church tradition, have paid a price. He has endured the scorn and slander of men who put human effort on a level with God’s grace. You should get a copy of Edward’s latest book, a commentary on the book of Hebrews. You can preorder it here. I hope God gives brother Fudge many more years of fruitful ministry. God bless you Edward Fudge.
- I heard a common theme, the grace of God and the need to make His gracious offer given in the gospel known out where the people live, work, and play. Many of our people are awakened to the stark reality that the methods, and even perhaps the message, of the churches of Christ of a few decades ago just aren’t going to get the job of reconciliation done. There is no biblical precedent for expecting the lost to come to our churches, attend “gospel meetings”, or be drawn to a rigid set of rules and doing, doing, doing to try to get God to like us more. Please God let the trend toward grace and forgiveness continue at the expense of legalism and condemnation. May we as a movement be able to truly say “We preach Christ”.
- Spending time with John Grigson has been wonderful. I have known John for about 9 years. His story is one of the love and the grace of God written on a human tapestry. John’s enthusiasm for ministry, his devotion to Christ, his hunger for the Word of God, and his contagious smile make this dear brother on of my favorite people on the planet. What a wonderful treat to be able to travel several hours with John and to enjoy his fellowship, something I will not soon forget.
- Getting to know Mike Eppinette. We go to the same church each Sunday and Wednesday, I have heard him teach, and I have spoken to him, but this few days in Tulsa I have been able to get to know him a bit and it has been wonderful. Mike is a great speaker and fund raiser for World Radio and is always smiling and making everyone around him smile as well. He is a good man and I’m glad to call him friend.
My Tulsa experience has been absolutely wonderful and I am already looking forward to coming again in 2010. It is 3:28 a.m. and time for a nap.